Kanahele, Mose win big at ‘Ukes in Paradise’

POIPU — Anuenue Mose walked off with a ukulele, and Tita Kanahele earned two ukulele Sunday at Keoki’s Paradise in Poipu.

Anuenue Mose was the sole presenter in the K-2nd division and despite being the only one, went through her presentation before the panel of judges and a professional photographer at the second keiki ukulele contest presented by Keoki’s Paradise.

Her family members, Elia and Eolani, teamed with Kanahele to top the group competition, which was limited to no more than four members performing together.

“We had a lot of ukulele to present, this year,” said Maneti DeCosta, the Keoki’s marketing director and tournament coordinator. “We had Kamoa ukulele contributed by Larry’s Music and the Ukulele Shop in Koloa as well a kamaka ukes for the winners.”

Contestants were judged on accuracy, intonation, rhythm, dynamics, confidence, appearance, and an overall category by the judges who are professional musicians.

Aldrine Guerrero of Koloa was one of the judges and offered an exhibition of the versatility and capability of the little ukulele.

Getting his start in similar competitions while in high school, Guerrero used his cell phone to create “schizophrenic snowflakes” for one of his lively compositions.

Daedryn Nelmida didn’t know he was going to compete until 5 a.m. Sunday, his grandfather said.

But the decision was the right one as the returning performer from last year’s inaugural keiki ukulele contest edged out Olivia Lutkevich by less than 10 points for top honors in the 3rd-5th grade division, the largest group in the competition.

With eight performers vying for top honors, Celeste Velarde, a Kapaa Middle School performer, filled in the No. 3 spot followed by Chaslyn Olson, Hugh Ishikawa, another returning performer, Mikayla Holzman, Pomai Mose and Lai Naihe.

“We had a good number of keiki signed up,” DeCosta said.

Kaleohano Castaneda, a Waimea student and returning performer, wowed the judges in the 6th-8th grade category in an encore performance from last year.

Castaneda locked in first place by 17 points over Travis Rapozo, Marli Genegabuas and Keegan Kessler.

In the 9th-12th grade category, Kanahele edged out Waimea High School sophomore David Rita, who performed on a unique eight-stringed instrument.

The group competition was taken by Kanahele, Elia Mose and Eolani Mose, edging out the runner-up team by another tight margin of less than 10 points.

Lylah Givins joined Velarde for the second place followed by Makena Buhk, Sabrina Murphy and Joseph Richards combining for third place.

In addition to a cache of prizes contributed by community businesses and organizations, contestants were treated to a buffet luncheon created by the Keoki’s culinary staff.

Melissa McFerrin, event coordinator for Koloa Plantation Days, said Ukes in Paradise wrapped up a successful 10-day calendar of events.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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