Play on, play on … and come and enjoy

Music can bewitch and beguile, as it did in the Kauai Concert Association’s recent presentation by the Trio Con Brio Copenhagen, who truly cast a spell over their audience. The violin and cello-playing Korean sisters with their superb Danish pianist offered an atonal “Spell” as their opening, a Per Norgard composition. The audience who gathered for this classical music concert at the Kauai Community College Performance Art Center (KCC-PfAC) gave standing ovations for the truly amazing trio’s interpretations of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky works that followed. Beyond being bewitched, we were taken through a gamut of emotions, and right down to tears, with the sombre last bars of the Tchaikovsky “Lugubre.”

It was quite a different haunting to toe-tapping scene the following night. Whiskey-O, Kauai’s own Irish band sang, fiddled, piped and drummed, and resident Sylvia Woods plucked pure magic out of the strings of her Celtic harp during a concert given at the Church of the Pacific. Another kind of magic, but definitely magic.

Driving home from Princeville, I was again thinking “lucky we live Kauai,” because of the top-notch talent brought to us through such programs, and our own home-grown talents in music, song, dance and theater, including hula. The ticket prices are far below what one would shell out for similar programs staged elsewhere, making culture and entertainment affordable.

This was also the second weekend of the staging of “Shrek The Musical,” the Kauai Children’s Theater Kauai premiere at the Memorial Hall. Friends raved about the music, the singing, the sets and staging, saying it outdid some of the New York shows they had seen. At the first of two Sunday matinees, they remarked, many children in the packed audience were held silently spell-bound. I made it a point to attend the second of the matinees, and wondered how to fit in one of the “Gala” weekend musical events in honor of Queen Emma and Kamehameha IV hosted by St. Michael’s and All Angels Church.

Spellbound. Now that’s a description to consider: “enchanted, too interested to move, fascinated.” Music, and fine art in any medium, can take you to that place of true enchantment. What works the binding spell for one person may not work for another. But as we all know, there will be something that connects very specially with each one of us, capturing our attention and response, sometimes to lift and lighten our spirits, bring us toe-tapping and marching pleasure, and sometimes to heal and move us on a deep emotional level.

If you have noticed your words have gone unheard by a friend/mate/child or grandchild who, on closer inspection, is sprouting earbuds — and perhaps rocking slightly and smiling into space — you’ll know of what I speak.

It’s one thing to hear music, it’s quite another to hear music live. It’s also quite another thing to play music. Through music courses, our junior college affords people the chance to learn to play well in a jazz band, a concert band, and a strings ensemble.

There is no stipulation on eligibility or age cutoff and, as far as I know, no auditions. Music-loving keiki to kupuna may take the classes and join the musical groups by enrolling in each semester’s classes for credit, or a non-credit class through Continuing Education, if an adult. Admission to class requires a year of music training and playing, and instructor approval. That’s it.

Over the last five years I have received great satisfaction from playing my violin, and piano when required, in the Strings Ensemble class, or orchestra. The voice of the most feminine of stringed instruments can blend with viola, cello and bass cousins, as well as the flutes, clarinets and other reed instruments. Brass and percussion, too.

How gratifying it is to see middle-school students through young adults and oldsters cooperating to make music. And what a grand feeling when practice and rehearsal lead to the point of being concert-ready, when it all comes together under the baton of the conductor for the regular KCC spring and winter concerts.

I urge you to: 1. circle your calendars for the upcoming winter concerts, details to follow; and 2. dust off that old viola, oboe or French horn case (drumsticks?) and take your sadly unplayed instrument “out of mothballs” for the next semester.

Here, some extra good news: These concerts are free — a free, pre-Christmas treat for the community. Bring the family, bring yourselves and enjoy. You may be surprised by the quality and scope of the offerings, from jazz through classical. Plus holiday special touches.

On Dec. 6, the “Wind Symphony and Jazz Ensemble” plays at the KCC-PfAC, 7 p.m. On Dec. 12, the “Symphony Orchestra” plays, also at KCC-PfAC, 7 p.m. The concerts are under the direction of Sarah Tochiki, an accomplished musician, teacher and conductor. For those who wish to contribute, donations to maintain these unique Kauai ensembles will be accepted at the door.

E komo mai, come in and enjoy. Perhaps music, with its fluidity and changeability — and also because it is the universal language — is the leading enchantress. Your attendance (future involvement, too) may open the way to the true spirit of Christmas to buoy you up and over the commercially-slanted twelfth month. Happy Thanks-giving for all our blessings, dear readers!


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, long-ago music student and piano teacher, restrung a small viola acquired “for a song” in an auction some years back and hesitantly joined the KCC College Orchestra to brush up her musical skills under the direction of Kauai’s legendary Larry McIntosh. She traded it up and eventually acquired her “gypsy” violin, which gives her great pleasure. The writer is at work now completing her second memoir, based on the Burma of pre- and post-World War II times. She continues to run her TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations as part of DAWN Enterprises.


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