Aha Mele Concert to benefit organ restoration

It’s the latest in a series of concerts dedicated to saving the only pipe organ on Kauai,

The Aha Mele Concert will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at All Saints Church, 4-1065 Kuhio Highway in Kapaa.

Organist Alan Van Zee will be accompanied by choral singers during the hourlong concert that is free and open to the public, although any donations will go to preserving the island’s only pipe organ donated in 1927 by the Wilcox family.

The concert is timed with the first Sunday of Advent to usher in the Christmas season of joy, love and expectation, he said. The organ needs some tender loving care and the concert is designed to showcase its beautiful sound but also illustrate the decay the amazing and historic instrument has experienced.

The Chorophone unit organ Opus 1351 was built by Austin Organ Company in 1925. Several of the pipeswere replaced in 1983.

The program will include several pieces written by the German Baroque composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

“When you think of the organ and composers for the organ, you think of Bach, first and foremost,” Van Zee said. “This is a person who wrote hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces for the organ and was really a pioneer for organ music.”

Victoria Aiu, a Kauai High School senior who was named to the Hawaii Youth Symphony in 2013, will play violin along with Van Zee in a performance of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” considered to be among Bach’s most popular movements.

Larry McCreery will play the French Horn to accompany Van Zee in performing, “Sleeper’s Awake,” a joyful hymn also written by Bach.

McCreery is a musician and singer who has appeared in several local musicals, including Kauai Sings Gershwin!

“We want to mix it up and I think it will be really interesting for the audience,” Van Zee said. “The horn and the organ really complement each other nicely.”

Local soprano vocalist Juno Apalla will accompany Van Zee in performing the Ave Maria, an 1825 arrangement from Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Born in the Philippines and raised on Kauai, Apalla graduated from Pacific University in Oregon and lived around the world before returning to play Kim in the Broadway musical “Miss Saigon” at Kauai Community College, and has also performed with Hawaii Children’s Theatre, Carol Culver’s Dance Academy, Women in Theatre, and Artists Repetoir Theatre in Portland.

“Although I am retired as a performer, I sometimes still go on stage for these special occasions when my friends call me out to play,” she said. “Singing Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria is going to be a special performance because to me it means going back to where I began as a singer on Kauai at Immaculate Conception Church with Mary Lardizabal’s children’s choir,” she said.

Apalla said she will be singing for the love of Kauai, the love of her family and friends, and to raise funds to restore the pipe organ.

“This is such a beautiful instrument and such a worthy cause,” she added.

Van Zee and Kauai Voices will each perform a few seasonal songs to close out the program.

“We want to make the audience aware that it is a beautiful instrument that is in need of repair,” Van Zee said.

Van Zee studied piano, organ, percussion and voice since the age of 12. While earning a degree in music theory and performance, he went on a work-study experience in Mexico. He worked in Japan, and then England, where he performed with the BBC Symphony Chorus for five years.

Van Zee moved to Kauai in 1987, where he is now director of music at St. Michael and All Angels’ Church.

Kauai Voices, under the direction of Randy Leonard, is accompanying Van Zee. In the past, the organ accompanied the choral, but Van Zee and the little-known pipe organ take center stage on Sunday.

“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” Leonard said.

“This is an effort from among the community of musicians and others who support the arts,” he added. “It is a combination of music that takes advantage of the wonderful organ at the church, with some of our own pieces and some Hawaiian music to bring the cultures together.”

A pupu reception will follow the concert.

Info: 822-4267, allsaintskauai@hawaiiantel.net or visit www.allsaintskauai.org/aha-mele-benefit-concerts.


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