Island School will be lone Kauai chorus at Oahu festival

PUHI — Island School’s Alakai Chorus will be the lone representative from Kauai performing at the Na Leo Hou, the Hawaii all-state choral festival, next weekend.

“It’s fantastic, it definitely gets our name out there,” said Island School senior Caroline Price. “We’re able to provide a great reputation for Island School but also give Kauai a great reputation as well.”

Since the festival’s inauguration in 2010, Island School’s chorus has been the only Kauai school to participate and one of only two Neighbor Island school to travel to Oahu for it.

“We hope that we can go over there and perform well but also help other sections out with some notes and stuff with people we don’t know, so that’s a great experience,” Price said. “It’s fun in general to just meet other people and say, ‘Hi, I’m from Kauai,’ and it’s cool that we can all bond being from the same state.”

The chorus received the sheet music for the festival’s group numbers in November, but have been practicing their individual number since October. However, just learning the music and being able to perform in front of a large audience is only half the battle.

Philip Steinbacher, head of Island Schools Fine Arts Department and conductor of the chorus, told The Garden Island that the logistics of organizing a trip to Oahu during the school year can be stressful and time-consuming, but it’s worth it to put Kauai on the map.

“A lot of the schools here don’t have an established choral program,” Steinbacher said. “I know there’s something at Kauai and Kapaa High, but it’s not a self-contained chorus like we have, it’s more so through their band program. We all get invited, but it costs a lot of money since we have to travel to Oahu.”

Steinbacher said a lot of fundraising and work is put into this trip to make sure as many students as possible can participate.

“I’m proud to represent Kauai. I’m proud I can take Island School and I’m proud that Kauai gets a representative at the festival. I wish there was a representative from every island, and I know that we do go the extra mile to make this happen every year,” he said. And that says something about us and something for Island School.”

Nearly every student in Steinbacher’s chorus will be making the trip next Thursday to Oahu. For senior Andy Anderton, this will be the third time he’s been able to participate in the festival.

“There is a nerve-racking aspect to it, but from what I’ve seen, there’s really no reason to worry since I’ve seen how it’s played out in the past,” Anderton said.

Anderton learned at his first chorus trip to Oahu that this is not a vacation to another island to get out of school. He and his classmates put the work in from the moment they step off the plane.

“There’s a really big build up to it. You go there and you continue to put in a lot of hard work. A big part of it are the rehearsals, which you do most of there from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s a lot of work,” Anderton said. “I guess the only solace is that you get to go to the mall for a couple hours once you get there. It’s nonstop practice, but the end justifies the means.”

Freshman Ka’ohu Ranis wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I’m kind of nervous. I feel like once we get there, we’ll be fine and it’s going to sound great. But it’s been lots of practice and work,” he said. “I don’t know what the other schools will sound like, but I’m excited to hear them.”

The Na Leo Hou festival will be held Feb. 16-18. The closing concert will be Feb. 18 in Central Union Church.


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