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Singers go virtual at Kamehameha School

  • Contributed by Catherine Coleman

    Director Josias Pilinamakaika‘oia‘i‘o Ka‘upu Fronda is in the middle directing his co-hort choir.

HONOLULU– Today, Kamehameha Schools’ (KS) 100th Song Contest lives on through a virtual presentation.

At noon, Kamehameha Schools will premier their virtual song contest performances at: www.ksb.edu/songcontest/2020 for ohanas across the state to view.

“I know that the decision to suspend the song contest was an emotional one for a lot of students. So the fact that we had so much participation in this new virtual choir, is a testament again to how important it is to get it done,” said KS Communications Strategy Senior Consultant and KS alumnus Chad Takatsugi.

Many Kamehameha students and the community that surrounded them were devastated when they found out that their Song Contest was cancelled early in March, he said. Student haku mele cohorts, created all of the songs this year.

“It just gets more beautiful the more you unwrap it. Because each of the 10 mele that were created by these cohorts, it wasn’t as thought it was only freshmen that created the freshmen mele. It was actually cohorts that were comprised of students across the different classes,” said Takatsugi. “We are celebrating the 100 annual song contest, for 99 years it has gone from this very kind of intimate celebration of mele on the grounds of Kaiwi‘ula where the the Bishop Museum (currently resides), and has grown into this huge iconic cultural event not only for the Kamehameha ohanas but for all of Hawai‘i.”

Choral Director Zachary Lum explained the unique process to the contest this year, because of COVID19 protocols — people made video footage of them singing and submitted them, and then those videos were compiled into a final virtual presentation. Lum said the process was overwhelming at the beginning, and those involved had to shift their focus in order to continue the contest.

“Its so easy to think about, I’m losing this or this. But in all of this loss we realized that these are all spaces for something new or something to be learned,” said Lum.

He continued: “You will hear the song, that many of them took part in actually composing. You will hear their effort, especially for those that may feel like ‘I don’t know if can do this. But I am going to try my best.’ You are going to feel that. But, I think what you are going to see are these faces that will inspire you.”

Lum reflects on their new virtual journey with a deeper meaning of appreciation.

“The adversity we’re facing today has revealed the core of what is truly important to our haumana and our lahui: the opportunity to follow in our kupuna’s footsteps, creating mele through traditional and innovative practices, to forward our values and the issues most critical for our future,” said Lum.

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