Inaugural Gala Fundraiser March 17

The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Society
P.O. Box 5550, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745

7. March 2012

Kamuela Philharmonic announces Inaugural Gala Fundraiser March 17

The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, in partnership with the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, will join forces with prominent local slack-key artist John Keawe for “Plays Well With Others”, the orchestra’s inaugural gala fundraiser, on Saturday, March 17, 2012, starting at 6:00 pm.

The event will feature live and silent auctions, wine, and pupus provided by several prestigious local restaurants, as well as a concert featuring John Keawe, making his “orchestral debut.” Keawe will perform some of his favorite songs, accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra of strings and woodwinds led by the orchestra’s music director, Dr. Madeline Schatz. Local media personality Lyman Medeiros will join this event as an emcee, and Patrick Batchelder will serve as the auctioneer.

Tickets are $60.00 per person, self-parking will be at a discounted rate of $5.00 for concert attendees. Tickets can be purchased on-line at or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

The experience of playing with an orchestra has long appealed to John Keawe. During the process of composing some of his songs, he has often imagined being able to add “a cello here” or “a flute there” to achieve the effect, or express the emotion he was trying to convey. When he learned that he could have that experience, and help the Kamuela Philharmonic raise money for their programs, including music education, without even leaving his beloved Hawaii Island, he jumped at the opportunity. He chose five songs for the program that he thought would sound really good with an orchestra: “Aina Hanau, “Beautiful Hula Dancer”, “Kauholo”, ” Puuwai Hoano” and “Steal The Morning”.

Kamuela Philharmonic principal cellist, Herb Mahelona, who is a Kamehameha Schools’ choir director, as well as a composer and music arranger, spent about six weeks arranging these pieces especially for the event. Mahelona is also of Hawaiian heritage and chose four other songs: “Hawaii Island Is My Home”, “Faces of Pele”, “Kohala Kuu Home” (which has vocals in Hawaiian), and “Slack Key 101”. He said, “I thought they would be interesting to orchestrate because they represented different musical styles and moods, and also expressed a deep affection for Hawaii Island”. Musical Director Schatz wanted to set the mood for the program by starting it with Hawaii Ponoi and also asked Mahelona to arrange her favorite Hawaiian song “Poliahu”.

“Aina Hanau (Land of My Birth)” is meant to sound haunting and mysterious. Keawe composed “Kohala Kuu Home” long ago, had it translated to Hawaiian by Auntie Sarah Hulu in 1981 and spent many years perfecting it. “Hawaii Island Is My Home” is about giving thanks for being Hawaiian. All three songs speak of Keawe’s love for Hawaii Island (which he prefers over “Big Island”), particularly North Kohala where he was born and raised. After a four-year stint in the Navy, Keawe returned home, taught himself to play slack-key guitar, eventually developing his own distinctive style, and began to compose and perform his own songs. The inspiration for a lot of his music is his birthplace, and he considers himself most fortunate to be able to make a living doing what he enjoys best.

“Beautiful Hula Dancer” is a tribute to John Keawe’s wife Hope, who is also a North Kohala native, and started dancing hula as a child. Since taking up the study of hula again in 1996, Hope Keawe has enhanced her husband’s performances by providing beautiful interpretations of traditional Hawaiian songs, as well as his original compositions. She will be dancing to her theme song at the fundraiser. When King Kamehameha was born in Kokoiki, North Kohala, jealous local chieftains who had been forewarned by legend that he would conquer Hawaii wanted to kill him. “Kauholo” (To Pursue) tells of the infant king’s flight to Auwini Valley (which is beyond Pololu Valley in North Kohala) where he lived with a cousin’s family in order to avoid capture. The piece has a lot of energy, because it is about a chase, so Mahelona‘s arrangement features staccato strings in a driving rhythm to match the feel Keawe was striving for in the song.

The beatification of Father Damien provided Keawe with the inspiration for “Puuwai Hoano” (Sacred Heart). Mahelona arranged the piece in the style of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” with instrumental arpeggios accompanying the guitar. Before Damien started his work with Hansen’s disease patients at Kalaupapa, he served for 8 years at Sacred Heart Catholic church in North Kohala, where Hope Keawe is very active in the music ministry today. “Steal the Morning” was written about Keawe’s experiences parenting young children, where the only “quiet time” he could find to practice or write music was in the early morning before his children (and now his grandchildren) woke up and demanded his attention. The orchestration Mahelona did for this song starts with very high strings, and gradually “fills in” to emulate the rising of the sun. Keawe was experimenting with some unusual tunings when he began composing “Faces of Pele”. He liked the rather eerie sounds he produced, and just kept on going with the piece. This reminded him of lava flowing. The many facets of the goddess, from benign to violent, are reflected in the orchestration Mahelona came up with, which has lots of movement and tension in the string parts. John Keawe once helped out his friend Keola Beamer by teaching at a summer music camp on Molokai. He was not well prepared to teach his first class and had to come up with a melody for them in a hurry. The result was “Slack Key 101”, which according to Mahelona has basic “G tuning” slack key chord progressions, with some really fun variations. Mahelona’s arrangement of the piece carries on that “fun” feel by having the stings mimic ukulele strumming.

Combining the talents of these two “homegrown” musical entities will make for a very interesting and enjoyable concert. Both John Keawe and the orchestra are looking forward to sharing this experience with their Hawaii Island fans. If you want to contribute to the future growth and improvement of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, and assist us in continuing to provide live, high quality orchestral music to local audiences, your attendance at this event would be greatly appreciated.

Some of the exciting auction items that will be offered include: an opportunity to conduct the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra during a concert program, plus a conducting lesson from Maestra Schatz; a two night weekend stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village; a $500 value of Kohala spa certificate; artwork by Hawaii artist Alex Gupton and Big Island artist Kristi Krantz; a one-week stay at a privately-owned vacation home in Keauhou Estates; a live string quartet to play at your event (wedding, anniversary, private party); a complete collection of John Keawe’s music CD’s signed by John, a fishing charter for up to 6 people; a one-night stay at the Big Island “Palms Cliff House”; a private dinner for 4-6 at a beachfront Puako home with live classical ensemble; a dinner for two at Kamuela Provision Company; a dinner for two for Imari restaurant; a Dolphin Quest encounter for two and the Kamuela Philharmonic music CD collection of favorite music CD’s donated and signed by members of the orchestra. Various Big Island adventures, both land and sea will also be available, along with many other interesting items.

Tickets are $60.00 per person, self-parking will be at a discounted rate of $5.00 for concert attendees. Tickets can be purchased on-line at or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Society is a 501(c)3, so any donations you make to us may be tax deductible. You can also mail your contributions to us at P.O. Box 5550, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745 or via Paypal on our website. For more information about the Kamuela Philharmonic and our programs, please visit our website at

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