On being Hawaiian

9 01 2018

Hawaiians are gearing up for a ceremonial observance on January 17 of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani 125 year’s ago. I am Hawaiian.

I won’t be marching from Mauna Ala down Nuuanu Avenue and King street to Iolani Palace as I did in 1993 for the 100th observance, but I will be near the Iolani Palace bandstand in an information booth set up by the Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee. I am a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

Last night I attended the first of several Mele Workshops taught by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong to learn more about the songs of our nation. She entitled it “I Welo Mau Loa Kuʻu Hae Hawaiʻi / May my Hawaiian flag fly evermore…”

Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina wrote, “No matter the politics that divide us, let us unite through the bonds of our language, culture and our history.”

Mahalo e Kumu Hina.

I am compelled to encourage citizens to attend one of the remaining free workshops scheduled on Oahu. They are open to all. You will learn the songs, what the Hawaiian lyrics mean, and the tertiary kaona of the words. Kumu Hina’s manaʻo is inspiring and uplifting.

Schedule of Mele Workshops. Go!

125 years ago was not that long ago, Kumu Hina pointed out. When it was revealed at the workshop that I was the eldest person in the room, she said, “your grandparents’ generation.”

Yes, my maternal Chinese grandfather spoke Hawaiian, but his 15 children were forbidden to speak it in school. Unfortunately, I do not ʻōlelo either, but I love to sing Hawaiian songs.

ʻOnipaʻa kākou.

If you go ~ As I write this, the schedule of events for January 17, 2018, is flexible, except for the 10:45 a.m. raising of Hae Hawaiʻi at ʻIolani Palace, the exact time it was lowered and replaced by the American flag in 1893.


All he needs are strings

5 04 2017

My darling husband Pete is building his seventh ukulele out of a cigar box. Most are concert scale; this one is a tenor. When gathering materials, he looks for cigar boxes that will accommodate the bridge of the instrument.

Polishing with Tru-Oil  gun stock finish. “This one is more show than go,” he said.

Box originally contained “25 cigars hand made in Spanish Honduras.”

The lid becomes the back of the ukulele, and the front of the box is removed and replaced with Engelmann spruce wood. Sometimes he adds a pickup inside.

Decorative inlaid fingerboard came from Vietnam. Pete put in the paua mother of pearl from Aotearoa around the sound hole.

The black tuners called Pegheds are geared, a little more sophisticated than straight pegs.

All the ukulele needs now are strings!

He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi

29 03 2017

“He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi (The Hawaiian National Anthem),” composed by Hawaiʻi’s Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1866, is her first published song. Our choirs performed it in March 2017 on Prince Kuhio’s birthday at the Ke Ahe Lau Makani Festival of Hawaiian Choral Music, directed by Nola A. Nahulu, at Kawaiahaʻo Church. “He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi was the official anthem until “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi” (composed in 1876) replaced it. It was my honor to sing in the choir. The video was first posted on my Facebook page. Mahalo to festival coordinator Phil Hidalgo. Pete Krape (DH to studio fans) was the videographer. Please click on this link:

Join in the singing or come as the audience

14 03 2017

Festival/concert venue: Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets

Aloha Everyone!

Kawaiolaonāpūkanileo, our small Hawaiian-music choir presents Ke Ahe Lau Makani 2017. We invite you all to this Hawaiian choral festival on Sunday afternoon, March 26, 2017, at historic Kawaiahaʻo Church. Join us at 2pm to sing in the festival choir or at 6pm to hear this choir in concert!

The next rehearsal is at 5pm on Monday, March 20, at Na Mea Hawaii store at Ward Warehouse, Honolulu. All who love to sing Hawaiian music are welcome.

The cost is $20 to be a festival singer which includes music and a heavy pūpū before the concert. The concert at 6:00 pm is free.

Nola A. Nahulu is the director. Phil Hidalgo is the festival organizer.

Water lilies in paper

18 03 2016

Aloha studio fans, art patrons and appreciators! I’m taking this, my latest creation, to exhibit at Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden for the month of April.

Water Lilies in Paper, 18″ x 24″ hand-dyed tissue paper on canvas, copyright 2016 Rebekah Luke

The opening reception for “Collages and Clay at Hoʻomaluhia” is from 1 to 4 pm, Sunday, April 3. Entertainment by The Band Tantalus. Please come!

This is a newish art medium for me, a departure from landscapes in oil paint after 25 years. I hand-dye the tissue paper with my colleague and teacher Susan Rogers-Aregger at her workshop (it takes a small crew). Folks say they prefer the collages because of their translucence and vibrancy of color. I like the way the technique lends itself to abstract images. What do you think?

Enjoy Hawaiian choral music tonight

12 03 2016
Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Festival venue: Kawaiaha‘o Church, on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets.

Aloha studio fans!

I am excited to perform tonight in “Ke Ahe Lau Makani,” a festival of Hawaiian choral music with the Royal Hawaiian Band, and I invite to you come and enjoy. The downbeat is at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of Kawaiaha‘o Church on King street across from city hall in Honolulu. There is no admission charge to attend.

I perform with Kawaiolaonāpūkanileo, the host choir. Usually a small a cappella ensemble, for tonight we invited other individual singers and groups to join in. They are:

The Hawaiian Chorus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Gioventu Musicale Ensemble of the Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, and the Kawaiaha‘o Church Choir.

Indeed, it will be a joyous occasion to perform Hawaiian music written by famous composers of the past, namely Queen Lili‘uokalani, and contemporary composers and arrangers.

This year’s festival honors and celebrates Prince Jonah Kalaniana‘ole for his birthday, the late composer Haunani Bernardino who gifted the festival with its name, and the late Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell who was on the core committee that initiated the collection of Lili‘uokalani’s mele, culminated in the printing of The Queen’s Song Book.

When you come you will be treated to so much more story and translation of Hawai‘i’s past in a most historical setting. Please bring a friend with you to come and hear the music!

Hard-working festival personnel are: Phil Hidalgo, festival coordinator; Nola A. Nahulu, artistic director; Buddy Nalua‘i, organist; Wendy Chang, pianist; and Clarke Bright, band master of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Mahalo!

Moving forward in the new year

16 01 2016

Good morning, studio fans! This is my belated new-year message for 2016. It usually takes a while to get my ʻōkole in gear after the holidays and the lovely celebrations for my birthday in early January. Yesterday I was most inspired by the Royal Hawaiian Band concert at the palace grounds, where I walked after lunching with a friend in downtown Honolulu.

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative public

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative audience.

The program featured the music of Liliʻuokalani in remembrance of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. My friend Malia is the Band’s soloist, and I was glad to hear her sing. She is a phenomenal vocalist. What a gift she has. The entire program was very uplifting. I awoke this morning with the tunes in my head and a vow to keep music in my life; learn or practice something new every day. Reminder number one!

Reminder number two: Take time to socialize with others and make friends, especially as I grow older, to keep my attitude and perspective in check. Besides, it’s fun! Becky, the friend I lunched with (she is like a sister to me)  listened as I inventoried my current health issues (I go in for an annual physical around my birthday). I thought she was being sympathetic, but being younger, she said her interest was in learning what problems she might expect for herself in the future. Humph. We had a good laugh over that one!

Reminder number three plus: Be aware of teachable moments and be kind. In Hawaiʻi, Sovereignty Sunday (remembering the overthrow) coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Miss Marvelous, 6, is in first grade and reads now, lending to interesting conversations between grandparent and grandchild. For example, she reported that she is learning “mindfulness” in school. The other day she asked me, “Am I white?” to which I countered, “What do you mean?”

Big sigh. “You know, a long time ago, maybe the Russians and the Germans couldn’t marry. I’m talking about ancient history,” the child said. “And that King!” Clearly she wanted an answer, and I almost forgot the original question.

I’m drawn to her (my) confusion. King Kamehameha? King Kalākaua?

“Papa, help us out here.”

DH offers, “Martin Luther King?”
Ohhh… (lightbulb)…

“Well, Ayla, if you are asking about the color of your skin or descending from Caucasoids, then yes, you are White,” I said.

Judging the expression on her face, I detected it was a complicated issue in her mind, as she lost interest and ran off to play, as I hoped she would hear me say, “Peoples’ skins on the outside are different colors, but on the inside our hearts are the same.”

As I mused, if she is white, what am I: brown? yellow? beige?

(Copyright 2016 Rebekah Luke)

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