A Night of Sovereign Strings: Celebrating the Musical Legacy of Mekia Kealaka'i

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A Night of Sovereign Strings: Celebrating the Musical Legacy of Mekia Kealaka'i


Sunday Jan 13 03:00 PM


Doris Duke Theatre


Museum members: $45.00
General Admission: $55.00


About the Performance:

Saturday, Jan 12 tickets are now SOLD OUT. Tickets are still available for the Sunday, Jan 13 performance.

Join an all-star cast of Hawai‘i’s instrumental and vocal virtuosi as they reimagine the vibrant string ensemble styles of the Kalākaua era and pay tribute to the musical legacy of legendary Royal Hawaiian Band leader, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Mekia Kealaka’i. Illuminating the vibrant and cosmopolitan musical community of the 19th century Hawaiian kingdom, this concert traces the life and influence of Mekia Kealaka’i through his own words and compositions, from collaborations with the monarchs of the Kalākaua dynasty to the songs of his great protégé, the immortal Lena Machado. With historical anecdotes from the extensive research of musical historian and Luthier Kilin Reece, this concert presents the culmination and homecoming of Kilin’s work with the C.F. Martin Guitar Company to research and recreate the 1915 “Kealakai” model Martin acoustic guitar. Designed for and in collaboration with Mr. Kealaka’i, this guitar is the direct ancestor to the most iconic steel string acoustic guitar in the world—the Martin “Dreadnought,” the acoustic guitar of choice by musicians the world over from Bob Marley to the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Gabby and Cyril Pahinui, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. 

With readings in ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i and English gathered from the many letters and articles written home by Mekia and his bandmates as they circled the globe at the end of the 19th century and into the dawn of the 20th, performing for and teaching countless devotees of Hawaiian music to sing and strum their strings. This historic concert traces the Hawaiian hand in shaping not only the instruments that would come to define the modern global soundscape, but also the Hawaiian origins of our modern string-driven musical consciousness. 

With performances by Maestro Aaron Mahi, Raiatea Helm, Keauhou, Jeff Peterson, Ian O’Sullivan, Puka and Adam Asing, Jeff AuHoy, Maika’i Nash with members of the Orvis Opera Studio, Lance Suzuki, Duane Padilla, Fumiko Wellington, and Anna Callner. This acoustic concert will be performed with some of the most legendary vintage and contemporary acoustic instruments in the intimate Doris Duke Theater, hosted Kilin Reece

During the Saturday, Jan 12 performance:

Ho`oulu Hawai`i: The King Kalākaua Era will be open to attendees from 5pm.

Before the concert, enjoy a performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band Glee Club from 5:30-6:30pm.  

The Royal Hawaiian Band is the oldest and only full-time municipal band in the United States. At present a body of the City & County of Honolulu, the Royal Hawaiian Band has been entertaining Honolulu residents and visitors since its inception in 1836 by Kamehameha III. 

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