E Komo Mai Festival brings dance and a deluge of DJs
Take an extended weekend to party with the E Komo Mai Festival, a four-day festival that is bringing an international roster of DJs to Honolulu.
The festival features 14 dance events between Friday and Monday, with at least one each day in Waikiki and others at venues including La Mariana Sailing Club on Sand Island, Artistry in Kakaako, Pure Nightclub in Kapalama and Dragon Upstairs in Chinatown.
Eleven top DJs will headline at eight of the parties, offering a range of talents and tastes. Mark Farina, pictured at top left, a fixture in the 1990s San Francisco house music scene known for his “Mushroom Jazz” recordings, appears at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alohilani Resort’s Swell Bar. Anabel Englund, a singer/songwriter known for her work with the electronic group Hot Natured and the granddaughter of actress Cloris Leachman, pictured at top, performs at 4 p.m. Monday at Rumfire at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The festival is also an international event, with Belgian Sacha Robotti, pictured at top right, performing at 9 p.m. Friday at Artistry; and “minimalist” DJ Andreas Henneberg from Germany appearing at noon Monday at La Mariana.
More than 50 DJs, including 28 from Hawaii, will appear. Event organizers are also featuring activities like a silent disco on the beach and surfing with DJs.
Pianist Rachel Cheung, a finalist in the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, has been praised for bringing a poetic, almost painterly approach to the keyboard works.
So it only seems appropriate that the Hong Kong native will perform music by French composers here, where she can bring out different colors that can be created on the piano: Rameau, who composed for harpsichord, where she “can explore the different kinds of articulation, and the light atmosphere”; Debussy, “which is very picturesque and invokes Asian and Spanish elements, and nature”; and Faure, whom she called “very forward-looking.”
Cheung will also perform a “heart-wrenching” work by Cesar Franck and all of Chopin’s 24 preludes, which she says “represents Chopin in every way. … I feel like it’s 24 pages of his own diary,” she said, “and it contains the essence of Chopin’s music — lyricism, poetry, nobility, passion, romanticism.”
Cheung, who studied at Yale after finishing her studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, was voted the audience favorite at the Cliburn, which she called “the best memory I’ve ever had” in all the many competitions she’s participated in. (She’s won prizes in contests in the UK, Italy, Poland, Hong Kong and the U.S.) The Cliburn broadcasts each round live around the world, so her friends back home and around the world could watch and offer support.
“I could feel really good support and love while I was competing,” she said. “I was practicing every day for 12 hours, and each round becomes more and more intense. But actually, the atmosphere did not feel like a real competition to me.”
Strum up some fun with the Ukulele Picnic in Hawai‘i.
The 12th annual event brings more than a dozen ukulele virtuosos from Hawaii, Japan and around the world to Victoria Ward Park in Kakaako on Sunday, when two stages will be set up for performances, ukulele workshops, and other activities.
Traditional Hawaiian artist Ku‘uipo Kumukahi kicks things off at 9:40 a.m. Sunday. Other featured performers include longtime star Bryan Tolentino (noon); the prodigy pair Tegan & Kaylen (2:10 p.m.); Mark Yamanaka (3 p.m.), winner of 14 Hoku awards; and multitalented composer and instrumentalist Byron Yasui with jazz man Benny Chong (3:40 p.m.). The event also includes an ukulele giveaway at 11 a.m. and a free ukulele workshop at 12:40 p.m.
Want to see the hoping to see the Next Gen uke-meister? The winner of the 9th annual Ukulele Contest performs at 2 p.m. Sunday. (The contest itself will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the International Market Place.)
The picnic is the brainchild of Japanese rock star Kazuyuki Sekiguchi from the band the Southern All Stars. Sekiguchi hopes to establish an ukulele museum in Honolulu.
The voice is the most common musical instrument, but oddly enough, in classical chamber music, it’s rare that it’s paired with much more than a piano. Chamber Music Hawaii’s upcoming “Poetry in Music” concerts, featuring local mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, takes a different tack.
The program features Rubin’s nimble voice with various instrumental combinations — with piano and clarinet in Schubert’s “The Shepherd on the Rock,” a piano quintet in Chausson’s “Chanson perpetuelle” and with flute and clarinet in Copland’s “As It Fell Upon a Day.”
“This is kind of neat because there’s an added sonority, another element, another texture that expresses the music,” said Rubin, whose performances are remarkable not only because of her vocal purity but because she is blind. “For me, I get to work with other instrumentalists in duets, so I’m thinking about my voice more as an instrument. Not only am I trying to tell a story, I’m trying to match the tone of the other instruments I’m working with.”
Rubin said her technique will have to change depending on what instrument she’s singing with. “If you take a slower breath, you’ll have a darker color to your voice, and if you take a shorter, quicker breath it will be brighter,” she said.
The concert also features a contemporary work, “Hurry,” by Lisa Bielawa, written in what is known as aleatoric style. Written for piano, cello, violin, flute, clarinet, it introduces a degree of chance and spontaneity into each performance, with certain defined phrases repeated at the whim of the performers. “We’re supposed to repeat these phrases depending on how we’re inspired at the moment,” Rubin said. “We repeat them and feed off of each other, and then somebody will be in charge of making the phrase go on. Sometimes it’s the piano, sometimes it’s the violin, sometimes it’s the voice. It adds a emotional layer that makes each performance a little bit different each time.”