For over 130 years, the 'ukulele has been celebrated by the people of Hawai'i as the instrument of the ali'i as well as maka'ainana. In 1879, Portuguese immigrants arrived in Honolulu to work in the cane fields and brought with them a braguinha, a four-stringed instrument. Once they jumped off the boat, they started playing sweet strains and Hawaiians who came down to the dock were impressed with the speed of the musicians' fingers as they danced across the fingerboard. They called the new instrument 'ukulele, which is translated as "jumping flea," and made it their own.
Today, Maui residents and visitors can celebrate the 'ukulele and Hawaiian music during the 7th Annual Maui 'Ukulele Festival on Sunday, Oct. 14, from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's (MACC) A&B Amphitheater (gates open at 12:30 p.m.).
Admission is free to enjoy a casual afternoon of island music, featuring legends of the 'ukulele, popular musicians and a mixture of senior players and young rising stars. Bring your blankets and low-backed beach chairs to relax on the lawn.
Musicians scheduled to perform include Uncle Richard Ho‘opi‘i (above), Ohta-san with Nando Suan, Kamaka Fernandez, The Hula Honeys, Aidan James and many others.
Photo: Aubrey Hord
Renowned 'ukulele advocate and teacher Roy Sakuma will serve as master of ceremonies. Musicians scheduled to perform include Uncle Richard Ho'opi'i, Ohta-san with Nando Suan, Kamaka Fernandez, The Hula Honeys, Aidan James, Honey Bun & The Coconuts, Ka'ala Cormack and J-Town Hui, Daniel & Nelly Toyama Baduria, Seabury Hall Hawaiian Ensemble and the Kalama Intermediate School 'Ukulele Band.
Coveted door prizes will be given away throughout the afternoon, including finely crafted 'ukulele provided by Kamaka, KoAloha, Kala, Kanilea, Ko'olau, Mele 'Ukulele, MGM and Pono.
Come hungry and thirsty to sample the 'ono food and beverages offered for sale by Maui restaurants and caterers, and shop for gifts by island crafters. The MACC will provide online registration for contest entries, volunteer sign-ups and memberships.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, a complimentary 'ukulele workshop will be held in the McCoy Studio Theater, beginning at 10 am. This workshop is conducted by Sakuma for students of all ages, from children through adults. Lessons are designed for beginning and intermediate players--the only requirements are that a student can hold C, F and G7 chords. Students should bring their own 'ukulele. Space is limited; register by emailng firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact the MACC Box Office at 242-SHOW (7469) or visit MauiArts.org or UkuleleFestivalHawaii.org