‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programs
In celebration of the 54th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will host three days of cultural enrichment programming, Wednesday, April 19 through Friday, April 21. This series is organized annually at ‘Imiloa to complement and honor Merrie Monarch’s major purpose: the perpetuation, preservation and promotion of the art of hula and Hawaiian culture through education.
Join us at ‘Imiloa and immerse yourself in the beautiful stories delivered through the art of hula and chant by Hālau o Kekuhi. Serenade your senses with live music by Grammy® Award Winner Kalani Pe‘a. Discover the traditions of oral stories in the Oli Workshop by Kumu Hula Mehanaokalā Hind, and much more!
The opening day of events at ‘Imiloa (Wednesday, April 19) will showcase the Oli Workshop with Kumu Hula Mehanaokalā Hind at 10:00 a.m. Hind will share mele aloha ‘āina that showcase Hawaiian perspectives of origin and connection to the land. Hind is a Kumu Hula and cultural practitioner skilled in hula and oli. She descends from the hula lineage of Kumu Hula Leinaʻala Kalama Heine and has been trained in mele oli by some of Hawaiʻi’s master chanters.
The afternoon session will feature a film screening of Nā Hulu Lehua: The Royal Cloak and Helmet of Kalaniʻōpuʻu. This documentary film shares the historic story of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, aliʻi nui (high chief) of Hawaiʻi Island, who greeted Captain James Cook in 1779 at Kealakekua Bay and draped his treasured ‘ahu ‘ula (feathered cloak) over the newcomer’s shoulders as a gesture of goodwill. While Cook himself would never leave Hawai‘i, Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s feathered cape and mahiole (feathered helmet) sailed back to Europe with Cook’s crew, and ultimately ended up at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Over 230 years later, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Bishop Museum, Te Papa, and Hawaiian Airlines collaborated in an unprecedented partnership that enabled the return of Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s priceless garments to Hawaiʻi. Hind, who participated in the returning of Kalaniōpuʻu’s cape, will lead the screening with a Q & A to follow. This afternoon session will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19.
A live musical performance by Hilo’s own Lito Arkangel will kick off on Thursday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Arkangel has a personal connection to the songs he presents, and delivers more than words, but an essence of the story captured in mele (song). He spent most of his youth growing up in Keaukaha with ‘ohana who have guided him through the many facets of Hawaiian culture and upbringing. Lito perpetuates Hawaiian music and culture as a teacher, mentor and professional musician. Join Lito as he shares mele from his two albums, Me ke aloha (2014) and Kuʻupau (2017), along with the special stories that connect him to these mele Hawaiʻi.
Enjoy an afternoon hula and costume presentation by Hālau o Kekuhi. Across various dancers and dance instructors, it is a common understanding that costuming should reflect either the performer, the story within their dance, or both. Join Hālau o Kekuhi as they perform hula and lead a conversation that explores the dancer’s kuleana (responsibility) to create a unique environment through detailed chant, motions and intentional costuming. This performance will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 1:00 p.m.
Kealopiko will open the morning session on Friday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. with He leo aloha: a presentation on the language and story in the Kealopiko design process. The idea to start Kealopiko grew out of a deep aloha for the islands, the history, its people and the Hawaiian language. “Figuring out how we articulate the many voices of the past and present in story and design forms the core of what we do and is an ever-changing process that continually educates us as founders,” says co-founders Jamie Makasobe and Hina Kneubuhl. “As we grow, so does our process and the language we find and use to reconnect elements of the natural and cultural landscapes to our modern day existence.”
Culminating ‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch programming is a live musical performance by 2017 Grammy® Award Winner, Singer/Songwriter Kalani Pe‘a. His debut album E Walea features seven haku mele (Hawaiian original music compositions) and five of his favorite covers. E Walea hit number 1 on the iTunes world music charts, and in August of 2016 it hit number 12 on the Billboard world albums charts. In February of 2017 the debut album took home the Grammy® Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Pe‘a is a native to Panaʻewa, Hilo and currently resides on Maui. Join Kalani Pe‘a as he presents mele from his award-winning album and shares his passion for perpetuating the Hawaiian language through music and visual arts. Pe‘a’s performance will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 21.
Pre-sale tickets for each Cultural Enrichment Program at ‘Imiloa are $10 ($8 for ‘Imiloa members.) Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at ‘Imiloa’s front desk, or over the phone by calling 808-932-8901. Pre-sale tickets are available for purchase starting Tuesday, April 4 at 9:00 a.m. A limited supply of tickets will be available for purchase the day of each event for $15.