It is my great fortune to be given the chance to create something inspired by the beauty and power of the Hawaiian Islands. Collaborating and learning about the nuances of Hawaiian culture through Native Hawaiian Dr. Rickey Badua (director of bands, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona) helped to inform and guide the composition process. - Jim D.
“E Ala Ē, ka lā i ka hikina,” (Awake/Arise, the sun in the east) – traditional Hawaiian sunrise ʻoli (chant)
This three-movement composition explores my thoughts and research into the islands’ remarkably varied sounds and culture. Each separate movement represents different facets of both my personal experiences in Hawaiʻi and the rich aural tapestry of the islands. Hopefully, together we can “arise and awaken” to the voices and majesty of this sacred place.
E Ala Ē (Awake/Arise) – The summit ofHaleakalā, the principal peak of the island of Maui, is among the most striking and spiritual places in Hawaiʻi. Bold and declamatory, this movement depicts the flight of the kōlea (Pacific Golden Plover) from the shore of the island over the mountain. These birds are believed to be among the oldest visitors to the islands and its lilting song joins with traditional drumming patterns. The sunrise chant grows in power from brass and bells as we see the ancient crater revealed from shadow to bring an emphatic awakening of the senses.
Flowers from Paoakalani – Queen Liliʻuokalani, last sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom, was also a skilled musician and composer of many of the best-known mele (songs). She was imprisoned in 1895 for political reasons and wrote Ke Aloha O Ka Haku (The Queen’s Prayer) and Kuʻu Pua IPaoakalani that year. She was brought information through a supporter who wrapped flowers from her garden in Paoakalani in current newspapers each day. This movement combines these two songs within a chorale setting that incorporates both neotonal harmony with Hawaiian choral traditions. Hopefully, it will speak to Liliʻuokalani’s legacy as an inspirational voice of her people.
Piʻi Ka Lewa (Climbing to the Heavens) – The mountain rainforests of Hawaiʻi are teeming with the music of nature that feel a world apart from the coastline. My final movement depicts a thrilling trip from the small town of Hana down narrow roads past rushing waterfalls and myriad birdsongs. The rhythms of hula combine with earlier themes and conclude with a rock-inspired finale as we spot fearless surfers off the north shores, reminiscent of legends Duke Kahanamoku and Eddie Aikau.