Hawaiian Ensemble to perform virtually tonight


Photo by Savannah Rose Dagupion

Hawaiian Ensemble practices singing ten feet apart by spreading out on the stage. Some students are placed on risers and boxes to increase the distance and to be seen.

The renowned Kamehameha Maui Hawaiian Ensemble will be performing in Keōpūolani Hale along with Kumu Hula Kamaka Kukona and Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua today at 6:25 p.m.

To maintain safety protocols, the public is not invited to watch live. Instead, the event will be livestreamed by E Kūpaʻa Kākou on YouTube and Facebook

E Kūpaʻa Kākou is a weekly Maui County livestream that promotes Hawaiian music to strengthen the community. Event organizers Karey Kapoi and Joe Arias reached out to the Hawaiian Ensemble to perform in these difficult times. 

“In the pandemic, it seems as though it’s the safest way of preventing the spread while still having an opportunity to perform. Especially with schools, we’ve lost so many opportunities, and having a venue like this to share the talents of our haumāna is better than doing nothing,” said Kumu Kalei Aarona-Lorenzo, Hawaiian Ensemble adviser. 

Students are excited to be back on the stage even if it is during a pandemic.

The virtual performance comes with safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has presented some difficulties.

For instance, the singers are spaced 10 feet apart, making it difficult for them to hear the other parts and blend their sound.

“It’s weird because it feels like we’re missing people, but we know each other is there,” senior Brock “Hinano” Lovell said. “I miss hearing everyone’s voices, and the distance makes it feel like you’re a lone man on stage.”

This flyer for this week’s E Kūpaʻa Kākou event provides all the details of the livestream

Not only is the sound difficult to manage, but the group reports an overall loss of feeling like a family. 

“I feel less connected, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to sing with everyone again,” sophomore Kealani Warner said. 

The hula students of Hawaiian Ensemble are required to dance with masks  unless they stay six feet apart. 

“I think the dancers go through a similar experience as the singers with their spacing being six feet apart in that it’s hard for them to feel each other,” Kumu Kalei said.

The number of in-person practices was also limited to three to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Despite these challenges, students have prepared a 45-minute performance for the livestream, which begins at 6:00. The Hawaiian Ensemble is scheduled from 6:25-7:10, but the entire program ends at 8:30.

The Kamehameha Maui kumu have dedicated themselves to making this experience the best it can be.

Keōpūolani Hale facility technician Brenn Nakamitsu has played an important part in making sure the set is festive and coordinating lighting, sound and video services.

“He has been such a huge support. His video and sound expertise and his extreme patience has truly been amazing. I know our kumu pray for an excellent performance because our families deserve to see and feel what we do when we are with the group,” Kumu Kalei said.

Since the start of the year, Hawaiian Ensemble has not been able to perform due to the danger of COVID-19, but thanks to E Kūpaʻa Kākou they are able to get back into the swing of things. The feeling is bittersweet.

“I’m very excited, but also very sad and disappointed that it has to be done this way. I have a lot of love for this group so of course I’m just happy to be doing this,” senior Keolapono Keahi said. 

Because of the uncertainty with COVID-19, it is unsure whether or not Hawaiian Ensemble will be able to perform again this year, so you won’t want to miss seeing them live! Be sure to catch this event at 6 pm on Facebook or YouTube at E Kūpaʻa Kākou. If you miss it live, you can watch the recording at these sites later.

The program will also air on Akakū community television channel 54.

This article has been updated to correct the end time of the event and the procedures for the hula group.