Ninth Halau O Po’ohala recital bridges 159-year legacy: From ancient Laka chants to Iolani Luahine Fest winning dances to art, music and instrument auction

  • This prized, now restored, Martin ukulele that belonged to Loea Louise Walker Beamer will be one of six of the Beamer-Solomon family’s personal instruments to be auctioned at the Feb. 24 event. (COURTESY PHOTO/HALAU O PO’OHALA)

  • Halau O Po’ohala’s Ohelo class members (from left) Kainona Castaneda, Kinohi Scholz, Hi`iwai Shumate, Pu`uwai Covington, Mahealani Walsh, Lindsay Tagudan and Iliahi Wong are among the students of all ages who will perform at the ninth “Eia Ka Hula” recital. (COURTESY PHOTO/HALAU O PO’OHALA)

WAIMEA — Generations of Hawaii’s revered Beamer-Solomon cultural practitioners, singers, dancers and chanters — many of whom have been recognized for lifetime contributions creating, preserving and perpetuating the music and dance of Hawaii, including the late beloved Mahi Beamer — will be celebrated Feb. 24 at Kahilu Theatre during the ninth annual “Eia Ka Hula” recital by keiki to kupuna Halau O Po’ohala students.

This event will bridge the Beamer-Solomon family’s 159-year heritage that stretches from original compositions by their renowned great grandmother, Helen Desha Beamer, to the halau’s first place award presentations at the recent He Lei Hiwa No Iolani Luahine Hula Festival honoring the memory of Juilliard-trained Mahi Beamer, who passed away this past summer at 88.

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Themed “Lei O Ha’ena,” the recital will revolve around Helen’s song by the same name, written for a dear family friend, the late Herbert Shipman. The performance will begin with a short film clip produced by Ari Bernstein and Leiomalama Tamasese Solomon, spotlighting Laka, the Hawaiian deity and kumu (source) of hula.

Following dances and chants by various halau classes, the program will shift gears to a tribute in memory of “Uncle Mahi.” Guest pianist Karl Kasberg will join musician Kama Hopkins and dancer Leiomalama to share several of Mahi’s best known pieces.

One of the premier falsetto voices Hawaii has ever produced, Mahi’s musical legacy began soon after birth. His father taught him to play the piano when he was just three years old and that led him to eventually being accepted at the Juilliard School of Music and an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall. In 2006, he was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2008 was named a “Living Treasure of Hawaii.”

Another event highlight will be a silent auction of six of the Beamer-Solomon family’s personal instruments including three Kamaka ukulele and one Martin four-string ukulele that belonged to their grandmother, Loea Louise Walker Beamer, as well as two guitars — 12-string and six-string instruments that belonged to Air Force Master Sgt. Randolph F. Solomon, Jr., who died in the Vietnam War. He was an accomplished guitarist who frequently performed with the halau under the direction of their mother, Tita Beamer Solomon, and grandmother, Louise Beamer. The instruments have been restored by Waimea’s Leonard Librizzi to like-new condition.

The auction will also include photo art by Waimea’s Ari Bernstein inspired by the late Mahi Beamer’s rendition of “Na Kuahiwi ‘Elima” written by Helen Desha Beamer. They depict cultural landmarks that have inspired hula dancers, teachers and musicians for decades.

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Funds raised at this recital and silent auction will be used by the halau’s not-for-profit, E Hula Mai Kakou, to continue the hula school’s local, national and international performance schedule. Funds also support the production of Hawaiian cultural educational materials through film media, focusing on the mana’o (thoughts) about what makes Hawaii a very special place in the world.

The door will open at Kahilu Theatre at 5 p.m., with the show beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available from members of the halau, by calling fifth generation Loea Kumu Hula Hulali Solomon Covington at 938-8620 or at the door on the day of the performance.

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