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Festival pays tribute to Hawaii’s favorite instrument

By Staff | Oct 15, 2009

KAHULUI — Since its 19th century roots, when Portuguese immigrants brought their four-string braguinha to the islands, the ‘ukulele has been beloved by the people of Hawaii.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center will celebrate the instrument at the fourth annual Maui ‘Ukulele Festival from 1 to 6 p.m.

The public is invited to enjoy a kick-back afternoon of island music with highly-acclaimed musicians on stage at the Events Lawn; admission is free. Gates open at 12:30 p.m.; blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged.

Renowned ‘ukulele advocate and teacher Roy Sakuma will serve as emcee. Popular ‘ukulele players scheduled to perform include Herb Ohta-san with Nando Suan, Uncle Richard Ho‘opi‘i, Joy (featuring Nelly Toyama, Candyce Narimatsu and Daniel Baduria), The Hula Honeys, Kamakakehau Fernandez, Na Palapalai, Kanekoa featuring Vince Esquire, Hulu Lindsey with Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka and Nick Acosta. Keiki from the Kalama Intermediate Band, Kamehameha Schools ‘Ukulele Ensemble and the kupuna group Pennies from Heaven will also play.

Coveted door prizes will be given away throughout the afternoon, including a dozen finely crafted ‘ukulele provided by Kamaka ‘Ukulele, KoAloha ‘Ukulele, Ko‘olau ‘Ukulele, Kanilea ‘Ukulele, Mele ‘Ukulele, Pono ‘Ukulele, Kala ‘Ukulele and MGM.

 A variety of ‘ono food and beverages will be available for purchase at the MACC. No coolers will be permitted in the lawn area.

On Saturday, Oct. 17, a free ‘ukulele workshop will be held in the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater at 10 a.m. This workshop with Roy Sakuma is open to students of all ages, from children through adults. Lessons are designed for beginning and intermediate players; the only requirements are that students can hold C, F and G7 chords. Students should bring their own ‘ukulele, notepaper and a pencil. Space is limited; register by calling 242-2787, extension 221. All participants will be eligible to enter a drawing to win a finely crafted ‘ukulele.

The festival is supported in part by National Endowment for the Arts, State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Maui Product Enrichment Program, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui Time Weekly and KPOA 93.5 FM. The festival is produced by Roy Sakuma of ‘Ukulele Festivals Hawaii.