UH-Hilo invites you to ‘Come Back Home’

  • Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Kapili Choir under the direction of Amy Horst poses for a group picture during rehearsal Tuesday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo for “Holiday Card to Hilo: Come Back Home.”

A holiday tradition among Hilo families for more than a decade, “Holiday Card to Hilo: Come Back Home,” is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center.

The eagerly anticipated holiday concert will bring together UH-Hilo’s Kapili Choir and University Chorus under the direction of Amy Horst with the Hilo Community Chorus under the direction of Tom McAlexander, the ensemble VOICES, the Orchid Isle Orchestra under the direction of Cathy Young, plus special guest performers.


“Our choirs have worked hard to create a festive mood, preparing songs that date from the 1500s all the way up to 2017,” Horst said. “Walter Greenwood, as pianist for the concert, soloist and arranger, makes the concert happen. And Cathy Young’s sparkling orchestrations bring the music to life. Kanako Okita gets her turn at the keys as well, accompanying our guest soloists.”

According to Horst, the show will pay homage to two departed Hawaii Island music legends, longtime Hawaii County Band trombonist/arranger Rodney Wong, who passed away in June, and beloved St. Joseph School music educator Clarence Waipa, who passed in 2011.

“Rodney created many arrangements for us over the years, and we’ll be performing two of his hits. One is ‘Feliz Navidad.’ The Orchid Isle Orchestra will also perform one of his favorite songs,” Horst said, adding a bit of mystery.

Waipa’s arrangement of “Silent Night,” will also be one of the show’s highlights, as the final number and audience sing-along.

“His wife, Janie, gave us permission to use his arrangement in the concert,” Horst said. “The choirs will perform the harmonies as Mr. Waipa set them, and the audience — plus the sopranos from the choirs and all of the orchestra players — will sing the melody.”

Kyra Gomes, an 11th-grader at Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii Campus who played Lili‘uokalani in the school’s spring ho‘ike, a rock opera titled “Ku I Ka Mana,” will sing “The Doll’s Song” from Offenbach’s opera “Tales of Hoffmann.”

“It’s a soprano tour de force and we want folks to hear Kyra,” Horst said.

For another soprano, UH-Hilo graduate Rachel Edwards, it will be her final time to grace the Performing Arts Center’s stage, at least for now. She’s headed to graduate school in Boston next month, Horst said.

“Rachel will sing two duets and a lovely solo rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ for her last starring turn on our stage,” she explained.

One of those duets, “Flower Duet” from 19th century French composer Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé,” pairs Edwards with Gomes. She shares the spotlight on the other, “Flight,” by contemporary American composer Craig Carnelia, with Young and UH-Hilo senior Adrianna Zablan.

Graduating senior Josh Timmons, a tenor as well as a trumpeter who has toured with Grammy-nominated Hawaiian swing band Kahulanui, will let his voice do the singing in “From Now On” from “The Greatest Showman.” Horst describes it as “a powerhouse anthem that gives the concert its name this year.”

“The choir sings a line ‘and we will come back home,’” she said. “We will also truly keep to the theme of ‘Come Back Home’ by wearing attire from Hawaii and the Pacific — and some from places outside of the region. Look for lots of color onstage this year.”

Advance ticket prices are $20 general, $15 senior citizens and $7 for UH-Hilo and Hawaii Community College students with valid ID and ages 17 and younger, and are available from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today at the Hilo Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 932-7490 or ordering online at artscenter.uhh.hawaii.edu.

Ticket prices increase $5 at the door, if the performance isn’t sold out in advance.


“We hope folks will ‘Come Back Home’ to this annual Hilo holiday tradition,” Horst said. “Bring family and friends for an afternoon of sparkle, warmth and joy.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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