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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa choral program has not skipped a beat during the COVID-19 pandemic. UH Choirs, consisting of the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir and University Chorus, premiered its fall 2020 virtual concert on November 28. Pono Kaulike: Justice for All spotlighted how music can be a catalyst for change on local, national and international levels, while also paying tribute to frontline workers helping Hawaiʻi overcome COVID-19. The concert is available for viewing on YouTube.

Performance themes:

  • ʻOnipaʻa—Choral music created during the annexation of Hawaiʻi, composed by Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, seeks how indigeneity and decolonial practice take root in choral music.
  • Black Lives Matter: Black Lives and Black Legacies in the Choral Arts—Examines the racial reckoning in America, and seeks how choral and communal music is linked to Black lives and Black legacies in America, and questions how choral craft can affirm that Black lives indeed matter.
  • The Singing Revolution—Focus on Estonia and how choral music became a force to combat cultural genocide from the Soviet Union.

Learning outcomes

Despite not being able to meet in-person in fall 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, members from the three ensembles met virtually via Zoom, sang in their homes, shared their learning in breakout rooms and dove into musical narratives.

“I am incredibly proud of our students! They have shown an infinite reservoir of artistic resilience and a tenacious curiosity,” said Jace Saplan, UH Mānoa director of choral activities and assistant professor. “It is a joy to serve them and to know that even in the midst of a pandemic, our student musicians are finding ways to thrive.”

photo of dozens of people singing on a screen

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