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The UH Chamber Singers perform at a virtual concert in February 2021 called “KELEMANIA: Germanic Influences, Hawaiian Soundworlds.”

For the first time in its 90-year history, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa choral program has been invited to perform at the industry’s most prestigious conference. The UH Chamber Singers—the premiere choral ensemble in the UH System—will head to the American Choral Directors Association Western Region Conference in Long Beach, California, March 2–5.

Led by Assistant Professor Jace Saplan, the ensemble consists of 24 students and one faculty member. They will perform a 30-minute program, specially crafted to represent UH, the state and the choral legacy of Hawaiʻi. “Ka Pākīpika: The Boundless Pacific” highlights the contributions of Hawaiian composers, such as UH Professor Emerita Dorothy Kahananui Gillette and Queen Liliʻuokalani. UH’s program also embraces the fabric of diversity within the Pacific by honoring compositions from Korea, China, Japan, Sāmoa and New Zealand, all locations that house traditions and choral legacies reflective of the student population in the ensemble.

The appearance at the conference will also be an excellent learning and networking opportunity as all UH performers will be able to attend sessions, exhibits and performances.

Saplan said, “Our students have been working incredibly hard to rise to the occasion and I look forward to representing our university and our choral community in the islands. Mahalo nui!”

Engaging with local communities, alumni

While the performance at the conference is the focus of the trip, Saplan is also planning to add four additional events that reach out to the Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Asian communities, connect with UH’s vibrant alumni base and will help recruit prospective students. This includes a concert with local hālau in partnership with the Pacific Islands Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach, a concert for UH alumni, and a concert and workshop for southern California high school students and undergraduates students at the University of Redlands.

Funds needed for tour

All performers will need to pay their own way to the conference and tour across southern California. To offset some of the costs, the program will host a send-off concert where donations will be accepted at Central Union Church on Friday, February 25, at 7 p.m. Donations can also be made to the UH Choral Program’s fund at the UH Foundation website.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), Becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), three of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

—By Marc Arakaki

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