By Melissa Mojo
Celebrating America’s irrepressible musical spirit, Kaua‘i Voices will present its seventh season concerts — Made in the USA — this month at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Lihu‘e.
“Music is such a fundamental part of the American culture and reflects so many sides of this great and beautiful country,” said Randy Leonard, artistic director and creator of Kaua‘i Voices, a 40-voice auditioned vocal ensemble.
“It’s the young, loud, strong and optimistic America,” Leonard said. “It’s also the lonely, windswept, wide-open spaces of the rugged American West, full of pioneer energy. It’s the America of the vital, noisy and growing cities, and the America of plain, naive, sweet homespun simplicity — and everything in between.”
Every decade of the 20th century will be represented in the Made in the USA concerts, with music from many well-known movies such as The Music Man, West Side Story, An American in Paris, Forest Gump and New York, New York, by such beloved composers as Leonard Bernstein, Steven Sondheim, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, and Meredith Willson.
“Compared to the rest of the world, American music is still in its infancy — born a little over a century ago in the late 1800s from the melting pot of the many cultures that immigrated here from around the globe,” Leonard said.
“We are rich in the influence of the diversity and enormous number of genres,” he added, “including jazz, gospel, hymns, square dance tunes, folk songs, hillbilly, rock and roll, blues, gospel, hymns, ragtime, Broadway show tunes, bluegrass, R&B, country, swing, Latin, boogie-woogie, Appalachian, march, fife and drum, folk, doo wop and barbershop, to name just a few.”
The concerts will feature favorite instrumentalists, who will join with the singers of Kaua‘i Voices for an authentic sound and experience, according Leonard — a choral director and soloist with more than 35 years of experience — who with Alan Van Zee as accompanist — has presented two concerts a year during the past three years.
Founded in 2011, Kaua‘i Voices, a non-profit 501c3 organization, has a community-based mission to enhance appreciation of choral music within the community.
Kaua‘i Voices has performed regular concerts and provided musical outreach to schools and organizations to advocate the benefits of choral singing, which builds discipline and cognitive abilities, encourages camaraderie, promotes confidence, improves memory and listening, and enhances social skills.
St. Michael and All Angels Church is at the corner of Umi and Hardy streets, next to Lihu‘e Library and across the street from Wilcox Elementary School.
There will be two concerts, one on June 20 and another on June 21, both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $12 in advance and $15 at the door, are available at brownpapertickets.com.
- Melissa Mojo is a Kaua‘i-based writer and a member of Kaua‘i Voices, an auditioned choral ensemble based in Lihu‘e.