By Léo Azambuja
A couple of young musical virtuosos are downright changing the perception that the violin is for sad songs. Every time Kimberly Hope and Aowl Owen play their violins, whether it’s on the sidewalk, in open mics or during music gigs or concerts, their upbeat, vibrant music wonderstrucks unsuspecting members of the audience.
“I try to prevail a lot of emotion and bring out more light for people when I play,” said Owen, adding he likes to play positive sounds to lift people, especially if they are down.
Hope had originally picked a career path in music therapy. But her love for performing played a role in her career change, though she still sees her music as a healing tool.
“I decided I wanted to go the performance route because I still feel like performing and playing with people, for people,” said Hope, explaining music can still be a healing tool in emotional, mental and physical levels even when removed from a scientific setting. “I still love the idea that music can heal people and bring people together. It doesn’t matter where you are from, it’s a universal language; it just transcends all the barriers between people. That’s why I love it so much and that’s my passion.”
On Valentine’s Day, Owen and Hope will perform their first concert together, gifting the Kaua‘i community a unique experience they hope will open the way for many more.
Both have been playing the violin for 14 years, but only met each other about five years ago. Though they have been playing together quite often lately, and have played in very few music gigs as a duo, this is the first time they will join talents for a full concert, complete with backup musicians.
The event, Night of Original Music at the Kaua‘i Christian Fellowship in Koloa will showcase Owen’s and Hope’s original songs, and their last performance will feature a song they wrote together. The music is the central part of the night, but the unique event was planned to be a memorable evening, especially for those bringing a Valentine’s Day date.
Owen said the first thing people will feel when they walk in, is that they are not on Kaua‘i anymore. It’s going to be super “foresty” and romantic, with chocolate fountains and roses.
“Whatever emotion they have at the time, we want them to make that bigger. I mean, if it’s negative vibes, we want it to be positive for them. If they’re in love, we want them to be more in love,” Owen said.
The idea, he said, was to bring something positive to Kaua‘i to alleviate the sadness connected with drug use and suicide on the island.
“We wanted to give the community something positive,” Owen said.
Kickshaws food truck and C is for Cupcakes will provide the food and desserts for the evening.
During the concert, Hope and Owen will be backed up by a mini orchestra, with drums, piano, bass, viola, cello and more violins.
“We want to have a full sound. It’s a lot of our friends,” Hope said. “They’re all really good musicians.”
Owen said people should come dressed in formal attire.
“How many nights of the year can you dress up really nice and take your date out?” Owen said. “I feel like Valentines Day would be a perfect time for that. Especially if you are on a romantic date, what’s better than violin?”
Owen was born in the Marshall Islands, but is on Kaua‘i since he was a baby. He started playing the violin at 12 years old, inspired by, believe it, an spaghetti commercial on TV. He played soccer during high school, and out of embarrassment, he hid his love for violin from this teammates. When they eventually found out Owen was in the school’s band, they all thought it was cool. Because of his friends’ acceptance, he said he wants to inspire others to follow their passion and never feel ashamed of it.
He went to college in South Carolina right out of high school, with the intention of majoring in violin teaching. But the timing wasn’t right, he said, and he left after a year.
Hope was born on the Big Island, and moved to the Mainland as a toddler. There, she picked up the violin at 10 years old to be in her school’s orchestra. Her parents were surprised; no one in their family played a string instrument.
“I said, ‘Maybe I’ll give it a try,’” she said. “I’m really glad I did because as soon as I picked it up, I fell in love with it.”
The hardest part for Hope’s parents was to tell her to stop practicing and get her homework done, she said, laughing. Her family moved to Kaua‘i in 2008, and she continued taking lessons and playing regularly. She started to become known on Kaua‘i when she was still in high school, playing gigs and in art nights. She left to attend college in Ohio, but always came back and performed on Kaua‘i during school breaks. Hope moved back in 2017, after majoring with a bachelors degree in violin performance.
Both Hope and Owen currently work at Band Wagon, a music-based after-school program in Lihu‘e and Kilauea.
“This is a dream come true for us,” Owen said. “We’ve been talking about it for many years, doing a concert together, and we’re actually making it happen.”
“Night of Original Music” will be at Kaua‘i Christian Fellowship at 2731 Ala Kinoiki in Koloa on Feb. 14. The doors open at 5:30, when food from Kickshaws will be available. The concert is from 7 to 8 p.m., with dessert and photos to follow. Tickets are available at Band Wagon in Kukui Grove Center and at Aloha Exchange in Kalaheo. Suggested donation is $40 per couple or $30 per single. Call 635-3323 for more information.
Find Hope in YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope by searching kimberlyhopemusic; and Owen in Instagram and Facebook by searching aowlaowen.