Musical performance groups go to Hawaii

Henry Owens, Staff Writer

On Thursday, June 14, nearly two hundred students from orchestra, band, steel drums, and choir will depart from NYC for a week-long music trip to Hawaii. The trip will consist of musical performances, learning opportunities, and visits to cultural sites. The group will stay near Waikiki beach on the island of Oahu. 

Chair of the music department and choir director Timothy Ho played a large role in organizing thetrip. As a native Hawaiian, Ho has often incorporated Hawaiian music and culture in his teaching. 

“I think there is no better person to visit Hawaii with than Mr. Ho,” Glee Club member Joshua Doolan (12) said. “His expertise and his experience with the Hawaiian culture is going to make this, I believe, the most special trip throughout my entire Horace Mann experience,” he said. 

“The trip serves to really expose the students here to what it means to be a native Hawaiian,” said Ho. “For me, it’s personal because I feel like I have been met with such warmth and understanding and love from my students here. My students have taken any sort of Hawaiian music or knowledge to heart, and they’ve taken it very seriously. This trip is really the next step, understanding me and my culture from the most intimate and specific way possible, by actually taking them to the community of people I was raised in.”

Lauren Smith (12) will attend the trip and has been a part of Glee Club her whole high school career, she said. “I’m really excited to be able to go with Mr. Ho because this is something that has meant so much to him,” Smith said. 

Recently graduated seniors, some of whom have worked with Ho for years, are looking forward to the trip. 

“There’s something really great about having this experience,” Smith said. “Starting your summer, but also feeling connected to a community that has really meant a lot to you.” 

There will be multiple performances for each of the many ensembles spread across the seven days. Performance venues include senior centers, shopping malls, church services, among other places. 

In addition to performing, the ensembles will get the chance to learn about Hawaiian culture at a number of events during the trip. 

Students will visit ‘Iolani Palace, from Hawaii’s monarchy in the 18th and 19th century and take a guided tour of the palace and learn more about Hawaiian history. 

At the palace, Glee Club will sing “Makalapua” and Concert Glee will sing “Ku‘u Pua I Paoakalani.” Both of these songs hold significance for the venue. “Makalapua” was written for Queen Liliuokalani, who was imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace, and “Ku‘u Pua I Paoakalani” was written by Liliuokalani herself during her imprisonment. 

Later in the trip, students will go to the Paepae o He‘eia fishponds, which was one of the highlights of the last trip, according to Ho. Since the site is entirely run by native Hawaiians, the ensembles will follow traditional Hawaiian protocols before entering. 

“We’ve had a chant written for us specifically for this trip. It’s a beautiful chant,” Ho said. 

Kapena, a Hawaiian language specialist, conducted interviews at the school and used research from an indigenous first nation perspective in order to write a chant in Hawaiian for Horace Mann to use as identification in traditional Hawaiian protocols. 

Other highlights of the trip include a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial, a day at Ala Moana Beach Park, a stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation, and a cultural exchange with the Kamehameha School, Ho’s alma mater. 

This trip has been in the works since the last trip to Hawaii, which was in 2013, Ho said. “We identified this year’s senior class when they were still in Middle School,” Ho said. Ho also mentioned that because of the success of the last trip, this trip will follow a similar itinerary.