When The Concordia Choir went to Hawaii as part of its tour this spring, members didn’t just give a concert. They also experienced the state’s culture.
On their first full day in Honolulu, choir members exchanged culture and music with the Gioventu Musicale group. Gioventu is a youth choir made up of students from the Honolulu area. It’s under the direction of Nola Nahulu.
This is the second time The Concordia Choir has done an exchange with the group. The first was during the choir’s tour in 2009.
“It’s a rather interesting way to add to the education of our students,” says Dr. René Clausen, conductor of The Concordia Choir.
The Hawaiian culture has many native traditions. During the exchange, choir members listened to Gioventu sing in Hawaiian and watched its singers hula. Malia Ka'ai-Barrett, the general manager for Gioventu, gave Concordia students a detailed history lesson of Hawaii utilizing the portraits of Hawaiian royalty in the Kawaiaha’o Church.
“Learning the history was super interesting,” says Dustin Boyum ’15, Peterson, Minn. “You think of Hawaii as being just part of the United States, but it really is a completely different culture.”
After members of Gioventu shared their traditions, The Concordia Choir tried hula dancing. They were led by Kanani Kelekolio, Gioventu’s hula instructor, who took them through each move while keeping time on a drum.
“It’s important they see that we’re making an effort to celebrate their culture,” Clausen says.
During every concert on tour, Clausen talked about closing the circle of communication. This is done when the audience, the other half of the choir’s circle, listens to the message shared by the choir. This brings the two halves closer, he says. He described sharing experiences with Gioventu as another way to close the circle.
“Being completely immersed in the culture and having that collaboration was phenomenal,” Boyum says. “It’s important to make those connections.”