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Music of Hawaii


Honolulu Symphony
Honolulu Symphony

Music and dancing have long played a significant role in Hawaiian life. The traditional dance of the islands is the hula, a Hawaiian word meaning dance. Originally it was both a religious exercise in honor of the goddess Laka and a form of entertainment. In the traditional hula, prayers, poems, and stories were interpreted by highly stylized gestures of the dancers’ arms and hands. The sacred dances of old Hawaii (kahiko) almost disappeared but have become popular once again. They bear little resemblance to the modern forms of the hula (awana).

The early music of Hawaii was characterized by chants, but little of this folk music has been preserved. Much of what is now considered to be authentic Hawaiian music is based on hymns that were introduced by missionaries in the 19th century. Hawaiian music until recent decades was the specialty of the Royal Hawaiian Band, which greeted arriving passenger ships and gave weekly performances at Kapioloni Park in Honolulu. The popular song Aloha Oe, which is usually translated as “Farewell to Thee,” was composed in 1878 by Queen Liliuokalani. The ukulele, an instrument closely associated with Hawaiian music, is an adaptation of a small guitar brought to the islands in the late 19th century by Portuguese laborers. The Hawaiian, or steel, guitar, was developed there in about 1895. In more recent times music fusing Hawaiian and other traditions has grown in popularity among residents.

The Honolulu Symphony


The Honolulu Symphony performs an annual series of concerts that often features well-known soloists from the mainland. In addition, there are numerous music clubs and choral societies in the islands.

Honolulu’s first theater was opened in 1847 with performances by local amateurs. Classic and contemporary plays, as well as musicals, are performed by the Diamond Head Theatre and a number of other community theater groups. "Hawaii" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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