Kiri Te Kanawa in Hawaii

Reflecting on the concert of Dame Kiri on 1st October 2011 in Maui, Anne Ku reminisces the pure unamplified sound of classical music she misses. The population of Maui is simply too small to attract the big stars on a regular basis. What else is there?


For those of you that are curious what Dame Kiri sang in her one-off concert in Maui on 1st October 2011, read this review of the same programme in Honolulu two nights earlier. I didn’t recognise any of the pieces listed except the English songs and the encore of Puccini’s O Mio Babino Caro.

The first thing she did when she got on stage was to address us and praise the hall. Clad in her full and long purple dress, Dame Kiri charmed the audience first by saying  “How lucky you are to have Castle Theatre.” We were indeed privileged to have such a world-class concert hall, fully air-conditioned with a 1,200 seating capacity. She mentioned the professionalism. Indeed the Steinway concert grand was professionally moved and tuned.

But how sad for Maui that stars like Dame Kiri are few and very far between.

In the run up to her concert at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, I learned that the population of Maui was around 150,000. Despite millions of visitors, Maui permanent residents number half of Utrecht, Netherlands — where I had been living since 2006. It’s also half of the London Borough of Ealing. One question lurks: “can such a small population attract international stars to perform here?”

Elton John did. His two concerts were also sold out in advance. I sat across the road on the Maui College campus to hear him last February.

Can we tap the millions of tourists to support a unique genre like classical music or even operatic music?

There are too many other activities that tourists would do — for free. The weather. The beach. The surf. The ocean. The mountains. Tourists have already paid dearly in $$ and time to get here. At $75, Dame Kiri was more expensive than hanging out on the beach.

Conclusion: there are too many competing activities to attract visitors while the permanent population of Maui is too small to attract the big stars.

What about classical musicians that are not famous? Can they draw an audience?

This past April, I turned pages for the opening concert of the annual Maui Classical Music Festival. It was well-attended by ticket holders. In its 30th year, the festival continues to draw a full house in various locations. But it’s just one week per year!

What does it take to have high quality classical music on this island? It is so rare that one attendee of the Dame Kiri concert in Maui asked me, “Does she have a microphone?”

I am aching to write about the pure sound of classical music, unfiltered and unamplified. Or I should say the RARE sound of such pure music. I would have to fly to Honolulu to get it live.

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

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