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DEFENDING KALO

 

YEAR
2022
 
INSTRUMENTATION
Violin and Harp
 
DURATION
12 minutes
 
COMMISSIONED BY
The Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy for Music for
Lucia Lin and Charles Overton
as part of the Composing Earth
initiative


PREMIERE
November 4, 2022
Lucia Lin, violin
Charles Overton, harp
Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church, Cambridge
Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTE

Defending Kalo belongs to a category of work inspired by indigenous Hawaiian knowledge. Commissioned by the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music for Lucia Lin and Charles Overton as part of the Composing Earth initiative, the work continues my collaboration with GLFCAM, Lucia and Charles by adding a companion work to my earlier violin and harp duo, Printing Kapa.

 

The Composing Earth initiative, a yearlong program of GLFCAM, brought together 10 composers to learn of climate change, and to create works to promote awareness. For my work, I drew inspiration from a visit to a Loʻi (Taro Farm) at the Hale O Kalo in Waipio Valley on Hawaiʻi Island (colloquially knows as the Big Island). During my trip, I was closer to the Earth then I have ever been, knee deep in the cool fudge-like mud of a taro patch, bent over and pulling Kalo (cultivated taro, a breadfruit) from its roots.

 

The cultivation of Kalo is a staple of sustainable Hawaiian agriculture, and it is threatened. The road into the valley is a steep and treacherous. It’s a narrow mountainous path slowly eroding from constant heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic, the stains of over-tourism. The nearby black-sand beaches and lush manicured green farms of the Taro farmers is a haven for tour companies looking to cash in on the tourism, yet this land is all under private ownership, and so there is a legal battle of access waging between the longtime kalo farmers and tour companies.

 

At the center of this war, kalo. A crop symbolizing an indigenous cultural practice of sustainable living, it is a defending crop that is both in need of support and the shield against legal. Consumerism, tourism, and entitlements are words not often connected to climate change, but are at the very heart of inflaming the global temperature. In defensive of Kalo, the situation in Waipio is an example of human greed destroying a sustainable and cultural way of life. Nowhere else on the island can Kalo be cultivated, practiced and sustained, yet there a many other places for tourism.

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