ON THEMES FROM
THE SONGBOOK OF HER MAJESTY
2020, rev. 2021
The University of Hawaiʻi
Joseph Stepec, director
For Barbara Smith,
July 2-4, 2021
Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra
This concert overture features themes from The Songbook of Queen Liliʻuokalani. The three themes are taken from the mele, Ka ʻŌiwi Nani, Ahe Lau Makani and ending with He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi. The overture begins with an introduction that combines motives and fragments from all three songs and Aloha ʻOe.
After the introduction, two notes in the violas and cellos will unveil the lush romantic melody from Ka ʻŌiwi Nani (The Beautiful One), composed in 1886. The strings and winds will state the theme in alternation followed by a change of key. More delicate orchestrations of trills and solo passages, will express wanderings and musings within a royal garden, thoughts of deep affection.
The bass and cello’s will start the waltz theme of Ahe Lau Makani (There Is a Breath) composed in 1868 at Liliʻuokalani’s residence at Hamohamo in Waikīki. In addition, the Queen credits in her own handwriting at the end of english translation, “by the three graces of Hamohamo,” crediting her sister Miriam Likelike and Kapoli as co-composers. It is not known for whom the song was composed. The theme will pass through several different keys with the strings, brass and winds channeling the words and movements of the three graces.
The overture concludes with the theme from He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi (The Hawaiian National Anthem), composed in 1874 by Liliʻuokalani to supplant the British Anthem God Save the Queen, which had been in use for any state-occasion. Flute, vibraphone and harp will chant the royal theme in a timeless reverence, then the strings and brass choir will follow. The latter half of the ending will expand on the two beat 16th note figure that the Queen sets to “Mai Hawaiʻi a Niʻihau.” A grand procession based on the first four beats of the anthem will reverberate a mantra, to stand and honor; the Queen has arrived. © MTF
Full Perusal Recording Available By Request.
05/21/2023: DC Youth Orchestra, Richard Scerbo (conductor); Washington, DC
09/03/2021: National Symphony Orchestra, Lina Gonzalez-Granados; Silver Spring, MD
07/04/2021: Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Hicks (conductor); Honolulu, HI
07/03/2021: Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Hicks (conductor); Honolulu, HI
07/02/2021: Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Hicks (conductor); Honolulu, HI