Case Middle School’s ‘Kapuana Choral Festival’ Celebrates Musical Dreams

On Friday, Dillingham Hall was filled with the vibrant voices of 300 singers from grades 6 – 8 during the inaugural Kapuana Choral Festival, a celebration of choral music excellence at Punahou’s Case Middle School. The young vocalists dedicated months to rehearsal, starting their practice of new music in January during regular class periods and culminating in two performances on May 10. 

The highlight of the concert was the debut of a newly commissioned piece of music, “Ka Punahou,” inspired by Punahou’s new mission statement. The piece, composed by Dr. Alec Schumacker with lyrics based on a poem by Alaia Kinzer ’30, captures the essence of Punahou’s values and aspirations, evoking the imagery of children seeking knowledge from Punahou’s ever-flowing spring. Kinzer recited her poem onstage, setting the stage for the beautiful performance. Junior School Principal Todd Chow-Hoy, Junior School Assistant Principal Chase Mitsuda ’98, Case Middle School Deans Rianne Graves-Grantham ’93, Kip Kuhn and Erin Regua, and music faculty members Michael Lippert and Amanda Lippert joined the students and music teachers on stage to sing this world premiere.

In addition to “Ka Punahou,” the choirs – one from sixth grade and two each from seventh and eighth grades – performed selections that aligned with Punahou’s five core values. These ranged from themes of “purpose and kuleana” to celebrating the School’s Hawaiian and Christian heritage. The performances also featured languages from Arabic to Bemba, showcasing the School’s commitment to inclusivity via “a mat that seats many.”

The concert was named by Kumu Lauren Kanoelani Chang ‘01 Williams, who explained that “Puana” refers to the first notes or beginning of a song and the chorus. “Ka Puana” is also inspired by the ‘Ōlelo No’eau, or Hawaiian proverb, “Ka puana a ka moe,” which speaks about the messages revealed through dreams. The term “Puana” parallels the word for flower, “pua,” poetically evoking the blooming of language and music from our lips in refrain.

The festival was supported by a dedicated team including choir teachers Joanna Habermann, Mia Porreca, John Roberts and Alicia Scanlan; Kumu Hula Lauren Kanoelani Chang ‘01 Williams; accompanists Linda Asahina, Jenny Choi, Lena Wong and Arlene Koh ‘93 on violin; and composer Alec Schumacker. Technical support was provided by Travis Flazer and Claire Treviso.

The Kapuana Choral Festival not only showcased the musical talents of Punahou’s students but also served as a touching demonstration of community and cultural celebration, resonating deeply with all who attended. “Community is strengthened by singing with and for each other, and in singing we create joy,” Scanlan shared. “We were especially excited to debut ‘Ka Punahou,’ with the hopes that it will be sung at Punahou for generations to come.”

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