From Our Files: Arts & Culture
Paradise starts a regular column translating popular Hawaiian songs into English and selling sheet music to the songs by mail for 30 cents (about $8 in 2013 dollars).
“The new Hawaiian Opera House will soon be completed and as a place of amusement, it will compare favorably with many theatres in the large American cities,” boasts Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to HONOLULU Magazine. “It is built on modern plans … the house will be opened by Annis Montague and an amateur company in Il Trovatore; during the season, arrangements will be made to bring companies from San Francisco. The people of Honolulu are fond of entertainment and always pay liberally for same.” This opera house replaced one built in 1879 and would in turn be replaced in 1917 by what is now the post office at Richards and South King streets.
Paradise interviews Joao Fernandes, the man credited with introducing the ukulele to Hawaii. Fernandes, 67, was 25 when he arrived in Honolulu in 1879, one of 350 Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira aboard the Ravenscraig. Explains Fernandes, “In Portugal they call ukulele cavaquinhos—that mean ‘small piece of wood.’ They call him ‘machete de braga’ or ‘braginho’ in Madeira. But when Kanakas hear him they call him ‘ukulele’—‘jumping flea.’ Funny, eh? Ha! Ha!” Fernandes fondly recalls performing for King Kalakaua, Queen Emma and Queen Liliuokalani. He also recalls his wife’s displeasure at his frequent late nights performing.
October 1967, August 1985, February 2011
HONOLULU Magazine has, since its name change from Paradise of the Pacific, covered the Honolulu Symphony as a kind of canary in the cultural coal mine of the city, seemingly more interested in the institution than in the music it has performed. Is it healthy? Who’s in charge? In 1967, the magazine deemed the arrival of a new conductor—the moody and talented Robert LaMarchina—as worthy of a cover story, in which the author admits to being too nervous and star struck to ask tough questions.
In 1985, the magazine found the symphony in crisis, writing, “Unless Hawaii’s longest-running and most costly musical extravaganza rethinks its administrative and financial structures and resurrects its sagging credibility … the symphony’s ‘greatest season ever’ might well turn out to be the symphony’s last season ever.”
That gloomy prediction actually came true 26 years later, as HONOLULU described in February 2011’s “The Day the Music Died,” detailing the symphony’s descent into bankruptcy.
Follow-up articles in print and online have since chronicled the emergence of the Honolulu Symphony’s successor, the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. hawaiisymphonyorchestra.org
Since the 1890s, when Paradise sold sheet music of Hawaiian songs, this magazine has especially devoted itself to Hawaii’s music, perhaps more than to any other art form. By 2004, hardly anyone was buying sheet music to play hits songs at home. But when HONOLULU Magazine decided to name “The 50 Greatest Hawaii Albums of All Time,” the article launched the 21st-century equivalent—a partnership with Mountain Apple Co. that resulted in two bestselling compilation CDs, as well as a coffeetable book through sister company Watermark Publishing Co.
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