This year's Song Contest features favorite compositions and arrangements that have made lasting impressions in different generations over the course of the event's 90-year history; all in their own right are enduring classics of the time-honored "Kamehameha choral tradition."
In 1912, George Alanson Andrus began teaching music at the Kamehameha School for Boys. His untimely passing inspired the creation of the first song contest, held at the Bishop Museum at Kaiwi‘ula, the original site of the boys' school. A year later in 1922, the angelic voices of the young women were featured in their own contest which was held on the steps of the Main Hall of the girls' school, located near where Farrington High School is today.
Now, nine decades later, some 1,800 young men and women gather before a live audience of more than 5,000 people while tens of thousands more tune in on statewide television and via the Internet.
Amidst social, cultural and technological changes over time, much of the Song Contest tradition remains unchanged. It has always been a showcase of the very best of Hawaiian musical repertoire. A cappella choral singing is still the featured medium of musical expression and the Song Contest remains a valuable community-wide educational medium for learning about, and artistically expressing our vibrant Hawaiian way of life.
The Song Contest is unique to Kamehameha – a tradition that has involved all students in musical competition for ninety years. Miss Laura Brown, Director of Music at Kamehameha 1926-1947, stated that "the objectives of the song contest are to build up the repertoire of the best in Hawaiian music for the cultural heritage of any student who attends Kamehameha; to develop leadership, cooperation and good class spirit; and to give students the use of their singing voices and to give them pleasure in singing as a means of expression.
• Louise Aoe McGregor Award recognizes the student director who has made the most significant contribution to the class in organizational ability, leadership, assistance to others and persistence.
• Richard Lyman, Jr., ‘Ōlelo Makuahine Award recognizes excellence in the use of the Hawaiian language within a song.
• George Alanson Andrus Cup is awarded to the winner of the men's competition.
• New England Mother's Cup is awarded to the winner of the women's competition.
• Helen Desha Beamer Award recognizes the best musical performance.
• Charles E. King Cup is awarded to the winner of the combined class competition.
O‘ahu Ka ‘Ōnohi O Nā Kai - O‘ahu, Gem of the Seas
From the lofty plateau of Ka‘ala down to the sacred birthing stones of Kūkaniloko, from the circuitous estuaries of Pu‘uloa home of the shark guardian Ka‘ahupāhau, to the towering coconut grove of royal Helumoa — the sweep of O‘ahu's breathtaking and bountiful landscape is legendary. In the spirit of this year's theme of classics, tonight's Hō‘ike will celebrate O‘ahu and the classical time-honored ways in which its esteem has been celebrated through mele and mo‘olelo.