Storytelling, music to combine at Hawaiian language show at MACC

Cultural Event

Chamber Music Hawai‘i’s Spring Wind Quintet will collaborate with storyteller B.K. Cabigon to present the story “Paka‘a Lanakila!” Photos courtesy the MACC

The Maui Arts & Cultural Center will present a first-ever Hawaiian language performance on Maui of the story “Paka’a Lanakila!” at 5 p.m. Sunday in Castle Theater.

The special musical work, based on a classic Hawaiian story, has been composed by Hawaii-based composer Jon Magnussen, who will be part of the performance that will also feature storyteller B.K. Cabigon and the Chamber Music Hawai’i’s Spring Wind Quintet.

“Paka’a Lanakila!” is based on the traditional Hawaiian story of Paka’a, a boy living on Kauai in the cliffs of Keahiahi near present day Kealia. In the story, Paka’a is a smart boy and a quick learner, but sometimes his mother and uncle underestimate what he can do. By the end of this fishing adventure, Paka’a wins the respect of the po’e lawai’a, or fishing people, and all those on shore that day.

The classic coming-of-age story first appeared in Hawaiian language newspapers during the late 19th century and many versions have appeared since then, in both Hawaiian and English. In 2011, on a commission from Chamber Music Hawai’i with funding from the Honolulu Mayor’s Office on Culture and the Arts, Magnussen created a musical setting of a portion of the story that combines a flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, and a narrator.

A grant from ABC Stores enabled the recording of “Paka’a Lanakila!” in the original English version, and the development and recording of a Hawaiian-language version, created in collaboration with Cabigon and Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, experts in Hawaiian oral traditions. Accompanying illustrations have been created for the performance by Big Island artist Caren Loebel-Fried.

Storyteller B.K. Cabigon to present the story “Paka‘a Lanakila!”

Sunday’s presentation will include an interactive demonstration in which audience members can learn about the musical instruments and the story. English subtitles will be provided. The Spring Wind Quintet will also perform several mele from Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The program will conclude with a talk-story session with the creative team.

Tickets to the event are $35 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-4769 or online at

In connection with Paka’a Lanakila!, Chamber Music Hawai’i launched The Paka’a Project, a new educational outreach initiative designed to increase access to music education resources for teachers statewide. For more information on available resources, visit