Maui Classical Music Festival
Esteemed musicians come together at variety of venues
Since 2013, acclaimed classical guitarist Colin Davin has traveled four times to war-ravaged Afghanistan to teach eager young students at the nation’s National Institute of Music in Kabul.
Arriving in a land where music was once officially banned by the Taliban, and where there are no professional classical guitarists, Davin taught both boys and girls ranging in age from 9 to 20 from each of Afghanistan’s main ethnic groups.
“I had a group of about 15 guitar students,” says Davin, who will join a group of esteemed musicians at the annual Maui Classical Music Festival, opening at 7 p.m. Friday at the Makawao Union Church.
“It was such an excited group of kids. Since the Taliban era, the school made it their mission to try and educate girls. There’s a lost generation of Afghan musicians — who might have been — during the Taliban regime. Lots of musicians went into exile. There’s a mission now to rebuild Afghan culture and music at the school. I was lucky enough to play a small role there.”
An official edict during the Taliban reign of terror proclaimed: “Those who listen to music and songs in this world, on the Day of Judgment molten lead will be poured into their ears.”
Davin recounts an amazing story of resistance by the man who takes care of and helped preserve instruments at the Institute.
“During the Taliban rule, he buried a lot of instruments, hundreds of instruments. It was really brave.”
The guitarist last visited Afghanistan in 2016. He’s not sure he will return as the security situation is more unstable.
“I felt unsafe on my last trip. There was a big attack by ISIS about half a mile from my guest house. Things have gotten worse.”
When he’s not dodging bomb blasts in Kabul, Davin runs the guitar studio at Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music in Ohio. A graduate of the Julliard School, he was hailed by American Record Guide as, “a player with a virtuoso’s technique, a deeply expressive musicianship and a probing imagination.”
Making his Maui debut, he will first perform Beethoven’s “Serenade for Violin, Viola and Guitar, Op. 8,” with violinist Scott St. John and festival co-founder/violist Yizhak Schotten.
“It’s a contemporaneous arrangement,” he explains. “It’s an early piece and really quirky, really interesting.”
Friday’s concert also features Beethoven’s “Sonata in F for Cello and Piano, Op. 5, No. 1” with pianist Jeewon Park and cellist Edward Arron; and Mendelssohn’s “Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 66,” with violinist Benny Kim, cellist Peter Wiley and Park.
On Monday the festival moves to Makena’s Keawala’i Congregational Church for a “Tangos and Romance” concert at 7 p.m. The concert will open with the first three movements of Piazzola’s “History of the Tango” for violin and guitar, featuring Kim and Davin.
“There are three movements from Piazzola’s musical summary of the tango’s history in Argentina. The movements are “Bordello 1900” with some shady beginnings; “Cafe 1930,” a beautiful, sad slow tango; and “Nightclub 1960” which has some real edge. It’s just incredible energy and virtuosity.”
The concert also includes Gnattali’s “Sonata for Cello and Guitar” played by Arron and Davin.
“It’s a really fun work with incredible energy that I’ve always loved,” Davin says. “Gnattali had a background in Brazilian music and as a classical pianist. He wrote music that captures the Brazilian choro feeling.”
Boccherini’s “Fandango” from “Quintet in D for Guitar and Strings, Op. 50 No. 1” with Davin, St. John, Kim, Sharon Wei and Arron; and Dvorak’s “String Quartet in F, Op. 96 (known as the “American Quartet”) with Kim, St. John, Schotten and Wiley are also on Monday’s program.
Heading to Hana on Wednesday, a festival concert will be held at 6 p.m. at the Wananalua Congregational Church. The program includes a solo work, Ponce’s “Sonatina Meridional No. 5 in D for Guitar.”
“He was a great Mexican composer,” Davin explains. “He wrote a series of sonatas for Andres Segovia. Segovia used Manuel Ponce to create a great repertoire for the guitar. (It was Ponce who created the striking arrangement for guitar of Bach’s “Prelude” from the first cello suite as performed by Segovia). He wrote some really extraordinary music and the ‘Sonatina Meridional’ is a really thrilling Spanish style sonata.”
Also on the bill, Dvorak’s “String Quartet in F, Op. 96,” and Brahms’ “String Quintet in G, Op. 111” with St. John, Kim, Schotten, Wei and Wiley.
The festival will close on May 11 returning to the Keawala’i Congregational Church at 7 p.m. The program features Ponce’s “Sonatina Meridional No. 5 in D for Guitar”; Brahms’ “String Quintet in G, Op. 111”; and Faure’s “Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15” with St. John, Schotten, Arron and Park.
Maui once again played a role in the evolution of Fleetwood Mac, when the band recently conducted two days of rehearsals in the Maui Arts & Cultural Centers’s McCoy Studio Theater in Kahului with new members, Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House’s Neil Finn, who are replacing Lindsey Buckingham.
“It did sound really good,” Stevie Nicks told CBS News in an interview.
Christine McVie added, “I’m really happy.”
After a 15 year absence from the Mac, McVie returned to the fold after participating in a successful concert in 2013 at the MACC’s Castle Theater with Mick Fleetwood. The positive experience led her to rejoin the group.
New Zealand musician Finn recently performed on Maui at Fleetwood’s on Front St. in Lahaina and at the “Concert For Our Lives.”
With Gretchen Rhodes out on tour with Dave Mason, singer Kelly Covington will perform with Mick and Eric Gilliom on Tuesday and May 14 at Fleetwood’s. In July, the legendary drummer will head out for rehearsals with Fleetwood Mac before their major tour opens in October.
Oahu’s reggae stars The Green, headliners at the “Aloha from Hawaii 2018” concert at 6 p.m. Saturday on the MACC’s Events Lawn, have another winner in their latest album “Marching Orders,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. “Marching Orders” is the band’s fourth studio album and the group’s third to hit the top chart spot.
The popular band made history when they became the first local reggae group to reach any of Billboard’s major mainstream charts, with “Hawaii 13” placing in both the Top 200 albums chart and Hot 100 Singles chart, besides debuting at No. 1 on the reggae chart.
“We try to keep our music authentic, organic, that’s why our fans are so stoked for ‘Marching Orders’ because it shows our natural growth from 22 year olds when we started out (in 2009) to the 30 year olds we are now,” The Green’s JP Kennedy told Billboard magazine.
Guests on the album include J Boog, Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany, Jamaican dancehall star Busy Signal, Fiji, the Mana’o Company and female vocalist Riya Davis, on the tracks “Foolish Love” and “You’ve Been Crying.”
” ‘Marching Orders’ isn’t the kind of album you’ll have playing in the background, but the kind you’ll have blaring from your car or through your headphones,” praised Top Shelf Reggae.
The Green features Kennedy on guitar and vocals, lead singer Caleb Keolanui, Zion Thompson on guitar and vocals, Ikaika Antone on keyboards and vocals, bassist/vocalist Brad Watanabe and drummer Jordan Espinoza.
Sometimes viewed as Hawaii’s version of Jamaica’s Third World, they also recall the spirited energy of Britain’s Steel Pulse and Aswad.
Since their days in high school, the members of The Green have relished playing reggae music.
“We were all into it,” Kennedy recalls. “It was the genre we knew most about, and we weren’t super musicians who could play all kinds of stuff — we were playing reggae. We were getting respect and recognition from our peers, so we were validated in a way. People were always encouraging us.”
After its Maui show, The Green will head out on a Mainland tour which includes the California Roots Festival.
* The Green headlines the “Aloha from Hawaii 2018” concert at 6 p.m. Saturday on the MACC’s Events Lawn. The concert also features Iration, Anuhea and Jordan T. Tickets are $37 general admission in advance, and $55 general admission the day of the show. VIP tickets are $99 in advance and $120 the day of the show (plus applicable fees). Gates open at 5:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, go to the box offfice, call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org.