Article by Anne E. O’Malley

Photos by Anne E. O’Malley unless otherwise stated.

Koke‘e and Hawaiian music were meant for each other. It’s the place where haku mele (composers) bloom—and mele in the Hawaiian language blossom.

For example, two years ago at the first camp, Uncle Nathan Kalama wrote two mele. One of them, Nani Koke‘e, tells of his experience over the three days of the camp.

A self-proclaimed non-camper, Kalama scored a cabin to himself and sat outdoors on the porch of his cottage in the wee hours of the morning, enjoying the moon as the mele came to him. He choreographed it and his halau of kupuna dance hula to it.

Also in that first year, one of the small groups collaborated on the first verse of a song later developed fully and submitted to the Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival Composers’ Contest and Concert. The song was He Apo O Koke‘e—it won third place. Team members included Amy Franklin, Mele Brewer, Stefan Schweitzer, Ginger Saiki and Jordene Pi‘ilani Lee-Hornstein.

Last year at the camp, Puni Patrick worked within a small group that composed the mele Kaluapuhi. She shared on a Youtube video comment that the group wanted to express their experiences of the mountain and that one of the group members mentioned Kaluapuhi Trail and that it seemed to embody the expression of their experiences.

It’s easy to allow the spirit to flow freely as you nestle into the uplands of Kaua‘i and unleash your inner songwriter. If you’re interested in pursuing making the music you dream of, this is your camp. A staff of experts in Hawaiian language, composition and melody work with you in small groups where you learn the principles of Hawaiian language songwriting. For beginners to those with intermediate level skills, this is the place to learn and to review songs you might have in development and would like an expert opinion on.

Our staff will be a combination of well known haku mele and Hawaiian language experts who will guide you to your fulfillment of your dream—composing a mele in the Hawaiian language.

The Koke‘e Music Camp is sponsored by the Garden Island Arts Council, with the partnership of Hui O Laka, Malie Foundation, and Kaua‘i Music Festival.