Sharing their Summer Experience

Leeward Music Students Performed in France

On Tuesday, September 19, Leeward students Honybal Sosa and Rob Cornwall held a special performance and presentation alongside music instructor John Signor and distinguished vocal artist and Leeward Alumni, Starr Kalahiki.

Their presentation celebrated this past summer's trip to Poitiers, France, where the group had the honor of performing for the Festival à Corps, an international dance festival held annually on the campus of Poitiers University. The week-long festival invited dance students and professional dance troupes from across Europe and select regions around the world to take part in a collaborative and artistic expression of the theme, “politics.” The group of four from Hawaii came the farthest--traveling from the opposite side of the globe, and were the only musicians in the entire festival.

After arriving in Paris on the first evening, the Leeward group was able to visit the Eiffel Tower and take in a few sights before travelling to Poitiers by train the next day. Once in Poitiers, they were whisked away to begin rehearsals and classes, meeting other students from around the world and sharing Hawaii music and culture with them.

Students Sosa and Cornwall performed original pieces of music during the festival and even stepped out of their comfort-zone to take part in some dance performances. The students experienced not only a new art form, but also different aspects of a foreign culture.

Along with Signor and Kalahiki, the Leeward students focused their performance and music around the story of Hawaii and Queen Liliuokalani. Songs they shared during the festival included “Ke Aloha A Ka Haku,” or the “Queen’s Prayer,” “Kuu Pua i Paoakalani,” two compositions Lili‘u composed while under House Arrest, which tied directly to the festival theme of Politics. Cornwall also performed one of his originals, titled, “Always Here.” Thanks to a French translator, the largely French audience understood the Hawaiian lyrics.

Their performance received great positive feedback and the performers were delighted to share the Aloha with them. The trip to France and the unique opportunity to perform and share our culture was a truly unique experience for the music students. Signor explains, "Our students shined! It was great to see them grow, and it almost seems like a dream now - like it never happened. But I'll always remember the pride in the students and the joy they felt performing in Europe."