Palace Performance Honors ‘Merrie Monarch’

Media Release:

The Daughters of Hawai‘i present a free concert 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 at Hulihe‘e Palace to honor King David Kalakaua (1836-1891), former palace curator Aunty Lei Collins and bandmaster Charles ‘Bud’ Dant. Enjoy the voices of the Merrie Monarchs and Hawaiian performing arts by Kumu Hula Etua Lopes and his hula halau, Na Pua Ui O Hawai‘i. Kindly bring a beach mat or chair as seating won’t be provided.

The brother of Queen Lili‘uokalani, Kalakaua became king by election, rather than birthright, in 1874. He was from a long line of chiefs from the island of Hawai‘i; his queen was Kapiolani.

“During Kalakaua’s reign, music thrived due to royal patronage,” says Fanny Au Hoy, docent coordinator. “He loved the performing arts, especially music.”

The king played the piano and composed chants and mele (songs) in both Hawaiian and English. Nicknamed the “Merrie Monarch,” Kalakaua also embraced Western music and promoted the playing of the ‘ukulele. He composed the words to the kingdom’s national anthem, “Hawai‘i Pono‘i,” which was set to music by his Royal Hawaiian Band.

“Kalakaua was a Renaissance man for Hawaiian arts,” adds Au Hoy. “Kalakaua felt the political survival of his kingdom depended upon the cultural revitalization of the Hawaiian people. He included mele oli (chant) and hula in the king’s 1883 coronation and 1886 jubilee.

“The king enjoyed visiting Kona, bought Hulihe‘e Palace and remodeled it,” explains Au Hoy. “He stuccoed the exterior, plastered the interior and enlarged the ocean lanai. The home took on a Victorian air with crown and gold leaf picture moldings and crystal chandeliers. Ever the Merrie Monarch, Kalakaua furnished Hulihe‘e with the finery needed for entertaining: china, glassware, satin cushions, rugs and paintings.”

Kalakaua visited Washington, D.C. and brought about a reciprocity treaty of duty-free commerce with the U.S. He also sailed around the world in 1881 to promote Hawai‘i’s sugar industry. During this period, different countries attempted to take control of several Pacific islands. A group of foreigners, with the help of a military unit, forced the king to sign the Bayonet Constitution in 1887, taking away most of his power. Kalakaua died in 1891 on a trip to San Francisco and Lili‘uokalani, his regent, became queen.

After closing for earthquake repairs in December 2007, Hulihe‘e Palace is open for self-guided tours. Museum and gift shop hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays. Hulihe‘e Palace admission, which at this time includes a self-guided tour brochure, remains $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $1 for keiki under 18. Volunteer docents are sometimes available to give guided tours. For details, contact the palace at 329-1877, the palace office at 329-9555 or visit www.daughtersofhawaii.org. The gift shop can be reached by phoning 329-6558.

Caretakers of Hulihe‘e Palace are the Daughters of Hawai‘i. The organization was founded in 1903 and opens membership to any woman who is directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai‘i prior to 1880. Helping the Daughters in its efforts since 1986 are the Calabash Cousins; membership is available to all.

2010 Hulihe‘e Palace Concert Schedule:  4 p.m. on the palace grounds

  • Jan 17: Band Concert remembering King Kamehameha II “Lunalilo” and Aunty I’olani Luahine
  • Feb 21: Hula Concert remembering Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani
  • Mar 21: Band Concert remembering Queen Ka’ahumanu and Prince Kuhio
  • Apr 18: Hula Concert remembering Prince Albert
  • May 16: Hula Concert remembering King Kamehameha IV “Alexander Liholiho”
  • Jun 13: Band Concert remembering King Kamehameha I “Paiea”
  • Jul 18: Hula Concert remembering John Adams Kuakini
  • Aug 22: Hula Concert remembering King Kamehameha III “Kauikeaouli”
  • Sep 19: Band Concert remembering Queen Lili‘uokalani
  • Oct 17: Hula Concert remembering Princess Kai‘ulani
  • Nov 21: Band Concert remembering King Kalakaua, Palace Curator Aunty Lei Collins and Bandmaster Charles “Bud Dant
  • Dec 12: Hula Concert remembering Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop

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