Day Five: Aloha Hawaii

hawaiian moonThere was really only time for packing and breakfast today, although some students might have given the beach one last visit before we boarded our coach for the airport at 8 a.m. and said aloha to Oahu.

A complete set of tour pics and videos will be added here soon!


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Day Four: Free Time!

Saturday was our one completely unscheduled day to have fun exploring the island. The Zielke family and others went snorkeling. chessicaChuck and Jessica rented a motorcycle and explored the island, including Pearl Harbor. Bryce, Leah, Cole and Tiffany went to visit a friend and OSU alum. Like many, Erin, Jessica M., Andrea, Sarah, Melissa and James hiked Diamond Head and then enjoyed shaved ice and some quality beach time at Waikiki. Others went in search of lesser-known places to hike or swim in the ocean.


beachBy the end of the day, just about everyone had the bronze, brown or pink (some very pink!) kiss of the Hawaiian sun on their skin.





Diamond Head was a popular choice among the choir. One side of the crater can be seen from Waikiki Beach, and it was just a short taxi or bus ride to trail entrance. Also known as Lē’ahi, the trail to the summit of Diamond Head was build in 1908 as part of the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery defense system. Entering the crater from Fort Ruger through the Kapahulu Tunnel, the trail scaled the steep interior western slopes to the summit. The dirt trail with numerous switchbacks was designed for mule and foot traffic. The mules hauled materials on this trail for the construction of Fire Control Station Diamond Head, located at the summit. Other materials were hoisted from the crater floor by a winch and cable to a midway point along the trail. The Kahala Tunnel was buildt in the 1940’s and is the public entrance today. From the trailhead to the summit of Diamond Head Crater, you hike 0.8 mile one way and climb 560 feet from the crater floor. The trail follows an uneven and steep terrain, and portions involve steep stairways and a spiral staircase.

jessicaLookout points provide sweeping views of southeastern Oahu’s coastline towards Koko Head and the offshore islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui. The round trip hike at a leisurely pace takes 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your hiking speed and how long you take in the spectacular views.




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Day Three: High School Visits and Luau

We were blessed with another leisurely morning on Friday, and singers again used that time to sleep in, go souvenir shopping, exercise or go to the beach. While there have been clouds and short showers off and on, the weather has overall been very nice and there has been plenty of sun. These short bursts of light rain that seem to move in and out almost constantly between bright sun breaks must be what keeps the island lush and green and tropical! Also the ocean breeze must clear the air because several of us with spring allergies noticed we were not bothered by them in Hawaii.


We have such a great, responsible group of singers on this tour (and great organizers!) What group of 40+ ever arrives early to anything? But on several occasions we have arrived at our destination early and today was no exception. Our first school, Punahou, was not quite ready for us when we were about to arrive, so we killed time with a stop at Leonard’s for malasadas (on Krystal’s recommendation.)  Malasadas are a very sweet, light, doughnut-type of confection (no hole in the middle) that come filled or unfilled and are sprinkled with sugar. They were warm right out of the oven and really delicious!

We have had a very sweet bus driver, Lynn, for several stretches of the trip and she was with us again today and found a great place to park the coach that was accessible to both Starbucks and Leonard’s, so everyone was pretty content.

Around Noon we arrived at Punahou School, which is in Honolulu on the windward side of the island. Punahou was founded in 1842 with 15 students, as a school for children of missionaries working in Hawaii. I believe we were told that it was the oldest school west of the Mississippi. Today it is one of the top private, co-ed college prep schools on Oahu, with annual tuition of 20 thousand dollars. Many notable leaders and famous people have attended Punahou, including U.S. President Barack Obama.


The director of choirs at Punahou is Mike Lippert, who greeted our bus and took us into the school’s wonderful performing arts theater, which is quite unusual because it has a lily pond flowing from outside to inside of it. Mike shared a brief history of the school, the theater and talked a little bit about his choir.

lily-pond-inside lily-pond-story

After our choir had brief warm-up in the theater, the Punahou choral students arrived. Tonight is opening night for their musical, and many were sporting their “Guys and Dolls” t-shirts. A couple of the girls had rollers in their hair in preparation for the evening’s production. You could feel their excitement. We were welcomed warmly with a sung Hawaiian greeting, and then the OSU Chamber Choir sang. Following our performance, Dr. Z gave the Punahou students some information about Oregon State and our music program, and then asked Chuck Gidley and Nathan Harms to speak and answer questions about what it’s like to participate in music at OSU as a non-music major. They did a great job.










The Punahou students then sang for our choir before having to head to their next class. The exchange felt very positive.








After Punahou we headed to the Iolani School, which is also in Honolulu. This school’s choir is under the direction of John Alexander and had been in attendance at the choir festival we performed for on Day One.


Iolani means “heavenly hawk.” The school was founded in 1863 by Father William Scott of the Anglican Church. With the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and corresponding annexation to the U.S. in 1898, its leadership was changed to that of Episcopal Church, and it was operated as a school for boys until 1979. It also is a premier, private, college prep school, with an annual tuition of $19,000/yiolani3

We sang for the students in their choir room. Z. talked briefly about our programs, and then we were treated to a performance of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the Iolani. John Alexander made an enthusiastic comment about how great it would be if some of our OSU graduates would end up teaching music there on the island. (I think after visiting Hawaii, one or two might be interested!) One of their choir students shared that he is scheduled to visit the OSU campus with his family in a few weeks, so hopefully this will be the beginning of a great, mutually beneficial relationship with the private high schools on Oahu.

Immediately after our visit with Iolani School, it was time to don our luau attire, get back on the bus to drive to Paradise Cove in Kapolei, which is near Pearl Harbor and Pearl City. There are many hotels that offer luaus on-site, but Paradise Cove is a beautiful facility in a cove with a private beach area and magnificent view, and their business is creating the perfect luau experience for tourists. They do it really well. The parking lot was absolutely full of tour busses and the number of people in attendance was large, but they are equipped to get many people through the gates quickly, and from the time two authentically-dressed native islanders greet  you with a free island juice or mai tai (depending on your age and preference) and put a shell necklace or lei on you; to the final “aloha” from the stage after the big performance of hula and fire dancing, you are thoroughly entertained. Really, the photographs speak for themselves, but I might add that Krystal is an excellent hula dancer/teacher and that the dinner buffet food was excellent and plentiful, as was the dessert. It was a very enjoyable day and evening.

Paradise Cove Luau Photos

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Day Two: School Visit and Concert

While we packed a lot into day two, the pace did not feel too rushed, and we have to thank Cole H-V again for the relaxed schedule. So far there has been a lot of time to enjoy the island. Our call time for the bus was not until 11:00 a.m., so singers had time to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast (complimentary at the hotel) and get in some beach time if they were so inclined. While our hotel is not right on the beach, it is an easy walk. Waikiki Beach is beautiful.









Our school visit on day two was to the St. John Vianney Parish School in Kailua. Our bus took us away from the “makai” (water) to the “Kailua” side (windward) and “mauka” (mountain) side. The terrain was lush and beautiful. St. John Vianney is a co-ed, private, catholic school. It was the second catholic church in Kailua, dedicated in 1962 and opened in 1965. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. We were looking at the view of lush mountains from the playground and thinking – Wow! What a place to play!G







We had a little bit of unexpected excitement after we arrived. While we were rehearsing, some announcements came on the intercom and we discovered the school was in a lock down. Apparently, an armed man had robbed a nearby McDonald’s and was still on the loose in the area. The principal let us know there was a police presence on the grounds and we continued to rehearse. Eventually, still under lock down, they let the children come in quietly and we were able to perform for them, thankfully. The school was still under official lock down when we left, but it felt as if the concern had lessened somewhat.


Our concert was very well received. The elementary through middle school audience sat quietly and all seemed very interested and perceptive. There was happy interaction between our students and their students. It was a timely assembly for these children as it likely distracted them from what could have been for some a scary and stressful situation. The principal and teachers were gracious and really seemed to appreciate our visit.

After our trip to St. John Vianney, we returned to our hotel for some down time prior to the evening concert at Kawaiha’o Church. Once again, Krystal took a large group on a walking excursion for some of her favorite island food. This time it was Chun Wah Kam, which is kind of like Hawaii’s version of Panda Express, and in many of our opinions, much better. A favorite choice among many students is a pub right next to our hotel called Cheeseburger in Paradise which has really good food, smoothies, specials, and island food such as Kalua Pig, Teriyaki Cheeseburgers, Ahi Tuna etc. Other students used this time to shop for souvenirs to take home, and Cole H-V turned some of the singers on to an island treat called Coco Puffs. These are NOT the sugary cereal. These are a bakery treat consisting of the most wonderful, light, soft, round baked dough, filled with a light, creamy, chocolate pudding and chantilly cake on the top.

MThe bus departed for our evening concert at the church at 5 p.m. It was a beautiful evening. Very warm, but with some wind and interesting storm clouds, to make the partly sunny evening sky gorgeous and colorful. After a short warm-up/rehearsal, we walked over to the Iolani Palace to explore the grounds (which are beautiful) and to take a group shot. The palace is sacred and the stairs to it were roped off with a notice that there was an alarm that would sound if you trespassed, so we took our photo in a beautiful gazebo on the grounds just before sunset. There is the most incredible tree on the grounds, and certain Oregonians could not resist the desire to get their tree hugging on!P

We had a small but very appreciative and receptive audience for the evening concert, and our students sang beautifully. We had some Beaver Believers in the audience who had heard about the performance through an email newsletter the Alumni Association sent out. Krystal and Cole H-V both had family in the audience. The setting was lovely and it was a special evening.




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Day One: Travel and Choral Festival

Singers were up before dawn to meet the coach to the airport from Benton at 3:00 a.m. so many started the trip with little or no sleep, but there would be plenty of time to sleep on the nearly two hour bus ride and six hour flight to Honolulu. Everything went smoothly. In fact, the wind must have been with us because we arrived about a half hour early.

Krystal’s connections with the hotel paid off. We thought we’d have to store our luggage at the hotel until check in time, but the hotel very quickly got all of our rooms ready and everyone got checked in early and we had about three hours to eat and explore before rehearsal for the choral festival. The Double Tree is very nice and everyone is a fan of their huge, free, “home-baked” cookies.

The most common use of time was the very practical mission to find food and purchase items such as sunscreen and sunglasses, so the nearby Wal-Mart was appreciated. Krystal, a native Hawaiian, led a large group on an excursion to the Ala Moana Mall for her favorite Japanese curry and fresh pineapple soft-serve. The consensus from that group was, “Delicious!” For some, the attraction of the beach overwhelmed the need for food, and several students returned for rehearsal with rosy cheeks and saltwater hair and the first signs of the wonderful Hawaiian sun.

Free time was followed by rehearsal at the historic Kawaiha’o Church, which coincidentally is the family church for relatives of Cole Haole-Valenzuela, senior, and member of the choir. Cole’s uncle was a huge help in coordinating with the church and with arrangements for tomorrow night’s Chamber Choir concert, and we are very appreciative.  This beautiful, historic momument is considered the mother church of Hawaii and the “Westminster Abbey” of the islands. In 1820, the first missionaries arrived at Honolulu and found themselves well accepted by the native islanders. King Kamehameha III granted the missionaries land at Kawaiaha’o for the purpose of establishing the kingdom’s first Christian church. Much of Hawaii’s modern history found its beginning on the grounds. The realms kings and queens worshiped there, as did thousands of their subjects. Statehood was marked by ceremonies on the grounds on August 21, 1959. The church is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Sites. And it is also the site of the annual Lokahi Choral Festival, a festival for high school choirs, hosted by the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus.

Rehearsal was followed by a wonderful Bento dinner provided by the festival on the lawn of the church. The concert featured seven individual high school choirs from across the island, with the OSU Chamber Choir as the featured guest, and ended with all of the choirs singing an original piece Imi au ia ‘oe” by HRM Queen Lili’uokalani, arranged and conducted by Dr. Jon Magnussen of the University of Hawaii.

After the concert, we returned by coach to the hotel. For many it was time to retire and catch up on sleep, others explored the city, sought out island food and libations, and some went to the beach for a moonlight swim.

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opt-OB-hawaii14-legal-poster3The Oregon State University Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Steven Zielke, will be on tour in Honolulu April 9-13. The choir will perform at the Lokahi Choral Festival for high school school choirs hosted by the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus. Chamber Choir will also visit and sing for high school choirs at the St. John Vianney Parish School, the Punahou School and the Iolani School. On Thursday, April 1o, the choir will give a free, public performance at 7 p.m. at the Kawaiha’o Church, 957 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu. We hope to see Oregon State University friends and alumni who live in Hawaii at the concert! And if you can’t join us, you can follow our travels here. Aloha.


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