It’s mid-March, and per my yearly tradition, I have currently been re-watching some of my favorite past performances from my high school’s Song Contest.
Some of you may be wondering, “What is Song Contest?” Well…imagine sitting in an arena full of approximately 1600 high school students. You have that in your mind? Now imagine that all 1600 of these students are of Native Hawaiian descent. Yes, you heard that right – all of the students. Now, add some beautiful Hawaiian songs depicting Hawaiian history, culture, ʻāina (land), and aliʻi (chief) composed by prolific composers. All of this while thousands of people, many proud alumni of the school, view either live in the arena, on television, or live streamed around the world.
This is the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest, a proud legacy that has been a part of the school’s history for 98 years. This contest gives the students the opportunity to learn more about their culture through the words of nā mele Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian songs) as each class prepares for the contest from January to March. Now, I would definitely go more in detail about the history, competitions, and awards, but that is not why I’m here typing this today. I will, however, provide some links should you be interested in learning the history, this year’s theme, and viewing it online at the bottom of this post!
My classmates and I after sweeping the competition our senior year in 2013. (photo from Kamehameha Schools Facebook page)
As I was watching some videos of my own class singing, a thought came to mind. It’s been five years since I was last with all of my high school classmates. Although I did not know everyone by name or hang out with most of them (my graduating class was about 443 students), my class as a whole was a pretty strong class. Did we get along with each other? Not all the time. Did we have our share of drama? Not as much as other classes, but we had our moments as well. However, when it came to Song Contest, we put all of our differences aside to sing proudly hand in hand. Sure, there were rehearsals where people would fool around and not care about practicing. Sure, there would be rehearsals that lasted for long periods of time first thing in the morning, or there would be rehearsals right before lunch when hunger would be the forefront of the mind. Sure, there were moments where people wouldn’t even bother learning the words or the melodies. Heck, there were people who sat in the wrong vocal part, choosing to sit with their friends rather than be in the vocal part more appropriate for their range. (looking at you, half of the Soprano 1 section)
However, by the time Song Contest came around, there was no other group of people I would rather sing with than my fellow classmates of the class of 2013. As I watched the video of our senior year co-ed song, a part of me got emotional. It’s been five whole years since I’ve last seen the majority of my classmates, and since then, we’ve all gone on our own separate journeys in life. Some of us are married or engaged. Some of us have children of our own now. Some of us have graduated college, while others are still on that journey. Some of us have been home in Hawaiʻi since graduation. Others have returned home after some time away. Some may never return. And we have one classmate watching over us in Heaven. It’s amazing to think of how life has been playing out for everyone since we all said our final goodbye so many years ago.
Below is my class’s senior year co-ed song. The song, “My Sweet Sweeting,” speaks of a mother’s love for her child, and the line “Hoʻi mai kāua e pili” translates to “Come, let us be together”. Although it speaks of a mother’s love for her child, the song speaks true to my class. I hope that one day we may all reunite together again.
As I end this post, I hope you take the time to look up some videos or even watch the live stream! And if you have any questions about Song Contest, my comments are always open!
Me ke aloha,
Here is a link to the official Song Contest website. It shares this year’s theme, each class’ Song Contest director, and the songs each class will perform. The LIVE STREAM will also be on this link on March 16, 2018 should you be interested! The pre show will begin at 6:30 p.m. Hawaiʻi Standard Time, and the competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hawaiʻi Standard Time.
Here is a link I just found that lists every song that has been performed by every class from 1964 until 2018. The cool thing is that most of them have video links to them!
And here is the KS Archives website explaining some history of the contest itself and how it began!