A few days ago I shared a bit about our wonderful Hawai'i County Band performing during the 11th Annual Chinese New Year Festival in Hilo and mentioned that I would share more about them later on...
This is later on...
This year, the band celebrates 130 years of a very colorful and interesting history. It was founded as a family band in 1883 by immigrant brothers Joaquin and Jules Carvalho, two young barbers who settled in Hilo after leaving the Azores during the large Portuguese migration to Hawai'i. Joaquin directed and Jules played the cornet.
When the band scheduled concerts, the brothers closed the barber shop and would reopen afterwards. Through the years and while Hawai'i was still a Monarchy and later the Republic of Hawai'i, the band grew and became known as the Hilo Band. After the United States government annexed Hawai'i, the islands were separated into counties and the Island of Hawai'i, became also the County of Hawai'i, thus in the year 1900 the band took on the name of Hawai'i County Band.
After Mo'oheau Park Bandstand by the bayfront was built in 1904, the location became the performing home for the band where they have been playing one Saturday a month for the last 109 years! The Hawai'i County Band is the second oldest band in the state.
Except for the director who is employed full-time, the band members are all Hawai'i County part-time employees with regular 'day jobs'...including an astonomer, a fruit farmer, a retired trucker, a funeral director and even a chimney sweep!
Most of the long line of directors have also been school band directors. The current band director is Paul Arceo who has served for several years. Many of the band members have been with the band for many, many years, some as long as 35 and one member played with the band for over 57 years!
In it's 130 years of service, the band has provided free monthly concerts in the park, has participated in many parades during the Merry Monarch weekends, Fourth of July and Veteran's Day amond others; hundreds of county-wide festivals and also provides music during public ceremonies. Their repertoire covers marches, music from Broadway shows, the movies, classical, semi-classical, jazz and blues, big band, pop tunes and Hawaiian music.
About three years ago, the band faced being disbanded (no pun intended) due to county administration budget cuts. A county wide hue and cry was heard and eventually the county council reconsidered, saving the program.
Our County Band is not just a little Podunk town band... it can be compared to any band anywhere in the country.
The Hawai'i County Band represents Hawai'i and Hilo proudly and I hope to see it preserved for ever.
The band's Mo'oheau monthly schedule for the rest of 2013 - always on a Saturday:
March 9, April 13, May 4, June 8, July 4, August 10, September 14, October 5, November 2 and December 7
Dates are subject to change - to confirm please call the band office at 961-8699
You can find them on Facebook under Hawai'i County Band
If you wonder about the red checked fabric used for the band uniforms, you can find information here about the palaka, as it is called in Hawaiian.