By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The Hawaii Men’s Chorus presents “Courage to Love,” a pair of Valentine’s concerts, on Thursday, Feb. 14, at Kalani Oceanside Retreat in lower Puna and Saturday, Feb. 16, at the First United Protestant Church in Hilo, just above Kaiser Medical Clinic on Waianuenue Avenue.
Jon Arterton, director of the 140-voice Outer Cape Chorale in Massachusetts will be the guest conductor, and he and James Mack will be guest vocalists, singing songs from their original musical “Just Married.” The duo has been legally married in the state of Massachusetts for the past seven years.
“We have a CD out called ‘Legally Married and the Sky Didn’t Fall,’” Arterton said. “I love singing with my husband, and every time we sing together, it’s like we’re getting married again. It’s an amazing experience.
“We’ll probably point out during the course of the show that even though we are legally married in Massachusetts, we have none of the rights of heterosexual couples, so we have a long way to go. But the concert’s not gonna be about that.”
The 90-minute shows will feature four-part harmonies by the chorus — formerly known as Puna Men’s Chorus — in both English and Hawaiian, with songs such as “Pua Lilikehua,” “Holei,” “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “In This Very Room.”
“I love the fact that we are singing three or four songs in Hawaiian, because we love Hawaii and love the whole spirit here,” Arterton said. “I arranged three or four songs for the concert, including John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ which will end the concert. We’ve put in a verse in Hawaiian in the middle.
“The songs we’re singing are really wonderful. Love is, in fact, universal, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with the group, which is about 12 guys, at this point.”
Arterton and Mack visit the islands yearly to conduct “Singing with Courage” workshops at Kalani.
“My first time here was with an a cappella group called The Flirtations, and Richard Koob brought us over to sing at Kalani,” Arterton said.
Accompaniment for the concerts is being provided by Devon Lerma on piano and Glen Burris on ukulele. Jonathan “Kimo” Lopez and Kumu hula Ehulani Stephany will assist with ‘oli and hula choreography. A “Heart of Art” lobby exhibit by Arthur Johnsen and other local artists will illustrate ways in which aloha brings joy to Hawaii residents and visitors.
Showtime both nights is at 7 p.m. Admission and art sales receipts provide program service revenue for the nonprofit Hawaii Men’s Chorus.
Call 965-7828 to reserve Valentine’s dinner at Kalani from 6-7:30 p.m. at $20 per person and premium seats for either concert at special advance rates: $10 per person for groups of 10 or more or $12 individual.
General admission is $15 adult, $12 senior or student. Credit cards are accepted. Advance tickets are available at Basically Books in Hilo and Jungle Love in Pahoa.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.