Hakuoh University’s popular Handbell Choir returned to Honolulu in March to present two public concerts. The choir members, who ring seven octaves of handbells, performed at Palikü Theatre at Windward Community College and at Central Union Church. Hakuoh University’s music director, Professor Hirotaka Arai, established the handbell choir in 1988. He continues to arrange handbell numbers for the group and also directs the choir. The Hakuoh handbellers have developed a following in Hawai‘i — their audiences looking forward to their visits and music every year.
The handbell choir began visiting Hawai‘i in 1991 at the suggestion of Hawai‘i residents Richard and Irene Kaichi. Richard Kaichi had taught at Hakuoh University, a private university in Tochigi Prefecture owned and operated by the Kamioka family, for about a year. After returning to Hawai‘i, the Kaichis facilitated a partnership with the University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges, then-led by Chancellor Joyce Tsunoda. After retiring as UH senior vice president and chancellor emeritus in 2003, Hakuoh University invited Tsunoda, who was born in Japan and is bilingual, to teach at the college.
Hakuoh University president Joji Kamioka hosted a private luncheon concert for the UH Community Colleges ‘ohana and other invited guests on March 2 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. The event was organized by Debra Na-
kagawa, executive assistant to the vice chancellor for Community Colleges.
The guests were treated to a special concert by the Hakuoh choir. They performed a repertoire of tunes that had been arranged for handbells, including: “The Sea in Spring,” composed by Michio Miyagi; and “Let It Go,” Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson–Lopez’s composition from the popular Disney movie, “Frozen.” The choir also performed “Ue o Muite Aruko,” composed by Hachidai Nakamura; “Jounetsu Tairiku” by Taro Hakase; Mozart’s “Turkish March” and Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, 4th Movement.”
The students also performed “Hawai‘i Aloha,” a song the choir has come to know very well because they perform it every year when they come to Hawai‘i.
The Hakuoh Handbell Choir has performed on the U.S. mainland, in Canada, England, Australia and South Korea. They also performed for Japan’s imperial couple and for the king and queen of Belgium.