A ‘Good’ Greek Gift

Leisl Vickery (Antigone), Dillon Sands (guard) and Wyatt Sands (Creon) rehearse 'Antigone.' Photo courtesy Kaiser High School's Black Box Theatre

Leisl Vickery (Antigone), Dillon Sands (guard) and Wyatt Sands (Creon) rehearse ‘Antigone.’ Photo courtesy Kaiser High School’s Black Box Theatre

Several years ago, I watched the kids at Kaiser High put on Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Bill Ogilvie. The experience was unforgettable, not just because cherished star of the original film, Hawaii’s Yvonne Elliman, happened to have humbly taken a spot in the audience, but because Ogilvie got the students, who weren’t trained singers, to pour their souls into the performance.

With his next Kaiser production, Ogilvie is delving into the classics: a Greek tragedy, to be exact. If you’ll recall Antigone from your own English lit days, the title character is a girl who is quite gutsy for 441 BCE. She defies King Creon’s authoritarian order for the sake of doing what she believes is a righteous act, even if her choice may mean death.

“The place of women in society is well-iterated in Antigone,” notes Ogilvie. “Though Greek women are essentially powerless in the political arena, the play seems to assert that a strong woman can indeed effect meaningful change given a passionate all-or-nothing appeal. The appeal costs Antigone her life, but Creon and the society experience catharsis and there is enduring hope for an enlightened future.”

Ogilvie says when gazing at our cultural Western roots, not only can we find modern thematic parallels, but we also learn about the honored role of theater in ancient Greek society:

“The Greeks held dear the tenet that writing and performing plays is the ultimate commitment to the communal well-being of their society. The themes they wrote about were topical, very much on their minds, and we have discovered to our delight many of these themes resonate today in our own society.”

The play wouldn’t be complete without a Greek chorus, which represents the voice and views of the common public. Students participated in making stage scenery, costumes and masks for every actor, being, as Ogilvie points out, that “masks are incredibly rich stimulants for the audience’s imagination, and our process has really helped the students understand why the Greeks made such extensive use of them.”

Chances are you’ve seen Ogilvie on stage, though lately he’s most interested in mentoring ― teaching at Momilani Elementary, a film and TV class at UH and an adult class at Diamond Head Theatre, in addition to his Kaiser program.

the TICKET stub
When: Nov. 6, 7, 13 & 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Kaiser High School
Cost: $5-$7
More Info: 394-1200, ext. 2319

World-renowned husband-wife pianists Alvin Chow and Angela Cheng will perform at this year's Hawaii Music Teachers Association convention. Photo courtesy HMTA

World-renowned husband-wife pianists Alvin Chow and Angela Cheng will perform at this year’s Hawaii Music Teachers Association convention. Photo courtesy HMTA

Tickling Those Ivories

Having my own kids playing in piano recitals meant the family often attended musical events at UH’s Orvis Auditorium. Beyond entertainment value, the place, ambience and compositions sent us home with a feeling of scholarly upliftment. With Hawaii Music Teachers Association having the bulk of this year’s convention Nov. 7-10 at Orvis (hmta.org), the public has plenty of opportunity to lose themselves in some free and nominally priced musical recitals, including one by world-class husband-wife piano duo Angela Cheng and Alvin Chow. They join the ranks of prize concert artists like Iggy Jang, Jake Shimabukuro and vocalist Leon Williams, who also have performed at the convention.

Cheng and Chow also will teach a master class, and fellow esteemed pianist Amy Lin ― who, while in Hawaii, will be meeting her local piano teacher cousin, Bichuan Li, for the first time since their family was separated during China’s 20th-century political upheaval ― will present a lecture-demonstration on teaching in France, as well as her experience learning from top pianist Leon Fleisher.

Audiences can watch high school juniors, seniors and college students of HMTA-member teachers from across the state compete in piano and string instruments, as well as an Honors Concert that highlights the winning performances of various levels and instruments.

“The winners of the string competitions are usually the violin and cello,” notes interim HMTA president Ethel Iwasaki. “We may be surprised to hear a viola or bass, depending on which instrument places first. On the college level, there will be a string chamber trio ― violin, cello and piano.

“The audience will be amazed at the quality of piano students we have in Hawaii.”

Much weighs on the preliminary competition, with first-place winners at the junior, senior and college levels in piano and strings moving on to compete in parent organization Music Teachers National Association’s Southwest Division competitions in California in January, and perhaps in the finals in March in Las Vegas.