Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 19, 2002

Strike up the Hawai'i all-state band

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

As many as 300 students — and at least one from every private and public high school in the Islands — will participate in the Pasadena Rose Parade on Jan. 1 as Hawai'i's first all-state marching band.

Michael Payton, who still teaches young musicians part-time since his retirement at Kahuku High School, will be the director of Hawai'i's all-state marching band. Students from all the islands will march Jan. 1 in the Rose Parade.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

It is a unique and monumental undertaking. Organizers will have to coordinate student preparation on all the islands in the next eight months. Then, because of interisland distances and money limitations, they'll have only three days to teach the students to march together. In the meantime, they must raise enough money for uniforms and the expenses to get the band to California.

Michael Payton, who has been a leader in the advancement of marching bands on O'ahu for more than 30 years, will direct the all-state band.

"The trick will be putting it all together, but I have great confidence in our kids," said Payton, who retired as band director of Kahuku High School but returned recently as a part-time band director and coordinator for the Kahuku Performance Arts Learning Center.

Because the Rose Parade requires that bands have a minimum of 150 members, only a handful of schools in Hawai'i can qualify on their own.

But this new all-state band will give students from smaller bands and the Neighbor Islands a shot at participating in one of the most famous parades in the world, said Gwen Nakamura, assistant University of Hawai'i band director.

"It's a unique idea to put together an all-star group to go to the Rose Parade," said Nakamura, who will be assistant director of the all-state band.

Nakamura said the selection of Payton to lead the band was a good choice because he is one of the innovators of marching bands on O'ahu.

How you can help

To donate to Hawai'i's first all-state marching band, call John Riggle at 842-8315.

When Payton became band director at Kahuku in 1968, he began with seven band members. Then he signed 80 the following year. Since then, the band has won numerous awards under Payton and traveled to the Mainland several times.

He and John Riggle, managing director of the all-state band, initiated marching band competition on O'ahu. For years, Payton ran a one-week camp to train students to play in marching bands.

"When you talk about marching bands, you talk about Michael Payton and the Kahuku band," Nakamura said.

However, it was Riggle who convinced the Rose Parade music committee that it should take a chance on an all-state Hawai'i band. Several previous requests had been turned down because the committee didn't want to take a chance on "funky" quality, said Riggle, band director for Kamehameha Schools, which is well known for its large marching band.

Riggle said he couldn't put together the all-state band without the cooperation of all the schools' band directors.

Neighbor Island band directors Armando Mendoza of Hilo High School, Larry McIntosh of Kaua'i High School and Community College, and Kerry Wasano of Maui High School will coordinate student preparations off O'ahu.

"The kids are excited," said Riggle, who met with parents and students in Hilo and Konawaena last weekend. "And the parents can't believe we're doing this for them. It's all for the kids."

Riggle must also round up corporate sponsors and donations to help with travel expenses and uniforms. It won't be cheap, but the kids will bring honor and prestige to Hawai'i, he said.

The parade will be viewed by 1 million people along the 5.5-mile parade route in California and by 300 million people around the world via television.

Between 22 and 24 bands march in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade annually, six of which have a guaranteed spot every year. The remainder are selected each year from thousands of applicants.

Bands from Hawai'i marched in other Rose Parades, but the all-state band will be unique, said Bill Kobayashi, chairman of the parade music committee.

"We only invite the best bands in the world," said Kobayashi, who described the selection procedure as highly competitive.

Band directors from every school have been invited to select 10 students to participate in the parade. A slot is guaranteed for one student from every high school.

Students have until May 20 to respond. Band directors have applications.

Amy Peterson, 16, has been selected from Kahuku. Peterson, a clarinet player, said she jumped at the chance when she heard about it.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Peterson said. "And it's a great honor to be in this parade where millions of people will watch it."

Peterson and other students will get their music material ahead of time and be responsible for learning the works.

She said she's confident that Payton can bring all the band members together to teach them to march, "then it will be just plain practicing and hard work."

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.