LAHAINA - Lahaina resident Keola Beamer and Dr. Tom Vendetti continue to collaborate on filmmaking, music and bringing aloha to the world and Hawaii.
Their new CD, "Himalayan Sessions," along with "The Gift of Hope" CD by Cindy Paulos, will be released on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Makawao Union Church from 6 to 9 p.m.
"Himalayan Sessions," recorded in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, features music by famous flautist, the late Paul Horn, and by Beamer, Christopher Hedge and local musicians in the region of the Himalayas. The CD also features His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama sharing his wisdom and words on four beautiful songs.
"Himalayan Sessions" is a result of years of recordings starting in 1991 from Vendetti's documentary films that have been featured on PBS and around the world. The album authentically taps into the spirit of the Tibetan culture and people, honoring their hope for cultural reunification.
Vendetti, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, remembered how the project began.
"A couple of years ago, Keola Beamer and I discussed how we can spread aloha around the world. Beamer, with teachers from his Aloha Music Camp, taught 40 poverty-stricken children living in Cambodia how to play the ukulele. While going to Siem Reap, Cambodia for film festivals and donating ukuleles, they taught the children how to play the instrument, bringing much joy to their lives. The children are now performing concerts in Siem Reap. We hope to continue this effort, sharing the aloha spirit in Myanmar, as well as other places around the world."
Hedge reflected, "Keola Beamer's deep respect and aloha made it possible to collaborate with the Nepalese musicians who use different instruments, rhythms and keys to understand each other and communicate through music. Proceeds from this album will go to the Aloha Music Camp and the Mohala Hou Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to promote aloha around the world."
Beamer, a slack key artist, world traveler, performer, composer and master musician who has earned a place on Billboard's Top World Music Albums Chart, also has a sense of place.
His Aloha Music Camp, an authentic Hawaiian immersion experience led by expert teachers, is a gathering of students and first-rate artists sharing their talents: Hawaiian slack key guitar, ukulele and hula, voice lessons, lei-making, oli and the ancient arts of ipu- and ukulele-making.
Aloha Music Camp is a week-long immersion into the music, dance and culture of Hawaii, providing ukuleles to third world countries as well.
The camp has become a project of the nonprofit Mohala Hou Foundation established in September 2007 to support and promote Hawaiian music, dance, language and culture. Mohala Hou, meaning Hawaii's new blossoming, is the name chosen more than a decade ago for the Beamers' nonprofit foundation. It offers scholarships and programs for youth-at-risk and others who want to immerse themselves in island culture at the camp.
"At age 19, I wrote the first method book on Hawaiian slack key guitar," Beamer explained.
"It was based on a 16th century tablature system for the lute. To add to the experience, I included how to charge a field with chant, build 'ohana, savor the value of timeless, fun-loving talk-story - parts of Hawaiian culture you cannot read about or study. You have to be here, in Hawaii, to have the Hawaiian sense of place. All this, to keep aloha alive. Malama ko aloha!"
Beamer added, "We pride ourselves on the continuity and quality of our instruction. Instructors are available not just for one or two lessons, but for the entire camp week. Attendees have many opportunities to interact one-on-one with them. We are committed to having an absolutely great time!"
Aloha Music Camp welcomes those who already play music, as well as those who wish to try playing guitar, 'ukulele, or Hawaiian steel for the first time. The same goes for hula, ukulele-building, Hawaiian language or any of the other classes offered.
Beamer, his wife Kumu Hula Moanalani, and Hawaiian language and culture specialist Kaliko Beamer-Trapp encourage members of the community to join them to experience Aloha Music Camp.
The event is held at a carefully selected beach-side setting each year, with the seventh camp being held at the Marriott Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach in March 2020.
The first camp was in 2001 at Kalani Honua Retreat in Puna on Hawaii Island.
"We are so happy that we can truly say we have delighted, educated and connected hundreds of people from around the islands, the Mainland and the whole world," the Beamers wrote. "These people would not have met otherwise."
It all began one day as they sat on the lanai of Naniali'i Thurston's beautiful home. Aunty Nona Beamer suggested that it would be just so wonderful for others to be able to experience the culture and musical elements that helped make their gatherings so special.
The Beamers noted, "The story starts with a grand Beamer Rave at Kamakahonu in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island in the late 1990s. Close friends and family gathered for one of many multi-day parties that used to be held at various places around the Hawaiian Islands."
Instruction is but one part of the whole experience that makes Aloha Music Camp such a popular venue year after year. Campers return to be inspired by beautiful Hawaiian sunsets, the Pacific breeze blowing through the coconut trees and the great conversations and time spent with camp friends who stay in touch all year long. The whole experience is interwoven with the magic of aloha.
Keola and Vendetti are currently working on a new project to make a film about Auntie Nona Beamer. The goal of this film is to capture Auntie Nona's spirit through her words, hula, chants and the songs that she has written about the beauty of the islands.
The Mohala Hou Foundation offers programs to expand Hawaiian cultural understanding and practice through Guitars in the Classroom and a scholarship program for kumu, kupuna and Hawaiian youth to attend Aloha Music Camp. For more information, visit www.mohalahou.org and www.alohamusiccamp.com.
The CD release event is open to the public. The ticket cost is $15, and pre-sale tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com. If a pair of tickets are purchased online at Eventbrite, "The Gift of Hope" CD will be free. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
The event begins at 6 p.m. with a meet-and-greet of the musicians and CD producers, followed by the full program. The musicians and producers will talk about the making of the "Himalayan Sessions" CD, followed by Vendetti's film "Dalai Lama: China, Mount Kailash and Happiness," with a tribute to Paul Horn.