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HPR’s Applause in a Small Room concludes on January 30

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HPR shares a fond farewell to Applause in a Small Room, the weekly show that aired live performances recorded in the Atherton Studio.

Show creator and host Jason Taglianetti made the decision to leave the islands to be
closer to family. He shares, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to bring live music to the islands each and every week over the last eight years on HPR-1. We were able to share musicians from all over the world in just about every genre you can think of. All of that is due to Hawai‘i’s location, the unique listening tastes of our audience, and also the amazing support from the community we serve.”

Regarding the in-studio performances, Jason adds, “I would be remiss if I didn’t spend
some time mentioning one of the main characters of the show, the Atherton Performing Arts Studio. A ton of gratitude is owed to the persons who designed and built that studio. In my time as a sound engineer I have never heard a room that sounded like the Atherton. I’m grateful to have been able to use that studio to capture such magical performances."

Jason’s final show will be in a different format. He explains, “Rather than airing a single concert, I’m compiling songs from among my favorite performances. They include Amy Hanaiali‘i, Alx Kawakami, Peter Rowan, and Booker T. They all demonstrate the power of live music and why it’s so important.”

To mark the occasion, we asked Jason to reflect on his time hosting the show.

What’s been your philosophy behind the program?

Prior to the debut of Applause, we were already doing concerts in the Atherton. More often than not, there was something magical about these live performances. We wanted to capture that lightning in a bottle and share it with an audience much larger than could fit in that 70-seat room. And I wanted to share those concerts in a way that makes the radio audience feel like they were there too.

How did you decide which artists to feature?

I have always been driven by a desire to nurture the local music scene and provide a performance opportunity beyond a regular gig. That’s why I’d seek out emerging artists like singer-songwriter Ron Artis II or jazz trumpeter DeShannon Higa. I also tried to spotlight artists who you might not know otherwise—for instance, we did a series of concerts featuring several jazz pianists, all of whom typically perform as backup artists. You wouldn’t necessarily know them by name, but they deserved an opportunity to really shine, and we gave that to them.

What are the most memorable shows from Applause?

My favorite is the strangest one. An improvisational group called Eat the Sun got together to create a soundtrack for a solar eclipse, and during a visit to Hawai‘i they came to play in the Atherton. It was a trio that included koto. At the show, there were two Japanese ladies who clearly were there to hear traditional koto. The show was very avant-garde, and probably not at all what these two ladies expected to hear—but they stayed, and they really got into it. I liked that we could provide a venue for musical discovery for them.

What has the show meant to you?

Bringing live music to the state of Hawai‘i has really been a dream come true for me and it’s an honor to have been able to do it. Some people would argue that if you’re a magician who knows how the trick is done, the magic is lost on you. I’m a musician myself, and in the case of Applause and the Atherton concerts, I’m here to tell you that it’s still magical.

The final Applause In a Small Room airs Sunday, January 30 from 4-5 p.m. on HPR-1.
Past episodes can be accessed in the program archives.

Starting on February 6, the 4-5 p.m. time slot will feature HPR’s newest show, Mauka to Makai, a weekly exploration of the rich musical fabric of Hawai‘i, hosted by Roger Bong, creator of Aloha Got Soul, a record label and vinyl record shop that celebrates new music and rare reissues from Hawaiʻi.

In addition to radio, HPR’s programming can be streamed via smart speaker, the HPR website, or on the HPR mobile app.

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