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Royal Hawaiian Band returns with free weekly concerts at ʻIolani Palace

Royal Hawaiian Band
Zoe Dym
Created in 1836, the Royal Hawaiian Band is the only full-time municipal band in the U.S. They hold free, public lunchtime concerts at the ʻIolani Palace on most Fridays from noon.

The Royal Hawaiian Band will be performing at the ʻIolani Palace most Fridays from noon to 1 P.M., free and open to the public. The local tradition was put on hold during the pandemic.

Hundreds of people sat on the grass eating plate lunch bentos — while others brought their own lawn chairs. The relaxing environment was a much-needed break from the stress of the past two years.

The band performed traditional Hawaiian music such as Aloha ʻOe, to more contemporary tracks like songs from the “Hairspray” musical.

Frequent visitors from Washington, Liz and her husband Frank recognized the newly performed tracks. They have been watching the Royal Hawaiian Band perform their lunchtime concerts for years before the pandemic.

During the pandemic, the Royal Hawaiian Band broke up into smaller chamber groups to provide entertainment for people waiting in long lines at vaccination clinics, and occasionally at ʻIolani Palace.

Bandmaster Clarke Bright says the chamber groups were a learning experience and they will most likely continue to hold small group performances. However, he says being back with the full ensemble was a powerful feeling.

"As important is to be able to expose our community again to why we’re here — and that’s to preserve the cultural and Hawaiian traditional music. That’s what was done in 1836 from our inception from King Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli, up until now," Clarke said.

"We transitioned through some hard transitions of government situations, and we also were able to be tagged on to the city’s inception in the early 1900s to continue to give the Hawaiians a voice through music. We’ve been there ever since," Clarke told HPR.

Bright will be carefully selecting a different playlist for the band every week, so there is always new music to enjoy.

The following concerts have been scheduled on the following Fridays in 2022, but are subject to change:

  • March 4, 11
  • April 1, 8, 22, 29
  • May 6, 13, 20, 27
  • June 3, 10, 17, 24
  • July 1, 8, 15
  • August 5, 12, 19, 26
  • September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • October 7, 14, 21, 28
  • November 4, 18, 25
  • December 2, 9, 16
Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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