Harvey Hess (1939 - 2012)

For a detailed biography on Harvey visit his Wikipedia page. Click the link below.

Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Hess

Harvey Hess - Hilo, Hawaii 1983



Harvey and Jerré worked together over a period of 50 years creating operas, choral symphonies, song cycles, concert arias, songs and choral pieces. They shared a mutual dream of contributing to the small, but growing, repertory of art songs and choral works in American English and in creating a new genre of lyric theatre - Hawaiian opera. Their homage to J.S. Bach, as part of the tercentennial observance of his birth (1985), companion to Bach's own "The Coffee Cantata" [BWV 211], is their comic chamber opera "The Kona Coffee Cantata," recorded by the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Below is the CD booklet for the Albany Records recording.


The Singing Snails - libretto

Composed for the ethnically diverse young ladies of St. Francis High School in Honolulu, the first Hawaiian opera for youth "The Singing Snails" was given its premiere December, 1980. All who saw the performances agreed hula and opera were a natural mix, and several of the dances in "Singing Snails" made exquisite lyric theatre. The subject for the opera, those irascible singing snails, was suggested to Harvey by Edith Kekuhikuhi Kanaka'ole, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo; and it was a perfect fit for the St. Francis H.S. Music Department. Later in the decade Jerré extracted two suites from the opera, one of which was recorded by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra [see Videos & CDs].


the garland of kane - libretto

Tracing origins to semi-mythical brothers - cultural heroes and fabled chanters - "The Garland of Kane" first saw light in Kona summer 1971, that fateful time when numerous of Harvey's and Jerré's first Hawaii-based works were created. The Opera Players of Hawaii, looking for a project for the National Bicentennial Observance, commissioned the creation of the opera in 1974 through a matching grant from the National and Hawaii State Bicentennial Commissions. John was brought into the collaboration with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create designs for the set and costumes. The production sparked a local controversy over whether it was the first or second Hawaiian opera, but all were in agreement the dance [hula] that brought the opera to a rousing conclusion was an undisputed coup de theatre!