The Hilo Jazz Orchestra at the University of Hawaii is hoping to take their show abroad. With an opportunity to participate in the 2019 Zappanale Festival, the Orchestra is undertaking a new fund-raising effort with the aim of performing in Germany. Each year, the Zappanale festival attracts fans from around the world to celebrate all things Zappa over the course of three days.
Hilo has shown its fondness for the Orchestra’s Zappa interpretations, with concerts long including selections from the late American composer’s vast and eclectic catalog. What began as a subtle salute to Frank’s music developed into Hilo’s annual Zappa tribute concerts, a tradition that has successfully entertained the community for the past five years. In December 2017, the Orchestra was joined for their performances by Frank’s son Dweezil Zappa, who has been touring and performing his father’s music since 2006.
“This music is one of the ultimate challenges. It’s like training for the Olympics,” Dweezil told Hawaii Public Radio during his visit. “I understand that the band have been working several months to prepare.”
While the Orchestra has been known to step outside of its home-stage at the UH Hilo Performing Arts’ Center to play around the Big Island at locations including Honoka’a People’s Theater and Volcano Art Center, taking the band to Germany presents a more substantial challenge. Reaching out to the community, the Orchestra has now begun a crowd-funding effort as the first stage of their fundraiser, launching a GoFundMe Campaign seeking contributions from the community at large.
“For the past 30 years the Zappanale Festival in Germany has been the place for musicians and Zappa fans to get together and celebrate the music of Frank Zappa,” said Orchestra musical director Trever Veilleux. “It would be an incredible opportunity for the students in the Orchestra to participate in the festival. They would get to share the festival stage with some of world’s greatest musicians, including former Frank Zappa band members. They would get to witness, up close and in-person, world-class performances of the very repertoire they have been learning and performing for the past 5 years.”
The Zappanale Festival takes place each year in July. The Orchestra is hopeful that with help from the community, they will be able to attend in July 2019. In addition to the crowd-funding campaign, the Orchestra is now offering shirts and merchandise to help raise funds. Meanwhile the band continues preparing for its upcoming Beatles tribute show on May 3rd, 2018, and plans to continue their efforts on the Big Island.
“This band is one-of-a-kind,” says Noam Akiba-Hajim, saxophonist and vocalist who has spent several years playing in the Orchestra. “There is no other group (that I know of) that accepts musicians from all walks of life. We have students and teachers, scientists and career musicians, all coming together to produce music at a high level. There is nothing else like it.”
Truly in the spirit of offering students a one-of-a-kind experience, the possibility of performing as part of Zappanale will give the members of the Orchestra an actual opportunity to experience music as a working band on the road. “They would get to a have an experience that they will remember for a lifetime,” says Veilleux.
For more on the Hilo Jazz Orchestra, visit their official website, hilojazz.com
To contribute to their fundraiser, visit their GoFundMe campaign, gofundme.com/hilojazzo