Flair in the fields and the stu­dio THE PA­CIFIC CHOIR for dis­ney’s moana

mailife - - Music - By DRUE SLAT­TER pho­tos by FEROZ KHALIL

Around the time that Fiji won its first ever Olympic gold medal, an­other mile­stone was reached. Twenty pa­cific is­land vo­cal­ists were writ­ing their names in the Dis­ney his­tory books. The much an­tic­i­pated Dis­ney Moana movie is be­ing termed the first ever Pa­cific ‘princess’ and gen­er­at­ing much dis­cus­sion amongst Pa­cific Is­lan­ders world­wide. Are we be­ing rep­re­sented re­spon­si­bly? Are there hints of cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion? Is our in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty be­ing pro­tected? These are the ques­tions float­ing through the Pa­cific Ocean and out to­wards her chil­dren sta­tioned over­seas, through the wire­works of so­cial me­dia. Whether you’re look­ing to en­joy the next Dis­ney in­stal­la­tion or cri­tique it (as I might), a sense of pride can be felt for Pasi­fika Voices, the Suva-based choir that graces Moana’s sound­track. Mu­si­cal ge­nius and Pasi­fika Voices choir­mas­ter Ige­lese Ete has worked on Hol­ly­wood sound­tracks for a num­ber of years and af­ter much dis­cus­sion with Dis­ney, his choir has joined him. Pa­cific mu­sic has been used by Dis­ney in the past in the sound­track of Lilo and Stitch, an an­i­ma­tion about a lonely Hawai­ian girl and her ac­quain­tance with an en­er­getic lit­tle alien. Ete claims, how­ever, that it didn’t do the Pa­cific jus­tice. “They used a choir from New Zealand that I know per­son­ally and are a bril­liant choir, but they’re from the North Shore of Auck­land - the more af­flu­ent or “white” side of Auck­land,” said Ete. “They’re bril­liant but the sound was very Euro­pean. If they wanted Pa­cific, they should have gone to South Auck­land,” he laughed. Cross­ing the ocean, Dis­ney de­cided to make good on their prom­ises of authen­tic­ity and travel to Suva to record Pasi­fika Voices af­ter hear­ing sam­ples and agree­ing that the mana or ‘spirit’ of their voices made all the dif­fer­ence. Ete has com­pared the dy­nam­ics of Pa­cific mu­sic to the Fi­jian flair found on our rugby fields. Struc­ture is com­mend­able but heart is para­mount. “The Pa­cific has a def­i­nite sound. There’s a warm, strong tone to it that ex­udes pas­sion. We may not hit ev­ery note clin­i­cally,

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