2019 Preis Honoree - Aaron Mahi
On Saturday, February 1st, 2020 at Halekulani Aaron Mahi received the Alfred Preis Honor for his lifetime support of music and community building in Hawaii.
Conductor, performer, composer, arranger, educator, pastor, and chef, Aaron Mahi is a renaissance man. Born in Kalihi and educated at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, he received a Bachelors in Mus. Ed. from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and attended the Herbert Bloomsted Institute of Conducting at Loma Linda University in California.
As a musician, Aaron worked as a bass player and played Hawaiian music with George Kuo, Martin Pahinui and Eddie Kamae. He is also a slack key guitar performer.
He has held several conducting positions such as conductor of the Hawaii Ecumenical and the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club. He was bandmaster and conductor of the Royal Hawaiian band from 1981 – 2005. During his tenure, the Royal Hawaiian Band toured Europe and entertained 17,000 people in 19 concerts in the course of 21 days. Aaron conducted the Royal Hawaiian Band in its first concert at Carnegie Hall, and at the Peace Park in Hiroshima. In 1999 the Royal Hawaiian Band was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Mahi was honored in 2003 with the German Medal of Merit from the Republic of Germany, for his work in fostering German culture outside of Germany.He received the Golden Ring of Honor from the Association of German Musicians and the Order of Merit of Germany.
Aaron has also conducted the Honolulu Symphony, and debuted them at the Hollywood Bowl with slack-key artists Dennis Kamakahi, George Kuo, and David Kamakahi.
Aaron has been a community leader in his role as pastor at the Community of Christ Church in Makiki. He’s a cultural specialist who works with nonprofit organizations such as the Mālama ʻĀina Foundation and the Partners in Development Foundation to teach people about Hawaiian traditions. Aaron served on both the Oʻahu Burial Council, and the State Land Use Commission.
Aaron’s newest venture as conductor is with Sovereign Strings, an ensemble that has revived nineteenth-century popular Hawaiian music. The ensemble is recontextualizing the sound of Leleiohoku, Likelike, Kalākaua, and Liliʻuokalani through their arrangements and voicing.