CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
The Mahalo Ukulele Festival Goa owes its coming into being to Hawaii and to a young boy’s passion for the instrument. “When we moved to Goa, my two eldest kids and I began guitar classes. The kids however found it a little difficult to pick it up,” recalls Christina Fernandes, the lady behind this upcoming music fest. Instead, they began fiddling around with the ukulele which Fernandes had purchased for her third and youngest child. Their guitar tutor (Anirban Halder) then suggested that they learn the ukulele for awhile instead.
“My son got really into it and even played for Christmas in Germany when we visited home,” recalls Fernandes. He also learnt of a ukulele festival happening in Hawaii. “While I really wanted to support his passion, I wasn’t going to fly all the way to Hawaii for it,” says Fernandes laughing.
However, after browsing online, she realised that there wasn’t anything of this kind happening here in Goa. “So I thought why not start our own. It could be really fun,” she says. And thus the idea of the Mahalo Ukulele Festival Goa began to take shape.
And the festival has befittingly got the word ‘mahalo’, the Hawaiian word for ‘thank you’, in it. Fernandes states that it perfectly conveys the spirit of the festival. “We all appreciate the role that music plays in our life and want to share that joy,” she says.
And the ukulele is such a fun instrument, she says. “It brings people together and can be taken everywhere. It is not an intimidating instrument either,” says Fernandes.
The festival which will be held on March 24 at Jamboree Creek Yoga Resort, Mandrem will have eight official performers. These will include Chico Fonseca performing traditional Goan music, and Halder who will be doing a performance together with his students.
Sef Riley, a musician who is partly based in the UK and partly in Goa and plays both the kazoo and the ukulele will be doing retro music, while Goan musician Ranjit Arapurakal will do an interactive performance. Pune-based Luv Mathany will also take the stage besides conducting a beginners and intermediary level ukulele workshop.
In fact there are some interesting workshops happening at the festival. And Joseph Moras has already started things off with a two-day workshop on ‘Singing to Heal’ which is on at Saraya, Sangolda. He will also be doing one at the festival.
On the day of the festival, singer-songwriter Natalie Matos will be doing a workshop on conscious voice. Colour Ashram which makes organic dyes will be doing dye workshops all day long. “You can either bring your own garment to dye or buy one there and dye it,” says Fernandes, adding that Colour Ashram will also be doing a small fashion show in the evening.
The proceeds of the festival will go to the Survivor Girl Ukulele Band, a project started by Laurie Kallevig, bringing restoration and hope to survivors of human trafficking through the healing power of music and love. The band will be doing a performance at the event and Kallevig will also talk about the project where she teaches the survivors to play the ukulele.
Apart from this, there will also be some fun stuff for kids like a juggling workshop and a ukulele cardboard making workshop.
Musicians are also invited to perform at the open mic sessions throughout the day. In fact Fernandes and her son will be doing the first performance for the open mic. “Although I performed for the first time on stage last year as part of Anirban’s students show, at that time I played the guitar. This will be the first time that I am taking the stage with my ukulele,” she reveals.
Post this festival, Fernandes is getting set to teach the ukulele to children in refugee camps in Iraq, who she has been conducting yoga and creative workshops with previously. “I hope to teach them ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. This tune is quite universal and hopefully they will catch on with,” says Fernandes who previously worked in the field of journalism and today continues to pursue her passion for photography. “Some of these kids are in these camps sometimes for years and with no hope for a better future. These creative sessions are their only window to the outside world,” she says.
As for the ukulele festival in Goa, she is hopeful that there will be more editions to follow. “People have been kind enough to lend their time to entertain my crazy ideas. And if this festival works out well and everyone is willing we will try and have more in the future,” she says.
(The Mahalo Ukulele Festival Goa will be held on March 24, at
Jamboree Creek Yoga Resort, Mandrem)