The Merwin Conservancy will welcome Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) composer and sound artist Leilehua Lanzilotti (b. 1983) for a two-week residency this April. Lanzilotti will also be a featured speaker in the Conservancy’s Green Room series. Dates for those events will be announced soon.
Lanzilotti will be joined by the core creative team of Liliʻu, a new opera celebrating the legacy of the last Queen of Hawaiʻi. Set in 1895, when Queen Lili‘uokalani was imprisoned for almost a year in ʻIolani Palace for her alleged knowledge of an attempt to take back the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, Lili‘u tells the story of the Queen’s life at a time of great upheaval. The libretto is sourced entirely from the writings of Lili‘uokalani, including her newly published bilingual diaries, historical research, and in particular, the seven prison songs. As were the Queen’s writings, the libretto is bilingual in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and English.
The team behind Lili‘u—including Kahanuola Solatorio, Anthony (Tāne) Aiu, Manaola Yap, Carissa Coleman, and representatives from Roomful of Teeth Cameron Beauchamp and Amanda Crider—will be convening to connect with the Maui community through public presentations, site visits, and other gatherings.
In addition to the support of the Merwin Conservancy, this residency is made possible through support from the Atherton Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Leilehua Lanzilotti
Leilehua Lanzilotti (b. 1983) is a Kanaka Maoli composer / sound artist. A “leading composer-performer” (New York Times), Lanzilotti’s work is characterized by expansive explorations of timbre. Lanzilotti’s practice explores radical indigenous contemporaneity, integrating community engagement into the heart of projects. By world-building through multimedia installation works and nontraditional concert experiences/musical interventions, Lanzilotti’s works activate imagination around new paths forward in language sovereignty, water sovereignty, land stewardship, and respect. Uplifting others by crafting projects that support both local communities and economy, the work inspires hope to continue. Lanzilotti was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music and is a 2023 SHIFT – Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts Awardee.