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October 20, 2009

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Hawaiian Night at Shangri-La

THIS Saturday is Hawaiian Night at the Shangri-La Pudong and for guitarist Jeff Peterson the visit is special. His family goes a long way back in old Shanghai. Laura Jackson reports.

Swap the sweaters for grass skirts and Hawaiian leis, grab some coconuts and cocktails and get ready to do the hula because it's going to be tropical.

Hawaiian musicians are coming to town to share their sensual island sounds and give Shanghai a taste of paradise on Hawaiian Night at the Shangri-La Pudong on Saturday night.

For guitarist Jeff Peterson, who has been playing Hawaiian music for 25 years, the performance in China holds special meaning.

His grandfather was born and raised in Shanghai and his great grandfather, William Jones Boone, helped establish St John's University Medical School in 1979 in Shanghai. It was one of China's first Western medical schools.

Peterson will be the first of his family to return to China since his grandfather, who served as an Anglican bishop.

He hopes the performance will give Chinese a deeper appreciation for the depth and range of Hawaiian music. Petersen performed on an album that won a Grammy Award. He describes the sound as soothing to the soul, conveying many moods from gentle calm to boisterous fun.

Full of imagery of the many elements of nature including the wind, rain, ocean and mountain rain forests, the music always has a connection to the people of Hawaii and their warm-hearted sense of community, he says.

"Early Hawaiian music was in the form of chants that passed on historical events and family connections before written language reached the islands.

"This ancient art form is still a part of traditional Hawaiian music," Peterson says.

While contemporary Hawaiian songs have drawn on the many cultural influences that have impacted Hawaii - from across the United States, Spain, Mexico and Asia - the sound always retains a sense of cultural identity unique to Hawaii, he says.

The dinner concert will be held in the Grand Ballroom located on the third level of the River Wing.

Tickets are 1,288 yuan (US$189) per person.

Prices include a cocktail reception, a four-course Hawaiian-themed gourmet dinner and live music by the Hawaiian performers, as well as cocktails and dessert over jazz in the ballroom foyer.

For Hawaii Night table reservations and individual seat bookings, contact Pudong Shangri-La at 6882-8888 ext 6888.


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