THE MUSIC BOX
Tongan Singers of Monterey
David Tulua, Director
Melinda Coffey Armstead, organ
Thanks for the New Year
The Good News Came With Jesus
Beautiful Word of Life
I’ll Try To Do Thy Will
Davis, from Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, 1813, arr. by Gilbert Martin
A warm welcome back to the Tongan Singers of Monterey! This informal group of family and friends who gather to sing in Tongan for family gatherings, weddings, funerals and celebrations, was referred to me by my pal Phil Bowhay who first heard them perform at a Rotary meeting. They come from many different islands in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. It has a population of 100,651 people, of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu.
Tonga became known in the West as the “Friendly Islands” because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773. He arrived at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the First Fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga (the islands’ paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. (For more on this fascinating encounter, go to Wikipedia.)
From 1900 to 1970, Tonga had British protected state status, with the United Kingdom looking after its foreign affairs under a Treaty of Friendship. The country never relinquished its sovereignty to any foreign power. In 2010, Tonga took a decisive path towards becoming a constitutional monarchy rather than a traditional absolute kingdom.