HomeNative HawaiianNative Hawaiian musician Aaron Mahi dies at 70

Native Hawaiian musician Aaron Mahi dies at 70

Native Hawaiian music legend Aaron Mahi has died at age 70.

According to KHON 2, his family said Mahi passed around 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, just two days before his 71st birthday.

Mahi was known for being an accomplished linguist, composer and musician. Hawaii News Now says he became one of Hawai’i’s “foremost conductors.”

“We’re so grateful for the celebration, all of the support. So many people have come out and recognized him and his contribution to the community, to Olelo Hawaii,” his brother Gerard Mahi told KHON2, at an event in Aaron Mahi’s honor held Saturday. Mahi passed away shortly after the event.

According to Hawaii News Now, Mahi received a Honolulu Symphony Orchestra mentored scholarship at 14. He was one of only 37 students chosen for the honor.

In 1971, he graduated from Kamehameha Schools, going on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Connecticut’s Hartt School of Music in 1975.

Throughout his career, he was the bassist at  Windward Symphony Orchestra and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band in 1981, the first Native Hawaiian to hold the position since 1933. He served in the role for 24 years.

According to KITV, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi issued the following statement on Mahi’s death:

““It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of Maestro Aaron Mahi, a true legend in the world of music. Aaron’s legacy as the bandmaster for the Royal Hawaiian Band for nearly a quarter of the century leaves an indelible mark on our community and our culture.

His dedication and passion for preserving and sharing the rich musical traditions of our native Hawaiian heritage have touched countless lives. Aaron was more than a musician; he was a beloved figure whose influence extended far beyond the notes he played. His commitment to excellence and his love for our island’s music have inspired generations, and his loss will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege to know him or experience his artistry.

On behalf of the City and County of Honolulu, I extend my deepest condolences to Aaron’s family, friends, and all who were touched by his remarkable life. We will forever cherish his contributions to our community and the joy he brought into our lives through his music.”

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