“We all look to the past and to the future to find ourselves,” wrote the late artist Isamu Noguchi. “Here, we find a hint that awakens us; there, a path that someone like us once walked.” It’s a quote returned to often by musician and composer Leilehua Lanzilotti, who grew up frequenting the same path Noguchi tread to construct his sculpture “Sky Gate” near Honolulu Hale, where Lanzilotti’s father worked for then-Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.
This was long before she was formally introduced to the work of the prolific American sculptor, and just one of her formative experiences encountering art in outdoor spaces. Lanzilotti’s mother, who worked at the former Contemporary Museum of Honolulu, encouraged her to explore the museum’s fields and gardens, which were adorned with kinetic sculptures. “I loved being outdoors in the middle of all that art,” she recalls. “It was really influential to my way of thinking about art and music-making in a playful way.”
But the kind of mastery that Lanzilotti is known for also required structure. As a child she began studying under Hiroko Primrose, a “strict, old-school, and incredible” violin teacher, while also dancing in Hālau Hula O Maʻiki, an experience that provided her with an in-depth cultural education in Hawaiian language and music…Like