Samoa paused yesterday to to pay tribute to the life of a great music composer, also known as a Music Master, Dr. Ueta Matautia Peni Solomona.
At the All Saints Anglican Church at Leifiifi, hundreds gathered to pay their last respects. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and a host of Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials were present.
Dr. Ueta passed away last week. He was 82.
Dr. Ueta is credited as one of Samoa’s most respected music composers, conductor, keyboardist, arranger and Choir Master.
He was a Lecturer and Tutor at The University of the South Pacific in Fiji and Samoa.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Dr. Ueta’s work will be remembered forerver.
“It’s been years since the government has been using Ueta in conducting and composing hymns in so many of the government occasions,” Tuilaepa said.
“He joined and contributed to the best of his abilities in whatever way he could.”
Tuilaepa added that Dr. Ueta is one of Samoa’s greatest musicians.
“Today (yesterday), we salute his service in all these years, and may you rest in peace Ueta.”
His wife, Susau Solomona described Ueta as a loving and ambitious father, grandfather, uncle, brother like any other father and family man in the world.
She said Ueta loved and adored not only his children, but his family as well.
Seutatia Solomona, Ueta’s niece, gave the eulogy on behalf of his family.
“Ueta enjoys giving challenges to people, especially when it comes to his field,” Seutatia said.
She said Ueta’s music speaks for him.
“As Rosa mentioned last night that we were very fortunate that we didn’t have to pay any tuition fees in order to learn music,” Seutatia said.
“When we grew up, we were surrounded with musical instruments that allowed us to receive music education from both Ueta and his father.
“All we had to do was to go back to university just to get our pieces of paper to make it official.”
She said there was an organ at the Anglican Church where Ueta and his younger brother, Ioselani, were assigned by their father to play and look after.
“This church used to have an organ that when it’s played, it chimes through the bell tower and I can hear it every Sunday morning.
“He continued on serving the church until he was granted with a scholarship to pursue his studies in New York.”
Seutatia said his love of classical music influenced so many people who have known him, including his family.
“Ueta is very committed to his students as well, whether its piano or any other instrument, he makes sure that his students play with confidence.
“And that is why he held recitals at every semester break for his students in order to perform with confidence in front of an audience.
She recalled when she was a music lecturer under Ueta’s supervision in Fiji.
“During my attachment with the university, the recitals he holds do work quite well and at the same time he has created a pedagogical methodology of building ‘self esteem’ for his students.
“Some of his popular students were Harry and Latu Miller, June Ryan, Neroni Lam Sam.”
Solomona’s family has a motto from their late Father, Matautia Pene Solomona (Ueta’s father).
“We did it (conducting choirs) for free and for the glory of God, not for returns.
“Ueta is a good listener and I like it when he does his eyebrows, which show he’s paying attention to you and turning his side.”
She also expressed their sincere and utmost gratitude to Susau for being part of their lives and especially Ueta.
“You have given him a good reason to live longer so he could continue on with doing God’s work until he makes His final call for Him.
About Dr. Ueta Matautia Peni Solomona
Ueta Solomona was born on 15th September, 1935 to parents, Mata’utia Pene Solomona and Ana Vaemoa Tuala Vitale from the villages of Faleasi’u, Papa Sataua, Lano and Leauva’a.
He’s the eldest of seven siblings and some of these (siblings) names were recalled in some of the well-known Samoan old songs composed by Solomona clans; Seutatia, Nofoatolu Vui Maiava Hemi Solomona (Oi Sole Hemi e, fai se tonu po o fea) Seupepe So’osemea (So’osemea e pule oe!), Vui Semi, Ioselani and Talalupe Solomona.
Ueta has five children, three to his late wife, Joyce from Malie and two to Susau from Fiji.
He was a grandfather to five grandchildren.
Ueta enjoyed a long career as a music educator, composer, conductor, arranger and performer, received music tutelage at a very young age on the piano.
His early musical experiences included working with brass bands and conducting choir rehearsals in the company of his father, the late Mata’utia.
In his youth, Ueta witnessed the formation of the E.F.K.S. church and the creation of its hymnbook.
He was the first ever Samoan to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study music at the Fredonia Campus, New York State University.
Upon completing his studies, he returned to Samoa and worked extensively to establish a choral culture of great uniqueness.
As the music educator based at the Samoa Teachers Training College, he also worked with schools such as Avele College, Lei’ifi’ifi College and Samoa College.
As the senior lecturer of Music and Expressive Arts at U.S.P. for 30 years, Ueta served the region through countless university and community programs.
Based in Fiji, his job gave him the opportunity to travel the Pacific. Retiring from U.S.P. in 2005, he returned to Samoa to fulfil a life-long dream of establishing the National Orchestra of Samoa, which he subsequently led for a few years.
He then worked for the National University of Samoa before his full retirement. Ueta was the first recipient of the Officer of the Order of Samoa for achievements in music.
His arrangements of Samoan traditional songs are still performed the same way today.