No programs? No problem!

Jeremy Wong gave a faculty recital at Orvis Auditorium.

Jeremy Wong gave a faculty recital at Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawaii at Manoa

I guess it’s only in America that going to a concert and getting a program is a given. After all, the purpose of a concert program is to know what is coming next. It’s nice to read program notes about the music you’re hearing and knowing how many songs comprise a set is important to knowing when to clap. Especially if you are going to a vocal recital, it’s nice to follow the words as the song is sung, more so if the song is in a foreign language.

Hey, do you know that in Europe, if you want to read the program, normally you have to pay for it! I’ve paid 2 euros (about $2.40) for concert programs at festivals I’ve attended.

Jeremy Wong, after the concert

Jeremy Wong, after the concert

Well, tonight only about an hour before his faculty recital, baritone Jeremy Wong was told that his programs were lost and could not be found! Yes, he had prepared and sent all the written texts to the office. But being that all his songs were in English, there was no problem with the audience being able to understand all the words.

His program consisted of three folksong arrangements by Benjamin Britten, five songs by Gerald Finzi, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, Songs of travel, all sung with clarity of diction, and absolute clarity of tone with an excellent range of dynamic contrasts. Although not on the program tonight, I would say that his voice is perfect for singing Bach—much like Max van Egmond!

What was interesting to me was that during the Gerald Finzi songs (Let us garlands bring; Come away, come away, death; Who is Sylvia? Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; O mistress mine; It was a lover and his lass), Jeremy read the text before each song, looking at what he called his “cheat sheet” with the words on a music stand, wearing his glasses. After reading the text, he took his glasses off and sang the song from memory! The process of reading the text with the glasses, and then singing the song without glasses from memory was just charming and rather amusing. Jeremy, we know you could sing the words from memory, how about speaking them from memory!

It’s funny, without a program in my hand to follow along, I felt I enjoyed the program even more. Somehow I was “unfettered” and not distracted by holding a program in my hand. I talked to Jeremy after the concert, and he says there is a movement among vocalists not to furnish written programs these days, so his concert was right in vogue.

By the way, I also enjoyed Tommy Yee‘s accompaniment immensely—never overplaying, always sensitive with dynamics, just right, and in my estimation—absolute perfection on the piano. Wow, he’s fantastic!

Thank you gentlemen, for a most enjoyable evening. Because of the extremely high winds, I really didn’t feel like going out tonight and wanted to hibernate, but tonight’s concert more than made up for the blustery weather.

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14,000+ chapel services

Over 14,000 chapel services, plus weddings, funerals and other services—that’s the estimate of the number of events which have taken place at the Robert Shipman Thurston Memorial Chapel on the Punahou School campus since it was built fifty years ago. Before that time, services were held at McNeil Hall, Dillingham Auditorium, or even outdoors. With 8 regular chapel services per week, it’s a busy place.

The Punahou lily pond.

The Punahou lily pond.

Robert Shipman Thurston was a graduate of the Punahou Class of 1941 whose plane was lost during World War II. His parents gave $25,000 to build the chapel in his memory, a building designed by the renowned architect, Vladimir Ossipoff (who coincidentally also designed the Lutheran Church of Honolulu across the street). Thurston Memorial Chapel architecturally is reminiscent of a mother hen, guarding her chicks.

From its website you’ll read that the school was built on the lands of Ka Punahou, named for the fabled natural spring discovered centuries ago under a hala tree. The spring still flows today, at the heart of Punahou’s campus under the Thurston Memorial Chapel, and its waters not only form the iconic Lily Pond, but also are used to irrigate portions of the campus.

Beebe Freitas

Beebe Freitas

This weekend, the school will celebrate the chapel’s 50th anniversary with a special service on Sunday afternoon, January 22nd, which I’m playing in the absence of Punahou’s long-time organist, Beebe Freitas, who is recovering from an illness. Beebe has played the organ here for more than 30 years, so it is understandable that it will be a disappointment not to have her at the service. They will just have to settle for me instead!


When I asked what they wanted me to play, Chandra Peters, the chapel coordinator, shared a newspaper clipping with me. It was from 1989, the dedication of the chapel organ by University of Southern California organist, Ladd Thomas. When she showed me the clipping, I said excitedly, “Carl (Crosier) and I were there at that recital!”

Ladd Thomas and Cherry Rhodes

Ladd Thomas and Cherry Rhodes

Ladd Thomas’ program included Bach, Dupré’s Variations sur un Noel, a Walther concerto and a mood piece, Autumnal, by Dorothy James. You may remember that I went to the University of Southern California—unfortunately I did not study with Ladd, but have certainly known him, and his wife, organist Cherry Rhodes, all these many years.

A couple days later, Chandra dug up the chapel dedication program, and I was so surprised to see that Walter Kau (1920-2010) was the organist. For the prelude, he played the “Little” Prelude and Fugue in B-flat from the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues, formerly thought to be by Bach, but now considered a spurious work. For a postlude he played “Magnificat VI” by Marcel Dupré. Walter was the organist at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church for over 50 years before retiring to his home parish, St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, where I was the parish administrator. I remember typing the funeral bulletin!

Interesting that Walter Kau and Ladd Thomas both programmed Bach and Dupré!

Initially, I was also going to play Bach and Dupré (his Cortège et Litanie), but because of time restraints, I’ll be playing the famous Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Paul Manz’s “God of grace and God of glory.”

I will also be accompanying the Punahou Choir in Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus, as was done at the 1967 chapel dedication.

It looks to be another busy weekend, with a birthday party for a former student, organ lessons, rehearsal with the Punahou choir, and the 50th Anniversary service. In addition I’ll be attending Jeremy Wong’s faculty recital in Orvis Auditorium at the University of Hawaii, “Songs of Travel: A Recital of English Song.”

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If Martin Luther King were alive …

Georgine Stark

Georgine Stark

If Martin Luther King were alive and had come to the concert at Lutheran Church of Honolulu last night, he would loved the scene, suggested soprano Georgine Stark.

[First of all, did you know that King’s given birth name was not Martin but Michael? His name was changed at age five after his father, a pastor, traveled to Germany and was inspired by the stories of Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer.]

Georgine leans in.

Georgine leans in.

Georgine asked us to consider that the concert took place in a Lutheran Church—and MLK was named after Martin Luther; she is an African-American, her husband Darel Stark, a Jewish violinist, accompanied by Sachi Hirakouji, a Japanese pianist, assisted by a Caucasian choir! (Actually, Georgine, I only counted ten out of twenty-four singers as Caucasian, with others cosmopolitan, Asian or part-Asian. But, who cares?)

Indeed, it was the music, sixteen spirituals born out of slavery, with the full range of emotions—from seething anger to deep sadness to pure joy—that elicited this response from Mary-Jo Estes, “I’m emotionally wrung out!”

Georgine was superb, her voice sometimes dark and charged with emotion, and other times, soaring as light as a feather, her perfect intonation hitting the “sweet spot” every time. Darel added several violin obbligatos to Sachi’s sensitive piano accompaniment, because he thinks “everything sounds better with violin (!),” according to Georgine. In fact, I cannot imagine what those pieces would have sounded like without the violin obbligato!

Scott Fikse conducts the LCH Choir.

Scott Fikse conducts the LCH Choir.

The LCH Choir, under the direction of Scott Fikse, was also excellent, with a full range of dynamics, beautiful blend and tone, and a clean precision in entrances and cutoffs. They performed “All my trials,” (Norman Luboff), “Were you there” (Moses Hogan), “Soon ah will be done” (William Dawson), “There is a balm in Gilead” (Dawson), and “We shall walk through the valley in peace” (Hogan). The LCH Men’s Schola sang “Rise up shepherd and follow” (Fenno Heath), with Guy Merola singing the solo.

I think some of my favorites included Hogan’s “Give me Jesus,” and “Let us break bread together,” this last song which Georgine sang a fourth up from its normal key, putting the ending notes in the stratosphere!

She ended with her signature, “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” but as Mark Russell said to me after the concert, “I can still hear Carl (Crosier) playing the piano on that piece.”

The encore

“Lift every voice and sing,” the national anthem for the civil rights movement, was sung quite reverently as an encore. I must say that I played this song all last week for Punahou chapel, and took it almost twice as fast!

(Thanks to Cathy Baptista for loaning me her iPad to take these pictures when I forgot to bring my phone.)

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Heart wrenching

Heart wrenching . . . if I had to describe yesterday’s funeral for Denise Dusenberry Ortal-Ballaibe, that’s what I’d say.

I would also call it tragic—Denise died on December 15, 2016 at the age of 54 from ovarian cancer—too young and too soon. She was a long-time member of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu—from 1987 when she first moved to Hawaii and rented an apartment from Diane Fell, a former LCH church member and silkscreen artist who made the Pentecost paraments. (Diane moved to Maui in 1991.)

Person after person got up during the service and spoke about Denise’s zest for life and adventure; her always cheerful disposition and sunny smile. Each reflected on the tremendous loss of a friend, sister, mother, and wife at too young of an age.

She leaves behind her beloved husband of twenty years, Rudy, and their two teenage children, son, Noah, and daughter, Emma. Although it was over twenty years ago, I am pretty sure that I played the organ for their wedding at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu—I remember how pretty she looked in her wedding dress.

The urn which Rudy made for the remains.

The beautiful urn which Rudy made for the remains.

Rudy said that the only time Denise was a little perturbed at him was when he brought home a bandsaw weighing 2,000 pounds! Sadly, Rudy used it to fabricate the urn (made from Norfolk pine) to place her ashes.

What I remember about Denise was that she was a Sunday School teacher when my son was little. It was the first Christmas pageant in which he dressed up as Joseph (and Marisa Castello was Mary!) On that year the children’s choir sang for the Christmas Eve service, and guess whose voice was louder than anyone else’s? Yup, it was my son, Stephen, about age five, who intentionally tried to sing above the other children. Unfortunately, we did not capture that moment on video.

Denise told me with a laugh, “Stephen has discovered his voice!” As musicians we were a little embarrassed, but as parents we were secretly pleased.

Scott Fikse led the singing, with Olivia Castro, Carol Langner and Randy Castello.

Scott Fikse led the singing, with Olivia Castro, Carol Langner and Randy Castello.

Scott Fikse led the congregation in several songs, aided by Carol Langner, Olivia Castro and Randy Castello. I thought the choice of Marty Haugen’s “Shepherd me, O God,” was especially appropriate, it being based on Psalm 23.

Aloha, Denise.

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A life of leisure … NOT!

Thurston Chapel, Punahou School

Thurston Chapel, Punahou School

Last Sunday about 4:00 pm after I had just settled into my seat at the Symphony concert and before the music began, my phone vibrated, indicating that I had a new email message. It was from Chandra Peters, the chapel coordinator of Punahou School, who coincidentally sang with the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir for a few years.

“Can you sub at Punahou for chapels this week?”

I said yes to two of the three services she asked about (because I was teaching on the other day). Chandra said she would try to contact organist Samuel Lam for the other service, and I replied, “I am at the Symphony concert and Sam sits right behind me! He said okay!”

“Too funny!”

My “retirement life” before Monday had formerly started with getting out of bed around 5:30 a.m., reading and responding to emails, then reading the newspaper, doing the daily crossword and sudoku puzzles, then going out for a 2.2 mile walk (from Nuuanu Avenue to South Street and back), coming back to eat breakfast, shower, and generally take it easy until my afternoon organ lessons. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are a little different because of playing for St. Andrew’s Priory chapel on Tuesday and morning organ lessons both days. I’ve embarked on a self-study Spanish language course and doing some knitting besides. And I haven’t even mentioned my blog writing, which sometimes takes a lot more time than I think it’s going to take.

Now, two days had gone by and the newspapers were still rolled up, unread—the daily crossword and sudoku still blank, and I missed a day of my Spanish practice! I also was not able to do my morning walks because of having to be at the chapel by 8:00 am.

My view from behind the organ console.

My view from behind the organ console.

After Wednesday’s service, it seems that Punahou’s chapel organist of many years, Beebe Freitas, will not be able to return for several weeks due to illness, and I bet you can guess what came next. Yup, my “office” until the end of January will be Thurston Memorial Chapel at Punahou School and my “retirement life” would no longer be so leisurely! In the month of January, I will have played eighteen (18!) Punahou chapel services plus a special event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Thurston Chapel, including a rehearsal with the Punahou Choir the day before.

Stained glass windows in the chapel.

Stained glass windows in the chapel.

Today’s chapel service began a week-long celebration of Martin Luther King, and I was surprised to learn that he visited this very place in 1959! During the service, the following photo of Dr. King with then-President Dr. John Fox of Punahou was shown.

Dr. Martin Luther King at Punahou

Dr. Martin Luther King at Punahou

Punahou School is the largest K-12 independent school in the United States, with 3,750 students. Its most famous alumnus is the outgoing President of the United States, Barack Obama, and he most certainly came to this chapel during his school-age years.

Barack Obama's 5th grade class at Punahou. You can see LCH in the background!

Barack Obama’s 9th grade class at Punahou. In the background, you can see the Lutheran Church of Honolulu across the street!

I wonder if I’m playing the organ for the next Barack Obama?


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How sweet the sound

How sweet the sound . . . Of course, you know that phrase as a quote from the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” written by the Anglican priest, John Newton (1725-1807). But it is also the title of an upcoming concert featuring soprano Georgine Stark, with her husband, violinist Darel Stark, pianist Sachi Hirakouji and the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir.

People would be amazed to find out about the REAL John Newton, before he made his conversion—if you check Wikipedia, you’ll read that “Newton gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men the captain had ever met. In a culture where sailors commonly used oaths and swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery.”


It’s a far cry from what you’ll hear next Sunday evening, January 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm, when Georgine will sing a program of works in honor of Martin Luther King, including a number of spirituals arranged by Moses Hogan (1957-2003). Hey, did you know that our local newspaper classical music columnist, Steven Mark, went to school with Moses Hogan? Award-winning pianist, conductor and arranger Hogan tragically died of a brain tumor at the age of 45.

The concert promises that “Audiences will be moved by songs that inspire hope, question hate and shout for freedom.”

Here’s a little video clip to whet your appetite: Georgine sings Hogan’s arrangement of “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” with Sachi on the piano and Darel on the violin. Georgine says that they felt like a violin obbligato part would add even more to the character of this and other songs.

The church choir will be singing spirituals, too, including Soon ah will be done (William Dawson), We shall walk through the valley in peace (Moses Hogan), All my trials (Norman Luboff) and There is a balm in Gilead. 

I guarantee that you will be moved by Georgine’s solo in There is a balm in Gilead as well as Lord, how comes me here, as sung below by Kathleen Battle. Someone asked Georgine last year how she was able to sing it without breaking down emotionally? She told them she had to sing it many, many times to build a “degree of separation” — in other words, Practice, practice, practice!

Georgine will end the program with her signature all-time favorite, He’s got the whole world in his hands, arranged by Margaret Bonds, which she performed many, many times with Carl Crosier at the piano. She says it is only fitting that she end with this showstopper, complete with her signature high “D” at the end!

Here’s a video of Georgine and Carl doing their rendition on April 2, 2011. I bet Georgine never saw this before, because I’ve never published it until now!

And talk about sweet sound . . . here’s the Na Wai Chamber Choir’s performance last Sunday night of Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols,” with Jace Saplan, director, and Connie Uejio, harp.

Imagine all the sweet sounds the walls of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu have absorbed! It’s truly mind-boggling.






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Kūpuna rate!

The program to last night's "Affirmations of Love" concert at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

The program to last night’s “Affirmations of Love” concert at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

Before going to last night’s concert by the Nā Wai Chamber Choir, I checked out their Facebook Event page and noticed this information about the price of admission:

Tickets are $7.00 for Adults, $5.00 for kūpuna and keiki

Now for those of you who don’t live in Hawaii, or know the Hawaiian language, keiki are children. And here’s a definition of kūpuna from Kahikahealani Wight, Professor of Hawaiian Language and Literature, Kapi’olani Community College:

Throughout Hawai’i, this Hawaiian word is widely understood to mean elder, grandparent or an older person. What is less recognized is the fact that the word has at least three distinct, but related meanings. First, a kūpuna is an honored elder who has acquired enough life experience to become a family and community leader. The term has been stated to be the embodiment of natural respect . . . . a practitioner of aloha (love), pono (righteousness), malama (caring), and spirituality. In ancient times, they were teachers and caretakers of grandchildren and that bond was especially strong. Even today, the kūpuna is expected to speak out and help make decisions on important issues for both the family and the community.

Kūpuna also means ancestor and includes the many generations before us who by their spiritual wisdom and presence guide us through personal, familial or community difficulties. We look to our kūpuna to help us find and fulfill our pathways through life. Included among our kūpuna are the family guardian spirits or ‘aumakua who take physical shape, [for example] in the form of a honu (turtle), mano (shark) or a pueo (owl), and come to visit, warn and communicate with us.

Finally, kūpuna means the source, the starting point or the process of growth. This meaning is related to the notion that our direct forebearers and those of the distant past remain living treasures who continue to help us grow in numerous ways. They are a source of experience, knowledge, guidance, strength and inspiration to the next generations.

At least in age, I think I qualify as a Kūpuna! So when I approached the doorway with Jason Anderson, I was told “Two adults, $14.”

“But I am a Kūpuna!”

“Okay, $12.”

The Na Wai Chamber Choir takes its bows.

The Na Wai Chamber Choir takes its bows.

The Nā Wai Chamber Choir is “A choir devoted to the preservation of Hawaiian choral music, and repertoire for women, by women.” The director is Jace Saplan, who was born and raised in Hawaii but is now a doctoral candidate in choral conducting and studies with Dr. Karen Kennedy who herself was the choral director of the University of Hawaii for a number of years, making a huge impression on the choral scene here. In August 2017, Jace will be taking a position as the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY.

Connie Uejio, master harpist

Connie Uejio, master harpist

Last night’s program began with an Oli (Hawaiian chant), then moved right into Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, with Connie Uejio masterfully playing the harp, a work she has probably done a zillion times. I remember Connie writing my late husband Carl Crosier that she played one of her first gigs in Hawaii at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, at Carl’s invitation. And it was Britten Ceremony of Carols!

The tone of the 13 women was just exquisite, with beautiful dynamic contrasts and especially soft singing. The only thing I found a tiny bit uncomfortable was the sometimes too long spaces in between pieces, but otherwise it was pure perfection. The roster of the choir included (Sopranos): Melissa Bumbach, Naomi Castro, Carson Chappins, Taylor Ishida, Lilinoe Kauahikaua, Erin Richardson, Christine Toguchi; (Altos): Sienna Ah Chong, Karyn Castro, Carlyn Costales, Elyse Espinosa, Amy Johnson and Lena Ann Sullivan. Both Naomi Castro and Karyn Castro sang solos, and I couldn’t have been more proud. As you know both of them grew up in the Lutheran Church of Honolulu and under Carl Crosier’s influence!

The second half of the program was a couple of other Hawaiian selections,  “Five Hebrew Love Songs” by Eric Whitacre, and a commissioned work by Dana Kaufman, “Be Still My Heart.” The pianist on the Whitacre pieces was Steven Severin, who played very sensitively and did a beautiful job. He is my organ student, now playing at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, whose wife, Erin, sings in both in the church choir as well as in this group.

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra with JoAnn Falletta, artistic director.

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra with JoAnn Falletta, artistic director.

In the afternoon I went to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra concert, which was an all-American program, “Made in America,” with JoAnn Falletta conducting. I came out of there with “a spring in my step,” as the orchestra ended the program with a spectacular and exhilarating performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story,’ ” filled with familiar melodies such as “Somewhere,” and “America;” driving rhythms and mixed meter changes. This was the first time I had seen the orchestra doing non-musical things such as snapping their fingers and shouting “Bravo!” So much fun!

What was also fun was that William Wolfram, who played Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” on the first half, came out and presented Maestra Falletta with a lei! Normally, it is Symphony volunteers who do the honors of giving the leis, so it was so delightful to see this!



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How many organists…?

Group photo of the Hawaii Chapter AGO.

Group photo of the Hawaii Chapter AGO (and guests).

How many organists does it take to change a lightbulb? This was no joke, but an actual quip when I hosted the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists at my condo last night and we decided to take a group picture. I suggested that we turn up the lights, and told the group the switch was under the television. It took people several minutes and attempts to even locate the switch! Hence, “how many organists does it take. . . . ”

Part of the gin collection.

Part of the gin collection.

I had initially booked a reservation at our 8th floor party facility, the Koi Deck with its lovely waterfall and fish ponds, but because it has been so chilly at night (in the mid 60s!) I decided to move the party upstairs to my condo.

People congregated around the bar area where guest bartender Scott Fikse was making martinis, in the spirit of Carl Crosier, whose large gin collection I am always happy to share!


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The Rev. Anke Flohr speaks to retired Pastor Fritz Fritschel after the service.

The Rev. Anke Flohr speaks to retired Pastor Fritz Fritschel after the service.

The night before, my houseguest Jason Anderson and I attended the German Vespers for Epiphany at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, where Scott Fikse conducted Bach Cantata 123, Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen, with the Bach Chamber Orchestra. The German Vespers has been a tradition at LCH since the year 2002, but this was the first time it was done on Epiphany rather than New Year’s Day. The Rev. Anke Flohr, a native of Hamburg, Germany, was the guest homilist who preached in German. I was amazed to hear her German spoken so fast (!) especially as she led us in the prayers. Her sermon (also in German) told of her recent Christmas visit with family in Germany and the shock at the Berlin terrorist attack.

In case you’re wondering, my German vocabulary is still only limited to German chorale melody titles, so there was a complete translation of her sermon in the service bulletin. That’s how I knew what she was talking about!

Today I’ll be attending two more concerts—in the afternoon, the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra concert, “Made in America,” featuring the music of Barber – The School for Scandal  Overture; Gershwin – Piano Concerto in F major; John Corigliano – Phantasmagoria  Suite; and Bernstein – West Side Story  Symphonic Dances. Maestra JoAnn Falletta will be conducting—what a treat to hear her two weeks in a row!

I can’t help but feeling sad, however, knowing that the HSO’s long-time principal bassoonist, Paul Barrett, is in the hospital with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. I can certain relate, having gone through all  that with Carl Crosier. Paul’s wife, HSO violinist Judy Barrett, is also on my mind—she has played with the Bach Chamber Orchestra for years. Seeing their two empty chairs on stage really fills me with sorrow for them.

In the evening I’ll be back at LCH to hear the Nā Wai Chamber Choir’s winter season concert, Affirmations of Love. The all-women’s choir will feature a program of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs, and a series of new compositions written in ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi.

All this plus designing a postcard for Early Music Hawaii’s upcoming concert, “Kings and Queens,” and writing blogs for the Burbank High School’s Class of 1968 makes for a rather full weekend, don’t you think?


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It’s a school night!

You probably remember that phrase from your childhood days, likely from your mother who didn’t want you going out on either Sunday through Thursday nights, because there was school the next day. Perhaps you also said it yourself to your children. Here’s how the Cambridge dictionary defines it.

There is even a book about a School Night.

There is even a book about  School Nights.

In this case, though, my friend John Renke used it in connection with a party that I’m hosting this Saturday for the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists, the AGO. You see, the next day is Sunday, and for many church organists, it means going to bed sufficiently early in order to wake up to play for church the next day.

In the last three years, John, who was our former Chapter Dean (that’s like the President), generously hosted a reception at the Pacific Club for a post-Christmas get-together. John is no longer Dean, but there was a consensus on the board that it would still be good to get together to trade war stories with other organists about their Christmases. (Since I am retired from church music, however, I had it easy. Can you believe that I played my last Christmas service four years ago already!) The easy solution was that I invited the Guild to my condo for the event. With our in-house restaurant and catering, getting the food ready will be no bother at all.

We initially had booked the outdoor party facility on the 8th floor, but because it has been chilly in Hawaii lately (in the 60s at night!), I decided to move the party to my apartment. In fact, it will be a lot less hassle that way, since I won’t have to schlep dishes up and down the elevator. You did know that Carl Crosier had me well trained, and always used real dishes for parties—never did we entertain with paper plates or plastic forks and spoons!

Jason came to Hawaii for Carl's funeral and served as one of the pallbearers.

Jason came to Hawaii for Carl’s funeral and served as one of the pallbearers.

I will also be hosting Jason Anderson this weekend, as my houseguest. As you may remember, Jason is now the second director of the Compline Choir of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, succeeding Peter Hallock, who was our long-time friend and business partner. Jason is on sabbatical this year and recently spent time in England, hearing dozens of Evensongs at Salisbury, Canterbury, and Westminster Abbey. Last August he came to Honolulu to help me clean out my storage room! (Sorry, Jason, it’s a mess again!)

Then, last Tuesday at the Priory chapel service on January 3rd, the band director Gordon Tokishi, took me by surprise by shooting a short video (shown below) of my postlude, “In dir ist Freude,” by Bach, normally played on New Year’s Day. It’s what I would dare call an impromptu performance, because I had not practiced it. But having taught it to so many students for so many years, it’s the same thing as practicing, isn’t it! 


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Welcome, home!

Lunch at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant.

Lunch at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. Back row: Ajaon Chen, myself, Naomi Yuen-Schat. Seated: Joey Fala, Jordan McCreary.

Today marked the third year I have hosted a lunch for my former organ students who are away at college on the mainland but home for Christmas in Hawaii. We could have had as many as six (or seven!) students there, but several have already returned to school. I invited Naomi Yuen-Schat and her mom to represent her brothers who are in Florida training for swimming and diving during the winter break. Naomi played her first entire church service just yesterday at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church!

Here’s an update on all of them:

Joey Fala and Jordan McCreary drink tea!

Joey Fala and Jordan McCreary drink tea!

Joey Fala is in his second year at Yale University pursuing a master’s degree in organ performance, after having graduated from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute with bachelor and master’s degrees in architecture. He will be giving his fourth and final graduate recital on February 5th, 2017, in Woolsey Hall, which I will be attending. He is presently the organ scholar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Norwalk, CT and will be returning to Hawaii in March as the guest recitalist for the Annual Organ Concert for the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists.

Jordan McCreary is a senior at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR and has applied to 19 different medical schools. He was home to play the piano for his mom’s wedding on New Year’s Eve.

Naomi and Ajaon enjoyed the delicious lunch.

Naomi and Ajaon enjoyed the delicious lunch.

Joshua Yuen-Schat just returned from a semester abroad in China, and as we ate lunch, his sister showed us videos of his latest skill: diving. He is a junior at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, majoring in international environmental science.

Daniel Yuen-Schat is a freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, studying electrical engineering.

Andrew Moore is a freshman at Worcester College in Massachusetts. He played Christmas Eve services at his home church, Waiokeola Congregational Church in Kahala. Unfortunately, Andrew and his mom were in a car accident on the way to the restaurant and were unable to join us. Next year, okay?

Christopher Lindsay is a freshman at the University of Southern California, studying Astronomy and Environmental Science and was recently on local television, as you can see below. In addition to getting a full four-year scholarship to USC in a special honors program for high school seniors, he was recently awarded a $50,000 scholarship by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Unfortunately, Christopher had already returned to school and couldn’t attend the luncheon. However, congratulations are in order because Christopher passed the driving test!

Melody Lindsay also taped a segment for ThinkTech Hawaii.

Melody Lindsay also taped a segment for ThinkTech Hawaii.

Actually Melody Lindsay, Christopher’s sister, also studied with me for a summer and is a graduate research assistant at Montana State University, in addition to keeping up her harp playing. As you will see and hear by the video above, Melody also won $50,000 from the Davidson Institute, in addition to a $30,000 fellowship from NASA and most recently, the Beverly Ferguson Award to an outstanding graduate student in microbiology and immunology. Check out the story here on the NASA Award, and click here for the Ferguson Award.

Congratulations to all former students!

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