Out of my comfort zone

Early Music Hawaii Kona

Early Music Hawaii Kona (No one told me about the dress beforehand!) L-R: myself, Mary Garris, Rachel Edwards, Susan Leonard, Kelsey Mordecai, Ian McMillan, Daniel Mahraun, Steve Kaplan, Garrett Webb, Geoffrey Naylor, Harry Zola.

I spent the weekend in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, playing harpsichord in the Early Music Hawaii concert. After a mad dash to the airport after teaching organ lessons on Saturday morning, I arrived in Kona and was taken immediately to the concert venue, the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, where the rehearsal was already in progress.

This was the same program we had presented a week ago, “Kings and Queens,” except that the choir and the director were completely different, and of course, the harpsichord was entirely new to me. It was a single manual instrument, with two registers (two sets of 8′ strings), manipulated by two small levers on the inside of the case. I found the action to be quite stiff as compared to the Cammack harpsichord at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu last weekend. It belongs to Garrett Webb, one of the founding members of Early Music Hawaii. A recorder player, Garrett does not play keyboard, but purchased it solely for visiting artists!

Naturally, with no organ available, some of the pieces I played last weekend on the organ had to be played on the harpsichord, an entirely different experience. Whereas I had played the bass line on the organ pedals, here I had to play it with my left hand, making me quite uncomfortable, along with the stiff action.

Daniel Mahraun

Daniel Mahraun

Also, with a different director and soloists, tempos and interpretation were bound to be different, which they were. We in Early Music Hawaii, are extremely lucky to have director Daniel Mahraun‘s expertise, as he has a doctorate in choral music and has a gorgeous baritone voice. Check out his bio on his website. Other performers included Rachel Edwards and Mary Garris (soprano); Susan Leonard and Kelsey Mordecai (alto); Ian McMillan (tenor); Daniel Mahraun (baritone); Steve Kaplan (bass); Geoffrey Naylor, Garret Webb and Harry Zola (recorders) and myself on harpsichord.

After the rehearsal, Ian Capps, his wife, Jeannette, and I drove an hour away to Kohala to the spectacular home of Marilyn and Carl Bernhardt, where we held the annual meeting of the Early Music Hawaii board of directors in their gorgeous dining room. Guess what—I was formally elected as vice-president of this organization!

Here is where we had our board of directors meeting.

Here is the dining room where we had our board of directors meeting.

Early Music Hawaii board

Early Music Hawaii board

After the meeting, Marilyn treated us to a wonderful dinner of homemade soup, salad, and two kinds of homemade bread which had just been baked this afternoon. Garrett drove me back to Kona, where I indulged the generous hospitality of Lois and Tom Griffiths, with whom I stayed last December when I played for the Kona Choral Society. She is a parishioner of Holy Trinity, sings in the choir under Daniel Mahraun, and is on the church council.

In the morning I attended the service at Holy Trinity where Daniel Mahraun’s wife, Leslie Ann, is the pastor. The first thing that surprised me was that the church was absolutely full—something you don’t see on ordinary Sunday mornings in most parishes. There were many mainland visitors who were introduced after the service, harking from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, Washington, and Colorado.

Now there's a combination of instruments you don't see everyday: a harpsichord with a drum set in the background!

Now there’s a combination of instruments you don’t see everyday: a harpsichord with a drum set in the background!

The second surprising thing was that all the music was played on piano, with electric bass and drums. Hearing traditional hymns such as Holy, holy, holy (NICAEA); O holy spirit, enter in (WIE SCHÖN LEUCHTET); and Go my children with my blessing (AR HYD Y NOS) with drum set was an entirely new experience! There was a ton of music in the service, including seven hymns, a hymn anthem by the choir, the psalm, and the liturgy (Kyrie, This is the Feast, Alleluia, Doxology, Sanctus, and Lamb of God).

The concert, which was held at 3:30 pm, was well-attended and went well. I have to confess, however, that just before I was to play my first solo, The Queen’s Alman, my brain did a disconnect. I couldn’t figure out where to put my hands! Normally middle C is in the middle of the keyboard. However, on this harpsichord, it is definitely way off to the right, and I couldn’t figure out which octave I needed to place my hands! Luckily I chose the right one after a few moments of indecision. You would not believe the number of people who came up to me and were so enamored with the sound of the harpsichord! I had to admit I was out of my comfort zone, because I am an organist, and the two instruments are as different as night and day.

In case you want to see the program, You can click here.

Before I left for Kona, Facebook reminded me of a photo I posted four years ago:

Carl Crosier at Kakaako Waterfront Park, Feb. 9, 2013

Carl Crosier at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park, Feb. 9, 2013

For six years, my late husband Carl and I used to get up at 5:00 am and walk 2-1/2 miles every morning Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, though, we took a different route and walked 5-1/2 miles to Kaka’ako Waterfront Park. On this particular Saturday, when we got to our destination with its spectacular view of Diamond Head and the harbor, I snapped a picture of Carl walking on ahead of me. You can see that it was very voggy—our Hawaiian version of air pollution—a combination of volcanic ash and fog.

On Friday, when I reposted the photo on Facebook, it dawned on me that this photo was a perfect metaphor of Carl’s walking into the light ahead of us, as it has turned out in real life. It was an image that stayed with me the entire weekend, also reminding me that if Carl were here, he would be playing the harpsichord, not me.

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My left foot

On Saturday night, I fell off the organ platform after the Early Music Concert and sprained my ankle (see my post “Swan dive!“). Witness this text conversation between Georgine Stark and me today.


In case you don’t know, classically trained organists use BOTH feet to play the pedals and turn their noses up at amateurs who only use their left foot to play the bass line. Then again, there is theatre organ playing in which the organist’s right foot is used to operate the swell pedal while the left foot plays the bass notes. The effect is non-legato (not connected) which is okay for theatre organ music, but not for other kinds of music, like hymn playing!

Can you imagine what it’s going to be like playing the Aeolian-Skinner organ for Priory chapel tomorrow—and only using one foot!!!

Last week, I delivered some organ music for manuals only (no pedal) for one of my students who was riding a bicycle and got hit by a car, injuring his right foot. For some strange reason unknown to me, I held back two volumes and now I’m glad I had something to play for chapel this week.

While at Punahou School this morning, I learned a valuable lesson from Chandra Peters, the chapel coordinator. UP on good, DOWN on bad! What this is all about is a lesson on how to negotiate stairs with a crutch. When going up stairs, use your good foot first, followed by the injured foot. It’s just the opposite when going down stairs: use your crutch (or cane) with your bad foot first, then follow with your good foot. Seems complicated, but it works!

Then again, how about this blog posting:

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Joey Fala at Woolsey Hall

Drum roll, please … Here is the video for fantastic Joey Fala at the Woolsey Hall organ at Yale University for his graduate organ recital!

Here’s the program, with notes found on the internet:

Edward Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 4 in G Major, op. 39
This is a transcription of one of Elgar’s military marches written for orchestra. In the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, Pomp and Circumstance No. 4 served as the recessional. As Diana’s veil was lifted and the couple bowed and curtsied to Queen Elizabeth II, the opening notes sounded and continued as they walked down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral out to the portico and the waiting crowds. (Wikipedia)

Maurice Duruflé, Prelude et fugue sur le nom d’Alain, op. 7
The Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, Op 7, is a tribute to Duruflé’s friend and colleague and the brother of the distinguished organist Marie-Claire Alain, Jehan Alain, who would undoubtedly have become a leading French composer, and whose life was tragically snuffed at the outset of the Second World War in 1940. Duruflé’s theme, based on letters of the alphabet, translates A-L-A-I-N as ADAAF. In the final section of the Prélude, Duruflé quotes the theme of Alain’s most popular work, Litanies. (Hyperion Records) [I played this piece on my senior recital from college!]

I was in the audience!

I was in the audience!

César Franck, Fantaisie en La majeure
This piece was one in a set of three that Franck composed for the inauguration of the organ of the Trocadero in Paris. This Fantasy often baffled his listeners. His original title of Fantaisie-Idylle nevertheless gives the key to his listening : one must be carried away by the touching and inspired dialogue of the three main ideas that it contains, developed with great freedom. (Bru Zane Mediabase) [I learned this piece in high school and have not heard it since!]

Thierry Escaich, Cinq verses sur le “Victimae paschali”
These Five Verses , which can be addressed as well to a classical instrument as symphonic, were composed in 1991 at the request of the Ministry of Culture for the Forum of the organs of Île-de-France. They consist of a succession of five short variations on the Easter sequence Victimæ paschali laudes, each characterized by a very particular universe.

• Verse I. It is a rhythmic variation of the theme characterized by unstable writing (based on syncopes or added values). Like most variations of this cycle, the verse evolves like a veritable little symphonic poem with a progression in several stages, a climax and a rapid fall-off where we witness the progressive elimination of the rhythmic theme.

• Verse II. Adagio with a particularly tense expressivity, it evolves in the form of a slow chromatic rise in a contrapuntal writing towards a summit in the form of a cry abruptly debouching on a coda completely stripped. The Gregorian motive finds the force to reappear only in fragments interspersed with silences.

• Verse III. Court intermezzo where the humor of the beginning is quickly thwarted by more breathless reminiscences of the previous variation.

• Verse IV. As in many of my plays (the central movement of the First Concerto for organ and orchestra, for example), it is a long processional march combining a slow stubborn walking element on the Victimæ paschali motif with one hand, and Presentation completely chopped, unstructured from the same theme to the other. The progression is then made towards an atmosphere more and more heavy and even crushing, sometimes interspersed with “flashes” in the form of bursts of chords.

• Verse V. A brief toccata with an irregular metric that sometimes tries to reconnect with a more breathless expression and phrasing seeming to reemerge previous verses. (Thierry Escaich website)

Herbert Howells, Psalm Prelude, Op. 32, no. 3
This is subtitled “Psalm 23 Verse 4 ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’.” Howells composed Set 1 of his Psalm Preludes in 1915-16, clearly moved by the deep sense of loss that he had already begun to feel about the human waste of the world war as it continued its dismal progress. His musical response to such underlying feelings, which surfaced on subsequent occasions throughout his life, was often elegiac, but was also inflected strongly with a sense of complexity that derived from the formative influence of modal counterpoint on his work, especially in his instrumental compositions. The Psalm Preludes show also the ways in which Howells’ work is permeated at times with a sense of acoustic resonance that draws on his strong proxemic sense of church architecture and the texture it can lend to choral music in performance. (North London Chorus program)

Marcel Dupré,  Prelude and Fugue in B major. Op. 7, no. 1
Marcel Dupré’s Trois préludes et fugues, composed in 1912, are among his most popular compositions for the organ. The first, in B major, is the most exuberant of the three, opening with a brilliant, toccata-like prelude. The busy fugue theme emerges naturally from the prelude and dances its way to a thrilling finish. This piece has been used as the closing voluntary for a number of major services at the cathedral in recent years, including the Inaugural Prayer Service for President Barack Obama in 2009. (Gothic Catalog)

Joey will be home on spring break to play two recitals in Hawaii! I just sent the postcard off to the printer, and will give you more information as the concerts draw closer.

Joey's concerts in Hawaii

Joey’s concerts in Hawaii are March 12 (Hilo) and March 19, 2017 (Honolulu)

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Swan dive!

Group selfie before the Kings and Queens concert

How many times have I stepped off the organ platform at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu? A zillion times, to be sure. 

I am in the wheelchair!

But tonight after the Early Music Hawaii concert (which went very well, by the way), I misjudged the distance to the floor. The next thing I knew, my eyes were face to face with the terrazzo floor. Funny thing, I did not use my hands to break my fall, but once down on the floor, I couldn’t move. People rushed to my assistance right away, and asked how I was. Thankfully I had not lost consciousness, only my pride! Karyn Castro brought my car down from the Poki lot and a few people helped me into the church’s wheelchair. Olivia Castro wrapped my ankle in ice with a towel. The next stop was Queen’s Hospital Emergency for x-rays. Diagnosis: a moderate sprain, no broken bones, but I am being discharged with my ankle wrapped in an ace bandage and issued crutches. Hallelujah!

The good news was that despite flood warnings and massive rainfall earlier in the day, we had a large, appreciative crowd for the concert. There were no musical disasters and I felt especially relieved after my two harpsichord solos: William Byrd’s The Queen’s Alman and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s Prelude from the Suite II. Every single singer got a solo bit, and there were several combinations of duets, trios and quartets to provide variety. The beginning of the concert particularly gave me musical chills: it started with Naomi Castro singing a medieval chant, joined with a drone played by the gamba. Then the choir slowly walked in procession to the front of the church, singing ancient organum. It surely took me back several centuries.


These folks are relieved it’s all over: L-R: Georgine Stark, myself, Naomi Castro, Karyn Castro, Bowe Souza, Guy Merola, Keane Ishii, Scott Fikse (director), Anna Callner, and Phillip Gottling.

However, I’ve got to do it all over again next weekend in Kona with a different bunch of folks. Luckily there’s no organ platform to fall off in Kona—I am only playing harpsichord.

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Kings and Queens

My next two gigs

Early Music Hawaii concerts for the next two weekends.

Friday night rehearsal

Ever since I returned from my mainland trip, I have had to hit the ground running. For the last three nights I have rehearsed with the Early Music Hawaii Chamber Singers for our concert tomorrow night, 7:30 pm at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. It has made for some very long days, each beginning with 8:15 am chapel at Punahou School and ending with rehearsal as late as 10:00 pm—jet lag notwithstanding! For the last three nights I have woken up promptly at 3:15 am!

The Kings and Queens concert is sub-titled “Intimate Music for and by Themselves.” Ian Capps, in the program notes, writes: From medieval times through the Baroque, the principal patrons of music were the royal families of Europe. Their public profile was very high but, like most of us, they valued what private time they had to appreciate, and often participated in more intimate music.

Anna Callner, viola da gamba

Anna Callner, viola da gamba

What is unusual is that the program is being presented twice, once in Honolulu and again in Kona on the Big Island, with two sets of singers. Only I as the keyboardist will be common to both groups.

In Honolulu, there are seven singers,  Naomi Castro, Georgine Stark, Karyn Castro, Guy Merola, Bowe Souza and Scott Fikse, in addition to Anna Callner (viola da gamba) and Philip Gottling (recorder) plus myself on harpsichord and organ. We will be presenting vocal and instrumental medieval and Renaissance music by Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Ludwig Senfl, Josquin des Prez, Henry V, Henry VIII, William Byrd, John Bennet, Cristofor Malvezzi, Giulio Caccini, Antoine Boesset, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Michael Lambert, Henri Dumont, and Tomas de Torrejon y Velasco.

Phil Gottling, recorder

Phil Gottling, recorder

Next weekend I will fly to Kona to join the Early Music Hawaii Chamber Singers of Hawai’i Island where the singers will consist of Rachel Edwards, Mary Garris, Susan Leonard, Kelsey Mordecai, Ian McMillan, Daniel Mahraun and Steve Kaplan; Geoffrey Naylor, Garret Webb and Harry Zola on recorder and myself on harpsichord—same program!

I guess that something I have taken for granted all these years is that being an organist, either I am hidden, or my back is to the audience. However, I am mostly playing harpsichord in this concert and I am definitely out of my comfort zone for a number of reasons. For one thing, my face will be visible to the many people in the audience. Unfortunately I have a tendency to make a face when I make a mistake!

Tonight at rehearsal, Scott Fikse who is directing the Honolulu group, reminded us that the last three nights we have had our “working faces” on, but that he expected us to show some animation for the concert.

That reminds me that years ago, I did a special with the local public television station about various organs in town. The producer had me do several takes because I was not smiling when I was playing the organ! Jeepers, as an organist I’m NOT used to smiling when I play the organ, especially with my back to everyone.

Let’s hope I don’t make too many faces tomorrow while playing the harpsichord!

Tickets are available at the door, or by going to the Early Music Hawaii website.

Georgine, Naomi and Karyn sing like the angels!

Keane, Bowe, Guy and Scott are busy rehearsing for the concert.

 

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In the news

Diapason magazine, February 2017

The Diapason magazine, February 2017

This morning I’m watching the news about the big snowstorm in the Northeast—I guess I left just in the nick of time! It was the first time I took a nonstop flight directly to Honolulu from Newark—11-1/2 hours, in which I watched five movies! In case you’re wondering, no, I never sleep on flights, even when they span halfway across the world.

Anyway, last night before I went out to a rehearsal for the upcoming Early Music Hawaii concert, I sat down to read the latest Diapason magazine, an international journal for organists and harpsichordists. I started reading a story about the latest Albert Schweitzer organ competition (Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival Hartford–ASOFH), and came across a familiar name: Joey Fala!

In the article by Phillip Truckenbrod, Joey was quoted extensively:

“What was so wonderful about ASOFH was that it truly was a ‘festival’ rather than ‘get in, play, get out,’ like some other competitions I’ve participated in,”  said Joseph (Joey) Fala, a Young Professional finalist in 2016, a member of The Diapason’s 20 under 30 class of 2016, and now a graduate student at Yale University by way of Honolulu.

“While centered around the contest, the weekend was about more,” he continued, “like celebrating music, the pipe organ, and the legacy of a great humanitarian. I so very much appreciated this emphasis and the effect it had on filling the weekend with an atmosphere of inspiration rather than creating an environment of competition. That was one of my biggest takeaways.”

Later in the article, there was another quote: “It was a full-blown extravaganza,” he said. “I really felt a part of something that was a ‘big deal.’ “

Joey received the Hymn Playing award!

Judges included several superstar organists who have played in Honolulu, namely Isabelle Demers and Christopher Houlihan. And the first winner of this competition was none other than Paul Jacobs, head of the Juilliard School organ department, who played two concerts in Hawaii to standing-room audiences.

Joey was quoted again at the end of the article: “I can’t say enough good about the weekend,” said Joey Fala. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see event attendance grow in the coming years because of the various changes made.”

Photo of judges and competitors, The Diapason magazine

Photo of judges and competitors, The Diapason magazine, February 2017

It really seems that with every issue of either The Diapason or The American Organist, both national magazines, I keep running across Joey Fala’s name!

Oh, and by the way, a few weeks ago, Joey texted ME to say that I was in the January issue of The American Organist!

“Wow! You got a big article in the TAO!”

“I did? For what?”

“The historic organ tour.”

In case you would like to read the entire article about last summer’s trip to Lorraine, France, you can view it here. A number of people wrote me to tell me how much they enjoyed the article and hoped that I would review the next Historic Organ Study Tour to Venice and northern Italy in August. Bill Van Pelt wrote me to say that there was one space left, and you guessed it… I’m going to Italy!

 

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Absolutely magnificent!

Woolsey Hall

Tonight was former student Joey Fala’s final graduate recital at Woolsey Hall, Yale University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Music degree. Being here has been the greatest thrill of my life, as it must have been Joey’s greatest thrill of playing on this magnificent organ.

First, about the organ: The Newberry Memorial Organ in Woolsey Hall was built in 1903 by the Hutchins-Votey Organ Company, improved mechanically and almost doubled in size in 1915 by the J. W. Steere & Son Organ Company, and rebuilt and enlarged in 1928 by the Skinner Organ Company of Boston. University Organist Harry Benjamin Jepson (1871-1952) was responsible for the design of the instrument, executed by Ernest M. Skinner and G. Donald Harrison of the Skinner firm. Consisting of 12,641 pipes arranged in 197 ranks and 167 speaking stops, it is one of the largest and most outstanding instruments of its period. Most importantly, it has been kept tonally and technologically intact since its 1928-29 reconstruction. In other words, it is the Rolls-Royce of organs and it absolutely envelopes the listener in a wash of tonal color and sound.

Here’s the program:

The program called him Joseph, but he will always be our Joey.

Edward Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 4 in G Major, op. 39

Maurice Duruflé, Prelude et fugue sur le nom d’Alain, op. 7

César Franck, Fantaise en La majeure

Thierry Escaich, Cinq verses sur le “Victimae paschali”

Herbert Howells, Psalm Prelude, Op. 32, no. 3

Marcel Dupré,  Prelude and Fugue in B major. Op. 7, no. 1

Doing “Shaka” (Hawaiian greeting) with Professor Thomas Murray

What can I say about Joey’s performance? It was in my opinion, Joey’s greatest performance and the best I have EVER hear him play. Masterful in every respect—seemingly flawless in note accuracy, sense of style, brilliant use and nuances of tonal color, and absolute control of the rhythm and breathing. I told someone last night that from day one as a fifth-grader, Joey already had a musical sensitivity which I did not have to teach him. He could make the music sing! And that he did, and played as though his very life depended on it.

I don’t know how Joey played so brilliantly on so little sleep! The day before, the hall was booked from morning to night with Chinese New Year celebrations, and Joey had to start his practicing at midnight! Apparently the power to the organ shuts off every night, but luckily Joey has an override key to keep the organ playing. Then, his ride to St. Paul’s with another singer failed to materialize and he ended up taking the train to Norwalk at 6 am.

With Barbara Adler

I was very happy to see my long-time friend, Barbara Adler, and she drove four hours from Ithaca, NY to attend the concert. She was formerly the Dean of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists when I moved to Hawaii in 1973. She has since lived in ten states, and is now the national treasurer of the AGO.

I was also glad to make the acquaintance of Don Conover’s brother, who sat directly behind me! It was through the generosity of the Don Conover scholarship that Joey was able to take lessons with the assistance of the Hawaii AGO chapter.

Seven years ago, when Joey graduated from high school, I wrote in this graduation card, Today I am no longer your teacher. Today you are no longer my student. We are now colleagues.

Today I would have to correct this to say, Joey, tonight we are no longer colleagues. You are our master.


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Sunday at St. Paul’s

St. Paul’s, Norwalk, CT

Chills ran up and down my spine as I sat in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Green, in Norwalk, CT, where former student, Joey Fala, is the Organ Scholar. 

For me hearing him play a liturgical service, masterfully improvising on the hymn tunes which either came before or after the various parts of the service was so totally thrilling—to hear him have come this far and this well truly fills me with such joy and pride.

3 manual Reuter organ

When we saw him before the service, Joey apologized in advance that half the choir was not there this morning having just sung a big Evensong at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, New York City, last week and many in the choir are sick. “It’s Low Sunday,” he said.

Jake Street is the Director of Music.


Still, there was plenty of music in the service. Joey played Bach’s “Liebster Jesu” in front of the first hymn, which was the same tune, building to a grand crescendo to accommodate the large procession. The choir sang an Anglican psalm, an offertory and communion anthems, and a descant on the offertory hymn. The Ordinary consisted of the Robert Powell Gloria, Calvin Hampton’s Sanctus and Benedictus, a Fraction Anthem by Jack Warren Burnam, and Joey’s postlude was the Fugue on ALAIN by Duruflé. Plenty of music, right, and then some.

What I really appreciated was that today’s choir of about 35 people included both adults and children—Joey tells me there are normally twice the number of kids that we saw today. Still, isn’t this a great educational experience for these children! I would say that the youngest ones were only about 8-9 years old. I think usually they have about 20 kids in the choir.

Afterwards Joey again apologized for having our first impression of St. Paul’s be today, and we kept saying that there was absolutely nothing to apologize for—this would be first rate anywhere. 

By the way, the man who drove me to the church this morning was “Uncle” Gary Loughrey, who has taken Joey “under his wing” ever since he was introduced to him at an AGO meeting by my long-time friend, Barbara Adler. Gary has just retired as an airline pilot, but is also interested in organ building and architecture. I met him last year at Joey’s concert in Dwight Chapel.

A woman came up to me after the service and said, “You must be Joey’s mom!” (No, his second mom!” ) She said they were so very grateful to have him as the organist there.

We went out to lunch with Joey’s former architecture professor and his wife from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where Joey had made a huge impression.

Tonight is his master’s recital in Woolsey Hall, truly one of the great organs in America, played by a lover of the organ since he was in preschool. What a great journey this has been!

Joey is a gift to all who come into his life. Aren’t we lucky!

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World-class library, museum and opera

When I looked at my phone after I woke up yesterday, I was horrified to read that it said 9:27 am! Thinking back, however, I have to remember that Indiana time is five hours earlier than Hawaii time, so my body thought it was only 4:27 am!

Abraham Lincoln

“You must go to the Lilly Library,” I was told the previous night at dinner. The Lilly Library was founded in 1960 with the collection of Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., owner of Lilly Pharmaceuticals in Indianapolis. The Lilly Library is a collection of rare books and manuscripts, and what is unique, is that you are encouraged to touch everything—with a few exceptions. In their permanent collection is a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, one of few things you cannot touch. The library also has the original manuscript for the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Emancipation Proclamation

In the permanent collection there were several portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, along with an original signed Emancipation Proclamation.

Since I will be playing some early English keyboard music next weekend at the Early Music Hawaii concert, I thought it might be fun to look for some. Alas, they didn’t have any, but the librarian brought me something very fascinating — a treatise (in French) on keyboard accompaniment with a number of musical examples: in other words, how to play figured bass (a musical shorthand which is about half my pieces next week). I don’t know how old this book was, but I indeed leafed through its parchment pages… sure seemed old to me, maybe several hundred years old.


I also looked at a decorated choir book page.


Across the street I found an art gallery where there was a special exhibition on tattooing in Indiana, with many images of fully tattooed people from the 1920s who were photographed totally nude with strategically placed fig leaves. I was interested to learn that until recently tattoo parlors were illegal as they were considered as practicing medicine without a license, akin to surgery!

Then I found the museum next door where there was a special exhibition on Vik Muñiz. One of the most innovative and creative artists of our time, Vik Muniz (born 1961, São Paulo, Brazil) is renowned for creating what he calls “photographic delusions.” Working with a dizzying array of unconventional materials—including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk—he painstakingly constructs 3-D pictures before recording them with his camera. 

One picture especially caught my eye, as it was the image of Frankenstein, created with caviar! Boy, that must have cost a fortune!

Created with caviar!

I met my host, Dana Marsh, for a quick but delicious dinner at a Japanese restaurant near the theatre which we walked to in time for the pre-program talk. The production of Handel’s opera, Rodelinda, was every bit as elaborate as I’ve ever seen, and the amazing thing was, outside of the directors, everyone else: all the singers, the orchestra, and the dancers, were all students! —Meaning that they were all volunteers and unpaid. In Handel’s day, of course there were no supertitles but even though the English-speaking audience did not understand the Italian libretto, they came for the singing and the orchestral playing.


What is astounding is that Indiana University puts on 7 operas and/or ballets per season. Other productions this year include Daughters of the Regiment, Florencia en el Amazonas, Madama Butterfly,  Nutcracker, Peter Grimes, fall and spring ballet and The Music Man.

Now, on to New Haven!

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In the company of early music greatness

    L-R: Wendy Gillespie, Paul Elliott, Elisabeth Wright, Stanley Ritchie, Nigel North, Myron Lutzke, Aaron Sheehan and Dana Marsh

Continue reading

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