Today was the day that the Lutheran Church of Honolulu celebrated my 35 years as organist — and the most amazing thing was that the rain held off until AFTER the party was over!
It was so nice to see so many familiar faces, friends, colleagues and even some people from the distant past. One of my very first organ students (from 40 years ago!), Geri Ching, could only stay a few minutes but we managed to take a group picture of some of my students (past and present) who were present. I was especially glad to see so many of my colleagues from the American Guild of Organists, Hawaii Chapter: Karl Bachman, Margaret Lloyd, Elizabeth Wong, Gary Kahn, Nyle Hallman, Don Conover, and Samuel Lam. And to my great surprise, former LCH chorister Gail Tucker and her husband Chris, just happened to be visiting Hawaii and stayed for the celebration! It was also great to see a daughter of the congregation and former LCH chorister, Marisa Castello, who happened to be in town.
The delicious lunch was catered by our good friend and chef (Jemmari Kamal of Shogunai Tajine) who operates the restaurant in our building. It was supposed to be a secret, but the cat was out of the bag a couple of weeks ago. As was said during the program, Chef Kamal said he knew Carl was very picky about food!
After lunch we all moved into the church where emcee Frank Haas gave people a little perspective on my years at LCH through a PowerPoint presentation, with lots of humor thrown in. I don’t think I’ve heard my name said so much in all the years I’ve been alive! One poignant moment happened when Frank showed a fifth-grade picture of Joey Fala, as well as a more recent photo of him sitting at the Beckerath organ. He said, “One person who couldn’t be here today is Joey Fala,” then read this: “Living away from home has really shown me who the most important people in my life are. . . I guess over the years I’ve really come to consider you a part of my immediate family. . .what I want you to know today is what you mean to me as a listener. . . You always talked to me about playing with feeling, but I think you’ve proved to me that you can also listen with feeling. There is a spiritual presence that I could feel, playing for your ears.” (Sigh, that Joey truly is special!) As Iolani Assistant Chaplain, Diane Martinson-Koyama wrote, “If you had no other affirmation in life, Joey’s letter alone would make for a complete life. What a moving letter and how significantly you have touched that young man!”
Eight of my students played, then both my husband Carl and Pastor Jeff Lilley spoke briefly. I finally got up to speak, but said I really felt more comfortable behind the scenes rather than out front.
I’ll give you the text of my speech in the next post.