50 Years of Choral Music in Hawaii

Wanda Gereben

Wanda Gereben

Say the word, “Choral Music” and “Hawaii” in the same sentence, and inevitably, you will bring up the name Wanda Gereben, whom I met some 40 years ago when I was her accompanist at St. Andrew’s Priory School and Hawaii Children’s Opera Chorus (Egad! that was EONS ago!) Wanda was the founder and executive director of the Pacific Rim Children’s Choir Festival which had a good run here. It was also Wanda who was in charge of coordinating the music for choral director Dale Noble‘s funeral a few short weeks ago, and since my husband Carl was supposed to conduct the Fauré Requiem then, we had many phone calls and emails prior to that occasion. (To read about what eventually happened, click here for my post called “Plan B.”)

You might also recall that we met The Rev. Bob Brown by chance recently when we happened to sit next to him and his wife at St. Michael’s in Issaquah, WA, (see my post “A small world after all“) and he reminded us that he was the former rector of St. Christopher’s in Kailua, HI while Wanda was the choir director. That was also eons ago.

The Choral Power Brokers in Hawaii:

The “Choral Power Brokers” in Hawaii: (Far left and clockwise: Buddy Naluai, Carl Crosier, Wanda Gereben, John Alexander, Miguel Felipe, Betsy McCreary, and Nola Nahulu).

But today, we had the privilege of being invited to lunch at Wanda’s new apartment and as I looked around the room, it was filled with what I call the “Power Brokers” of choral music in Hawaii! Wanda said that it was fifty years ago that she moved to Hawaii and when she reflected upon the last fifty years of choral music here, it was cause for a celebration! So the local chapter of the American Choral Director Association (ACDA) will be holding a special event on Saturday, October 18, 2014, at Kawaiaha’o Church to celebrate all the choral directors who have made their mark on Hawaii, and to bring all the choristers to sing together, with a reception afterwards, of course, and an opportunity for everyone to “talk story;” in essence, a giant family reunion with food, songs and fellowship.

The task will be to compile a list of all the choral directors and choirs who have contributed to the fabric and culture of Hawaii, both past and present, church, community and school choirs, living as well as  deceased. If you can contribute names to the list, please make a comment below so that we can update our database.

Wanda recently treated a bunch of us to a lunch on the Sunday after Dale Noble’s funeral, and she brought up the fact that we’ve lost so many local choral conductors recently, including Don Altman (Founder, Honolulu Chorale); Lina Doo (Kapiolani Community College), Dorothy K. Gillett (Hawaiian Choir, University of Hawaii Manoa), Roy Hallman (Central Union Church and founder, Honolulu Boy Choir), Robert Hines (University of Hawaii Manoa), Shigeru Hotoke (founder, Kailua Madrigals, The Gleeman of Honolulu); Joe McAlister (Oahu Choral Society and Honolulu Chorale); John McCreary (St. Andrew’s Cathedral and Iolani School); Dale Noble (Kamehameha Schools); Ruth Pfeiffer (founder, Salinga Singers) and Norman Rian (Leeward Community College and University of Hawaii Manoa).

It’s both spooky and sad, that we have lost so many choral conductors in Hawaii recently, and as Wanda told me, “God is calling home the choir!”



About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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5 Responses to 50 Years of Choral Music in Hawaii

  1. Peggy Anne Siegmund says:

    I don’t see your list of choir directors – do you have these names?
    Tim Carney, Hawaii Vocal Arts also St Christophers Kailua and Honolulu Symphony Chorus; Karen Kennedy, Honolulu Symphony Chorus; Esther Yoo, Honolulu Symphony Chorus aka Oahu Choral Society; Don Conover, Church of the Crossroads

    • The choir directors that were listed in the post are all those who have died, and those are the ones who will especially be remembered. We have another list for those who are still active, such as Tim Carney, Karen Kennedy, Esther Yoo, Don Conover, etc.

  2. Pingback: It’s a Wanda-ful World | Another Year of Insanity

  3. Ray Crouse says:

    Was John Alexander, the Director of the Gleeman of Honolulu
    In the early 1960’s??? I sang with the Gleeman
    From 1962 to 1964. I was in the Navy stationed
    at CINCPACFLT at Pearl Harbor.
    Raymond C Crouse
    Email address: rayandjeme@yahoo.com

  4. Abraham Napoles says:

    Just came across this blog post. As a keyboardist, I had the privilege and honor of associating with fellow organists Buddy Naluai at the Honolulu Central SDA church and Don Conover at Church of the Crossroads; somewhere in the 80’s-90’s transition I was honored to accompany the Gleemen of Honolulu directed by Shigeru Hotoke. I currently reside in Washington state but consider the Islands my real (earthly) home and miss the wonderful choral music of Hawaii. Aloha.

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