All over town, events were being cancelled because of the threat of Hurricane Ana to the Hawaiian Islands. But the planners of the BIG SING event for the local chapter of the American Choral Directors Association decided to go ahead as scheduled. A gentle rain was falling as many entered historic Kawaiaha’o Church, and what a crowd there was!
Jeremy Wong wrote, “AMAZING day at THE BIG SING! Massive turnout, wonderful music conducted and played by awesome colleagues. Amazing to hear Kawaiaha‘o Church filled to the brim, with people joining together in song. Couldn’t be more fortunate to live and work with the people that I do. We represented choral geekdom hardcore, O‘ahu.”
You may remember from a previous post that I was responsible for the layout of the souvenir program which contained all kinds of lists — choral directors from the past as well as active directors today, both school, church and community; and names of choral groups over the last fifty years. The bulk of the program booklet, though, was the actual choral music that everyone sang together. (In case you’re wondering, we used music in the public domain as well as music for which special reprint permission was obtained from the publishers.) I was more than a little embarrassed that page 14 was identical to page 13, and assumed that the error was mine, but when I got home to check the file, I found that my file to the printshop was correct! They were the ones who made the printing mistake! As my friend Bill Potter says, “Mistakes won’t be caught unless there are 10,000 copies printed!”
In spite of this error in the program, it is always thrilling for me to hear huge crowds of singers singing together — which I’ve heard at and participated in at American Guild of Organists and Association of Lutheran Church Musicians conventions, and this event was no exception. I’m guessing, though, that for many of the eventgoers yesterday, it was a first to experience this kind of massive singalong. There was something for everyone — the program opened with an arrangement of the hymn, “Praise to the Lord,” (Lobe den Herrn) with organ and brass. Then followed “Dona nobis pacem,” sung first in unison and then in a three-part canon. A barbershop quartet performed, then we all sang an American folksong (“Shenandoah”), a patriotic song (“America the Beautiful”), and “I’ll remember you.”
At that time, one of the most poignant moments happened when a roll call of the departed choral directors was read, accompanied by the slow tolling of random handbells. I had more than a twinge in my throat when I heard Carl Crosier’s name read, and immediately followed was “Lux aeterna” from John Rutter’s Requiem. I couldn’t but think that this was the kind of event that Carl and I would have attended together, except he and all of the other choral directors whose names were read are now in the heavenly chorus.
The program moved quickly through a classic by John McCreary (“Tu es sacerdos”), two opera choruses from Madame Butterfly and Carmen, a Hawaiian song (“Sanoe”), a gospel arrangement of “He never failed me yet,” then it was my turn to jump on the organ and accompany a Bach chorale on “Break forth, o beauteous heavenly light.” The program ended with everyone standing to sing the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.
And no one person hogged the spotlight — directors who conducted included Mike Lippert, Wanda Gereben, Bonnie McKibben, Aaron Mahi, Naomi Castro, Susan McCreary Duprey, Nola Nahulu, Jeremy Wong, Alec Schumacker, Esther Yoo and Miguel Felipe. Organists and pianists included Mark Wong, Buddy Naluai, Margaret Lloyd, Nyle Hallman, John Renke, Beebe Freitas and myself.
The Big Sing was a Big Success!