This week I have been spending lots of time practicing on the Aeolian-Skinner organ in anticipation of being the organ substitute for four services at St. Andrew’s Cathedral this Sunday. In so doing, I have coordinated my practice schedule with Karol Nowicki, the Music Program Manager, who according to the St. Andrew’s website: “Working directly with Director of Music John Renke, Karol is involved in various facets of the music program including fundraising, donor and sponsor relations, organizing of performances and concerts by Cathedral and non-Cathedral musicians, collaborations with other music organizations, and outreach/education in the community.
In addition to his Cathedral duties, however, Karol is conducting the Early Music Hawaii Choir this Friday, November 14th, in their program called “Bridging the Centuries.” You may recall that in a previous post, I wrote that Karol is my late husband Carl Crosier’s hand-picked successor to lead the choir. And at the Evensong in memory of Carl (October 5th) it was Karol’s beautiful composition on Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep which opened the service. If you want to listen to it again, here it is:
I met Karol a few years ago when he moved to Hawaii, who was introduced as a recent graduate of Westminster Choir College, my alma mater! I asked Karol if he might share his journey for my blog and this is what he wrote:
I grew up half in Poland and half in the States. My whole family moved to New York in 2000, when I was twelve years old. I started playing piano back in Poland, but I didn’t start singing until my first year in America. My freshmen year of high school I did my first show, Footloose. I was a very shy kid, and I was terrified of being on stage, but I really liked singing. It also helped that my middle brother was in it too. Since then we haven’t done any shows together, until I moved here and started singing with HOT.
In fact, Hawaii Opera Theater is the reason I moved in the first place. Back in early January 2012 I was home with my parents in upstate New York, and Michał (pronounced Meehow), my middle brother, gave me a call. He said he was in the opera chorus, but had gotten a lead part in a children show that conflicted with the schedule. He invited me to Hawaii to for a month to take his place in the chorus. After that I just never left. 🙂 I found St. Andrew’s a few weeks after I arrived, heard the choir, asked John if he was looking for baritones, and it just so happened that Nick Walters was getting ready to leave for grad school. The stars lined up. 🙂
I wasn’t planning on being a musician. I thought I’d be a mathematician like my parents. I always liked singing, and I always wanted to sing more, but I never took it seriously. My senior year of high school I had a moment of awareness, and I did a quick turn around. I figured if I liked singing that much, then I should do it for a living. I also started to notice how my high school concerts and shows affected people in the audience. It seemed important to them, and I realized that there’s more to it than plain fun. And so it became more meaningful to me as well.
Karol started out as a voice major at Westminster Choir College, but switched to composition to have more of a challenge. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Composition, then did a composition program in Paris called European American Music Alliance.
If you would like to have a sneak peek at Friday’s program, you can click here to view the PDF.
By the way, if you are in doubt as to how to pronounce Karol’s first and last name here it is:
Kar0l (The Polish equivalent of “Karl” or “Carl”)
Nowicki (a variant of Nowak “newcomer”)