This week is my last of “regular” chapel services at Iolani School, and Chaplain Dan Leatherman surprised me yesterday at the 7th-8th grade chapel by calling me out and giving me a lei in front of the whole assembly. Part of the service was a dialogue — the students were asked which person they had most appreciated this past year— then Dan talked about me sitting behind the organ console all these years: twenty, in fact! (cue: applause) As I wrote in a previous post, it has been a job with zero stress.
My only consternation happened a couple of weeks ago, when at the end of the chapel, Dan decided to switch the last hymn on a whim, and the whole assembly had to wait for me to find the page! Luckily I can sightread any hymn (as any organist should do!) My only feeling of panic was flipping through the pages to find the right page — I like to have the next hymn found in plenty of time and being ready to go.
It was in the spring of 1994 that John McCreary asked me to sub for him for a week at Iolani, and afterwards I thought, “yes, I can do this!” Wouldn’t you know it, John retired after that last school year and asked if I wanted the job. I went in to see the headmaster who told me that if John said I was OK, it was OK for him, too.
Apparently this little “awards” ceremony will be happening for all this week’s chapels — so I will look forward to getting more leis!
The school newspaper interviewed me recently and here is how I answered.
How many years have you been at ‘Iolani?
I have been at ‘Iolani for 20 years. I think of this as “20 zero-stress” years — I can’t remember a single instance where I’ve ever felt an ounce of stress at ‘Iolani.
What’s next for you? Plans for retirement?
I look forward to getting my very own pipe organ from Germany for my condo on May 19. I hope to play some chamber music with it (with friends who play the violin, viola, cello or flute). I also hope to do more traveling. This June I’ll be away for a month, going to the Boston Early Music Festival; next, on to a tour of Germany with church music friends; and then to the Organ Historical Society convention in Springfield, MA where I will hear one of my former students from ‘Iolani (Joey Fala) play the organ in concert on the national stage. I’m also looking forward to playing the organ for myself, and learning some new pieces.
What will you miss most about ‘Iolani?
What I will miss about Iolani is the opportunity to play the organ in public on a daily basis. In the first 18 years of this position, I also had a regular church job and by playing the same prelude and postlude all week that I planned for the following Sunday, I got a lot of good practice! But what I think I will miss most is accompanying the hymns, especially for Lower School and hearing all the young voices lifted in song.
What are your favorite memories of ‘Iolani? Any favorite stories?
I think some of my favorite times at Iolani are when the acolytes (who put on their robes right behind the organ console) react with wonder and amazement when they see the organ console for the first time. The younger ones will say, “Wow! What a big piano!” I’ve always been happy to answer questions about the instrument. Or, occasionally when I see students outside of ‘Iolani and they recognize me, I’m always glad to say ‘hello’ back. Because the organ console is mostly hidden, most students and faculty have never heard me speak, let alone even seen me.
Also, may we quote from your blog?
You may certainly quote anything from my blog. In fact, the blog has made me a lot more “famous” than I could have ever dreamed. All over the country, perfect strangers will walk up to me and say they’ve read my blog! And whenever my former ‘Iolani student, Joey Fala, tells people he studied with me, the reaction he gets is, “Oh, you mean Katherine Crosier, the blogger?