From all accounts, last night’s 40th anniversary of the Beckerath organ was a grand and glorious occasion and the church should feel extremely proud to have put on a first class act. From Joey Fala’s stunning and magnificent playing, to the energetic congregational singing, to the colorful and elegant 16-page souvenir program, to the delicious home-made goodies, cheese and fruit at the reception, it was a night to remember!
“what a lovely, lovely event and evening. Please convey to Joey again how much we loved his playing. Seems like he should dispense with Yale and go on the Road. Wow, I had a ring-side seat and it was mesmerizing to watch his hands, etc. except that most of the time I was just soaking it all in. A gorgeous sound.” (Carol Langner)
“So honored to be able to share the stage with wonderful musicians. The LCH choir and brass members of the Bach Chamber Orchestra backed up some heavy hitters in the organ world—Joey Fala, Katherine Crosier and Mark Wong—as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Beckerath Organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.. The FIRST tracker organ to be built in Hawaii, and the last organ personally voiced by master organ maker Rudolf von Beckerath.” (Jeremy Wong)
“It was a wonderful afternoon. The lovers of music and the members of our congregation were blown away by the artistry of this young man that started taking lessons with our former organist, Kathy Crosier, when he was in the 5th grade. As a member of the choir at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu (now 30 years for me!), we all watched Joey Fala grow up, as he occasionally played in student recitals at the church and most recently, substituted for Kathy Crosier for a church service a few years ago. I was particularly impressed when he subbed because the choir that week was singing a fairly difficult anthem that had a devilish organ accompaniment. He pulled it off the first time he rehearsed with us without missing a note! I am also impressed that he also holds a college degree in Architecture! It has been a privilege to be part of the volunteers that bring fine music to the worship service each week and to know and work with these great musicians!” (Roy Helms)
I don’t have enough wonderful adjectives to describe how wonderful the music was. Kathy Crosier who taught him for a number of years played at the beginning at the service and Mark Wong our current organist did the final part of the service. Joey, with your education and talent you will be able to give yourself a wonderful life. God Bless. (Bob Zimmer)
Okay, okay, I take credit (plead guilty?) for putting together last night’s hybrid concert/service, by taking inspiration from the original dedication program of May 18, 1975, which I posted in “Found it—7,209 miles away!”
I began by playing “Tierce en taille” from François Couperin’s Messe pour les Paroisses, which Carl Crosier played on the dedication program, dedicated to Rudolf von Beckerath, who named this as his favorite piece. After some opening sentences and collects, we opened with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ grand arrangement of “All people that on earth do dwell,” which was the very first hymn the congregation sang with the organ in 1975. I stayed on the bench to play the opening hymn, and we even used the continuo organ for verse four, with Mark Wong playing the four parts while I played the melody in the tenor on the cornet from the big organ. It was truly thrilling and spine-tingling to hear that large congregation, the choir, the organ, and the brass lifted in song— an unforgettable sound!
The rest of the service proceeded with the same two lessons from the 1975 dedication service (Isaiah 11:1-9 and Acts 2:14-21) before and after Carl Crosier’s setting of Psalm 150 for voices and handbells, written in 1980.
Joey then played a 45-minute recital and got an immediate standing ovation! His program showed off all the colors of the organ, and thanks to Hans-Ulrich Erbsloeh, the organ sounded magnificent. I always say that after the organ is tuned, it’s like the lights are turned on!
Sinfonia from Cantata 29, Wir danken dir, Gott (Bach)
Choralvorspiele: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 *
Jesus Christus unser Heiland, BWV 626
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564 (Bach) *
Benedictus and Toccata in D minor, op. 59 (Reger)
Miroir (Ad Wammes)
Te Deum (Demessieux)
* played at the Dedication Service, May 18, 1975 by Carl Crosier
The choir then sang Everett Titcomb’s rousing Victory Te Deum as the offertory, accompanied by organ and brass, then came the Litany of Rededication, and we closed with Michael Burkhardt’s arrangement of ENGELBERG, “When in our music God is glorified” for brass, choir, organ and congregation.
As Jeremy Wong, interim choir director, wrote on Facebook: It was an amazing event with some fantastic music and wonderful people. Thanks to all who were involved.
I was so pleased to see a number of Joey’s Iolani School teachers at the concert, including Cindy Scheinert and Norma Chun who were so instrumental in bringing Joey to me, Lisa Preston, John Bickel and Beth Barry. In the morning, I had gotten an email from one of Joey’s former elementary school teachers which I would like to share with you:
I want you to know that I am so happy there were adults along the way to clear the path and help Joey pursue his dream. What a beautiful example of caring, love, connections and making dreams come true…with lots of hard work and talent…by the way! I knew him at Iolani School as a quiet and nice 5th grader who was obsessed w/ the pipe organ. He wanted to play the organ. He wanted to do anything he could that was related to the pipe organ. This is not the normal obsession of a 5th grader. Whenever he had a choice of topic for research or a short story or poem, anything, it would be about the pipe organ. Kids all knew this…Joey was crazy about pipe organs. Ask any of Joey’s classmates what they think of when they think of Joey, it will be the pipe organ! I think of a great kid who had a dream and was not afraid to let others know about it. “Others” listened and helped to provide the opportunity for this young man to learn and develop his talent. (Nohea Chang)
Let’s all pat ourselves on the back for a job well done!