Maybe you’ve seen this picture shared around the internet lately, with the question, “Have you ever just stopped and realized that if you hadn’t met a certain person, your entire life would be completely different?” For sure, when I met Carl Crosier, my musical repertoire became much more focused on the works of Bach, as that was Carl’s lifelong passion.
And just today, I was reminded that tomorrow is McNeil Robinson‘s memorial service at the Church of the Ascension in New York City. His own music will be featured at that service, with friends, colleagues and students of Neil participating, including Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, Rev. Canon David Lowry, Azi Schwartz (cantor, Park Avenue Synagogue), David Lefkowitz (cantor emeritus, Park Avenue Synagogue), Dr. John Walker (president, American Guild of Organists), Robert Sirota (past president, Manhattan School of Music), and organists Justin Bischof, Christopher Creaghan, Claudia Dumschat, Robert McCormick, Jason Roberts, Kalle Toivio, and Andrew Yeargin. What a memorial tribute that will be!
I went back and re-read what I wrote on Neil’s memorial website: I can say with all certainty that after my husband, Carl Crosier, McNeil Robinson was the second most influential person on my life and my playing. I met him for the first time in 1975 when he came to Hawaii to play the inaugural concerts on the Rudolf von Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and I attended all three of his concerts there. I was fortunate enough to spend about 20 hours in lessons with him at that time — my Bach playing on a tracker organ, phrasing and articulation, was shaped by him and I in turn have taught it to countless number of students. Two years after he played the inaugural concerts, he came back to Hawaii to play an all-Bach concert at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and an all-Franck concert at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The next weekend he stayed to play our wedding, and I will never forget the recessional he improvised on “Hyfrydol” and “Lobe den Herrn.” Throughout the years, our meetings with Neil were few and far between, but each time, he greeted us like old friends. After we had not corresponded in years, we had a chance encounter with Neil on the streets of New York (see my post It’s a small world after all) — and he obviously remembered us. Dear, dear Neil, the world will miss you.
This past weekend, you can say that I continued the tradition of hospitality that Carl and I shared for so many years — I invited the entire Castro family to dinner on Saturday — Jimmy, Olivia, Naomi and Karyn — as thanks for all they have done for me over these many years! Here’s the menu: Smoked salmon with goat cheese on baguette; crispy baked eggplant with honey drizzles; loaded spinach salad; maple-glazed pork tenderloin; salt crusted potatoes with fresh rosemary; fresh haricots verts; and apple crisp with white chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream. Slideshow follows: (Yes, I made everything myself!)
Many years ago (three decades in fact!) we met Olivia Rambeck who told us she was only in Hawaii a year to pursue master’s degrees in nursing and public health. Lo and behold, she met Jimmy Castro and her life changed! I played for their wedding — Olivia came to sing in the choir, and Jimmy played guitar and sang with the 8:00 ensemble; then when they were blessed with musical daughters, Naomi and Karyn, the girls joined the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir when they became older — so all four Castros sang in our choirs for years!
Naomi was recommended by Carl for the St. Andrew’s Priory choral director position, in which she has blossomed, and Carl even became her accompanist for several years. Karyn just recently became my replacement as the Parish Administrator of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church. Naomi and Karyn both sang in the recent Early Music Hawaii concert in which I played, Musica Poetica. I am especially grateful to Jimmy and Olivia, for they were the ones who sat with Carl’s sister, Carol, and me at St. Francis Hospice, as we waited for the mortuary to retrieve Carl’s body on the day that he died.
I finished out the weekend by going to the Hawaii Opera Theatre production of The Magic Flute and Diamond Head Theater’s Sister Act. So Young Park’s “Queen of the Night” aria was rock-solid! Both productions were fantastic, with memorable singing and colorful costumes.
A full weekend, just like the old days!