and the call time for tonight’s University of Hawaii Choirs concert was 6:00 pm. Honolulu had been steamy with rain all day, and you can see by the graph above, that there was 97% humidity and 0 mph wind. I looked out the window and saw all the cars backed up on the freeway, so I left at 5:33 pm, giving myself plenty of leeway to arrive on time. You know how it is when there is a big rainstorm and the traffic backs up something fierce?
25 minutes later, and I had only “driven” about four blocks, so I texted director Miguel Felipe. “I have been on the road for 25 minutes. I am only at Queen Emma Street.” In fact, it took me 45 minutes to get to Central Union Church, when normally it takes only 5-6 minutes!
Luckily my pieces had not come up yet in the warmup, but for me, the rehearsal did not go well. You see, I have had terrible jet lag ever since I got back from Italy and I just have not been able to go to sleep until 4:00 and 5:00 am in the morning. And guess what has been absolutely tormenting me for the last three weeks, and especially the last few nights? Yes, it’s been Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, playing over and over and over in my head. But — I have to remind myself, this is how we learn the music!
Tonight’s program was called “PSALM,” and every single piece on the program was based on psalm texts. The program was:
Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter (1567) — Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)
Si Yahweh ang Aking Pastol (Psalm 23) — Francisco F. Feliciano (1941-2014)
Venite exultemus Domino (Psalm 95) — Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Beati quorum via (Psalm 119) — Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
“Richte mich Gott” (Psalm 43) — Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Wade in the water (Psalm 206) — arr. Alec Schumacker (1986–)
Psalm 140:1-4 — Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Tribulationes (Psalms 12, 24, 30, 65) — Vahram Sargsyan (1981–)
Chichester Psalms (Psalm 108:2, Psalm 100, Psalm 23, Psalm 2:1-4, Psalm 131, Psalm 133:1) — Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
You can see the complete program by clicking the Psalm picture above. (Takes awhile to load)
The choirs sang the psalm texts in English, Filipino, Latin, German, Russian, and Hebrew in a widely varying and most interesting program. I played the Britten and the Bernstein on the organ, and the rest of the concert I was able to sit and listen. I especially liked the Stanford “Beati quorum via” which I know very well from having sung it at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu for many years. And Alec Schumacker’s arrangement of “Wade in the water” was exceptionally inventive and not the typical choral arrangement.
As in any performance, some things go awry and other times things are better than expected. In general I think the music went better than I expected, and my mistakes were hopefully insignificant. Thanks again to Megumi Kurachi and Dr. Alec Schumacker for helping — Megumi for turning pages and pushing pistons, and Alec for “shadow-conducting” so I could keep together with the rest of the choir.
By the way, it was nice to see many friends from the Lutheran Church of Honolulu at the concert!
I hope now that the Bernstein Chichester Psalms will stop tormenting me!