It has been more than a week since I returned to Honolulu from my wonderful Italy trip, and I’m having the hardest time getting back to this time zone! In spite of the fact that I played the Bernstein Chichester Psalms in a concert on Friday night and attended a fabulous Hawai‘i Symphony concert on Saturday night, I have been wide awake every night from midnight to 4 am ever since I got back — and I’m afraid I have yielded and gotten up, thinking it’s better than tossing and turning. But by 7 am, I’m ready to go back to bed, and yesterday I lay back down for a nap and was shocked when I got up again — 2:15 pm! Yikes!
We were given an evaluation form at the end of our GoAhead tour, and I’m afraid I didn’t do it much justice since I wasn’t able to spend much time on it. For one thing, we had to hand-write it, and I must say that 99.5% of my writing is done on a computer keyboard! One of the greatest factors in the success of the tour was our local tour director, Barbara Valloni (remember to say Bar-bar-a with three syllables, stressing and pausing after the first syllable and rolling the Rs!) who has worked with GoAhead for 24 years. Being a Roman first, and an Italian second, she knows Rome like the back of her hand. She taught us several Italian words, and one of the first was “Allora,” a filler word equating to our English word of “so” or “well” in conversation. Even now, I can hear her saying Allora….
I felt she went above and beyond the call of duty in that she set up custom wake-up calls to our rooms every day (6:15, 6:30 or 6:45 am, depending on the day’s activities) and she even called me a taxi on the day I saw the Pope, which was a tour outside of her company. I was most grateful that she explained to the taxi driver where I needed to go, because when I got to the meeting point, I heard another visitor say her hotel was in the same vicinity as ours, but she was ripped off and paid 40 euros for her taxi and I paid only 10 euros which included the tip!
Also greatly appreciated was that she posted all the day’s activities on the hotel bulletin board, so we never had a question as to what was going on.
I want to say something about Alexander Kobrin, the fabulous pianist who played the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor on Friday night in Kaua‘i, and on Saturday and Sunday in Honolulu. He has been called the “Van Cliburn of today,” in that he was awarded the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal at the Twelfth Van Cliburn piano competition in 2005. I went to the Saturday show and what I was struck by was his absolutely beautiful playing, every note voiced perfectly, every color and nuance of the piano coming out. What also made a huge impression on me was his position at the piano — he mostly sat still and his body didn’t overly emote: he let the music speak for itself! something which my organ teacher always told me to do, and which I’ve taught my students.
In the pre-concert Conversation, he was asked what the difference in music teaching was in Russia vs. music teaching in the United States, he said, “One word: Obedience. The Russian teacher is revered and obeyed at all times!” Not like in America where we who teach music have to contend with sports schedules, school activities, speech tournaments, etc.!
Now I have to get ready for Advent, and my next gig will be with the Kona Choral Society on Sunday, November 29 at 4:00 pm at the Sheraton Kona Resort, under the direction of Susan McCreary Duprey. I’m playing the organ for Handel Messiah, but the program will open with Britten Ceremony of Carols with local harp virtuoso, Tatyana Shapiro. I’ll be flying over from Honolulu with baritone Keane Ishii, for the dress rehearsal which begins at 1:30 pm, and we’ll fly back that night after the concert.
Wouldn’t you know it, just this week Dana Marsh, who came to direct the Early Music Hawaii concert, Musica Poetica in September, released a recording of himself singing That yonge child from the Ceremony of Carols, decades ago when he was a boy chorister under Gerre Hancock at St. Thomas Church in New York City (1977).
I share it with you now for everyone to enjoy. What a fabulous performance — You can hear that Dana showed his musical genius at a young age!