Concerts, oboes and organs

Iolani Winter Concert program

Iolani Winter Concert program

I watch the conductor on the TV monitor.

I watch the conductor on the TV monitor.

I just finished playing my last gig for the Christmas season, Iolani School’s Winter Concert at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Even though I have officially “retired” from playing daily chapels at the school, John Alexander invited me to play the Cathedral organ for the opening and closing numbers for the concert — I guess because the instrument is so funky and unpredictable and he seems to think I can handle it. Thank goodness, most everything went well and there were no surprises. Since I only had to accompany the first and last pieces, I could sit back and enjoy the rest of the concert.

This past Wednesday I was invited to the Iolani School Winter Concert by the orchestra and chorus in the gym and afterwards to an appreciation luncheon for faculty and staff who retired after 10 years of service. This was a new role for me — to sit with the other retired teachers as an onlooker. I could really enjoy the performance of the orchestra and the choir, and both ensembles were tightly-knit with a beautiful tone.

The same night I attended the Oahu Choral Society’s concert at the Hawaii Theatre, and I couldn’t help but think of Carl Crosier throughout the program. The concert opened with Vivaldi’s Concert for Four Violins, and if you recall, Carl programmed this piece on the Harpsichords 1-2-3-4 extravaganza in 2007.

I just now re-read my post on this insane concert where I wrote: the idea for the four-harpsichord concert came about when we attended Trevor Pinnock’s farewell in London. Remember that insanity? On October 26-27, 2007, LCH’s Abendmusiken concerts (repeated) called Harpsichords 1-2-3-4, Violins 3-4 featured six concertos by Bach and Vivaldi. We started with the Bach’s Concerto in A major for one harpsichord, followed by Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for four violins, followed by the Concerto in C major for two harpsichords; Intermission, then it was the Concerto in D minor for three harpsichords, then the Concerto in D major for three violins, and the grand finale was the Concerto in A minor for four harpsichords. Like eating six German chocolate cakes in one sitting!

Wednesday night’s performance featured violinists Claire Hazzard, Judy Barrett, Darel Stark and Maile Reeves and they all did a fabulous job.

The oboe d'amore

The oboe d’amore

The major work of the evening, though, was the Magnificat by Johann Sebastian Bach, and I must admit that whenever I hear performances of Bach, I can’t help but think of Carl and his passion for the works of Bach. Carl conducted the Magnificat on three separate occasions: March 12, 1983, October 24, 1993, and May 17, 2009.

You don’t know what a curveball the Symphony threw me when I got a message that they were looking for an oboe d’amore for Wednesday’s concert, specifically, the one that Carl and I bought to use for LCH performances. Scott Janusch, the Symphony principal oboe player, has one, but it seems that Bach always uses oboes in pairs, so that’s why Carl long ago made the decision for us to sell our son’s ordinary oboe (after he went to college), and trade it in for an oboe d’amore. According to Wikipedia, the oboe d’amore “has a less assertive and a more tranquil and serene tone, and is considered the mezzo-soprano of the oboe family, between the oboe (soprano) and the English horn (alto). . . Johann Sebastian Bach wrote many pieces—a concerto, many of his cantatas, and the “Et in Spiritum sanctum” movement of his Mass in B minor—for the instrument.”

Of course I remembered that we had used the oboe d’amore for Carl’s final concert, the Mass in B Minor in 2011, but Scott remembered a more recent performance in which it was used: the Oahu Choral Society’s performance of the B-Minor Mass in May 2014. The staff at LCH remembered it was returned to the church afterwards, but several searches of the church offices failed to find it. I then tore my apartment and my storage room apart looking for that oboe but no luck. Pastor Jeff Lilley remembered that he called Carl to come pick it up, but that must have been after the 2011 performance, not the May 2014 concert, because in May 2014 Carl was not driving, due to his illness. After several days of worrying about the oboe, and throwing myself into a tizzy; many emails between the Symphony, Scott Janusch, the LCH office and myself, and not being able to ask Carl about it, I suddenly thought that Jeremy Wong, who was the interim choir director at LCH after Miguel Felipe might know the oboe’s whereabouts. He remembered it was in the music director office’s cabinet behind the keyboard, and guess what! That’s where it was found. I guess no one thought to look behind the keyboard! I can’t tell you what a relief it was to know that it was found!

The baby organ in my condo.

The Symphony also wanted to borrow LCH’s continuo organ, but since the platform was damaged the last time it was loaned out, the church declined. They asked me what other alternatives there might be, and I immediately thought about the little organ in my condo. However, I was reluctant to loan it out since I wanted it here to show off at my Christmas parties. Alas, the Symphony used an electronic substitute which turned out to be so soft that I could barely hear it from the fourth row where I was sitting. Next time, maybe I’ll let them use the  baby organ.

I must say that this Advent-Christmas season so far has been a breeze, with my own performances at a minimum (Kona Choral Society Messiah, one Wednesday evensong, two Sunday services, and tonight’s Christmas concert) and only three Christmas dinner parties to host. I’ve really been able to enjoy other people’s hard work in putting on concerts. And this is the first time that I haven’t been frantic to get all the music played, shopping, decorating, and party hosting done. What a contrast to 2004, for example, when Carl decided to host fourteen (14!) Christmas parties, in addition to all the Christmas concerts and services!

I leave on Monday for two weeks in California with my family! Woo-hoo!

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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One Response to Concerts, oboes and organs

  1. Curt Zimmerman says:

    Your great reflections are calling up important moments in my own life in Hawaii. 1974, John McCreary was really sick with the flu the week before the Iolani Christmas concert at the cathedral. He asked me to take the rehearsals for the week and included a small group of the boys (this was before integration) to the Kahala Hilton to record a portion of Pat Boone’s TV special. I would never have wished John’s condition on anyone. What he did, however, was give me a great gift for the week before my ordination to the priesthood. All the gentlemen of the choir and orchestra and Mark Wong at the organ were superb. John was back for the concert of Friday eve, and the ordination was Sat morning. A great way to move from music being my primary passion into ordained ministry.

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