It was about 6:30 last night that I got a text message from John Renke, organist-choirmaster of St. Andrew’s Cathedral: I’m still sick. Maybe even worse. I want to plan ahead and see what your availability might be. There’s a huge service at 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon requiring some organ music and two choir (anthems). Are you available for that?
So about 10:00 this morning, I received another message: It’s official. I won’t be in today… still very sick. Because of the dress rehearsal for Georgine Stark’s recital, I had already moved my afternoon students to the morning, which meant I couldn’t do anything about getting the service music together until noon. I was told to play a 10-minute organ prelude, a “loud” processional, “Kaleleonalani” by John McCreary, Alfred Hay Malotte’s “Lord’s Prayer,” an exit processional and a 10-minute “quiet” postlude. Further, I was to accompany a pickup choir of 6 people at a 2:30 pm rehearsal.
I still didn’t know what occasion I was playing for until I got to the Cathedral about 2:15 pm and took a look at the program. It was titled, “A Sacred Tea Ceremony for World Peace — Kenchashiki by Dr. Genshitsu Sen XV, 15th Generation Urasenke Grand Master.” This was apparently the 65th anniversary of Chado Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association and the Cathedral was filled to the rafters with at least 500 people. They had even blocked off two lanes of Beretania Street to accommodate all the attendees, most of whom came by chartered bus. Luckily I took the last parking stall in the lot and here it was 45 minutes before everything was supposed to start!
I must say, that in all my 40+ years of living in Hawaii, I’ve never attended an occasion quite like this one, and to have it take place in St. Andrew’s Cathedral seemed a little incongruous. People in the audience had come from Asia, Europe, North, South, and Central America and Hawaii. Most of the women were wearing Japanese kimono. When I walked into the Cathedral after the rehearsal in the choir room, all those 500 people were dead silent. I was prepared to play a prelude, but an announcer jumped the gun at 2:50 pm and said we would begin the processional!
Guess what I played for all the organ voluntary music? Bach, of course! In my opinion, in any situation, the music of Bach is always appropriate and I’ve been practicing Bach since I got my wrist splint removed two weeks ago. I played the fourth Kyrie from the Clavierübung III as the procession entered. Distinguished guests were recognized, including Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, Dean Walter Brownridge, the Japanese Consul Yasushi Misawa, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald of the Supreme Court of Hawaii, Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna, Mayor Billy Kenoi of the Island of Hawaii, Mayor Bernard Carvalho of Kauai, and The Honorable George Ariyoshi, former Governor of Hawaii.
After a short sermon by Dean Brownridge, the heart of the service was the ritual tea ceremony by Dr. Sen, called “kenchashiki.” It was all done in silence in front of the chancel and lasted for 20 minutes. Twice he brought the tea vessels to the high altar. For the recessional I played “Christe, aller Welt Trost,” and then I stopped for a brief announcement by Mrs. Lynn Waihee, former First Lady of Hawaii.
I was then instructed to play 10 minutes of quiet music, and even the coordinator checked with me to make sure I understood what to do. She gave me the signal to start, then was I ever surprised that all during my “quiet” music, a man made announcements (in Japanese) — about boarding the buses, In fact, Mrs. Waihee even announced it! “And now, Mr. Tamura of Nippon Kinki Tourist will give you directions regarding restrooms and bus information.” The announcements were made throughout my ten minutes of Bach, and then when I had not quite finished my piece, a man came up to me and said, “Stop playing now—Mrs. Waihee wants you to stop!” so I quickly came to a cadence! (Poor Bach! to have his music as background music for bus boarding announcements!)
One funny thing happened during the rehearsal: Naomi Castro said she had never ever heard the Malotte’s Lord’s Prayer, and I told her, “That’s because you grew up with good music!”
[In case you didn’t know, Naomi grew up in the congregation of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, where Malotte’s Lord’s Prayer was NEVER sung! You can thank Carl Crosier for that!]