I am a hopeless political junkie and we are once again in one of my favorite news cycles —a presidential campaign. I just love the debates, the polls, and the talk shows. And of course there’s a lot of talk about blue states and red states, liberals and conservatives, progressives and establishment. But this weekend, blue and red will be mixed up and there will be no name-calling, and no acrimony. Huh?
You see, I’m not talking about liberals or conservatives, or Democrats or Republicans — I’m talking about the Joint Evensong which will combine the choirs of St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 5:30 pm at the Cathedral. St. Andrew’s choir wears red cassocks and the LCH choir wears blue cassocks — that’s where the red and blue will be all mixed up, as you can see by the photos on this page. (I doubt, however, that the choristers’ political persuasions necessarily match the color of their vestments!)
Yesterday I told Scott Fikse, LCH’s music director who will lead the combined group, that there has actually been a long history of cooperation between the two choirs, dating back to the days when the late John McCreary was the cathedral musician. Even though John jokingly called the LCH Choir “the enemy,” it was thirty-four years ago, in fact, when the LCH choir was singing Tenebrae with the Cathedral choir and Randy Castello‘s pager went off (a new thing in those days!), signaling that his wife, Jeanne, was in labor. I know it was 34 years ago, because Marisa Castello, a beautiful soprano in her own right, just celebrated her birthday a few days ago and I reminded her about this fact.
Years ago, Carl Crosier and I used to spend our vacations from LCH by going down to St. Andrew’s and subbing for John McCreary — those days of finding a sub are still with us, and now I sub for John Renke, John McCreary’s successor.
And it was five years ago, April 3, 2011, that Carl conducted the combined choirs in Herbert Howell’s St. Paul’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, which will be the same music that is sung this Sunday. Five years ago in a post called “Howell’s St. Paul Service,” I wrote: Tonight was the rehearsal for the Joint Evensong with St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir, and let me tell you, it’s going to be absolutely glorious!
I was also telling Scott that over the years there have been a number of “defections” between the two choirs, starting with perhaps the late Charles Scharbach, a professional singer (who had perfect pitch!) and used to sing with the Roger Wagner Chorale, who decided after singing many years with the Cathedral, to come sing at LCH. Another one was soprano Frances Viglielmo, who had sung with John for many years, then spent many more years in the LCH choir.
In fact there have been a number of choristers who started out at the Cathedral and wound up at LCH, including Rachel Lentz and Simon Crookall. Even Allen Bauchle, sang for a number of years at the Cathedral, then spent more than 20 years at LCH.
But it goes the other way round, too. Now Allen sings countertenor with the Cathedral Choir. Naomi Castro, who grew up in the LCH choir, now is a Choral Scholar at the Cathedral. More recently tenor Karol Nowicki sang with both choirs, as did Emily Haswell and Georgine Stark.
And let’s not forget that Carl Crosier took a post as countertenor in the St. Andrew’s choir, after retiring from the leadership of LCH’s music for 38 years. He sang with the Cathedral Choir faithfully every week for over two years before his health declined.
Put the two choirs together, though, and the sound is heavenly.
See you at Evensong this Sunday!