It was about a month ago that I attended the Oahu Choral Society fundraiser, “Vivace,” which celebrated that organization’s 20th anniversary. Originally it was formed as the Honolulu Symphony Chorus under the direction of Sydney Rothstein, who was the Assistant Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony. In 1995 it reorganized as an independent non-profit entity called the Oahu Choral Society. It’s the same organization that honored Carl Crosier in 2012 for his contributions to the choral community of Honolulu.
I found out recently from Pamela Eliashof, who spoke at the dinner about the history of OCS, that she “neglected to mention that it was Carl who helped OCS get started since we had to apply for our 501(c)(3) status under the umbrella of another organization (namely the AGO) and he was a great help to us during the application process. Also, during my 18 year tenure as Treasurer of OCS, I had occasion to ask his advice several times. He was always so helpful to me. We all miss him and the beautiful music he made.”
You see, for years and years, we would see Pam and her husband, Dr. Byron Eliashof, at the Christmas Eve services and concerts at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu because they are classical music lovers. They also were the former neighbors of retired Pastor Donald Johnson before he moved to the windward side.
This Friday, April 29 at 7:30 pm, I’ll be attending the Oahu Choral Society’s spring concert called “Ethereal Masterworks,” featuring the Mass in E minor by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) with members of the Hawai’i Symphony, and the Mass in E-flat major by Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) which will be sung a cappella. Esther Yoo will conduct the OCS in addition to a newly-formed Chamber Choir.
I was surprised to read this sentence in the Vivace program: We are carving our own future and are looking forward to the first performance by a chorus in Hawai’i of Bruckner’s Mass No. 2 in E Minor next month.
Not so! Carl Crosier conducted the Bruckner E-Minor Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on March 18, 2001 with the combined choirs of St. Andrew’s Cathedral and Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Anton Bruckner, an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses and motets, sets the Ordinary of the Mass for eight-part mixed choir and wind band. The work was commissioned for the dedication of the Votive Chapel of Linz Cathedral, which took place on September 29, 1869.
You ought to read this article in The Guardian titled “Sex, death and dissonance: the strange, obsessive world of Anton Bruckner.” Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite: There’s no doubt Anton Bruckner was an oddball, a man with an unhealthy interest in dead bodies and teenage girls. But the composer’s obsessions and terrors also gave us some astonishing music. A credulous yokel who propositioned girls half his age. A death-obsessed ghoul who kept a photo of his mother’s corpse. A cranky, backwards-looking obsessive. The composer of some of the 19th century’s greatest, grandest and most ambitious symphonies. Anton Bruckner was all of these things. One thing he wasn’t, however, was a writer of beautiful music offering serene escapism.
Anyway, this Friday’s concert will take place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, 712 N. School Street. You might remember it was Carl Crosier who paved the way for concerts at this venue when he scheduled the Monteverdi Vespers there in 2010. Ever since, St. Theresa’s has been the site for concerts by Early Music Hawaii, Hawaii Vocal Arts Ensemble and other musical groups. Its reverberant cathedral acoustics greatly enhance the performance of sacred music. Go back and re-read my post: “The church as a concert venue” when I wrote about hearing the Verdi Requiem in this beautiful space, which Carl proclaimed as “the best acoustical space in all of Honolulu.”
Tickets may be purchased in advance on the Oahu Choral Society website.