How sweet the sound . . . Of course, you know that phrase as a quote from the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” written by the Anglican priest, John Newton (1725-1807). But it is also the title of an upcoming concert featuring soprano Georgine Stark, with her husband, violinist Darel Stark, pianist Sachi Hirakouji and the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir.
People would be amazed to find out about the REAL John Newton, before he made his conversion—if you check Wikipedia, you’ll read that “Newton gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men the captain had ever met. In a culture where sailors commonly used oaths and swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery.”
It’s a far cry from what you’ll hear next Sunday evening, January 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm, when Georgine will sing a program of works in honor of Martin Luther King, including a number of spirituals arranged by Moses Hogan (1957-2003). Hey, did you know that our local newspaper classical music columnist, Steven Mark, went to school with Moses Hogan? Award-winning pianist, conductor and arranger Hogan tragically died of a brain tumor at the age of 45.
The concert promises that “Audiences will be moved by songs that inspire hope, question hate and shout for freedom.”
Here’s a little video clip to whet your appetite: Georgine sings Hogan’s arrangement of “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” with Sachi on the piano and Darel on the violin. Georgine says that they felt like a violin obbligato part would add even more to the character of this and other songs.
The church choir will be singing spirituals, too, including Soon ah will be done (William Dawson), We shall walk through the valley in peace (Moses Hogan), All my trials (Norman Luboff) and There is a balm in Gilead.
I guarantee that you will be moved by Georgine’s solo in There is a balm in Gilead as well as Lord, how comes me here, as sung below by Kathleen Battle. Someone asked Georgine last year how she was able to sing it without breaking down emotionally? She told them she had to sing it many, many times to build a “degree of separation” — in other words, Practice, practice, practice!
Georgine will end the program with her signature all-time favorite, He’s got the whole world in his hands, arranged by Margaret Bonds, which she performed many, many times with Carl Crosier at the piano. She says it is only fitting that she end with this showstopper, complete with her signature high “D” at the end!
Here’s a video of Georgine and Carl doing their rendition on April 2, 2011. I bet Georgine never saw this before, because I’ve never published it until now!
And talk about sweet sound . . . here’s the Na Wai Chamber Choir’s performance last Sunday night of Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols,” with Jace Saplan, director, and Connie Uejio, harp.
Imagine all the sweet sounds the walls of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu have absorbed! It’s truly mind-boggling.