Last Sunday about 4:00 pm after I had just settled into my seat at the Symphony concert and before the music began, my phone vibrated, indicating that I had a new email message. It was from Chandra Peters, the chapel coordinator of Punahou School, who coincidentally sang with the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir for a few years.
“Can you sub at Punahou for chapels this week?”
I said yes to two of the three services she asked about (because I was teaching on the other day). Chandra said she would try to contact organist Samuel Lam for the other service, and I replied, “I am at the Symphony concert and Sam sits right behind me! He said okay!”
My “retirement life” before Monday had formerly started with getting out of bed around 5:30 a.m., reading and responding to emails, then reading the newspaper, doing the daily crossword and sudoku puzzles, then going out for a 2.2 mile walk (from Nuuanu Avenue to South Street and back), coming back to eat breakfast, shower, and generally take it easy until my afternoon organ lessons. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are a little different because of playing for St. Andrew’s Priory chapel on Tuesday and morning organ lessons both days. I’ve embarked on a self-study Spanish language course and doing some knitting besides. And I haven’t even mentioned my blog writing, which sometimes takes a lot more time than I think it’s going to take.
Now, two days had gone by and the newspapers were still rolled up, unread—the daily crossword and sudoku still blank, and I missed a day of my Spanish practice! I also was not able to do my morning walks because of having to be at the chapel by 8:00 am.
After Wednesday’s service, it seems that Punahou’s chapel organist of many years, Beebe Freitas, will not be able to return for several weeks due to illness, and I bet you can guess what came next. Yup, my “office” until the end of January will be Thurston Memorial Chapel at Punahou School and my “retirement life” would no longer be so leisurely! In the month of January, I will have played eighteen (18!) Punahou chapel services plus a special event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Thurston Chapel, including a rehearsal with the Punahou Choir the day before.
Today’s chapel service began a week-long celebration of Martin Luther King, and I was surprised to learn that he visited this very place in 1959! During the service, the following photo of Dr. King with then-President Dr. John Fox of Punahou was shown.
Punahou School is the largest K-12 independent school in the United States, with 3,750 students. Its most famous alumnus is the outgoing President of the United States, Barack Obama, and he most certainly came to this chapel during his school-age years.
I wonder if I’m playing the organ for the next Barack Obama?