I spent the weekend in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, playing harpsichord in the Early Music Hawaii concert. After a mad dash to the airport after teaching organ lessons on Saturday morning, I arrived in Kona and was taken immediately to the concert venue, the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, where the rehearsal was already in progress.
This was the same program we had presented a week ago, “Kings and Queens,” except that the choir and the director were completely different, and of course, the harpsichord was entirely new to me. It was a single manual instrument, with two registers (two sets of 8′ strings), manipulated by two small levers on the inside of the case. I found the action to be quite stiff as compared to the Cammack harpsichord at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu last weekend. It belongs to Garrett Webb, one of the founding members of Early Music Hawaii. A recorder player, Garrett does not play keyboard, but purchased it solely for visiting artists!
Naturally, with no organ available, some of the pieces I played last weekend on the organ had to be played on the harpsichord, an entirely different experience. Whereas I had played the bass line on the organ pedals, here I had to play it with my left hand, making me quite uncomfortable, along with the stiff action.
Also, with a different director and soloists, tempos and interpretation were bound to be different, which they were. We in Early Music Hawaii, are extremely lucky to have director Daniel Mahraun‘s expertise, as he has a doctorate in choral music and has a gorgeous baritone voice. Check out his bio on his website. Other performers included Rachel Edwards and Mary Garris (soprano); Susan Leonard and Kelsey Mordecai (alto); Ian McMillan (tenor); Daniel Mahraun (baritone); Steve Kaplan (bass); Geoffrey Naylor, Garret Webb and Harry Zola (recorders) and myself on harpsichord.
After the rehearsal, Ian Capps, his wife, Jeannette, and I drove an hour away to Kohala to the spectacular home of Marilyn and Carl Bernhardt, where we held the annual meeting of the Early Music Hawaii board of directors in their gorgeous dining room. Guess what—I was formally elected as vice-president of this organization!
After the meeting, Marilyn treated us to a wonderful dinner of homemade soup, salad, and two kinds of homemade bread which had just been baked this afternoon. Garrett drove me back to Kona, where I indulged the generous hospitality of Lois and Tom Griffiths, with whom I stayed last December when I played for the Kona Choral Society. She is a parishioner of Holy Trinity, sings in the choir under Daniel Mahraun, and is on the church council.
In the morning I attended the service at Holy Trinity where Daniel Mahraun’s wife, Leslie Ann, is the pastor. The first thing that surprised me was that the church was absolutely full—something you don’t see on ordinary Sunday mornings in most parishes. There were many mainland visitors who were introduced after the service, harking from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, Washington, and Colorado.
The second surprising thing was that all the music was played on piano, with electric bass and drums. Hearing traditional hymns such as Holy, holy, holy (NICAEA); O holy spirit, enter in (WIE SCHÖN LEUCHTET); and Go my children with my blessing (AR HYD Y NOS) with drum set was an entirely new experience! There was a ton of music in the service, including seven hymns, a hymn anthem by the choir, the psalm, and the liturgy (Kyrie, This is the Feast, Alleluia, Doxology, Sanctus, and Lamb of God).
The concert, which was held at 3:30 pm, was well-attended and went well. I have to confess, however, that just before I was to play my first solo, The Queen’s Alman, my brain did a disconnect. I couldn’t figure out where to put my hands! Normally middle C is in the middle of the keyboard. However, on this harpsichord, it is definitely way off to the right, and I couldn’t figure out which octave I needed to place my hands! Luckily I chose the right one after a few moments of indecision. You would not believe the number of people who came up to me and were so enamored with the sound of the harpsichord! I had to admit I was out of my comfort zone, because I am an organist, and the two instruments are as different as night and day.
In case you want to see the program, You can click here.
Before I left for Kona, Facebook reminded me of a photo I posted four years ago:
For six years, my late husband Carl and I used to get up at 5:00 am and walk 2-1/2 miles every morning Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, though, we took a different route and walked 5-1/2 miles to Kaka’ako Waterfront Park. On this particular Saturday, when we got to our destination with its spectacular view of Diamond Head and the harbor, I snapped a picture of Carl walking on ahead of me. You can see that it was very voggy—our Hawaiian version of air pollution—a combination of volcanic ash and fog.
On Friday, when I reposted the photo on Facebook, it dawned on me that this photo was a perfect metaphor of Carl’s walking into the light ahead of us, as it has turned out in real life. It was an image that stayed with me the entire weekend, also reminding me that if Carl were here, he would be playing the harpsichord, not me.