Founded in 1966, the Honolulu Chorale, one of the longest-performing community choruses in the state of Hawaii, will hold its Annual Musical Event and Joe McAlister Award Dinner at the Honolulu Country Club tomorrow night. This year’s honoree is our colleague, John Renke, and you’ll never guess who was asked to be the speaker! Egad, little ‘ol me!
John has spent ten years in Hawaii as Organist and Director of Music of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and over the years, we had many opportunities to collaborate—in fact I think I have more pictures of him at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu than at St. Andrew’s Cathedral!
But it was through our Joint Evensongs that our friendship with John really developed. And when my husband Carl announced his retirement from LCH with a marathon year of concerts, beginning with the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 and ending with the Bach Mass in B Minor, John was right there in the thick of it with us, playing harpsichord at many of the concerts.
I won’t tell you everything I learned about John which I will tell you in my speech tomorrow night, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my pictures. By the way, the Faces feature in Photos is a great way to find people in my collection of 27,000 digital photos!
John served as Dean of our Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists for three years during which time we met monthly in his office on the Cathedral grounds. We also recognized our chapter officers in an annual Installation Service at St. Andrew’s.
John was a great mentor and we all enjoyed the work he did with organ scholar, Yuri McCoy, who is now at Rice University working on his doctorate.
We also spent a lot of time socializing—John and my husband Carl had a special friendship, true colleagues in every sense of the word. They were both martini aficionados and enjoyed many, many martinis together! After Carl retired from LCH, he took a countertenor position in St. Andrew’s Cathedral choir and enjoyed making music on the other side of the baton.
John served as a sponsor when Carl was received into the Roman Catholic church, at a service which took place in Straub Hospital around Carl’s bedside.
And John was with Carl’s sister and me for many, many hours, when we gathered around Carl’s deathbed and played the music of Bach from John’s iPhone. Since he had experienced both his parents’ deaths, he told us what to look for and comforted us in that way.
He assisted Fr. William Kunisch in planning Carl’s Requiem mass, and helped me organize a post-funeral dinner at the Pacific Club for out of town guests.
So you can imagine it is a huge loss to the Honolulu community that we bid our farewell to John, as he assumes a new position as Pastoral Associate for Divine Worship for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, California. He will be working directly with the Bishop and Cathedral Rector in the areas of worship, music, and community outreach, and will be based at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, the mother church for over a half million Roman Catholics in the area.
John, we’ll miss you!