Shhhh! Don’t tell Joey!
This was a title of an email I sent to Bob Alder and Rick Mazurowski, two members of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists who live on the Big Island and in charge of Joey Fala’s recital at the Higashi Hongwanji Mission, March 12th.
You see, I really wasn’t planning on flying to Hilo for the concert, 210 miles from Honolulu, and in fact when I last talked to Joey on Saturday, we both said, “See you Tuesday.”
But when I asked Bob and Rick to take pictures in my absence, Bob wrote back to me:
You should come over for it. There’s a flight that gets here about 1:30 (plenty of time before the concert), and then the last flight back to Honolulu (Joey is on it) is at 9:00. We’re all going to dinner after the concert and you would be welcome to join us.
I immediately went to the Hawaiian Airlines website and booked a ticket!
Bob picked me up from the airport and gave me a quick tour of Hilo, as my last trip here was in 2007. When I got to the temple and was sitting outside on the front porch, Joey happened to walk outside and was in utter shock! “What are you doing here?! Now you’re going to make me nervous!”
I also had a joyful reunion with Elizabeth Bell, a parishioner at Church of the Holy Apostles who had met Joey that morning where he played several hymns and the postlude. I have known Liz for decades(!) as she was the maid of honor at Carl’s and my wedding in 1977, forty years ago!
We were astounded at the huge crowd which filled the temple—after that big write-up in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper, people must have been curious about the organ and Joey. Every pew was filled! (Yes, they have pews and hymn books in Buddhist temples here.) Early in the concert, Joey did a segue from Jean Langlais’ Chant de paix to a singalong Buddhist hymn which he introduced with a beautiful improvisation.
Poor Joey! In addition to the usual difficulties of sitting at a strange organ with extremely stiff action, he was assailed by swarms of mosquitoes which bit him repeatedly on his hands and legs. I must say there is nothing worse for an organist than having to play a concert or service and looking down to see mosquitoes on your hand and not being able to swat them away in the middle of your piece! Joey did an admirable job under the circumstances and was rewarded with a standing ovation.
“The kid can play!”proclaimed Walter Greenwood, organist of Christ Lutheran in Hilo.
Afterwards the ladies of the temple put on a sumptuous spread of homemade goodies, sweet and savory.