In spite of the fact that the Oahu Choral Society scheduled its performance of the Verdi Requiem on a Thursday night, (and the Thursday before Palm Sunday at that!), there was certainly a decent audience. (Don’t they know that God made Thursdays for choir practice!)
I invited my organist colleague, Elizabeth Wong, to share a seat next to me and she put up with my crazy preference to sit smack dab in the front row of the concert hall. We saw two other organist colleagues there, Samuel Lam and Gregory Bietz —so I guess they didn’t have Thursday night rehearsals either!
Conducted by Esther Yoo, the Verdi Requiem‘s reputation for fire and dramatic flair did not disappoint, and I found my hair standing up on end several times during the performance. Three of the soloists had local connections, mezzo soprano, Charlene Chi, tenor Keith Ikaia-Purdy, and bass Leon Williams. (Do you remember that Leon sang the part of Pilate in our Bach St. John Passion performance?)
[While I was looking for Leon’s picture in my vast collection of 30,000+ photos, I also came across this picture of the four people in the St. John Passion performances who are graduates of Westminster Choir College: myself, Leon Williams, Susan McCreary (Duprey) and David Newman.]
Okay! Back to Verdi. Something jumped out at me while I was reading the program notes:
“Verdi first learned music from the village organist, Petro Baistrocchi, whose job he inherited as a teenager when Biastrocchi died.”
Hey, I didn’t know that Verdi was an organist! In fact, just now I discovered that organist Liuwe Tamminga has a CD called “Verdi the Organist.” The recording notes that “Verdi came to music through the organ; that experience stayed with him throughout his life. All the works on this CD have been intended and adapted by Liuwe Tamminga for specific timbres of the instruments played by Guiseppe Verdi, and to evoke a particular aspects of his sound world. Mr. Tamminga plays on the organs of Roncole Verdi (Bu, Parma), Sallceto di Cadeo and Trevozzo de Nibbiano (Piacenza). Liuwe Tamminga performs all over Europe, the U.S.A., and Japan.”
Imagine my surprise when I saw a postcard of the next Oahu Choral Society concert inserted in the program. See a familiar name to the left?
Oh, it’s not a surprise that I’m playing—it’s just that my name appeared at all, since I am unaware that I’m playing any solos and deserving of “star billing!”