If you hadn’t paid attention, you could have sworn you were at a Lutheran church tonight instead of being in St. Andrew’s Cathedral. As I overheard someone ask Karl Bachman, music director of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church whom I saw tonight at the concert, “Was that enough Luther for you, Karl?!”
You see, tonight I attended the University of Hawaii Choirs concert, titled “Old Becomes New: Music for Advent and the Reformation,” conducted by interim director, Jeremy M. Wong, with Emily Stanford, pianist, and my former student, Miki Yamamoto, organist. Jeremy is filling in this school year for Miguel Felipe, who is on sabbatical.
I was very happy to read in the program that Jeremy listed his experience with Early Music Hawaii and the Lutheran Church of Honolulu in his bio. For a time, he was the interim choir director before Scott Fikse.
Much of the music I had performed at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu with the choir, including the hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God,” (in an arrangement by John Rutter). In fact, the audience was requested to stand and sing verses one and four of this well-known Lutheran hymn. I took a short video of verse four.
Not bad singing for a university audience, who knew the music in spite of not having the musical notation in the program, right?
The audience was also invited to sing the last verse of “Ein feste Burg” in German for a Telemann setting. I was sitting with a group of LCH parishioners who had no trouble with it!
Other very familiar music included “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” by Brahms, “Es ist in Ros’ entsprungen” by Hieronymous Praetorius and Hugo Distler; “A spotless rose,” by Herbert Howells; “Ave maria” by Charles Gounod; “Magnificat” by Charles Villiers Stanford; “Ave maria” by Franz Biebl. It was a tad bit early for Advent music, but I enjoyed it anyway! The grand finale was the “Dona nobis pacem” from Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and of course, I couldn’t help but think of our two performances of it in 2011, Carl Crosier’s last concert.
In addition to these familiar pieces, there were also selections by Georg Philip Telemann, John Vergin (c. 1956), Robert Lucas de Pearsall (1795-1856), Felix Mendelssohn, and Kevin Memley (b. 1971). I especially enjoyed the pieces new to me: “Glow” by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) and “Dormi Jesu” by Abbie Betinis (b. 1980).
Jeremy had the choir sing from different sections of the cathedral, both in the front, on the side aisles, and in the very back, as you can see by this photo—all to give the audience a real “surround sound” experience.
It was a real family affair for the Wong family: Jeremy was on the podium, his mother Sharon Wong played flute, and Jeremy’s father, Anthony Wong, played timpani. What a talented family!
Good job, UH Choirs, and Jeremy! Good job, Miki Yamamoto! (She is now the organist at Kilohana United Methodist Church, and after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA is back at the University of Hawaii studying music education.)
P.S. I saw Miki’s parents at the concert, and also had a nice conversation with Miki’s aunty, Diane Matsuura, whose daughter Cindy (Miki’s cousin), studied with me for seven years and is now the organist of Harris United Methodist Church.