This past weekend I was on the Big Island of Hawai’i with the Kona Choral Society. In past years, I had complained that the audience clapped after every movement in the Handel Messiah, and I was wondering whether they would do the same this year. Lo and behold, I turned to this page in the program and found this:
Well, except for the arias, the audience must have sat on their hands, or else they read the program! Yes, they paid attention! The soloists were all excellent and deserved every bit of the applause which followed their arias. Soloists were Amy K. Mills, soprano; Wendy Buzby, alto; Bernaldo Randall Evangelista, tenor, and Daniel J. Garrett, bass.
On Saturday morning, after I finished teaching an organ lesson, I drove home where my neighbor took me to the airport. I was then picked up from the Kona airport by my homestay host, and driven right to the Kealakehe Intermediate School cafeteria for the dress rehearsal. Unfortunately we were not able to rehearse in the concert space, the Sheraton Kona, and a crew of strong men set up the risers, electronic organ, percussion and music stands in the cafeteria, only to have to break them all down and move and set up the next day at the hotel.
However, it was all good as director Susan McCreary Duprey wrote: Singers! I have never heard an intermediate school cafeteria sound so lovely!!! We were great!
We had a short rehearsal before the Sunday concert, and I discovered the organ bench was really tippy on the carpeted but uneven floor. I felt like I would fall over at any moment! One of the crew told me he’d think of a way to fix the situation, and he came back with two large cookie sheets from the hotel kitchen to put underneath the legs of the bench. That did the trick!
The concert opened with the Rutter Gloria—the organist has a huge part in this, with a big solo in the second movement, and I may have told you I really had to work on this technically-challenging piece. Thankfully I think our performance went well which the audience rewarded with a standing ovation. The brass and percussion were playing so loudly, though, that if I were them, I would have had to wear earplugs! So glorious, though!
While the crew set up for the Handel Messiah, director Susie gave a few words of welcome, then the whole assembly sang Joy to the World. The decision to have a singalong was a spontaneous idea Susie came up with early that morning, and a flurry of emails transpired about getting the lyrics printed for the audience. Of course she had asked whether I could play it, and offered to get me the music. But then I reminded her that I could play any Christmas carol from memory — which I did during the concert!
I really enjoyed my homestay with two out-of-town string players and the soprano soloist who were all hosted by Susan Mangubat in her lovely home right on the ocean. There are actually three houses on the property which she runs as a bed-and-breakfast, so there was plenty of room for us. She said that she takes care of 2 full kitchens and 7 kitchenettes on the property! Susan cooked us a great breakfast as you can see by the following pictures. That fuzzy red fruit is called rambutan, and tastes very much like a lychee.
It was a WHOLE LOTTA NOTES, but thank you, Kona Choral Society, for another successful concert!