You may have heard that last Saturday, the state of Hawaii was thrown into a panic when a missile alert threat was sent to mobile phones, with this ominous message:
Weeks ago, residents were warned that if a missile came from North Korea, people in Hawaii would have approximately 12-13 minutes notice before nuclear destruction.
In the 38 minutes which followed the alert, people made frantic calls to their loved ones, assuring them of their love, while hunkering down in bathtubs and other supposedly “safer” places to wait out an attack. It all turned out to be a false alarm, with the explanation that “someone hit the wrong button.”
Me? I was blissfully unaware of all of this. Shortly before 8:00 am, I went out on my daily walk through the streets of downtown Honolulu. I did carry my phone with me, but never heard any alarms—my phone never sounded. The streets were virtually empty of cars and pedestrians, and I did not hear any civil defense sirens. I thought nothing was out of the ordinary. I even stopped at Walmart to buy some blueberries, which was on my route home, and nothing was unusual.
It was not until I got home and turned on the television, and saw that Hawaii was in the news. The fingerpointing already began an hour after the false alarm, and some Hawaii Emergency Management personnel have received death threats! My question was why my phone never received the alert—I checked my settings to make sure that “Amber Alerts” and “Emergency Alerts” were turned on, and everything seemed fine. So, I don’t know what happened and why my phone did not sound the alarm.
In the week that I returned from Mexico, my sister and her husband came for a visit and I was able to spend a whole day sightseeing with them. Surprisingly, I also received a call from the chapel office at Punahou School and played chapel there Wednesday and Thursday, and was engaged to play there two more times this month. Thursday and Friday I also taught eight organ lessons. So you could say that things are getting back to my normal “retired” life.
Last night I attended the Nā Wai Chamber Choir winter concert at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Established in 2009, Nā Wai “is a women’s vocal ensemble that celebrates the works of women, preserves and propagates Native Hawaiian music, and champions repertoire for treble voices … an incredible group of women who gather together to empower, inspire, and thrive through the highest level of artistry.” Their director is Jace Saplan, who is Assistant Professor of Music at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and a doctoral candidate in choral conducting studying with Dr. Karen Kennedy at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.
I was already looking forward to the Missa Brevis, by Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miškinis, which my organ student, Steven Severin, had brought the music to his last lesson. The Missa Brevis was interspersed with music by Hawaiian composers and readings from Hawaiian activist Dana Naone Hall. The whole concert was very peaceful and more like a worship service, as there was no applause until the very end.
They ended the concert with Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, which to my ears was choral perfection, beautiful intonation, blend and sensitivity. See if you don’t agree!