I’ve had a houseguest for a week—my good friend Joan Ishibashi, a United Church of Christ pastor, massage therapist, former Hawaii resident for 15 years, and all-around BFF (best friends forever!) Nearly five years ago my husband Carl, son Stephen and I were in Los Angeles, attending Joan’s wedding to Kantila Vaghela, where I wrote this:
Those of you who know Joan, however, will understand why it is that 44 people from all over the globe (London, Japan, Brazil, Ohio, Colorado, California and Hawaii) were here to celebrate with her—she becomes a good friend to almost everyone she meets on her life’s adventures.
You can read about Joan’s Hawaii connections by clicking here. Last summer I was in London where Joan moved nearly five years ago and we spent four fun days together, exploring churches, organs and museums.
On Friday night, I hosted a dinner for Joan and five other dear friends: Fritz Fritschel and Carol Langner, Chuck Pearson and his wife Josie Bidgood and Mary Reese. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a dinner party, but I’m learning from my mistakes!
Pupus included oven-baked zucchini chips, tomato and mozzarella appetizers, French bread with brie, and miniature garlic shrimp. The salad course was baby spinach with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, gorgonzola and honey pecans. The dinner was honey lime glazed salmon, rice pilaf, broccolini and baked parmesan herb tomato. A key lime pie for dessert was brought by Mary Reese— YUM!
What a difference it made having Joan to not only help with the food preparation but in the cleanup, too!
Saturday morning I taught an organ lesson, and then we attended a delightful recital by the students of Darel and Georgine Stark, and Sachi Hirakouji. The Stark kids (Sophia and Raphael) played both piano and organ (yes, they are my organ students!) but what absolutely melted our hearts was their gorgeous duet rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” sung with perfect intonation and phrasing. Raphael will be singing the solo in Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” with the Hawaii Symphony and the Oahu Choral Society on Thursday, April 5 at 7:30 pm at the Blaisdell Center—you can be sure I will be there!
Then it was back to the condo for a quick dinner before going to the concert hall to hear an amazing violinist, Robert McDuffie, play Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, under the baton of Keith Lockhart. McDuffie had studied the work with Bernstein himself thirty years ago and what I was so amazed at was his tremendous physical energy and the fact that he never looked at his violin, neither the fingerboard nor the bridge. I was at first disappointed that the symphony did not program more well-known repertoire such as Bernstein’s Candide or West Side Story, but McDuffie’s virtuosic performance more than made up for the unfamiliarity. Come to think of it, the entire orchestra met the challenge of this difficult work, especially the strings.
I was surprised to read in the program that the concert hall will be undergoing renovations and an upgrade and that the HSO will be displaced from its home since 1964 for at least a year or more until construction is finished.
Sunday morning I played the organ and piano at the United Church of Christ Church on Judd Street, where I will be substituting as organist/pianist all through the month of February, Palm Sunday and Easter Day (unless they find someone else!) I am glad to say that I survived playing praise music—actually it was just reading a bunch of chord symbols not unlike playing figured bass. Even though he said he wasn’t a guitarist (and I told him I wasn’t a pianist!) Matthew Leong, the guitar player, was easy to follow and play along with. They kept saying over and over that I was Sachi’s teacher! (Sachi Hirakouji had been subbing for UCC Judd Street for the last few weeks.) After the service, many people commented that it was nice to hear the organ and that I brought out the best in that instrument.
And then Sunday night at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu! What an amazing, exciting, stunning organ recital by Byong-Suk Moon! His program opened with Bach’s “Organ Concerto in D minor,” followed by his own transcription of Mozart’s “Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je maman,” K. 265. I looked at his score after the concert and he played from the piano version at breakneck tempos, with not a note out of place! Then another of my favorites, Rheinberger’s “Introduction and Passacaglia, op. 132,” then Karg-Elert’s Organ Improvisation on ‘Nearer my God, to thee,’ and finally ending with Guilmant’s “Final from the Organ Sonata No. 1 in D minor.”
It was an absolutely brilliant program, brilliantly and stylistically played, one of the most satisfying recitals I’ve gone to. Even my friend Samuel Lam said that it was the best organ recital he had ever heard, in either Hawaii or the mainland! Quite a compliment, coming from Sam!
I was greatly heartened to see a healthy size audience, which is always a challenge in Hawaii—getting people to come hear a performer they’ve never heard of before.
And then, the most amazing part of the evening—after the concert we went to the home of the Rev. Brian Grieves and Young-Jin Kim, (Moon’s hosts who had requested my assistance in promoting the concert) where Professor Moon not only cooked a complete meal for about a dozen of us, but also cleaned up the kitchen! Here he was supposed to be the guest of honor, and he was the cook and dishwasher, besides! I knew a few of the party guests, including Father David Kennedy (who hired me at the Priory 40 years ago!) and Karen Leatherman (organist of Epiphany Episcopal Church and my organ student). but I had the great pleasure of meeting for the first time, The Rev. Irene Tanabe, rector of Epiphany Episcopal and one-time Curate of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle! She and I knew so many people in common, including Jason Anderson, the second Compline Choir Director, and Mel Butler, who was Peter Hallock’s successor.
What a small world!