Voices of the Baroque

It was months and MONTHS ago that Jeremy Wong asked me to be part of a baroque concert with the University of Hawaii Chamber Singers—in fact, I think it was while I was on some European trip last summer, and I thought, sure, fine, no problem!

It was only after I was asked about being this year’s honoree for the Oahu Choral Society that I finally looked at the entire month of March and alarmingly found out that the baroque concert would take place the very same week! In other words, the concert is Friday, March 2nd and the OCS banquet and fundraiser, Vivace! is Saturday, March 3rd!

Dr. Eric Esparza

The concert features members of the Tresemble of Chamber Music Hawaii, the University of Hawaii faculty string quartet and the University of Hawaii Chamber Singers in a program of well-known and rare works of the Italian and Spanish Baroque. Guest conductor is Dr. Eric Esparza, a Baroque authority and visiting faculty, who is the Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Area Coordinator at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Dr. Esparza also conducts the DePaul Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, and teaches courses in choral music. He is also the founder and artistic director of International Voices Houston.

I found out that he is originally from San Antonio, TX and got a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and Master of Music in choral conducting from Rice University. He also got a master’s degree in arts administration from Florida State University and a doctorate in choral conducting from Boston University.

A few weeks ago Dr. Esparza sent links to all the musical scores which I downloaded, where I discovered that the entire concert (for me) as a continuo organ player was in figured bass, a musical shorthand. Shades of the Monteverdi Vespers, Purcell Dido and Aeneas and other concerts which I have played with nothing but figured bass! But, as I discovered after listening to the recorded samples from YouTube, many of the figures were nonexistent, containing ONLY a bass line, and I basically had to listen to the recordings and put in the figures (chords) myself. After weeks of much preparation, I was ready.

You realize that with these two events so close together, I am also preparing for the arrival of my family, who fly in from LAX at 12:50 am (!) tonight! So I have been busy arranging for the rental of a crib, baby bathtub, and high chair for my 9 month old grandson. I was also out this morning buying diapers, wipes and food for him (he only eats organic!) along with getting the safety inspection for my car.

Klaus Grüble’s latest house organ for Oahu.

Last night was the first dress rehearsal, which coincided with the arrival of a new organ to Oahu to a private home, for a student of mine. Oh, I knew it was coming, but I just didn’t know when it would be ready for me to look at. That time happened to be yesterday afternoon, and at the last minute it was suggested that I give an organ lesson to the student on the new organ. Sounded like a good idea, and then when the family asked me to stay for dinner afterwards, that also sounded just fine. We went to Roy’s Hawaii Kai, and I had just finished eating a delicious steak and shrimp dinner when I received a text message : Hi, Kathy! Are you on your way to UH? We are starting with the brass number so not so much rush. This was at 7:05 pm, and the rehearsal had started at 7:00 pm! And I was at least 30 minutes away, and my music was at home!

Yikes! I had been completely distracted and dazzled by the new organ that I had completely forgotten about the first dress rehearsal! The concert venue had recently been changed from St. Theresa’s Co-Cathedral to the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and because of the weekly Lenten midweek service, the rehearsal had to be held at Orvis Auditorium with me playing the piano.

I drove as fast as I could back home to pick up my music and got to the University about 7:45 pm, just as they were about ready to start the music with the choir—so I really hadn’t missed anything, even though I was 45 minutes late. My heart was just racing with the pressure, and luckily all my musical preparation had paid off. The rehearsal went just fine!

Tonight is the dress rehearsal and I’ll be playing the Beckerath continuo organ. That should be just fine—familiar territory! Then I’ll head off for the airport, and hope that four adults, a baby in a carseat, and all their luggage can fit in my Honda Fit!

The concert is tomorrow night, March 2nd, at 7:30 pm at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. You’ll love the Italian and Spanish baroque music! The program includes music by Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Cavalli, José de Nebra, and José de Torres y Martinez Bravo—great stuff! You can see and hear a video preview of the choir here, conducted by Jeremy Wong.


I understand that tickets are going fast, and can be purchased online at the Chamber Music Hawaii website.  Tickets for Saturday night’s Oahu Choral Society dinner are extremely limited and may possibly be obtained by clicking here.

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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2 Responses to Voices of the Baroque

  1. john bicknell says:

    best of luck!

  2. Curt Zimmerman says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying retirement!! This is really what it’s like.

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