The following is a speech I gave at the Oahu Choral Society’s Vivace! fundraising dinner as the 2018 Dale Noble Award Honoree.
Thank you. When I was first called about this award, my first reaction was “ you have got to be kidding! I mean, is this a mistake?”
I’m not a person who is out in front, waving my arms at people trying to make them sing. I’m the person in the background—mostly I have my back to the audience, sitting at the organ, giving out pitches for OTHER people to sing.
And can you believe it was FOUR decades ago, when I was the choir accompanist at the Priory, it was a couple of weeks before the spring musical— and Wanda Gereben had me sit at the sewing machine and sew costumes instead of playing for the rehearsals!
Besides, as you know, it was only six years ago that my dear husband, Carl, received this prestigious award. Isn’t there a law against two people in one family getting the award?
In 1996 when there was a national convention of the American Guild of Organists in New York City, Carl and I were there with our son, Stephen (who was 13 at the time) along with 3000 other organists. He asked us: Are you guys giving a concert or anything? And I said ‘no, we’re not.’ He thought about it for a moment, and then made this comment which I will NEVER forget, “Mom and Dad, I just realized you guys are nobodys!” Thank you, Stephen for giving me a reality check!
And to tell you the truth, sitting here and listening to everyone speak about me is a little like listening to the eulogy at your own funeral!
Probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve done is teach the organ to young people. I’m happy to announce that my very first student in Hawaii is here tonight—Geri Ching whom I taught 44 years ago and is my successor at Iolani School. Years ago, I was teaching a young teenage boy and as usual, I had the door open to the church, since we don’t turn on the air conditioning during the week. A homeless woman entered and came right up to the console. Then to my horror, she put her hands on this poor boy’s crotch. I just froze and then to my shock and horror—I couldn’t believe what popped out of my mouth: Excuse me, can’t you see that we’re having an organ lesson?
There are so many people here to thank—namely Esther, Dana, and Malina—my colleagues from the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Iolani School, American Guild of Organists, students, friends and the people of the Oahu Choral Society.
But unfortunately the person who made me the musician I am and should get the lion’s share of the credit —isn’t here tonight. Carl Crosier who received this award six years ago, set impossibly high goals for not only for himself, but everyone around him. We were a team for 37 years—he was the one who came up with insane projects, like putting on 70 Bach Cantatas with orchestra, the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion and the B-Minor Mass. He chose the music, recruited the singers and rehearsed the choirs; while I was the one who designed the posters, typed the programs and news releases—oh, and I learned my organ part. He was the one who planned and did all the grocery shopping, and spent up to two hours every night cooking elaborate gourmet meals—me, I just set the table and washed the dishes. Carl was the one with the vision—I just followed behind him.
By honoring me tonight, we shouldn’t forget what a big influence Carl had on this community and on all of us. Thank you, Carl.
And thank you to everyone here who has held me up and carried me through this journey since he died 3-1/2 years ago. I would now like to introduce you to my family: my son Stephen and his wife, Jessica; her mom, Sara, and my grandson, Andrés.
Thank you all for coming.
P.S. I know that so many people were concerned about the shoes I chose to wear for this night’s grand event. I have to admit I did get pretty tired standing for an hour while we were in the Atrium, and I had to lean on the arm of my neighbor, Kelly, to help me get across to the dining area. You’re right, I’m not used to wearing high heels or wedgies, but I’m so proud of the fact that I didn’t make a fool of myself by falling on the stage or in front of people. I waited until the very end of the evening and as I was walking on the soft grass near the car, I slipped and— um, you guessed it!—and I landed flat on my back! I got up quickly, though, no harm, no foul, no broken bones, just my wounded pride!