The following speech was given by Karl Bachman at the Oahu Choral Society’s Vivace! fundraising dinner at the Bishop Museum, March 3, 2018.
We are here to honor Katherine Crosier this evening, but I would like to begin by thanking the Oahu Choral Society for asking me to speak a word on her behalf. In so doing you also honor me. Thank you.
And the Tony Award for Best Broadway Musical goes to Oklahoma! One of the challenges in honoring Kathy Crosier this evening is that everyone here can stay up to the minute with her life just by reading her blog. So what can we say that hasn’t already been said? I would suggest one thing that is not found on the blog and that is Kathy has an exceptional ability to ask a person do something in such a way that, like Ado Annie in Oklahoma, “We’re just the girls who cain’t say, No!” That makes Kathy both Will Parker and all the other good-looking hunky bachelor farmers of Honolulu (Claremore, Oklahoma) rolled into one. We just can’t say, “No!” Instead we say, “Come on, let’s go!”
At the very end of the last century I attended a convention of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians in Richmond, VA. I was living in Ohio at the time. At one of the lunches I took an empty seat at a table and the person I sat next to was Kathy Crosier. Within five minutes of introducing ourselves to one another she suggested that I move to Hawaii. I gave her my card and said, “Email me and we will talk.” I forgot all about it, until she did email me. The next thing I knew all my stuffs were in a container and I was landing at the Honolulu airport. What can I say, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say, No!”
At that time Carl and Kathy Crosier had decided to mount a production of the Saint Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach. In order to do that they needed a second pipe organ. There just happened to be a portative organ for sale that could be flown in from New York and would be just right for the performance, Kathy wrote a letter, talked to people around the city, and before you knew it we all became Ado Annie and couldn’t say no. The organ still sits at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu (March 2000).
Kathy went to a National Convention of the American Guild of Organists and heard Paul Jacobs in concert. She returned to Hawaii and said, no matter what it takes, we need to have this man here to play for us in Honolulu. We had absolutely no money to make that happen and she was so giddy with excitement at the prospect of having Paul Jacobs give a concert in Honolulu that she actually smiled. Of course, we cain’t say no. Instead we said, “Come on, let’s go!” And so began our concert series that last Sunday welcomed our thirteenth rising star to Honolulu.
Fifteen years ago Kathy came to an AGO Executive Committee meeting and said, “You will not believe what happened in chapel this week at Iolani.” She told the story about a young fifth grader who had been asking and asking her if he could play the organ. She finally said, “Can you? Then go ahead.” So he climbed up on the bench and after she pulled some stops for him he played the Bach Toccata in D minor. “Where did you learn how to do that?” “On the internet!” That student was Joey Fala and Kathy came to ask us if we could give him a scholarship to study organ. We just can’t say no to Kathy Crosier. Last year Joey was our twelfth rising star concert organist and as far as we are able to tell, the first concert organist ever to be raised up in Hawaii.
I let Joey know about the event this evening and he sent me an email, from which I would like to share a portion.
I wish I could be there to congratulate you in person tonight! Karl tells me this is quite the “Black tie affair” . . .
I have so many wonderful memories from all the years you spent as my teacher. I remember the letter you gave me after my high school senior recital that said something along the lines of “We are no longer teacher and student, but friends and colleagues.” As much as I cherish being able to call you a friend, you will always be a musical role model to me. I will always have a special respect for your work and your legacy as an artist of the highest caliber, with a special God-given gift for teaching.
It has been fun moving around the country and being able to tell people that I studied organ with Katherine Crosier—yes, the Katherine Crosier everyone seems to know as the anchor of the organ outpost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean . . . Congratulations again on receiving this honor and thank you for filling my life with music in the same way you have so many others in the islands.
So, Kathy, you are honored this evening in addition to what the other speakers have said, because you have an exceptional ability to ask a person to do something—to ask a favor—in such a way that we just cain’t say no! But your ability to ask is not your true legacy. Your true legacy for which we honor you this evening is that in asking, you do not ask for yourself, but you ask for others. Kathy, you asked me to come to Hawaii to help you in your work, but more than that you gave me the opportunity to live an amazing life in paradise. You asked for a portative organ that has served not only for the Saint Matthew Passion, but numerous times and in numerous venues so that we might experience great music in a way not possible without that instrument. You asked us to sponsor Paul Jacobs for a concert and that invitation began a series that is now also supported by the John McCreary Concert Fund to bring outstanding organ music to Hawaii for the ongoing enjoyment and enrichment of musical culture in the Aloha State, as it says in the fund’s charter. And since you have come to Hawaii you have given tirelessly of yourself for the nurture, encouragement, and training of more than two generations of organists who serve throughout the state and our nation.
Kathy, it is with humble joy that I thank you, on behalf of everyone present this evening, for being such an inspiration to all of us, that in simply asking a favor you encourage all of us to be more, to give more, to achieve more in life through the joy of music—and besides, when you ask a favor, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say, No!”