Pure energy and exhilaration… that’s how I would describe tonight’s Oahu Choral Society’s concert with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. I came away breathless, my heart racing with a spring in my step! The music, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, were the perfect pair of works, each with its driving rhythms yet singable melodies. Conductor Esther Yoo was brilliant and exuberant in her directing, and kept everyone on track, including the children from the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus—they sang from the balcony and sounded great.
The only thing strange about tonight’s performance was that it took place on a Thursday night (when many church choirs have rehearsals.) I always remember Peter Hallock saying that God created Thursdays for choir rehearsals!
The other thing that I missed was an insert with the texts, which was referred to in the program but seemed nonexistent—at least it was missing in my program.
It was just about three years ago when I performed the Bernstein Chichester Psalms with the University of Hawaii choirs in a reduced version with only organ plus harp and percussion. I had just come back from Italy and had to play the dress rehearsal only two days after my return, with jet lag and all that. I still know every note of the score—it was so exciting to hear all those notes played by instruments.
Carl and I heard an unforgettable performance of Carmina Burana in Cologne, Germany a number of years ago—the choir was fantastic with a pure tone—but what I remember was that while we were walking back to our hotel, there was a “punk” looking teenager ahead of us. He was whistling some of the infectious tunes from Carmina so we know he had been at the concert!
My 11 year old organ student, Raphael Stark, the boy soprano in the second movement of the Bernstein, was so brave to come out on stage and sing in front of everybody. If I had to do the same at age 11, I would have been a “nervous Nelly,” as my late husband used to say. Raphael was a real trooper and performed well under pressure, hitting all the notes squarely.
In the program, Raphael’s bio said that “… this homeschooler’s interests include percussion, piano, violin, acting, modeling, speaking French, cooking, drawing, and magic. This young artist also enjoys playing the organ (ed. YAY!) and is the recipient of scholarships for three consecutive years from the American Guild of Organists.”
The soloists in Carmina Burana were all excellent—soprano Audrey Luna (whose claim to fame is singing the highest note at the Met, high A!), and baritone Brian James Myer was solid—but it was tenor Ross Hauck whose singing was not only amazing, but came on stage with his arms flapping like wings, playfully acting the part of the swan throughout, jumping around the stage. What fun! My friend Joan Ishibashi told me that she had heard him sing often with Apollo’s Fire in Cleveland. The program said he “is a resident of Maple Valley, WA, where he lives with his wife, Laura, twin boys and two daughters.” (Wow, four kids!)
I happened to see my colleague, Nyle Hallman, when we were both picking up our tickets from Will Call at the same time. She said these two works, the Bernstein Chichester Psalms and Orff Carmina Burana were her favorites!
Mine too! This concert was pure joy!