Don’t look!

Out of the words I say to beginning organ students, I think the words that I use the most often are “Don’t look! Don’t look at your feet! You need to find the pedals without looking!” It’s such a temptation to look down, especially when there is such a bright light on the pedalboard as there is at the Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

In the last few years, though, I have noticed another habit of beginners which I mention to them, and that is the practice of looking at the music, then looking immediately down at their hands on the keyboard. I call it the “Bobble Head Doll” syndrome in which students’ heads are constantly moving up and down between the score and the keyboard.

Why? Because organ music is frequently within a narrow range (notes within the grand staff —yes, “I don’t read leger lines!”), I tell them that there is no need to look at your hands. This is unlike piano music, where your hands are constantly jumping all over the keyboard which is a lot larger and wider (The piano keyboard has 88 keys, vs. 61 or less for the organ keyboard.) The act of looking up and down between the music and the keyboard is a good way to “get lost” in the music. As in reading words, in music you have to keep your eyes moving ahead, moving forward.

I even sometimes use a large piece of paper and hold it underneath a student’s chin so they can’t see the pedals or the keyboard when they’re playing. Oh, I know, I’m a meanie!

Organists are also constantly having to sightread, unlike many other musicians, because of the sheer volume of literature that must be learned, the constant weekly deadline of hymns, anthem accompaniments and organ voluntary literature that must be consumed. “Like grinding out so many sausages every week” is a phrase my college theory professor used to say.

I found a fascinating article on the whole business of eye movement on Wikipedia, where you can read

“Eye movement in music reading is an extremely complex phenomenon that involves a number of unresolved issues in psychology, and which requires intricate experimental conditions to produce meaningful data. Despite some 30 studies in this area over the past 70 years, little is known about the underlying patterns of eye movement in music reading.”

So you can see why I found the following video so interesting— it shows the difference of eyetracking between students and professionals—the experienced musicians focus more on looking at the score in addition to faster, quicker motions in looking at the keyboard—especially when sightreading.

In the Wikipedia article, the correlation to eye tracking and sight reading makes me want to look for further studies:

“(A) critical difference between reading music and reading language is the role of skill. Most people become reasonably efficient at language reading by adulthood, even though almost all language reading is sight reading. By contrast, some musicians regard themselves as poor sight readers of music even after years of study. Thus, the improvement of music sight reading and the differences between skilled and unskilled readers have always been of prime importance to research into eye movement in music reading, whereas research into eye movement in language reading has been more concerned with the development of a unified psychological model of the reading process. It is therefore unsurprising that most research into eye movement in music reading has aimed to compare the eye movement patterns of the skilled and the unskilled.”

Remember, keep your eyes GLUED to the music!

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Raw musical talent

Music in the brain

Raw musical talent—playing by ear

Fifteen years ago, I was absolutely blown away by a ten-year-old boy who had taught himself how to play the organ—he had downloaded Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” from the Internet, and played the pedals with both feet. All that before he had had any formal organ lessons! I discovered he had an incredible ear for music—unusual perhaps because no one else in his family was musical. That, of course, was Joey Fala, who is on the cusp of graduating from Yale University with a master’s degree in organ, and who gave the Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists an absolutely stunning concert a couple of weeks ago.

Today, I swear was déjà vu, because I met a 9-year-old boy who has been playing the organ for six years already, and has only had a year of piano lessons. Everything else he has done strictly on his own. He is in fact already the organist of his church and can play better than any of the parishioners. Oh, we have a number of technical things to fix, but I am still in awe of his raw talent and how he was able to accomplish so much, based solely on his fantastic ear.

All of which tells me that there are two basic types of musicians: those who read music, and those who play “by ear” —would you believe that there is a Wikipedia article on this?

Playing by ear” is a term describing the ability of an instrumental musician to reproduce a piece of music they have heard, without having observed another musician play it or having seen the sheet music notation.[1] It is the most common way to learn to play a musical instrument in cultures and musical that do not use musical notation, such as by early Blues guitarists and pianists, Romani fiddlers and folk music guitarists. Outside of the Suzuki method, playing by ear is less common in Western Classical music. In this musical tradition, instrumentalists learn new pieces by reading the music notation. Classical students do study how to notate music by ear during “ear training” courses that are a standard part of conservatory or college music programs and by the use of Solfège.

Learning music by ear is done by repeatedly listening to other musicians, either their live shows or sound recordings of their songs, and then attempting to recreate what one hears. This is how people learn music in any musical tradition in which there is no complete musical notation.

Something I discovered was the little boy I met today has only the  briefest knowledge of reading music — up to this point he has done everything “by ear.” Yes, in spite of the fact that he played a Handel concerto from memory, and it looked like he was “reading” music out of the hymnbook, in reality he was playing by ear because when I asked him to sightread a single musical line with only four notes in it, he couldn’t do it. It will be my goal to teach him how to read music, and after we accomplish this, there’s no limit to what he can do.

 

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Three Decembers

Fredericka von Stade, mezzo-soprano

Fredericka von Stade, mezzo-soprano

I had already purchased my ticket to the Hawaii Opera Theatre’s production of “Three Decembers,” starring the great Frederica Von Stade, and was looking forward to being able to walk to the Hawaii Theatre (which is only two blocks from my condo), when I read Steven Mark’s review in today’s newspaper. It was an exceptional review, one in which I felt Steven was talking directly to me, and what I particularly remembered was his closing, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a production of such caliber, imbued with such depth. Go see it.”

If you go to the composer, Jake Heggie’s homepage, you will read:

Three Decembers is a 90-minute opera in one act by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, based on Terrence McNally’s original script Some Christmas Letters. The opera is composed for three singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano and baritone) with 11 instrumentalists: oboe/English Horn, clarinet/bass clarinet, sax/flute, 2 pianos, percussion, 3 violins, 1 cello, 1 bass. Three Decembers was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and co-commissioned by the San Francisco Opera in association with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley.

The first performance was Feb 29, 2008 in the Cullen Theater at the Wortham Center in Houston. The opera tells the story of a famous stage actress – Madeline Mitchell (mezzo-soprano) – and her two adult children: Beatrice (soprano) and Charlie (baritone). The drama takes place over three decades of the AIDS crisis (1986, 1996 and 2006), each section recalling the events of a December as the characters struggle to connect when family secrets are revealed.

The Hawaii Opera Theatre’s production was the first time the three singers, Fredericka Von Stade, Keith Phares and Kristin Clayton, reunited after the premiere nine years ago.

Here is Steven Mark’s review:

Steven Mark's review of "Three Decembers"

Steven Mark’s review of “Three Decembers” (click to enlarge)

[You may remember that it is the same Steven Mark who wrote Carl Crosier’s obituary.]

Indeed, I was so caught up in the drama of the aging diva and her troubled children, that I forgot I was at the opera. It’s like when you watch a heartbreaking movie and find yourself weeping. Why? Because of events that have happened to you and your empathy with the characters on the screen or stage. When Maddie (the mother) dies at the end, I couldn’t help shedding a tear or two. It immediately took me back to the day I found my husband, Carl, his speech slurred, paralyzed and unable to move, which turned out to be the last day before he died. “I’m so sorry,” he kept saying to me, over and over again.

Isn’t that the power of a great performance, to move us so deeply, that it takes us on a journey, to another place, and somehow we are changed afterwards?

That’s what happened to me tonight at the opera.

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Organist on the radio!

Gene Schiller, Hawaii Public Radio

Gene Schiller, Hawaii Public Radio

It’s been three days since Joey Fala’s triumphant concert last Sunday, and people are still commenting and raving about his performance to me.

Last Friday, Karl Bachman, the Dean of the local Hawaii Chapter of the American Guild of Organists,  arranged for Joey to be interviewed by Gene Schiller of Hawaii Public Radio.

Joey certainly kept his cool, in spite of being asked some very challenging questions!

Click this link to go to the Hawaii Public Radio website and hear the interview.

As you will see, they used the photo of Joey taken seven years ago at the Central Union console just before his senior recital in high school.

Joey at Central Union, seven years ago.

Joey at Central Union, seven years ago.

Today I had a lesson with Steven Severin, organist of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, who turned pages for Joey in Sunday’s concert. Being up close, he marveled at the large size of Joey’s hands, which give him a great advantage in playing the organ, especially in playing the works of Franck, which have sometime call for stretches of a tenth (an octave and a third).

I then pulled out a picture of Joey taken shortly after he finished sixth grade. Even then, you can see that he had wonderfully long fingers at a young age! What was also fun was that this weekend, in cleaning out a box of miscellaneous papers, I found the Midsummer Night’s Organ Concert program dated Sunday, July 18, 2004, Joey’s first public concert appearance!

Here’s Joey’s bio from that time: Joey began piano at age five with Toni Leong and has continued piano study with Jill Fong since he was six. He has been an organ student of Katherine Crosier since May 2003 and a recipient of an AGO Scholarship in 2003 and again in 2004. Joey just completed the sixth grade at Iolani School and looks forward to seventh grade in the Fall.

Joey and myself, 2004

Joey and myself, 2004. 

Look at the length of his fingers, compared to mine—and this was in the sixth grade! No wonder he’s such a marvel at the organ.

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The rock star of the organ world!

Joey and Lisa Preston

Joey and Lisa Preston

That’s what Iolani School teacher Lisa Preston posted about Joey Fala’s concert last night. “It was positively glorious! What a treat to hear this; if you’re not a fan of organ music, he’d convert you for sure. I was his class adviser for six years, and now he’s all grown up and the rock star of the organ world!”

The reviews are starting to come in for my former student, Joey Fala, and as I told him, he made people so happy!

Here is a collection of comments from Facebook:

Joey and Miki Yamamoto

Joey and Miki Yamamoto

Awesome organ music. It really was a fantastic concert, with such varied music. And I was also impressed with Joey’s personable public speaking skills. It’s an under appreciated aspect of being a performer and he did a great job of situating the repertoire and welcoming the audience. (Erin Richardson Severin) [By the way, kudos to Erin’s husband, Steven Severin, one of my organ students, who turned pages so expertly!]

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert!! Excellently done, Joey!! (Jerry Groth)

Rucci Aamodt, a former student from over 20 years ago, wrote, “Bravo! Great concert. I guess the Escaich was my cup of tea.”

Ajaon Chen, “… it (was) beautiful.”

Joey, greeting his fans after the concert.

Joey greets his fans after the concert.

Miki Yamamoto, another former student, wrote: I first met Joey in high school when I started organ lessons and now, so many years later, (he’s) back to play at the annual Hawaii AGO organ concert. He’s honestly amazing and I know he’s killing the game at Yale. Such an amazing concert, congrats Joey!

From Diane Martinson, former Iolani School chaplain: I was intrigued by the Escaich piece and, of course, it was wonderful to hear Joey play a Marcel Dupre piece given your tutelage under him. Joey even threw in one of my favorite hymns and played such a beautiful interlude! I’m so happy he has followed his passion, and besides being a performance organist I’m sure there will be many churches over the course of his lifetime who will be very blessed by his musical gifts. As a teacher who could ask for anything more?! 🙂

Gloria Moore, long-time Hawaii AGO member, wrote: Joey’s playing last night was thrilling. He amazed us all with his flawless technical skills, beautiful registration and a thoroughly delightful and varied repertoire. Congratulations, Joey!

Allen Bauchle, our former assistant at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, said that he’d wished that Carl Crosier could have been here. He would have been so proud!

Betsy McCreary, likewise, told me, she wished John McCreary could have seen this. Joey called him a “grandfatherly figure” in his musical upbringing, helping him pull the stops, attending every recital, and always offering support.

Joey and the John McCreary, seven years ago at Joey's senior recital

Joey and the late John McCreary, seven years ago at Joey’s senior recital

And Erik Floan, who was not at the concert, but has visited Hawaii a number of times, wrote: Not only is he a good organist, he could probably anchor a national news program.

That’s our Joey!

 

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Beautiful program, beautifully played

The Executive Board with Joey Fala.

The AGO Executive Board with Joey Fala.

My heart is full of joy after tonight’s concert which was the culmination of a fifteen year journey that the community of Honolulu has taken with Joey Fala, a kid whose passion for the pipe organ led his fifth grade homeroom teacher to speak to me about it that many years ago.

Joey and his fifth grade teacher, Cindy Scheinert

Joey and his fifth grade teacher, Cindy Scheinert

“Kathy, you have to do something for Joey because he is absolutely driving his parents CRAZY asking for organ lessons!”

Cindy Scheinert, who was in tonight’s audience, reminded me that “every piece of homework somehow had the organ in it!” and put the two of us together to begin this journey.

It was a technically demanding concert which would challenge the most seasoned performer, and Joey absolutely rose to the occasion. He registered the organ so stylistically and brought out a myriad of colors in a program which included Elgar, Shearing, Bach, Franck, Rheinberger, Howells, Escaich

Joey with two of my young organ students, Sophia and Raphael.

Joey with two of my young organ students, Sophia and Raphael.

and Dupré. With every note, my heart rose higher and higher— he made such beautiful music, beautifully phrased, with “love” in every single note. I told him after the concert that he made everyone fall in love with organ music!

He recounted that day seven years ago when he was downstairs, right here in Central Union Church, nervously waiting to play his senior recital, that I told him “Joey, your playing makes people happy! Just go out and do it!”

I would like to share what Karl Bachman, our AGO Dean (American Guild of Organists) said at intermission.

Karl Bachman's remarks tonight.

Karl Bachman’s remarks tonight.

[Aw, shucks, Karl! I didn’t do anything!]

Joey said he had a lot of fun tonight.

Joey said he had a lot of fun tonight.

Joey, we all went home happy!

 

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Our homeboy, Joey

Missing were Angie Delight, Stephen Strugnell and Simon Crookall who had to leave early.

The Hawaii Chapter AGO. Missing were Angie Delight, Stephen Strugnell and Simon Crookall who had to leave early.

Joey with Karl Bachman (left) and Donald Matsumori

Joey with Karl Bachman (left) and Donald Matsumori

Last night I hosted (with the help of the Executive Board) the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists on the eighth floor party facility of my building. It was a welcome home reception for our homeboy, Joey Fala, whose passion for the pipe organ began when he was in preschool at Holy Nativity in Aina Haina, and whose quest to become a concert organist started in the fifth grade. That’s when I met him and gave him seven years of organ lessons before he left for college. In the fifteen years since then, we’ve all seen him grow up and realize his dream.

The first time Joey played the St. Andrew's Cathedral organ.

The first time Joey played the Aeolian-Skinner organ at St. Andrew’s Cathedral was for an Iolani Chorus concert.

It was St. Patrick's Day, and Don Conover had just come from work!

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and Don Conover had just come from work!

The room was noisy with laughter and excited conversation and as Erin Richardson Severin wrote on Facebook, “the pride for Joey was palpable.” Every single one of us had to feel an enormous sense of joy and pride as we greeted Joey and reflected on his journey from a little kid to a mature adult.

I had to smile a little, when I heard Joey’s interview yesterday on Hawaii Public Radio, because Joey gave me a shout-out as being his mentor and his teacher, as well as his “second mom.”

Except for an afternoon doctor’s appointment, I took the entire day off yesterday to prepare for the reception, and put together smoked salmon cucumber chips, a fresh fruit platter, a cheese platter, honey-glazed chicken wings and lemon square bars. (Click the link for the recipe! They were all gone by the end of the evening!) Karl Bachman, the chapter Dean, took four hours to make homemade Chinese dumplings, and even had help via a FaceTime call to China!

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Tomorrow night is the Twelfth Annual Organ Concert at Central Union Church, March 19th at 7:00 pm. The program has a little something for everyone— Joey said he programmed the Elgar because it is his teacher, Thomas Murray’s favorite composer, plus jazz (George Shearing), Bach of course, and at my request, a hymn so that Joey can show off his masterful and creative hymn playing skills. He also programmed Dupré, knowing that I was a former pupil of his in 1968!

Caught on camera!

Caught on camera!

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4, Op 39 (Arr. Sinclair)

George Shearing (1919-2011)
There is a Happy Land

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542
“Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” BWV 654

César Franck (1822-1890)
Choral No. 1 in E Major

-INTERMISSION-

Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Organ Sonata No.8, Op.132: Introduction and passacaglia

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Rhapsody No. 1 in D flat major, Op. 17

Thierry Escaich (b.1965)
Cinq versets sur le “Victimae Paschali”

HYMN: Be Thou My Vision

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Prelude & Fugue in B Major Op 7 No. 1

What a spectacular program it promises to be! Several of the pieces have a special history for me: I played the Bach G-minor Fantasy and Fugue on my senior recital, the Franck E Major Chorale on my master’s recital, and the Dupré B Major during graduate school.

Don’t miss this concert by perhaps Hawaii’s only concert organist! We are so very proud of Joey!

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Aloha, Frances

Frances Viglielmo, 1931-2017

Frances Viglielmo, 1931-2017

Tonight I went to the Church of the Crossroads where I attended a memorial service for Frances Viglielmo, a former soprano in the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir. I mentioned her name once before in my blog post called “Blue and red“, when I wrote about the “defectors”— singers who sang at St. Andrew’s Cathedral for a number of years before “defecting” to “the enemy”— the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir as described by the late John McCreary, former organist-choirmaster of the Cathedral. You can read her obituary here.

Frances sang in the LCH choir for about twenty years under Carl Crosier, whom she sometimes called “Maestro” or “Teacher.” She had beautiful white hair which she claimed was completely natural and not out of a bottle. I remember when I got my first gray hairs in my late thirties, and she never hesitated to point them out to me!

Valdo Viglielmo died last November.

Valdo Viglielmo died last November.

She and her husband, Valdo Viglielmo, were united in marriage for 57 years, and now they are united in death: Valdo only died last November 14, 2016 at the age of 89. The Rev. Neal MacPherson, who gave the homily tonight in addition to giving the homily just a couple of months ago for Val, said the two just couldn’t live without each other, as Frances died on February 3, 2017. That’s only about two months apart!

Both were known for their lifelong political activism. They met in Cambridge, MA where Val attended Harvard University and Frances attended Radcliffe. From the memorial program, I read:

Frances traveled on her own to Cuba to view the effects of socialism there. Frances and Valdo worked tirelessly for peace and justice, and were awarded the Peace Prize in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1998. They helped to bring the Nagasaki Peace Bell to Honolulu. Prior to that, they also were granted one of the first Peacemaker Awards from the Church of the Crossroads.

In fact, you can thank Frances that the Compline Choir performed at a peace commemoration of the dropping of the Nagasaki nuclear bomb. Seems like she asked Carl almost every year if the choir could perform, and one year he actually made it happen.

The Compline Choir

The Compline Choir, singing and ringing handbells

At the memorial service, Rev. MacPherson recounted that Val had to bail Frances out of jail so many times after being arrested for peaceful protests that he had lost count, and made her promise to only get arrested once per year! In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article titled “High court upholds trespassing conviction,” Frances was arrested for trespassing at the Toys R Us store at Ala Moana Center: “Viglielmo was given six months probation and fined $100 for refusing to leave Ala Moana Center, where she was protesting the sale of military toys on Dec. 15, 2000. She was handing out pamphlets and holding a sign outside a toy store that read, ‘Stop selling war hero toys to kids.’ “

Rev. MacPherson saw Frances on the day before she died, and asked what she wanted for her memorial service. Her requests were for the songs “Jesus loves me,” “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “Tis the gift to be simple,” which the congregation sang, accompanied on the piano by Angie Delight (my former organ student).

Frances also wanted everyone who attended the memorial to “DUMP TRUMP!” — yes, her dying words!

We’ll miss you, Frances!

An old picture of the LCH Choir. Frances is in the front row.

An old picture of the LCH Choir. Frances is in the front row.

Ikebana arrangement for Frances.

Ikebana arrangement for Frances.

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The real unsung heroes

From time to time, I have written posts about organists being a dying breed—we are few and far between, and going the way of the dodo bird. Fewer students learn how to play the organ, and it’s just not possible to pick up the instrument “in ten easy lessons”—it takes years of commitment and practice. With my own young students, organ lessons and practice have always competed with sports practice and games, drama club practice, speech and debate tournaments, etc.

Something I found out last summer, though, when I was traveling with the Historic Organ Study Tour group in France, was that if you think organists can be classified with the dinosaurs, an even rarer breed is the organ technician: they just don’t make ’em any more! I happened to meet an organ technician on the tour, and he was the one who made me aware of the problem.

Jim Gruber at Makawao Union Church, Maui

Jim Gruber at Makawao Union Church, Maui

In last Sunday’s concert at the Higashi Hongwanji Mission, I wanted you to be aware of two men behind the scenes who were key to Joey Fala’s recital. One was Jim Gruber, a local retired organ technician who now lives on Maui. He used to be part of the Joliet (Illinois) Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts— I’ve heard that theatre pipe organ technicians are even rarer! Jim will be coming to Oahu to tune the Central Union organ for Joey Fala’s recital this coming Sunday, March 19th at 7:00 pm.

Jude Oliver at Punahou School

Jude Oliver at Punahou School, Honolulu

Jim, along with Jude Oliver, an associate of Bob Alder in Church Organs Hawaii, spent two days working on the Wicks organ last week that included rebuilding the massive DC rectifier, fixing multiple dead notes and ciphers, and a complete tuning. On Sunday morning, Jude was called in for an emergency cipher repair (stuck note!) on the low C pedal note. As you can see by the picture, Jude is in is 20s and we are thrilled that he has taken up this line of work!

The last few weeks, I’ve been driving back and forth on the Pali Highway to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Kailua, to observe the organ restoration work on their 1983 J. W. Walker & Sons organ. Thirty-four years ago, the company shipped the organ from England to Hawaii—and sent one page of instructions on how to put it together. According to Mark Wong, who was St. Christopher’s organist for over twenty years, the first instruction was “Assemble the Great,” meaning the main division of the organ: a herculean task! Mark was present every day of the installation and says that no one from the company ever came to Hawaii to oversee the construction.

The J. W. Walker & Sons pipe organ, St. Christopher's Episcopal, Kailua

The J. W. Walker & Sons pipe organ, St. Christopher’s Episcopal, Kailua

Consequently, in my mind, the St. Christopher’s organ always sounded unfinished: it was never “voiced,” which is a procedure in which organbuilders manipulate the loudness and softness, tone quality and timbre of each organ pipe.  It is a meticulous task which when finished, make the pipes sound even in tone and volume, forming a beautiful music instrument.

In addition to never being voiced, after so many years, there were many broken parts of the Walker organ—features which simply didn’t work any more after years of use and being subject to the salty ocean air.

So our friend Hans-Ulrich Erbsloeh from Germany has been in the islands since January 28th, along with his assistant, Berndt, to do a complete overhaul and restoration of the Walker organ. If you remember, Hans was the chief voicer of the Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu in 1975, has maintained the organ for many years, and has been a close friend ever since.

The re-dedication concert of the Walker organ will take place on May 21st at 4:00. Guess who has been asked to play? Here are some of the pictures I took of the work in progress.

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Hans also attended the four hand, four feet recital at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu recently:

Hans with Paul Tegels and Dana Robinson at LCH

Hans with Paul Tegels and Dana Robinson at LCH

Bless you, organ builders and organ technicians!

 

 

 

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Secret mission 

 

Higashi Hongwanji Mission, Hilo.

Higashi Hongwanji Mission, Hilo.

Shhhh! Don’t tell Joey!

This was a title of an email I sent to Bob Alder and Rick Mazurowski, two members of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists who live on the Big Island and in charge of Joey Fala’s recital at the Higashi Hongwanji Mission, March 12th.

You see, I really wasn’t planning on flying to Hilo for the concert, 210 miles from Honolulu, and in fact when I last talked to Joey on Saturday, we both said, “See you Tuesday.”

But when I asked Bob and Rick to take pictures in my absence,  Bob wrote back to me:

You should come over for it. There’s a flight that gets here about 1:30 (plenty of time before the concert), and then the last flight back to Honolulu (Joey is on it) is at 9:00. We’re all going to dinner after the concert and you would be welcome to join us.

I immediately went to the Hawaiian Airlines website and booked a ticket!

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Bob picked me up from the airport and gave me a quick tour of Hilo, as my last trip here was in 2007. When I got to the temple and was sitting outside on the front porch, Joey happened to walk outside and was in utter shock! “What are you doing here?! Now you’re going to make me nervous!”

I also had a joyful reunion with Elizabeth Bell, a parishioner at Church of the Holy Apostles who had met Joey that morning where he played several hymns and the postlude. I have known Liz for decades(!) as she was the maid of honor at Carl’s and my wedding in 1977, forty years ago!

We were astounded at the huge crowd which filled the temple—after that big write-up in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper, people must have been curious about the organ and Joey. Every pew was filled! (Yes, they have pews and hymn books in Buddhist temples here.) Early in the concert, Joey did a segue from Jean Langlais’ Chant de paix to a singalong Buddhist hymn which he introduced with a beautiful improvisation.


Poor Joey! In addition to the usual difficulties of sitting at a strange organ with extremely stiff action, he was assailed by swarms of mosquitoes which bit him repeatedly on his hands and legs. I must say there is nothing worse for an organist than having to play a concert or service and looking down to see mosquitoes on your hand and not being able to swat them away in the middle of your piece! Joey did an admirable job under the circumstances and was rewarded with a standing ovation.

“The kid can play!”proclaimed Walter Greenwood, organist of Christ Lutheran in Hilo.

Afterwards the ladies of the temple put on a sumptuous spread of homemade goodies, sweet and savory.


Bob Alder hosted a dinner after the reception with his business associate, Jude Oliver, his girlfriend Maria Gacula, Rick Mazurowski, Joey and myself—all organists! Isn’t that amazing!

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