The magic of Carnegie Hall

17 06 2019

The Lincoln High School Harmonics choir from San Jose, CA, performed at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City last Saturday night. What a thrill, not only to perform there, but to be part of a combined National Concert Chorus made up of ensembles from eleven schools (ranging from boys’ choir to some older adult singers), as well as to be conducted under the baton of two dynamic and sought-after conductors—Andrew W. Minear and Jeffrey Benson (read “rock star”).

For the theme “Reflections on Unity,” still images were projected onto the back wall of the stage, making use of the width and height of the wall for great impact.

L O V E   (photographed during a rehearsal)

For the finalé, the stage was not big enough for all the choirs and a full concert band plus two ballet dancers, so some singers sang on the audience level in front of the stage, and some were in the balcony—left, right, and center—for an amazing surround sound.

Red upholstered seats in Carnegie Hall

Oh, the acoustics of Carnegie Hall! They are so fine that Ricola cough drops are offered to theater-goers as they pass through the lobby to their seats. Nice touch!

The Lincoln High School Harmonics in their concert blacks after their magical performance, with Carnegie Hall lighted in the background.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Besides teaching music, Anne-Marie Katemopoulos, or Miss K as her students call her, teaches life skills.

Anne-Marie Katemopoulos

She drills them hard so they learn to be independent and know how to survive in the big city. For example: how to take the subway and how to transfer trains. That came in handy. I was one of seven chaperones on the trip. One time, probably during rush hour, half of the students boarded the train without a chaperone when the doors closed! No need to worry. The kids waited for the other half of us at the transfer point. Good job!

Another example: how to navigate the city—avenues vs. streets; which way is uptown or downtown. We did a lot of walking. No wonder there are so many specialty stores selling socks!

One of the chaperones was my roommate Peggy Mahoney, an ObGyn, parent, and contributor to Lincoln High School. Her medical knowledge came in handy. Apparently, with experience, Miss K can predict when students’ health will weaken on an excursion like this.

In New York, dare I say around the world, everyone has a smart phone. Whatever the boss uses, everyone must use too. So we all had our phones, and it seemed as though we checked them at least every 30 minutes for updated instructions. It is “standard equipment” these days. Everyone also had an app that pinpointed everyone’s whereabouts on a map for the group leaders.

A school policy is the power and safety of threes. No one was allowed out of the hotel home base unless s/he was in a group of three. We had daily morning meetings in person and debriefings at night.

Anne-Marie Katemopoulos is a hard worker who invests in the future of her students.

Interesting to know: When a Lincoln HS alumnus now working in The Big Apple asked who wanted to pursue a career on Broadway, where one needs to be not just a triple threat of singer-dancer-actor, but also offer a fourth talent such as instrumentalist, only one student raised his hand. He was a starry-eyed freshman. 😉





It’s sunny in New York City

15 06 2019


June 15, 2019—It’s sunny in New York City, and I am here as a chaperone with a choir from Lincoln High School of San Jose, CA. The young choristers perform tonight at the National Concerts music festival program at Carnegie Hall. It’s so exciting!

I was invited to come along by director Anne-Marie Katemopoulos, who I met at a choral conductors conference a few summers ago.

We have seen seen two shows—“King Kong” and “Beetlejuice “—and independently we stood in line for discounted tickets to “My Fair Lady” at the tickets booth in Times Square.

Anne-Marie Katemopoulos, left, at one of her briefings

Times Square tickets booth

Times Square, looking toward the ball that drops on New Year’s Eve

While the choir was in rehearsal, we chaperones had free time in The Big Apple.

Seven chaperones total: me, Vanessa, Mike, Heidi, Peggy, and Andrea. (Missing: Garret). Most had students assigned to them. I was invited as an “extra overall.”  Some of the “chaps” were parents, others were connected to the school. Stay tuned for my next post from Carnegie Hall!





Made it through the day

13 04 2019

‘Twas a long day, and we made it.

We’re home now with two granddaughters, two dogs, and a take-and-bake pizza in the oven—too tired to make dinner.
The day out started with a fundraising luncheon event for the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus at a ballroom in downtown Honolulu. Parents, friends, and supporters kept checking their bids in the online auction while the different sub choirs entertained, and people waited their turn at the buffet line. Some started with dessert!
We left early to arrive late at the artists’ reception for the exhibit of paper collages and ceramics on the windward side of the island 30 minutes away.
I had packed up a basket of cookies for the refreshments table and a bunch of pink ginger to decorate. What a joyous gathering of friends and colleagues!

My friend Joy Ritchey, artist

 

Visitors in front of collage paintings by the late Susan Rogers-Aregger, our mentor

 

More friends: Peg Hoefer, (from left), Dan Rogers-Aregger, and Barbara Guidage

Pete had childcare duty tonight, so our granddaughter Perrin met us at the reception and took in the exhibit until closing. She occupied her time drawing and socializing with the adults. Then we went to fetch her older sister Ayla from a birthday party and get the pizza.

Perrin and her freehand drawing after a Bernadette Chan collage in the background.

We drove home, stopping first to pick up Massimo, their dachshund, so he could have company and play with our dog JJ. A scary movie on TV, baths, pajamas—I for one will call it a day.
~ Rebekah
P.S. – It was also a lucky day. I won the bid at the HYOC auction for a one-year membership for four people at Hawaii Theatre Center and the bid for a stunning turquoise pendant. Grateful!

 





Mourning a piano

9 08 2018

Never did I think getting rid of an old piano, the thing, would evoke such emotional feelings in me. I put it outside today, to make room for another one, a better one that was newer, shinier, and in tune.

The old piano—I didn’t name it, but it had a name. Story & Clark, and on the back of the sound board was a plaque that said it came from Aloha Piano. I had it for 50 years until today, and it traveled with me from Manoa Valley to Waikiki to Lanikai to Kaaawa.

My father, who had not supported me for several years when I was a minor, ended his silence one day by giving me 800 dollars cash. I used the money to buy the piano. I learned to play on my mother’s parlor grand. I don’t know what happened to it. The three of us went our separate ways.

Ayla’s first piano lessons were on this piano. Now 9, she played the C scale she remembered from a few lessons I gave her and got out her music book just as the piano movers arrived. They took the old piano to the roadside, brought the newer, shinier one to its place in the living room. After the moving truck left, a man came knocking at the door. A stranger.

“Why?” he asked, arms in the air. “Aren’t the keys good?” I explained some were stuck, some strings were broken, all the strings were rusty, and there had been termites in the cabinet. And that the piano tuner could no longer tune it up to concert pitch. Could he ask his friend if she would want it for her kids to plunk on? Sure, I said. She didn’t come.

Anna asks via Facebook if there are any salvageable parts for abstract wall art. Sadly, I am not that ambitious.

All afternoon kids and other passers-by have been plunking on the piano. It will be there for four more days, in the heat and the rain, before it’s taken away. I may still hear it. I’m crying.

Like an old mistress or lover, the memory will take a long time to subside.

©2018 Rebekah Luke

 





KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona

2 05 2018

On April 28, 2018, at Kawaiaha‘o Church, I was a member of combined choirs performing the premiere of the Hawaiian language oratorio entitled KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona. He wrote the lyrics and music over a 20-year period. I am excited to share the video with you. It is one hour and 40 minutes long. As the composer remarked upon hearing it sung for the first time in its entirety, “It is exactly as I dreamt it!” Please sit back and enjoy!

Worth watching more than once! – Herb Mahelona

https://youtu.be/XmVEAMnxbTs

Mahalo, gratitude, to all involved who made this happen.

~ Rebekah Luke, second alto





On being Hawaiian

9 01 2018

Hawaiians are gearing up for a ceremonial observance on January 17 of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani 125 year’s ago. I am Hawaiian.

I won’t be marching from Mauna Ala down Nuuanu Avenue and King street to Iolani Palace as I did in 1993 for the 100th observance, but I will be near the Iolani Palace bandstand in an information booth set up by the Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee. I am a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

Last night I attended the first of several Mele Workshops taught by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong to learn more about the songs of our nation. She entitled it “I Welo Mau Loa Kuʻu Hae Hawaiʻi / May my Hawaiian flag fly evermore…”

Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina wrote, “No matter the politics that divide us, let us unite through the bonds of our language, culture and our history.”

Mahalo e Kumu Hina.

I am compelled to encourage citizens to attend one of the remaining free workshops scheduled on Oahu. They are open to all. You will learn the songs, what the Hawaiian lyrics mean, and the tertiary kaona of the words. Kumu Hina’s manaʻo is inspiring and uplifting.

Schedule of Mele Workshops. Go!

125 years ago was not that long ago, Kumu Hina pointed out. When it was revealed at the workshop that I was the eldest person in the room, she said, “your grandparents’ generation.”

Yes, my maternal Chinese grandfather spoke Hawaiian, but his 15 children were forbidden to speak it in school. Unfortunately, I do not ʻōlelo either, but I love to sing Hawaiian songs.

ʻOnipaʻa kākou.

If you go ~ As I write this, the schedule of events for January 17, 2018, is flexible, except for the 10:45 a.m. raising of Hae Hawaiʻi at ʻIolani Palace, the exact time it was lowered and replaced by the American flag in 1893.





All he needs are strings

5 04 2017

My darling husband Pete is building his seventh ukulele out of a cigar box. Most are concert scale; this one is a tenor. When gathering materials, he looks for cigar boxes that will accommodate the bridge of the instrument.

Polishing with Tru-Oil  gun stock finish. “This one is more show than go,” he said.

Box originally contained “25 cigars hand made in Spanish Honduras.”

The lid becomes the back of the ukulele, and the front of the box is removed and replaced with Engelmann spruce wood. Sometimes he adds a pickup inside.

Decorative inlaid fingerboard came from Vietnam. Pete put in the paua mother of pearl from Aotearoa around the sound hole.

The black tuners called Pegheds are geared, a little more sophisticated than straight pegs.

All the ukulele needs now are strings!








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