Enjoy Hawaiian choral music tonight

12 03 2016
Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Festival venue: Kawaiaha‘o Church, on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets.

Aloha studio fans!

I am excited to perform tonight in “Ke Ahe Lau Makani,” a festival of Hawaiian choral music with the Royal Hawaiian Band, and I invite to you come and enjoy. The downbeat is at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of Kawaiaha‘o Church on King street across from city hall in Honolulu. There is no admission charge to attend.

I perform with Kawaiolaonāpūkanileo, the host choir. Usually a small a cappella ensemble, for tonight we invited other individual singers and groups to join in. They are:

The Hawaiian Chorus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Gioventu Musicale Ensemble of the Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, and the Kawaiaha‘o Church Choir.

Indeed, it will be a joyous occasion to perform Hawaiian music written by famous composers of the past, namely Queen Lili‘uokalani, and contemporary composers and arrangers.

This year’s festival honors and celebrates Prince Jonah Kalaniana‘ole for his birthday, the late composer Haunani Bernardino who gifted the festival with its name, and the late Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell who was on the core committee that initiated the collection of Lili‘uokalani’s mele, culminated in the printing of The Queen’s Song Book.

When you come you will be treated to so much more story and translation of Hawai‘i’s past in a most historical setting. Please bring a friend with you to come and hear the music!

Hard-working festival personnel are: Phil Hidalgo, festival coordinator; Nola A. Nahulu, artistic director; Buddy Nalua‘i, organist; Wendy Chang, pianist; and Clarke Bright, band master of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Mahalo!

Music, music, music

24 08 2014

A musical summer. That’s what I’m having. A time to renew friendships, too. I’m back in the studio and excited to tell what’s been happening!

Since making the 12-foot-long lei for the Pacific Cup yachts—I went for the third time to sing and conduct with Prof. Rod Eichenberger in Cannon Beach, Oregon, a pilgrimage made by at least a hundred choir directors and music educators from all over the globe every summer. For me, and apparently many others, it is addicting to learn from the master, who has taught his tried-and-true method for 60 years. Each year he also shares what he learned the earlier 12 months. He teaches how to get a good sound out of a choir, how to save rehearsal time, and how to manage a choir.

Five days, almost 200 pieces of new music from publishers to sight-read, 20 “student” conductors—some already are extremely accomplished, wow! so very humbling—and a public concert on the fifth night. I am sort of misfit, neither an active choir director nor music educator, although I have done some of it. Love working on my skills. Of course, by way of introduction, folks ask, “What do you do?”  I’m a choral singer!


Me and Rod after the concert

It was fun to see familiar faces and to talk about the music culture. Everyone is so busy during the academic year. Summer is a great time to catch up. It’s like a retreat or music camp in a resort venue. Next year’s Choral Conductors Workshop is already scheduled for the last week of July 2015. Interested?

While in Oregon I visited with Jon and my hanai sister Margaret in Tualatin who graciously loaned me their van to drive to the beach, and who took care of me when I returned after the workshop with no speaking voice. I think it was a “bug” I picked up on the plane.

I love Facebook. A new friend, Kasey who lives nearby, posted a call for singers to join the noted 12-member Hawaiian choir Kawaiolaonāpūkanileo this season. The director calls it “project-based singing.” I asked to join and was accepted!

The first event is “Onipa‘a,” at 11 a.m., on Sunday, Aug. 31, at ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, celebrating Queen Lili‘uokalani’s birthday. We are singing her compositions as well as some songs written about/for her. These are in the Hawaiian language, and we are singing all the verses! So thankful I practiced with Rod last month.

‘Iolani Palace

‘Iolani Palace

The second project is “‘Emalani II,” a Hawaiian opera: two performances—3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15, at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Honolulu. Other choirs have roles, too.

Understandably, one has to commit to all the rehearsals. Luckily, there are none in September, so I can go with DH to Pennsylvania for his high school reunion, to visit his family there,  and to call on our friends in Massachusetts. Road trip!

My high school alumni glee club resumes rehearsing after the summer break, too. It will be great to sing and perform with the gang. I love music!

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Greetings from Cannon Beach, Oregon!

3 08 2013
My choir sisters Susan (from left), Melissa, Anne-Marie, and me in pink under the iconic 235-foot Haystack Rock, Northern Oregon coast.

My choir sisters and new friends Susan (from left), Melissa, and Anne-Marie . . . and me in pink under the iconic 235-foot Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Northern Oregon coast.

For an update, please scroll to the end of the post.

Last night the Choral Conductors Workshop with Rod Eichenberger culminated in a concert in which I was one of 20 master class conductors. It was my conducting debut, and what a fabulous choir to direct for my very first time: about 130 choral directors and music educators from around the country.

They came to learn from the master, who’s perfected a method of “what they see is what you get” conducting. Generally speaking, the singer will mirror, with his/her vocal chords, the body movements of the conductor. It’s so fascinating to watch and hear, makes perfect sense.

I first met Rod Eichenberger in Honolulu at a similar workshop.

That experience gave me the idea that this was something I could learn to do and add to my skills set. It’s never too late to learn something new. As Rod told his class, he makes it a point to learn something new every day.

In class, Rod is looking for what he can correct in my conducting.

In class, Rod is looking for what he can correct in my conducting.

I decided to invest in the workshop and travel costs, treating myself to a change in scenery and a vacation to visit relatives at the same time. The people at the workshop were very supportive and responsive. I was so humbled by the combined talent and dedication of the whole group.

On the first day I selected from 180-plus pieces of music “Cherokee Amazing Grace,” arranged by James E. Green, to conduct. The melody is the same as the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace,” a tune I know. The lyrics were in Cherokee. I liked that they were native. Translated into English, they are:

“God’s Son paid for us. Then to Heaven He went after paying for us. But He said, when He rose. “I’ll come again” He said when He spoke. All the earth will end when He comes All will see Him all over the earth. All the good people living He will come after. Heaven always in peace they will live.”

This is the Cherokee national anthem.

According to the program notes:

“During the Trail of Tears in 1838-39, the Cherokee sang Christian hymns “Amazing Grace” and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” in their native language while incarcerated in stockades and while being marched westward. Over one third of the twelve thousand Cherokee died in the infamous Nunna dula Tsuny (Trail Where They Cried), or ‘Trail of Tears.’ During this terrible trek, families sang songs in the traditional language to locate their kin and to bring comfort to the grieving. The Cherokee language and songs held the people together. Cherokee people still sing these songs to acknowledge the experience of their ancestors during the Trail of Tears.”

Thank goodness for basses: my choir buddies on either side of me in the back row, Bert and Omaldo

Thank goodness for basses: my choir buddies on either side of me in the back row, Bert and Omaldo. We had assigned seating, with the voice parts SATB all mixed up. That’s my empty chair in the middle. I’m an alto.

Carol Rich, accompanist extraordinaire, at the Steinway

Carol Rich, accompanist extraordinaire, at the Steinway

Me, conducting the dress rehearsal on the day of performance with violin, percussionists, soloist, and choir. Half of the choir and the soloist are not pictured. Cannon Beach School Gymnasium, Oregon.

Me, conducting the dress rehearsal on the day of performance, with violinist, percussionists, vocalist, and choir. Half of the choir and the soloist are not pictured. Cannon Beach School Gymnasium, Oregon.

Please check back here at Rebekah’s Studio in a few days. As soon as the video of the concert is available, I will post a link. UPDATE: http://vimeo.com/album/2482420/video/72009256

Thank you everyone. I feel the love!

The Choral Conductors Professional Development Workshop with Rod Eichenberger is sponsored by George Fox University.

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

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