S: Monteverdi Vespers in Hawaii
FC: MONTEVERDI VESPERS IN HAWAI‘I
1: The Announcement When Carl Crosier, cantor, announced his retirement from the Lutheran Church of Honolulu on April 8, 2010, no one believed that he would go out with a whimper. True to form, he planned a season that would celebrate his thirty-eight years and nearly two generations as the leader of the congregation’s song. | Some of the youngest choir members (Naomi Castro and Keane Ishii), greeted Carl in the board room after his announcement.
2: Since the year 2010 was the 400th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Carl decided that this would be one of the major works of the season. The Vespers had never been performed in Hawai‘i before. Almost immediately Carl started contacting artists for possible engagement for the Monteverdi Vespers performances in Hawai‘i, to be held on November 5th and repeated November 7th, 2010. The challenge would be to find three tenors who specialize in this music and to engage a period brass ensemble. Because of a tour and conversation with Father William Kunisch of St. Theresa's Co-Cathedral, Carl decided the newly-renovated building would make an ideal concert venue because of its reverberant acoustics. But because St. Theresa's was not available on Sunday afternoon, the second performance would be held at St. Andrew's Cathedral.
3: The Preparation When Carl found out that there was going to be an Early Music Festival in Berkeley titled “Four Hundred Years of Vespers” and would feature workshops on the Monteverdi Vespers, he jumped at the chance to attend. The sessions he attended were: | 1. Vespers of 1210, the model upon which Monteverdi based his monumental work 2. A Brief History of Vespers in the Renaissance, with special focus on Dufay at Cambrai 3. Creating a liturgically-based Portuguese Advent Vespers 4. Choral Workshop on Vespers by Victoria 5. Choral Workshop on Vespers by Dufay 6. Instrumentation in the Monteverdi Vespers 7. Panel discussion about performance decisions in the Monteverdi Vespers 8. Reading sessions on the Monteverdi Vespers He heard some outstanding early music groups and also made contact with Derek Chester, tenor, and The Whole Noyse, a period brass ensemble. | The Whole Noyse | Derek Chester
4: Carl ordered the scores from England and discovered that Monteverdi did not specify which instruments were to be played or what parts were sung by soloists or the chorus. He spent countless hours listening to CDs and thinking about the possibilities.
5: The Season Brochure The 2010-2011 Abendmusiken Concerts were announced the end of September with the mailing of the season brochure. It took the many hands of Vreni Griffith, Nedra Walker, Jeannette Johnson and Ian Capps to affix all the mailing labels and wafer seals to the 2000 brochures which were ordered. The season began on October 11th with Carl and Kathy Crosier performing with musical colleagues to celebrate their milestone birthdays. The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 were scheduled for Friday, November 5th at St. Theresa's Co-Cathedral and Sunday, November 7th at St. Andrew's Cathedral.
6: Permission from David Brown of MuseumPlanet.com was kindly granted to use his photograph of the interior of San Marco Basilica.
7: The Postcard Concert-goers were invited to join in the worldwide celebration of 400 years of Moneverdi Vespers in this first-ever performance of the monumental work in Hawai‘i. The performances would feature a. A grand choral, solo and orchestral tapestry of sonic splendor b. Virtuosic singing and playing from celebrated artists of early music from Hawai‘i and the mainland c. High drama from the composer of the first full opera d. Sublime devotion from a pioneer of Baroque sacred music e. Concert performances in reverberant cathedral acoustics. | Artists would include: The Whole Noyse, period brass ensemble Bach Chamber Orchestra Bach Chamber Choir St. Andrew's Cathedral Choral Scholars Derek Chester, Matthew Tresler and Joseph Z. Pettit, tenors Georgine Stark and Mihoko Ito, sopranos Nicholas Walters and Keane Ishii, basses Richard Savino, theorbo Carl Crosier, conductor | Claudio Monteverdi
8: Hawai‘i Public Radio On September 26th, Carl was interviewed on Hawai‘i Public Radio's Business of the Arts, and was asked to talk about the challenges of presenting the early music in Hawai‘i. He called the upcoming performances as presentations "according to the Gospel of Carl Crosier." | Carl in the Atherton Studio at Hawai‘i Public Radio. | Ian Capps, The Early Muse | During the month of October, Ian Capps, Hawai‘i Public Radio's The Early Muse, hosted a number of programs on the Vespers. Both Ian and Carl were heard on segments of the radio station's semi-annual Pledge Drive, promoting the Monteverdi concerts. Two in-depth presentations by Ian Capps were offered in the radio station's Atherton Studio on the Wednesday and Friday the week before the concerts.
9: Rehearsals Begin Only two choral rehearsals were scheduled before meeting with the orchestra. Each chorister was given a recording and the score and asked to learn the music independently. There were also two separate soloists rehearsals. The choristers were: Georgine Stark, Rachel Lentz, Chandra Peters, Vreni Griffith (cantus); Mihoko Ito, Rachel Samet, Naomi Castro, Aggy Stevens-Gleason (sextus); Rachel Samet, Jerelyn Watanabe, Jeannette Johnson (altus I); Joseph Z. Pettit, Karyn Castro, Olivia Castro (altus II); Matthew Tresler, Allen Bauchle, Ian Capps (tenor); Derek Chester, Paul Beck, Randy Castello (quintus); Nicholas Walters, Michell Moriwaki, Bud Klein (bassus I); Keane Ishii, David Del Rocco, Paul Schwind (bassus II). | Nicholas Walters, Matthew Tresler, Rachel Samet and Georgine Stark | The Three Tenors, Matthew Tresler, Derek Chester and Joseph Pettit, rehearse with Richard Savino and Katherine Crosier.
10: Orchestra Rehearsals All orchestra rehearsals were held at St. Theresa's, and were somewhat challenging because there was a service in the Cathedral each night. It meant that chairs, stands and musical instruments had to be moved into place quickly without wasting precious rehearsal time. | Orchestra Members Darel Stark, violin Judy Barrett, violin Anna Womack, viola Steve Flanter, viola Jean-Michel Jacquon, viola Karen Fujimoto, cello John Gallagher, bass Philip Gottling, rackett Constance Uejio, harp Katherine Crosier, organ John Renke, harpsichord The Whole Noyse Stephen Escher, cornetto Alexandra Opsahl, cornetto Richard Van Hessel, sackbut Philip Neuman, sackbut Sandy Stadtfield, sackbut Herbert Myers, curtal, dulcian
11: The first rehearsal was held with vocal soloists only, and was a learning experience in dealing with the acoustics, lighting and placement of the instruments and singers.
13: Period Instruments The use of “period instruments” refers to musical instruments which are either restored or replicas of instruments which were used in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. | Richard Savino, theorbo | Alexandra Opsahl and Stephen Escher, curved cornetts | Philip Gottling, rackett
14: Every avenue was used to get the word out about the upcoming Monteverdi performances. Gene Schiller of Hawaii Public Radio interviewed Derek Chester and Richard Savino on the morning of November 3rd. | On the morning of November 4th, Hawaii News Now (KGMB) anchor and classical music lover, Howard Dicus, had The Whole Noyse as guests on the Sunrise TV show. The opening bars of the Monteverdi Vespers, as well as samples of the individual instruments were played. On an earlier segment, Richard Savino demonstrated the theorbo. Numerous postings on the Lutheran Church of Honolulu's music department blog were written on what was happening behind the scenes of the Monteverdi. Email notices were mailed to American Guild of Organists members, Honolulu Symphony Musicians supporters, and St. Andrew's Cathedral music list subscribers. A FaceBook Event was set up and invitations issued. | Pulling Out the Stops for Monteverdi
15: Carl Crosier and Derek Chester were interviewed for a feature article which appeared in the Star-Advertiser newspaper.
16: First Performance, St. Theresa’s It was a rainy and humid night, and people were streaming into St. Theresa’s Co-Cathedral, anxious to find out if all the hype about a 400-year-old piece of music was real. | The audience waited patiently for the performance to begin.
17: About five minutes before the performance was to begin, Carl came over to the continuo organ to notify Kathy Crosier that the bridge on the theorbo was broken! It happened because of the severe humidity and dampness in the Cathedral. | Carl tunes the harpsichord. | It meant that Kathy would have to play the “Audi coelum” on the organ and John Renke would need to sightread the part using the lute stop of the harpsichord.
18: As the choir gathered in the back of the church, and started to sing the ancient plainchant, Gaudium mundi, everyone was immediately transported to another time and place. A tremendous sense of calm and serenity came over the musicians, in spite of everybody’s anxiety over the situation. Out of all the thousands of figured bass chords the continuo had to play, there were only a couple where there was an unexpected “cross-relation.”
19: Many people were weeping by the sheer beauty of it all. There was a sustained standing ovation, well-deserved by all the performers alike, and Carl Crosier had pulled another rabbit out of the hat to bring this performance together in essentially three days, another triumph, another miracle. | By the time of the second half, Super Glue had come to the rescue, and the theorbo was able to join in after an extended intermission. The performance was truly one of those rare occurrences when time stopped still and people’s hearts and minds were touched by the incredibly sublime yet glorious music . . . “ear candy.”
20: Reactions THANK YOU for that gift of music! BEAUTIFUL! The sustained standing ovation said it all. What a major production, too! You two are quite a team given all the work that went into this! —Diane Martinson-Koyama Tonight’s performance in Kalihi was wonderful, gorgeous, precise and incandescent — really astounding and deserving of the standing ovation it received. The combination of choir and soloists, string and wind sections and acoustics created a very bright and “colorful” sound. But above all this is a vocal work and the voices — whether in chorus, small combo or solo — were on it. This piece has some really crazy tenor solos and the crazy tenor soloists made crazy work of it. Man, I might show up at Sunday’s gig. — H. Doug Matsuoka | Congratulations to Early Music Hawaii and the Lutheran Church of Honolulu for a phenomenal performance of the Monteverdi Vespers at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa. Carl Crosier and his cohorts have so much to be incredibly proud of. —Judy Neale
21: Second Performance, St. Andrew's | The Choir and The Whole Noyse was asked to come to St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday at 2:45 pm for a sound check, since there had never been a rehearsal in this space before. In a different church with different architecture and acoustics, the setup needed to change from Friday night. | But already there was a long line of people waiting to get in.
22: Ancient chants reverberate throughout the Cathedral. | The choir began the chant from the back of the church and moved slowly in procession through the packed cathedral. With the glorious tenor intonation, the choir and orchestra resounded with the brilliant opening movement, “Deus in adiuturorium meum.” Then followed the rest of the movements, just like clockwork, and the audience was spellbound by the enchanting music. By the end of #10, the audience could not contain themselves any longer and gave the performers a standing ovation after the first half!
24: The absolutely sublime “Sancta Maria” followed intermission, with all the sopranos sounding as one voice. The glorious “Amen” finished up the last movement. Again, there was a long, sustained standing ovation at the end of the concert, well-deserved by all the performers. Carl took his bows, but then held up the score, giving the credit to Monteverdi for writing this glorious music. | Congratulations again to you and Carl for a fantastic, awe-inspiring performance with the Monteverdi. It was tremendous! – Samuel Lam
25: Accolades for Monteverdi If you did NOT attend the Monteverdi, you missed one of the most amazing musical events to take place in Hawaii since statehood! Kudos to Carl Crosier for outdoing himself by putting together all the right people and for undertaking to do such an amazing musical work. In my lifetime it will go down as one of the most significant evenings of my musical life. Thanks, Carl and Kathy! – Karl Bachman | Thank you for doing a magnificent job of organizing and performing Monteverdi. It was a splendid treat for us. You have done so much to enrich our lives these past few years. Thank you. —Laurence Fung Let me congratulate you on the success of the Monteverdi’s Vespers 1610. It was really enjoyable and unique experience to hear many old musical instruments accompanying the choirs. —Turro Wongkaren I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell you in person, but congratulations on an absolutely beautiful performance of the Vespers. Thank you so much for presenting it! —Maya Hoover It was brilliant! the men sounded like one voice in the chants, the 2 sopranos were sublime together, the opening chorus exploded with beauty, and kudos to everyone. Thanks to you and Carl and all the musicians for bringing this to Honolulu!” – Tim Carney
26: I want to convey my profuse congratulations and gratitude for presenting the Monteverdi Vespers in Honolulu. Truly the Lord on high and his angels must have been pleased with both concerts. I am glad I attended both–especially with the full participation of the theorbo at St. Andrews. I will look for other opportunities to attend Carl-conducted music. May God continue to bless you and your magnificent ministry of music! —Christine Lee | My ears are still ringing with that wonderful concert on Friday night. —Dot Hutchins It was simply exquisite. Thank you, thank you, thank you to you and Carl! —Maria Au Hoy
27: It's Party Time! One event the Hospitality Committee kept promoting was a reception for the artists, especially those who had come from the mainland for the Monteverdi concerts. All the performers and volunteers were invited to a reception in the nearby Von Holt room. This was a chance for everyone to celebrate together and get to know one another a little more fully outside of the music-making. | Carol Langner and Karen Sender need to be given the credit for making the reception so enjoyable. | The Friday Hospitality crew included: Susan Burns, Yvonne Hsieh, Chuck Pearson, Carol Langner, Jay Gibson, Raquel Gibson, Carol Jenkins, Cathy Tokishi, Audrey Keller, and Fred Benco. The Sunday crew included: Gail Kiefer, Ruth Merz, Rudy Riingen, Carol Langner, Ulrike Scherer, Susan Burns, Fritz Fritschel, Bill Potter, Jay Gibson, Raquel Gibson, Jimmy Castro and Rusty Walker.
28: John Renke proposed a toast to Carl Crosier, "the bravest man in Honolulu." | Jeannette Johnson gives Carl Crosier a lei and a hug. | An amazing experience! Thank you so much for giving this gift to Honolulu. —Constance Uejio A fantastic experience! Mahalo nui loa. —Phil Gottling Mahalo, Carl and Kathy! I'm honored to be a part of this event! Thank you for the opportunity to sing such wonderful music. —Chandra Peters | This has been an amazing experience! I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with such an amazing ensemble. —Karyn Castro
29: How lucky to be able to play such beautiful music in such beautiful surroundings. Thank you for this wonderful experience. —Alex Opsahl (Los Angeles, CA) We are thankful for your great hospitality and for giving us the chance to experience Hawaii. It took 400 years for the Vespers to make its way from Venice to Hawaii and we have you to thank for that! — Steve Escher (Palo Alto, CA) We had a wonderful time coming to Hawaii to play one of the greatest pieces ever written! Of all the Vespers we played this year, this one was the most fun! Thank you. —Richard Van Hessel It's great to be here! Shall we meet again in 2410? Thanks!—Phil Neuman Mahalo for the opportunity to play with you here in Hawaii! Wonderful musicians, great music, beautiful places. We hope we can make music with you again soon. —Sandy Stadtfeld | What a complete pleasure — wonderful people, musicians and environment. I've loved it. Thanks for the fantastic opportunity to join you in playing the Vespers. Even at 400, it never gets old! And thanks for letting us enjoy Oahu to the fullest while we were here. —Herb Myers
30: Thanks so much for hosting this wonderful week for me in Hawaii. — Derek Chester. | What an amazing experience, and what a gift for the people of Hawaii. Thank you for the opportunity to perform this work, and with such fine musicians Your hard work and attention to detail is incredible! —Rachel Samet Thank you for including me in this incredible experience of a lifetime. — Jerelyn Watanabe | This has been a fantastic experience. Thank you so much for all your tremendous efforts in putting this work together. The talent you brought together is unbelievable! We will truly miss you in retirement! — Mihoko Ito This has been such a fabulous experience. Mahalo nui for allowing me to be a part of this! The memories will last for years to come! Me ke aloha no — Aggy Stevens-Gleason Thank you so much for such an amazing experience. Thank you also for allowing me to be a part of this. Mahalo! —Mitchell Moriwaki Thanks for a great gig with challenging music and great people. — John Gallagher Mahalo nui for the opportunity to be part of this marvelous work! — Paul Schwind Thank you both for an experience and performance that we will long remember. You are both treasures! — Paul Beck
31: This was truly a life-changing experience, magical and inspiring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! God bless and Hana Hou! — Nicholas Walters I'm not going to go into detail just yet about how you have been one of the biggest music influences in my life. I'll save that for the end of the season. However, I do want to say thank you again for allowing me to be part of another major music event in Hawaii. I'm so grateful for every opportunity you've given me. Looking forward to the rest of the season! All my love to both of you. — Naomi Castro | Imagine a Kauai boy coming to Monteverdi's 400th to celebrate your years of dedication. and I've come to truly appreciate your gift of music in ministry. —Jimmy Castro Thank you for finally realizing my dream dormant for 30 years! You put on the best show ever. —Ian Capps and Jeannette Johnson
32: You've seen me grow up, and indeed were the strongest driving forces in that long proess. Thank you always for your efforts and sacrifices and love. If Monteverdi knew that his work would be cared for and realized by such excellent musicians, he would have written it all over again. Here's to staying power! —Keane Ishii Thanks for letting me sing! —Vreni Griffith Thanks for that wonderful gift : the Vespers. —Randy and Jeanne Castello Mahalo and bravo, Carl! — Allen Bauchle Wow! what a piece of magic! I am so glad we got to play a part in this wonderfully haunting work. Can't wait for the B-minor! —Georgine and Darel Stark
33: More Cards and Letters I'm listening to the recording of the Monteverdi that you gave us long ago, and I'm reliving the joy and splendor of last night. The "Nigra sum" has haunted me and earlier this morning I googled up and played through four versions. None of them had an edge over last night. Wow! Indeed it was Wow! So many things worked/wove together to make the performance special — and you were the weaver. Thank you. Nothing could top what the St. Theresa's venue provided. It was the perfect setting for that magnificent piece of music. — Mary Reese (Even though) I fly off island tonight for the week, I needed to hear the Vespers for myself and support your grand efforts. It was marvelous! Mahalo nui loa for all you did to create such an inspiring, spiritual and cultural experience. —Rev. Steve Jensen | Thank you for the wonderful performance of the Monteverdi. I have rarely heard such accomplished soloists on a local stage. —Penny and Jim Lawhn I need to express my wonder at the stupendous execution of the Monteverdi project. The blend of local and outside forces produced an outstanding musical experience. I listened to my Christie recording afterward, and think that Crosiers et al beat his Arts Florissant. The tenors were a highlight, but the project could not have come off without your knowledge, period sensitivity, organizational and musical commitment and plain hard work. I'm proud to know you both and look forward to the rest of this musical year at LCH. Mahalo! —Evelyn Lance
34: From the Maestro di Capella I hope you are all basking in the glow of the wonderful performances of the Vespers this past weekend. We shared with the community one of the truly great sacred choral masterworks of all time, and I believe those who attended really experienced that. Accolades have been streaming in. I’m sure Kathy will try to put something together to share the responses with you. | I wanted to let you know that I had breakfast with the Whole Noyse this morning, as I had no time last week to talk with them on a personal level. As you know, they have played more than 30 Vespers this year and have two more coming up in Houston and Dallas in a week or so. They had a wonderful time in Hawaii, as the days were free for them, so (they did not have) the concentrated pressure of many of their performances. | I wanted to share with you that they told me you were one of the very best choirs they had ever performed this piece with. | They couldn’t believe we only had two choral rehearsals before we put it with the orchestra! They also said that this was hands down the most beautiful chant singing they had experienced for the Vespers and felt it added so much to the “context” of this work.
35: I was quite thrilled (and personally moved) by both performances. It is rare that you get an opportunity to do these works more than once. Even though it was challenging to perform in two different spaces, the settings were both ideal and each brought a unique quality to the experience. Our mainland guest artists all had a wonderful time and loved collaborating with us, and would, of course, love to do it again! My congratulations and thanks to Georgine, Mihoko, Nick, Keane, and Rachel S. (stepping in at the last minute to cover alto parts) for their wonderful solo singing. Thank you to all of you for your dedication and hard work to bring the Monteverdi Vespers to life in Honolulu. I am enormously proud of you all! Yours most sincerely, Carl