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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page. She has written and produced two chamber operas, premiered in Utrecht, Netherlands. See her publication list for more.
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Maui Choral Arts singers sing on

Choral concerts are easily community events. As a rule, the more people on stage, the more people one would expect in the audience. What I witnessed last Saturday 11th December 2010 in Kihei (on the Hawaiian island of Maui) is such a community effort to get full attendance at a large church.

Only at externally funded (sponsored) contemporary ensemble concerts have I seen more performers than listeners.

With Christmas approaching, the familiar tunes are played in shopping malls, restaurants, and other "consumer" places. What is sung at church services also echo the familiar. Familiar tunes performed in familiar ways.

That's not what happened at the recent "Sing On! Sing On!" concert of the Maui Choral Arts on 11th December.

The programme was divided into four sections: two before the intermission and two after. Members of the University of Hawaii Maui College Chorus and Maui Concert Chorus walked on stage singing Franz Biebl's Ave Maria acapella from memory. It's the pure voice of heaven calling out.

A string quartet joined the choir accompanying the second piece: Beatus Vir by Claudio Monteverdi. The rest of the Petite Orchestra (already on stage) added to the sound.

After Bach's Et incarnatus est from the B Minor Mass, we were in for a surprise.

"Now it's your turn!" cried principal conductor Celia Canty as she took over from the assistant conductor Gary Shin-Leavitt and asked everyone to stand up. Is this something new, I wondered. As a member of the audience, I expected to sit and watch but not participate. Thus it was a delight to be asked to join in the singing.

We all sang the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel. We all knew it. Ms Canty turned 180 degrees to conduct the standing audience and then again to lead the full choir on stage.

Almost as soon as "Divine Comfort" was over, the second section aptly titled "Comfort Food" introduced songs that truly made me feel comfortable and at ease. Heveningham and Dickau's "If Music Be the Food of Love, sing on, sing on" and others were all new songs I've never heard of.

This section ended with the beloved "White Christmas" arranged in an extraordinary way. Three young men from the UH Maui College Chorus sang the melody while the rest of the choir oo'd and ah'd. The audience burst into laughter when the three soloists (Kozaki, Lotulelei, and Pokipala) put on their dark sunglasses. This was Maui after all! One can only dream of White Christmas.

In the second half, once again, familiar Christmas tunes were sung in unfamiliar ways. Arrangements by James McKelvey, Jackson Berkey (of the Mannheim Steamrollers), and John Rutter brought a breath of fresh air to Christmas. When the choir burst into the Hawaiian song of Glad Tidings "Nu Oli" the audience joined again in chorus.

The most interesting arrangement, in my view, by far, was "A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas" arranged by Craig Courtney. On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. None other than Saint-Saen's Le Cygne from the Carnival of the Animals. And then it became quite hilarious by the 9th day of Christmas, to dance to a Strauss waltz. Finally the 12th day of Christmas --- see the youtube video on Concertblog.

Regret that you missed this concert? Or wish you had brought others to experience this choral concert?

Fear not. Maui Choral Arts will present a Christmas programme on Sunday 19th December 2010 at 4 pm in the same location: Kihei Baptist Chapel.

13 December 2010

Related links:
Maui Choral Arts official website
Maui Choral Arts in Kihei, 12/12/2010
Kihei Baptist Chapel, Maui