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Revelations come in such an unexpected place, in front of the people you think it shouldn’t happen with…

We started our last day visiting a public grade school that was named after Grandma Cora’s father. Children, the first time for many, saw us with our instruments and rushed into the courtyard where we set up to play for them! They came out to see what we’d play (as well as Karen’s hair) with so much excitement… it was hard to take a smile of my face the whole time we were there. It’s easy to get caught up in our practice, rehearsals, and indulge in our own issues as musicians sometimes; made me pretty joyful to see these kids wanting so much to talk to us and ask us questions. It’s good to be grateful for what opportunities we have had to travel, to make music, to be life-long learners.

We left the school in a sea of little students clamoring for questions, pictures, and autographs on their notebooks, but alas, we had to leave. So what’s this revelation? Well, as we were playing for this easy-going crowd, there’d be talking, there’d be laughing. But more than any other time, I think I had the most fun playing movements of the Dvorak and Schubert! Being outside, we had to perk up our ears to each other, but boy, I wanted to entertain and show the kids and teachers watching us the fun, the emotion, the dialogue involved in our music making!

Because I had been so at ease… (here comes my technical viola playing commentary on myself) in an instance, my wrist loosened, the weight of my arm fell beautifully on the strings, fingers moving in ways I could only talk about for the last two years in my lessons. Whoa. What happened? Little spiccato notes just flying with rhythmic integrity and sonorous tonality? (Yes, Dvorak, fourth movement, with the second violin…) What-wait a minute… It’s working now that I’m playing for this group, huh? It was a good realization of the origin/cause/factors of why I do what I do, and why I don’t do other things (physiologically speaking). Well, here’s to a good rest of the summer practicing! (Viola technique geek-out concluded. You may return your attention.)

With the morning gone, we enjoyed our last lunch with Grandma Cora, grandpa, Gloria and her son, Eduardo. I’ll miss my own room with the afternoons of practice, Facebooking, endless blogging, and bug-bite paranoia. (Photo with Jeff and OJ: he never failed to finish the pitcher of fresh-squeezed juice. We counted on it. Just look at his face.)

The rest of the afternoon, the quartet met with the television cameraman to re-record the Dvorak part of the weekend’s concert. They failed to capture it somehow, so we did a one take performance for him. Yikes. It was difficult, mainly to get yourself in the moment (despite the trip almost ending, a tiring day of playing already, and packing to get done back at home). Reminded me of our quartet recording for an album of Elizabeth Rickman. Of course, we were all students in the room and just words of wisdom and advice from our prof, Mike,… was the need to give it that fresh ‘first-time’ energy, but on EVERY take. It’s not easy. But the audience or listener won’t have the asterisk on their program or album saying ‘they were tired’, nor will they necessarily see you. They’ll be listening though, and you had better play like it were your first. Something should go here about being emotionally prepared too, otherwise you have to act it out. I think it does take that sometimes. Just do it, you know?

The night finished with Ingrid helping a teacher do a Suzuki method class for a big group of young students and their parents… we left, again, with many photo ops, exchanges, goodbyes, hugs, you know.

Once we got home, our final duties were set before us in the for of five hundred-some certificates to be signed by the four of us! Fun… hone in those glitzy A’s and K’s… those curly E’s and Z’s… ok that’s enough.

Are these posts really just… LONG? I’m not sure what one is to do. It’s like how Karen packs for the road, really. Get what you need, then cut it in half. I suppose I could still cut it. Let me know 🙂

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Day 9: Diamond Head, Downtown, and Recording!

Wow, what a start to the day! Hiking Diamond Head with a few guys and Terry Franson to start the morning off! About twenty of us took the 30-minute hike up for some spectacular views of both the south and the east coast of Oahu from the summit! There were some stairs (fun…) that went through tunnels and bunkers from when the crater used to be a point of defense for the island.

At the top of Diamond Head, we got in a round and began to sing Holy, Holy, Holy. With a view of the whole tip of the island, the chorus rose louder and louder. It was so freeing doing that in view of God’s creation and the strangers around us taking everything in as well.

Our next performance was at Bishop Square in downtown Honolulu. It was a beautiful area in the middle of the business district, so we had some fun people-watching as we set up risers and speakers among the high rises.

I also found a bird that just sat there in the middle of all the guys while we set up. Didn’t move for a few minutes, just chillin’. Even the birds here relax… I could learn something here!

There were people coming by, stopping, going, so it felt sparse, but it’s always incredible hearing a gentleman coming up to us afterwards saying how blessed he was and that he needed this so much. We never really know what we do in the moment, but we just trust that God does open up a lot of ways for this ministry to be as effective as it is!

We were also greeted by General Irwin Cockett and his colleague. Quite an honor receiving their compliments as the first Hawaiian general of the US Navy, as I understand. Even better? They liked our pronunciation on the song Ka’ililauokekoa! Score!

After we sang downtown, one of the guys received a text message from our friend and brother, Lucas. He couldn’t be with us on tour because of a significant surgery for his lungs this morning. He had been in our prayers for this situation for months now, and it had come down to this hour. The text was from Lucas himself saying the surgery had been successful and he is recovering without too much pain! We stood there in the middle of the city, arms over each other and just gave praise for this good news!!! Lucas, we’re glad you’ve come through and that the Lord does answer our prayers. Hope that you have a restful and quick recovery! We miss  having you with us!

After singing and eating at Bishop square, I sat with a few guys, Andrew, Josh, Daniel and myself. There was a nice elderly lady who came up to us and asked plenty of questions… her name? Barbara. Swingin’ Babs… that is! She kept telling us she liked hanging out with the younger, hipper crowd; of course, she loved dancing, been doing it since she was little and never needed to diet… she told us to drink water and ice tea (with our sodas in hand). But she sure was fun to talk to… we took a few pictures, got some hugs and she went on her way, saying how much we made her week! With the hugs she gave us, she said we need to always be accepting of hugs. If we can’t, then maybe we need to find a way to be able to do so. Some truth in that, eh?

We went from there straight to the State Capitol building. Not at all what we expected. The architecture of the building resembles a volcano, so the building was an open building. So much for a ‘rotunda’! We still sang in the center of it

With the evening left, we got to look forward to our recording session in the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. This beautiful sanctuary had a nice warm sound and a long reverb to it that just gave us goosebumps,… or chicken skin as some people on the island have put it!

As we prepared for recording, we were filled with excitement, yet exhausted from the full day of performing, walking, thinking about what’s ahead. It was pretty difficult to keep the energy going as 9 p.m. rolled around, the sanctuary was just a tad toasty (and by toasty, I mean locker room toasty, whatever that entails!).

Among one of the pieces recorded was our Hawaiian number, Ka’ililauokekoa. Try saying that. Now, three times in a row. Now use it in a sentence. 🙂 Props to Harold for getting it pretty well when we perform it also… As we neared the end of our recording session, we pulled together and did something that astounds me each and every time. When it’s time to get down to business, the chorale gets this energy and focus that gets us incredibly in-the-moment! We pound out this piece that has gotten us flustered and worried on pronunciation and articulation, but it’s tonight that we really nail it and bring it home! Be sure to look for it on our next album… it’s become one of our favorite pieces since we came on tour!

Anyway, I’m sure the church organist had to air out the cathedral after.

Some photos courtesy of Jessie Bullock and his dad. Thanks!

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