A choral concert to inspire


POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's often said that text is food for the mind and music is food for the soul. This weekend, the Honolulu Symphony Chorus will perform two choral works combining text and music to inspire, give hope and share a message of love and compassion, particularly poignant in these times.




“;Voices of Kalaupapa”;


        Community concert with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus

» Place: Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Queen Emma Square


» When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday


» Tickets: $20 general; $10 for students, seniors and active military. Open seating.


» Call: 524-0815, ext. 257, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Guests at our Saturday concert will hear Morten Lauridsen's “;Lux Aeterna”; performed live in Hawaii for the first time.

People often refer to “;Lux Aeterna”; as a composition that heals because of its beauty and power to move audiences. It is healing in the sense that Lauridsen, based in Southern California, wrote this work partly to heal himself and to come to grips with death as his mother was dying.

Lux Aeterna is often used in hospices because the music seems to have a beneficial effect on patients. It also gives comfort, hope and strength to those who are grieving. This work is a quiet meditation on the word “;light,”; the illumination of the mind and spirit.

THEN, YOU CAN experience the world premiere of Donald Reid Womack's “;Voices of Kalaupapa,”; inspired by the life of Father Damien. The priest cared for the sick and the poor, and gave up his life to be among those living in Kalaupapa's leprosy colony in the late 1800s. His is a life story that inspires and teaches more lessons than any fictional story.

It is a story that first gave me the idea of a commission for new choral music that captures a part of Hawaiian history and a story of compassion. Thanks to a grant from the City and County of Honolulu Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts, the Oahu Choral Society (our nonprofit that supports the chorus) was able to commission “;Voices of Kalaupapa.”;

The work explores Damien's grace, sorrow and joy in Latin, Hawaiian (Baibala Hemolele) and English. The English text explores his writings, filled with a range of emotions from “;heartbreaking misery”; to “;an abundance of joy.”;

Humility is Damien's central doctrine, and he referred to himself not as being separate from those at Kalaupapa, but as “;we lepers.”; Womack's music depicts this touching and expressive text, inviting the listeners through a journey of emotions.

We invite you to share these inspiring premieres with us this weekend!

Esther Yoo is the Honolulu Symphony Chorus director.