The sounds of spring

PUHI — Kauai Chorale’s Spring Concert promises to take listeners on a journey of the heart and soul through music that inspires, gives hope and celebrates love.

Thirty years ago, Robert Ray sat down to write his Gospel Mass, an experimental work, for a one-time performance. To his surprise, the piece caught on and became a seminal work of African-American music, performed by choirs all over the world. Ray believes that God played a role in the writing of his now-famous work, which sets the works from the Catholic Mass to the rhythm and harmonies of African-American gospel music.

Kauai Chorale’s Spring Concerts will be held Saturday at the KCC Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. and again at the St. Regis Ballroom on May 17 at 5 p.m. Conducted by Lois Ricciardi and accompanied by Virginia Shepherd, guest performers include Dan Springs on percussion and Rheana Salvador, a senior at Kauai High School, who has taken on the challenge of learning the steel drum for her performance.

Selections also to be performed by Kauai Chorale include Johannes Brahms’ “Liebeslieder Walzer Lovesong Waltzes Opus 52,” Glenn Mc Clure’s “Kyrie” (featuring Salvador on steel drum), and a tribute to Nelson Mandela and de Klerk, “Hope for Resolution” with the assistance of the St. Theresa Youth Choir under the direction of Millie Curtis.

There will also be a variety of favorite love songs and, because the concert is during Armed Forces Week, a special tribute to members of the Armed Forces.

This year’s performance has an added element of meaning for two of the members.

It all started at a spring rehearsal when Ricciardi jokingly suggested that Chorale members attend the performance of Ray’s Gospel Mass at Carnegie Hall in New York City at the end of March. There was a buzz of excitement about the idea, but everyone knew that with only a few weeks’ notice, it was unlikely to happen.

But then Chorale board member Joanne Nakashima asked her friend and “travel buddy,” Joye Irwin, who also serves on the Chorale board, if she wanted to go. Irwin thought she was kidding, but said, “If you’re willing, I’m willing.”

In a flash, the two were busy booking airline tickets and reserving tickets to see the Gospel Mass at Carnegie Hall, performed by Masterworks Festival Chorus and soloists, with the New York City Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Anton Armstrong.

Nakashima explained that as a young piano student, it was a dream of hers to play at Carnegie Hall. When she realized that she would be singing a work to be performed at Carnegie Hall “that was close enough!”

The traveling duo also planned to catch a show at Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. “I’ve never been to New York City, so I may as well see all I can!” Irwin said.

They will be back on-island just in time to share their experience with their fellow singers before Kauai Chorale performs the same work.

Kauai Chorale has been a community chorus open to anyone who shares a love of singing for more than 50 years. Kauai’s largest chorus, made up of more than 70 voices, meets every Monday at Island School for rehearsals at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 822-5633.

Tickets to Heart and Soul are available from Kauai Chorale members and ticket outlets including Wrangler’s Steak House, Talk Story Book Store, Kalaheo Café, Pictures Plus, Scotty’s Music, Kauai Sound and Music, Pono Market, Lappert’s in Poipu and Princeville and North Shore Pharmacy. Tickets purchased in advance are $12 or $15 at the door and $5 for students.

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Gale Lee is vice president of Kauai Chorale.

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