When Chamber Music Kauai wrapped up another song in rehearsal, Greg Shepherd nodded in appreciation. He liked what he heard.
“Oh, that’s beautiful. It sounded so good,” he said. “You should be proud.”
While the group is new to Kauai’s music scene, its members are not. They have the talent, experience and drive to be part of what is both a chorus and a chamber orchestra that specializes in classical music, something no other ensemble on the island does.
“Everybody in here is here because they can do it,” Shepherd said. “I don’t cut any lack in terms of their ability to do the music.”
Shepherd, a music professor at Kauai Community College, is the man who put Chamber Music Kauai together with the aim of bringing more classical music to Kauai. Its debut concerts are set for 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue. Both are free, with donations accepted.
“The group fills a gap in the Kauai music scene by being the only choral and instrumental organization that has classical music as its primary focus,” he said.
Its members, about 30, range from as young as 11 to kupuna, a mix of seasoned and novice. For several of the singers, this is their first time participating in a chorus and their enthusiasm has been inspiring, Shepherd said.
“There’s an awful lot of musical talent on this island. I wanted to bring a lot of it together,” he said. “It’s a nice mix of different age groups and levels of experiences.”
The group is not affiliated with KCC or any other organization. Shepherd selected its members based on past experience either in his classes at KCC or in other music ensembles.
He is seeking nonprofit status, with a goal to bring in chamber music groups from Honolulu and from outside the state, as an adjunct mission to Kauai-based chorus and orchestra.
“From the beginning, I’ve wanted the focus of the ensemble to be educational through the rehearsing and performance of advanced pieces from the classical repertoire,” he said. “With the mix of seasoned performers and younger members, there is a coming together of experience and youthful energy which really comes through in the final product we’ll be presenting in our premiere concerts.”
The weekend’s show will include group and solo pieces, instrument and chorus. Each show will be about an hour and feature about 15 pieces.
Shepherd is confident people will like what they hear.
“It’s a unique experience on Kauai. It’s classical music, but by classical, it’s by no means stodgy,” he said. “It’s lively music on one hand and deeply meditative, introspective, inward on the other hand.”
“It’s serious music, but it’s not so serious that it’s boring.”
Chamber Music Kauai is not work, Shepherd said, but something he does for the joy of it. He likes the camaraderie he’s watched develop since the group formed in August.
“I love seeing people grow as people and as musicians,” he said.
Bud Soria, a vocal studies major from Oahu who is a member of the group, loves classical.
“It takes a lot of discipline,” he said. “They don’t call it classical for no reason.”
He believes their music this weekend will touch people’s souls.
“With everything that’s happening in the world today, it’s just something I’m proud to be a part of,” Soria said. “It’s spreading good. That’s what we need.”
Another group member, vocalist Doreen Caberto, simply loves singing and was delighted to join Chamber Music Kauai.
“It’s a great change,” she said. “Something new.”
Shepherd said while the pieces Chamber Music Kauai will perform have been done before, it will be different.
“It’s a unique set of human beings, different talents and different strengths,” he said.
Together, they’re creating a new energy that never existed before, Shepherd said.
“It’s a great, great feeling to be part of that,” he said.