Lois Ricciardi, director, Kaua`i Chorale. Photo by Anne E. O’Malley
While the Chorale turns 50, this year also marks the beginning of Ricciardi’s 25th, or silver anniversary with the Chorale. She’s served in two separate engagements, from January 1979 to mid-1983 and again from 1994 to the present.
It’s the perfect job for this skilled director who plays piano, violin, alto saxophone, trumpet and organ, and has a working knowledge of wind, brass and percussion instruments because of her schooling.
“I love music,” says Ricciardi. “I love the directing aspect.
“I love seeing the black notes on a white page of music come to life. I love to see the joy on people’s faces when in the beginning they complain they don’t like this song, or, ‘We’re never gonna get there,’ to ‘Wow, that was wonderful!’”
Meticulous in her preparation, Ricciardi researches tons of choral literature and draws ideas from personal contacts she’s made through years of attending choral workshops.
Only then does she begin to shape a program that matches the purpose of the nonprofit chorale as stated in its articles of incorporation — to contribute to the cultural and fine arts climate of Kaua`i via volunteer musical events. She never shrinks from the difficult.
In her career with the chorale, Ricciardi has directed hundreds of pieces. Among her top three favorites are Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein, The Messiah by George Frideric Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Possibly the most challenging of the three, she says, was the Chichester Psalms, a piece the Chorale performed twice — once with the Honolulu Symphony and again with Kaua`i musicians. Written in Hebrew, she says it has difficult rhythms.
Initially panicked that the Chorale might not pull it off, she says that in fact, “It turned out to be awesome.”
Says Ricciardi, “I have a very passionate spot for the Kaua`i Chorale because it is rewarding to see people grow, as opposed to taking excellent singers that already know a lot.”
Often, the results exceed the singers’ expectations — and sometimes, her own.