“Old Chestnuts” Sunday, April 26, 2015, 2:00 PM; Palace Theater, Hilo HI

Poster HCC Old Chestnuts


On Sunday, April 26 at 2 pm, the 60-voice Hilo Community Chorus, with distinguished soloists and a special guest conductor, will offer its annual spring concert at the Palace Theater. The concert is dedicated to the memory of Benno Wang, a chorus member of HCC and the Kanilehua Chorale, and a beloved member of the Hilo community.

Tom McAlexander, longtime conductor of the Chorus, had this to say about his inspiration for the program: “I’ve been thinking about presenting a program of ‘old chestnuts’ for several years. Many of us who have sung in choirs for years have a list of favorites, and I am no exception. The songs we will sing most choristers have sung before in their lifetime – or if they haven’t, they should have! This program gives experienced singers a chance to sing some of their favorites, and new singers an opportunity to sing some of the greatest choral music ever composed.”

The Chorus invites all to come and hear “greatest hits” from five centuries of composers that will include Tallis, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms, Gounod, Steiner and Jenkins. Soloists will include local favorites Amy Horst, Jaime Juarez, Ian McMillan and Michael Hurkes. McAlexander will be joined on the podium by distinguished conductor and composer Dr. Daniel Mahraun, now of Kailua-Kona. The Chorus will be accompanied by two versatile and talented musicians, Walter Greenwood on piano and organ; and Karen Nogami on oboe for one number. The Chorus will also present two, first-ever, “Tom McAlexander Choral Music Scholarships” to two UH choral music students – in honor of their beloved conductor.

Concert location at Google Maps: Palace Theater, 38 Haili St, Hilo HI 96720

Dr. Daniel Mahraun to Conduct and Sing at Spring Choral Concert

Dr. Daniel Mahraun, choral conductor and lyric baritone, will perform as a soloist at the Hilo Community Chorus upcoming spring concert, and also conduct the first half of the choral program.

HCC Music Director Tom McAlexander will conduct the second half of the program.  Tom writes: “Many of the singers in the Hilo Community Chorus do not have a great deal of experience in singing with large choruses that have large repertoires. I believe it is helpful for them to have the experience of working with great conductors, so over the years it has been my privilege to bring outstanding clinicians to work with the Chorus and conduct them in concert. In 2009 Barry Hemphill, artistic director of the Metropolitan Chorus in the Washington, DC area, conducted the Chorus in Vivaldi’s Gloria. Then in 2011 Dr. Jonathan Griffith, principal conductor of Distinguished Concerts International New York, conducted the Chorus in Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater. For our April 26 concert our clinician/guest conductor will be Dr. Daniel Mahraun.”

For more information about Dan, go to his web site: http://danielmahraun.com/


Spring Concert in Memory of Benno Wang

Benno 1995-singing vig

Our spring concert is dedicated to chorus member Benno Wang, who passed away in 2014.  

Benno Sheau-Tong Wang was born July 27, 1938 in China, the second child and only son of Tsen-Nan and Chun- Wang. He grew up in Taiwan where he sang in the church choir and played sports in school. Singing was his first love. He attended Soochow University where he majored in Foreign Languages and met Mena.

In 1964, Benno and Mena came to America. Benno studied Electrical Engineering at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles and worked three jobs. He and Mena soon married and had Frances. Kevin came seven years after that. In 1978, the family moved north to Silicon Valley. He worked for IBM and later for many different high-tech start-ups, where he spent his career building hard disk drives. He liked to joke about all the times he almost became rich. He also went back to school and got his Master’s degree from San Jose State University. He later taught at San Jose City College. Because they lived out in the country, he spent his free time planting fruit trees, growing vegetables, and raising chickens, ducks, horses, and cows. He sang in several choirs, including the San Jose Chinese Choir.

Twelve years ago, he and Mena retired and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. He built his house, played senior softball, and sang in every choir in town. One of his lifelong dreams was to have a pond in his backyard where he could sit and fish every day. In addition to building his own pond, he also began volunteering to clean all the other ponds in Hilo and to share his lotuses and water lilies. His four grandchildren came every summer to follow him around.  He enjoyed singing with Jonathan Griffith in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Among family and friends, everyone called him “Wang Ge,” or Older Brother Wang, a term of great respect. He was the one people looked to for guidance and help. He liked to help others in need just because he could. He loved to eat good food and often remembered each event by what food was served. He was kind hearted and always laughing. And whenever he arrived at a party, everyone would beg him to sing.  He was loved by all.

– Frances Kai Hwa Wang