Singing and Other Sins
Saturdays at 5pm on HPR-2
- Quiz/Master Musicologist
- See and hear Beebe Freitas playing for Winners Recitals live
Contact Gary Hickling or Blair Boone-Migura at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating 30 years of Art Song on HPR
In the summer of 1988, after returning from UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Centennial, I approached then HPR music director (and one of the initial founders) Bob Miller, to ask if I could broadcast a Lehmann special. He was enthusiastic and afterwards there was a good response, so I suggested a regular program featuring art song. Bob knew that I’d produced some radio specials for WBAI in New York City, so he figured that I’d do ok, but nonetheless stayed with me the for the first few programs helping to splice the reel-to-reel tape of the singing from Lps and of course, my commentary. Soon I was left to my own devices and the program I called Great Songs joined other such art song-centric broadcasts heard across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Now, 30 years later, I’m sad to report that HPR’s Singing and other Sins (the name changed some years ago when “song” lost its meaning) is the only regularly scheduled art song program in the world!
I haven’t produced this broadcast alone. There have been the engineers such as Charles Hussen, Jason Taglianetti, and the co-hosts including Joan Canfield, Joanna Takagi, and Amy Healey. Then, covering my heart attack and lasting almost three years, Maya Hoover took over with help from her engineer-husband Barett. And now, since 2016 the art song expert Blair Boone-Migura has been sharing the programs.
One of the special aspects of producing the program for years is access, usually through interviews, to some of my heroes of art song. The list of stars (at least in my firmament) is long and sparkling: singers Marilyn Horne, Thomas Hampson, Elly Ameling, Hughes Cuénod, Christa Ludwig, Mildred Miller, Frederica von Stade; pianists Dalton Baldwin, Beebe Freitas, Gilbert Kalish; composers Dan Welcher, William Bolcom, Ned Rorem, George Walker, Dominick Argento.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the program this Labor Day program (on September 1 on HPR 2 at 5pm) will feature American composers of art song. First you’ll hear them describe how each one develops a song and then we’ll play examples of their craft. The composers include Dominick Argento, Lori Laitman, William Bolcom, Larry Alan Smith, Peter Askim, Tom Cipullo, and Christopher Berg. This special will appear in the archive soon after broadcast. http://lottelehmannleague.org/singing-sins-archive/
Finally, I’d like to address the loyal listeners to either Great Songs or Singing and other Sins. You’ve been vocal in your own ways: it’s always gratifying to read what the audience thinks of our choices of songs, the singers, pianists, composers, etc. and what we could do better. Thank you for your interest and support.
The show is co-hosted by Blair Boone-Migura. Blair, an arts administrator, educator, and musician, pursued his Bachelor’s in Voice Performance and Master’s in French Language, Literature and Culture at Syracuse University in New York. He also studied voice and piano at the Strasbourg Conservatory of Music in Strasbourg, France. He holds a second Master's degree in Vocal Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College in Princeton. Blair taught French at The New School and is currently a guest lecturer in the music department at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he teaches an art song literature course in French Mélodie & German Lied, as well as vocal pedagogy. Blair is the founder and executive director of The Art Song Preservation Society. He also teaches French at Punahou School.
We archive most of the Singing and other Sins programs. You can find what is available and listen to as much or as little as you like, by clicking here.
We thought we should provide some background on the program: Singing and other Sins, especially the name. (Listener Comments can be found below.) (After that info on my iBooks: Lotte Lehmann & Her Legacy.)
Why “Singing and other Sins”? There are several reasons for the name change. When we began Great Songs in 1988, song meant something that was sung. Now, it can mean almost anything: an opera track, speaking or a movement from a symphony. Something that can be downloaded. So that’s why the word “song” wasn’t relevant any longer (when we began programming again in 2011) for a program featuring art song, which is indeed singing.
The “sins” portion comes about because we are part of a civilization for which singing is certainly viewed with suspicion. If you were to walk down the street singing, you would be judged insane, drunk or exhibitionist. In other words, singing in most first world countries (except Italy) is just not done. Classical singers are often mocked (“the fat woman”) and except for the Pavorottis of the world, derided.
The word “other” in the radio program title refers to my present belief that we need to offer art song in the context of other music of the composer or period, thus providing context. Almost all art song composers were prolific in many genres and these non-art song examples of their work can allow the listener to enjoy art song more and appreciate the whole body of compositions in which a serious composer finds expression.
Fitting all the words together of Singing and other Sins provides a bit of fun, something like the book title from a few years ago: “Men, Women, and Tenors.”
Here are some comments on Singing and other Sins. To offer your own (including your suggestions), just email the address above.
Thanks for a thoughtful and very tasteful broadcast. We have also discovered your archives, and are in the process of listening our way through them. Bravo! J.P.
Enjoyed the "Yom Kippur" show! Great to hear the classic hazzans and opera tenors. Thanks! S.K. -Kamuela
Dawn Upshaw's version was so very fine, even tho the earlier (1950's?) version of the same song was quite good too. Lots of galloping 6/8 teutonic rhythms in the songs today. K.C. (Honolulu)
I absolutely love the interviews you have been doing and airing lately! So amazing to hear an interview with Christa Ludwig! I can't wait to hear the rest of it next week. Plus the recordings of her you aired were great. -A.V. (Hilo) Herr Hickling, vielen, vielen Dank! Ich habe zugehoert und mich sehr gefreut, besonders ueber "Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen bluehn....". [Mr. Hickling, many, many thanks! I listened (to the Goethe birthday tribute) and was very happy, especially with "Do you know the land, where the citrus blooms..."]. N. S., Honolulu
During the Reynaldo Hahn broadcast: I am listening to your show right now-- I have never heard it before, and this music is changing my life! I want to not only thank you but ask if I may: how might I get a song list for this show? I would love to purchase some of these amazing, heart-lifting and lovely songs. What a perfect accompaniment to the Perseid Meteor Shower tonight! Mahalo!!! -G.B.
I enjoyed your Alto Rhapsody program, especially the renditions by the singers Ludwig and Fassbaender, and of course Marian Anderson. D.H. (Honolulu)
There were many comments on the International Art Song Contest edition of Singing and other Sins:
Loved the performances last night on the Art Song Contest! What great talent out there! You must have been very pleased with the quality of the singing. S.K. (Big Island)
I just love Melissa Chavez's beautiful voice and her interpretation of "Guitarra"! She's got my vote! Thanks for putting together such a great contest devoted to art song! - Courtney
I'm delighted to have been chosen as a winner! I was able to listen to the broadcast on Sunday afternoon (I'm currently in Thailand) and was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was one of the winners. -Nicholas Provenzale
[Writing about the Quatorze Juillet/Bastile Day program]: I enjoyed your Fauré music program. Do you know that Streisand recorded APRES UN REVE? When it comes to Fauré's solo piano music, I have to admit that I prefer his Nocturnes and Barcarolles. Keep up the great work. Your efforts are putting Hawaii on the classical music map. J.B. Honolulu
El otro día Iria y yo estamos en nuestro coche un Domingo por la noche y escuchamos tu programa y nos gusto mucho y sobre todo Iria quedó encantada con tu programa. Así que te felicitamos, ¡buen trabajo! -R.D. (Waikiki) Translation: The other day, Iria and I were in our car one Sunday night and listened to your program and liked it a lot. Especially Iria was thrilled with it. We congratulate you, good work! -R.D. (Waikiki)
I thoroughly enjoyed your program! How wonderful to juxtapose different interpretations of the same piece! And there were a few firsts for me...hearing an orchestrated "Phydilé," a tenor singing Rachmaninoff's "I Remember," and of course Bryn Terfel's raunchy "Foggy, Foggy Dew." A wonderful hour! Thank you! -S.G. (Honolulu)
Superlative Valentine’s Day program. “Nahandove” wins hands down. And to think that a “sexless” composer wrote this (Ravel apparently had no lovers, etc) -D.H. (Honolulu)
You may also be interested in these iBooks by Gary Hickling, Lotte Lehmann & Her Legacy. Available for download free for recent Apple devices.