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Singing and Other Sins


Contact Gary Hickling at:

Celebrating 33 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, Amy Healey, and Blair Boone-Migura. Then, covering my heart attack and lasting almost three years, Maya Hoover took over with help from her engineer-husband Barett.

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.

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.

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.

11 January 2020 Dear Gary, Your concert this evening was far beyond my expectations. Renée Fleming singing "Abendrot"? It soothed my soul. What is that yearning we have?? We don't know!! To go back to the stars?? Thanks for the beautiful sounds. Best wishes and thanks for a heavenly concert. Much Aloha, RT

Bravissimo Gary & Blair,

Congratulations on your 30th anniversary.

I have joyously listened to your elevating music since moving from San Francisco to Maui in 2000. ~ A brilliant broadcast in so many colorful, imaginative ways ~

Grateful, cascading mahalos from an American Songbook pianist ~



Dear Mr. Hickling and Dear Mr. Boone-Migura,


Aloha from Germany. My name is Ralf Brueckmann and I am listening to your “Singing and other Sins" for quite some years. Let me say, that I am very much enjoying your programs. Your enormous variations and selections of "Liedkunst" is fascinating and amazing, your wonderful birthday selections from Goethe, your comparisons e.g. between Fischer Dieskau and Matthias Goerne, the discovery of composers on the one hand like Sibelius, Fauré or Debussy (who are at least in Germany not so well known as song writers) and poets on the other, like Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, your focus on song cycles like Dichterliebe from R. Schumann, Vier letzten Lieder from R. Strauss and of course the cycles from F. Schubert. I hope that you continue with your broadcasting for many years to come.


Thanks a lot and my best regards,


Ralf Brückmann

Tübingen, Germany


Thank you, Gary Hickling, for interviewing me and including my works on your wonderful Labor Day show on art song. 


Lori Laitman


Greetings from Switzerland!  

I loved the program.  Listened to it via the archive link prior to the live streaming due to the time difference here.  Bravo to you . . . not only on the program, but also on 30 years of Singing and other Sins. 


Larry Alan Smith [one of the featured Labor Day art song composers]


Thanks to Gary Hickling for including my music on the 30th anniversary of his Singing and other Sins. It's a great honor to be part of the celebration and to have my music interpreted SO beautifully!  Congratulations to Gary for 30 wonderful years!

Peter Askim [another art song composer featured on the Labor Day program]


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.