1941 Born in California
1956 – 1959: Glendale High School: played bass in the band & orchestra; sousaphone in the marching band for Rose Parade, half-time shows etc. Performed under Eldred Balzer, a fine, musical conductor who introduced me to a wide range of classical music.
1959 – 1963: UCLA: studied bass with Peter Mercurio; coordinated programs between Band and Orchestra and Chorus; liaison for music department to the Daily Bruin (UCLA’s paper); band librarian, orchestra manager; performed sousaphone in marching band (Rose Parade, half time shows, European Tour), bass in concert band, symphony orchestra, opera orchestra; graduated with B.S. Performed under Lucas Foss, Richard Dufallo, Clarence Sawhill, Jan Popper, Wolfgang Meier, Roger Wagner, Kelly James. I feel so old when I notice that they’re all dead. They worked hard to inspire us and Dr. Popper even rehearsed us individually for Dallapicola’s Il Prigioniero.
1962 – 1965: studied bass during the summers with Peter Mercurio at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara. Played under Maurice Abravanel. Audited master classes of Martial Singher. I never missed one of his classes. In the same fashion as Lehmann, Singher showed how to imbue each movement on the opera stage with the importance that it deserved. His song classes were also of the highest order. Audited private lessons of Lotte Lehmann. Abravanel was a power-house. He demanded from us students the highest levels of professional playing.
1963 – 1966: Manhattan School of Music, studied bass with David Walter; graduated with M.M.; continued bass and studied music education: graduated with M.M.Ed.; orchestra manager, weekend building super, assistant conductor for Preparatory Orchestra; taught Preparatory Bass; performed under Jonel Perlea, Frank Brief, Anton Coppola, Richard Katz, among others. Perlea was already badly affected by the stroke which shortened his career. But he still had the fire of music in him and shouted at us until our pianissimi were really soft!
1966 – 1967: Played bass in the Manila Symphony Orchestra as part of the John D Rockefeller III Fund’s support for symphonic music in the Philippines. Taught over 25 students. Played under Herbert Zipper, Oscar Yatco. Dr. Zipper was an authentic Viennese with the accent, the courtliness and the depth of knowledge about the classical repertoire. It was through the JDR III Fund that I met its director Porter McCray, who developed into a lifelong friend. The late Jaime Austria was one of my Manila students. He played in the New York City Opera Orchestra. Another fine student was Angel Sicam, a member of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra until his recent retirement.
1967 – 1973: Played freelance bass in New York with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, NYC Ballet, Westchester, Hudson Valley, Long Island, Queens Philharmonics, Municipal Concerts Orchestra (both summer chamber orchestra and winter full orchestra seasons); Princeton Chamber Orchestra (mostly touring) as bassist & librarian; taught bass privately and at MSM. Besides Stoki, who always was full of surprises, (very humble and compelling as hell), I had the joy of playing under Eleazar de Carvalho: I’ll never forget his full version of the Berlioz Requiem (with band shells set up in the hanger where we performed it!)
1970 – 1971: Taught string orchestra in Howitt Junior High School, Farmingdale, Long Island. I’m proud of the students who have gone on to be professional musician/teachers (Fred Fehleisen, Ted Grille, Ellen Caruso) or have continued playing as amateurs (Matthew Abrams, Rachel Spector Peak).
1971 – 1972: Taught bass (as well as theory and cello/bass for teachers) at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, playing two solo bass recitals there as well as in Denver. Returned to NYC to play a solo bass recital at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium.
1973 – 1977: Studied bass privately in Munich with Franz Ortner; played bass in Symphonie-Orchester Graunke (now, since Kurt Graunke’s death called the Münchener Symphoniker); Symphonisches Orchester Berlin (Berlin Symphony Orchestra); Münchener Kammerorchester (Munich Chamber Orchestra); Münchener Philharmoniker (Munich Philharmonic); Bayerische Staatsoper Orchester (Bavarian State Opera Orchestra); under Kurt Graunke, Rudolph Kempe, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Hans Stadlmair, etc. Played a solo bass recital at Amerika Haus in Munich. Taught bass at various “Gymnasien” in Munich; Manfred Rössl was one of my talented students who is principal bass in Bielefeld, where he also teaches.
1979 – 1980: Played bass in the opera orchestra of Mexico City’s Bellas Artes.
1983 – 1998: Played bass in the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra under Donald Johanos, Dan Welcher, Maxim Shostakovich, Seigi Ozawa, and many others; performed in chamber music groups of Honolulu and gave six solo bass recitals,
including a recital of mostly commissioned works of Angel Peña at Orvis Auditorium, with the composer present. Taught bass at Punahou, Iolani and Kamehameha schools and conducted the combined junior high school strings in a HASTA event. Punahou student (the late) Alton Clingan went on to study bass and composition at Eastman School of Music, Columbia University and Harvard.
1989 – 2009: Produced and hosted Great Songs on Hawaii Public Radio. This was the only hour-long radio program dedicated to art song in the world. Interviewed such art song specialists as Marilyn Horne, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Hughes Cuénod, Elly Ameling, Thomas Hampson, Dan Welcher, etc.
1997 – 2005: Founded and directed the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, which moved from Hawaii to New York in 2003. During this time produced two Lehmann tribute CDs featuring her students, colleagues and Foundation advisors. Produced Three American Art Songs, a film setting art song into stories; developed supra titles for art song performance. Produced LyricLanguages, an audio/visual use of art song for the language lab; and began CyberSing, an international art song competition, which commissioned Libby Larson, Dan Welcher, and Ned Rorem to write the required song.
1996 – 2008: Ran Hawaii Public Radio’s Art Song Contest, inviting singers from throughout the Hawaiian Islands to share their performances of art song; Winners Recital Programs were held in Honolulu and broadcast on Great Songs. In the photo below you’ll see Quinn Kelsey who now has an international career in opera and song.
2006 – 2009: Studied classical voice with Leon Williams, Maya Hoover, Buz Tennent, and the faculty of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival as part of their LifeLong Singers program.
2006 – present: Provided commentary and hosted performances of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii.
2007 – present: Sing regularly in the nursing homes of Honolulu.
2010 – 2011: Distributed my Lotte Lehmann collection to UCSB, Stanford, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Yale University and the University of Hawaii.
2011 – present: Assembled Lehmann recordings that were never commercially available and provided them, as well as liner notes and translations, for the Music and Arts label.
2011: Initiated the Lotte Lehmann League website.
2011: After a two-year hiatus during which Dr. Maya Hoover produced Great Songs for Hawaii Public Radio, I resumed that project under the new title: Singing and other Sins.
Dennis Moore has been my friend, partner and inspiration since I met him in Munich’s Graunke Orchestra in 1973. Despite pain and limitations which would embitter other people, he has remained kind and understanding.
Strange, weird, wonderful, audacious, and unusual stuff that I’ve done (in no particular order).
For John Corigliano’s first symphony, I demonstrated to him on the bass the difference in pitch from a harmonic b natural and a pressed one, causing him to rewrite that note.
RCA’s John Pfeiffer asked what I would recommend for their forthcoming Lotte Lehmann CD; I was able to ask for original metal masters in their archives, resulting in a release that was of both historic and sonic consequence.
I read (badly) for the books for the blind.
I sold clothes (also poorly) at the New York City’s Brooks Bros.
I was on the headline of a Compton newspaper when a reporter quoted me as saying that all Compton officials were corrupt (they were).
I wrote one review for Opera News (Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots performed at UCLA).
What a privilege to play bass in a chamber orchestra that accompanied antiphonal choral music in Venice’s San Marco, for which it was written!
I took Frederica von Stade to lunch, and she’s as nice as everyone says.
I marched with a Sousaphone on my shoulder in two Rose Parades (one for Glendale High School and one for UCLA).
I wrote LP liner notes for a famous pianist’s recordings for which he received the credit (and I was paid!).
While learning yoga in a Munich center (and cooking for them), I travelled to yoga centers in Paris and London to relieve their cooks (and have a free place to stay/eat) and see their cities.
Within the same year, two conductors berated me for playing bass too loud when I hadn’t played at all (I was still waiting to enter with my first notes!).
Though lawyers could find no solution, after studying the California law that seemed to threaten the thrift store endeavor I owned, I was able to find a way to operate within the law.
I once did a swan dive (into a river in Baguio, Philippines). If I hadn’t done such a dive, I would have hit the bottom of the shallow river.
I went boating (in a little canoe) on the ocean off Long Island with Jerome Robbins.
During my L. A. substitute teaching days (with no training) I taught deaf kids.
With no experience or training I wrote a script for a movie and produced it (Three American Art Songs)
With no experience, but with the help and direction of the discographer William Moran, I compiled a discography (for Glass’ book on Lotte Lehmann).
I brought a mini-bouquet to Marilyn Horne’s hotel room and sang the first line from Wolf’s “auch kleine Dinge können uns enzücken” and Marilyn Horne answered without missing a beat, “auch kleine Dinge, können teuer sein” and then I hugged her (there was a lot to hug!). So I can say, MH sang to me!
I met Imelda Marcos in Malacañang Palace, Manila.
A friend and I were accidentally locked in the catacombs of Vienna’s St. Stephen Cathedral with the bones of plague victims.
At four different times in my life I’ve saved people from drowning.
Angel Peña wrote two bass sonatas, one short four movement piece, and one bass concerto for me.
I was for a short time co-chair of the Hawaii Green Party.
I coached Beverly Sills. Well, in 1972 when the ASO was performing a benefit for the UN at Lincoln Center, she rehearsed a song with harp after the orchestra left the stage. I remained behind to hear her sing and was the only person in the hall. She asked me if the balance was ok and I said “yes.”
I turned pages for pianist Paul Ulanowsky during Bach Aria Group performances at Town Hall, NYC, and got paid for it!
I played bass for the UCLA jazz band in Hollywood Bowl. I also snuck over a fence there once to see Dorothy Kirsten’s Madame Butterfly.
I taught Hermann Prey. Actually, after I interviewed him in Munich, for a radio program I was preparing for WBAI in NYC, he asked me to help his English for the role of Aeneas that he was preparing for a recording of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. He was surprised that I knew the role from memory; I had taught it to Katsuumi Niwa years before.
When I was putting together the advisers for the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, I invited Birgit Nilsson and she wrote back that she thought she was too old to be of any use to the Foundation. I responded that Hugues Cuénod had joined and he was 99 at the time. Mme. Nilsson answered immediately that she would be happy to be listed and that she had always been a fan of Lotte Lehmann’s singing.
One of the great happy surprises of my adult life was inviting singers and pianists to record their songs and/or Lehmann memories for the tribute CDs and not only did they do a great job of it, but both the singers and the pianists did it without charge. And with very few exceptions the recording engineers also volunteered their time!
For a few years I was on the board of the Family Peace Center in Honolulu. Run by Laura Crites, this center worked to support not only women in troubled relationships (read “battered”), but also helped the men and the children of such families.
My best “one off” may never be matched for being unique: in 2011 I enjoyed meeting with Joseph Gosalvez, who was the same age (26) as I was when I taught in Manila. Now for the “one off”: he is the grandson of Angel Peña and Johnny Gosalvez, my two most advanced students in Manila during my time there in 1966 – 67. Joseph is interested in music.
During my year of playing bass for operas at Mexico’s Bellas Artes, I spent a night “off” in the university concert hall to hear the touring Brooklyn Philharmonic perform. I arrived early and was looking over the program and the names of the many NYC friends in the group, when I got a tap on the shoulder and an invitation to play in the orchestra…right now! The bass section had been decimated by amoebic dysentery; they supplied someone’s ill fitting tails, a bass and a bow and I sight-read the concert, under my UCLA-days conductor, Lucas Foss.
Still singing, March 2013