About Me

I've done a little of just about everything: sung in choirs, conducted them, sung in amateur and professional opera, performed as the ingenue in Chu Chin Chow, played the mother in a long list of operas, sung solos with professional orchestras, sung recitals, taught pop and classical singing, sung professionally in Catholic, Episcopal, Christian Science and Reformed Jewish religious services, worked as a professional music critic, acted in and directed plays, and I'm sure other things I have forgotten. 

I hold the Doctor of Music with distinction from Indiana University where I studied voice, choral conducting and music history. I hold the BA and MA from California State University, Sacramento.  I performed briefly in a German opera company. Later I became interested in musical performance by a computer-synthesizer. I made my last public appearance as a singer at age 50 in San Francisco when I sang a song cycle called For Sarah and Other Daughters by Gila Rayburg, and where I received my only standing ovation.  My only other fame experience occurred when I was recognized in the street in San Francisco after the world premier performance of Vivian Fine's The Women in the Garden where I played Gertrude Stein. 

My perspective on modern music is not going to be the same as the average reader.

When assembling recitals, I included songs by Charles Ives and Francis Poulenc.  I even performed the Luigi Dallapiccola Goethe Lieder, a fully 12 tone piece, just because the poems were by Goethe.

I was cast in operas by Stravinsky, Martinu, Menotti, Vaughan-Williams, Benjamin Britten and Vivian Fine.  I sang the alto solo in Honegger's King David and the chorus of Leoš Janáček's Glagolitic Mass and Honneger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûchera wonderful piece

From a professional perspective this is not at all impressive, but it does cover a lot of styles.  I sang Bach, Handel, Verdi, Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Smetana and lots of Mahler, but not a bit of Puccini or Strauss.  I remember telling a voice teacher at IU that I had performed all the major works of Bach.  He didn't believe me.

I am very much at home in the American 20th century, and feel this music to be old friends.  VanessaSusannah and Antony and Cleopatra, though recently new to me, sounded exactly as I expected them to.  If I had to write about nothing but Verdi and Puccini over and over I would probably quickly stop blogging.

Blogging for me is a learning experience.  I have continued doing it all these years because I continue to find new things to interest me.  What readers should make of all this, I can't imagine.

My day job was as a systems analyst for the Bechtel Corporation where I designed the Bechtel Procurement System. My father was an engineer, so I felt much more at home at Bechtel than I ever had in classical music.  

When I began this blog, I was still working, but now I am retired.   In my middle sixties I sang "In my life" by John Lennon at a wake.  The words were relevant.

Oh.  And I belong to Mensa.

Explanation of Title

I often proposed this as the title of my autobiography. All my German friends would say "no, it's not Kinderkuchen, it's LebkuchenKinder." I couldn't explain why Kinderkuchen was funnier in English.

It was a brief summary of my operatic career. I was a member of the chorus of the Ulmer Theater and made my first appearance--entirely unrehearsed--as one of the children in Hansel and Gretel. I hadn't even been inside the theater.  You'll recall that the children have all been turned into cookies. "For the FBI" was a feeble attempt at self-aggrandizement. I was not singing in the chorus; I was infiltrating it. In this guise I discovered nothing at all political, but found out a lot about German beer and wine. I learned the beer may contain only 7 possible ingredients, for instance. That a Mosel is heaven.

I also learned that I was not destined to set the operatic world aflame, though I did get to sing a couple of roles.

I find that I interface with music and the arts in a more satisfying way if I have some activity to engage in afterward.  My mind broadens and my experiences become more intense just through the activity of trying to form opinions about them.

I have specific goals which, if you like, may be regarded as wishes.  One is that I am always looking for the next big thing.  This is the opposite of the quote from the recent Cecilia Bartoli interview where she identifies a category of women who "listen all their lives to Maria Callas."  I like to think that I have recently succeeded in this goal.

Though this is not journalism, my journalistic model is Entertainment Weekly which treats its subject-matter with irreverence.  When I express an opinion, I am aware that it is uniquely my opinion and does not reflect the judgment of the ages.  I may in fact have a completely different opinion next year, or next week.  Recently I removed a film because it no longer pleased me.  (This isn't the usual reason--usually films are removed because I can't any longer find them on YouTube.)  Because this isn't journalism, the word "I", or perhaps "we," will appear frequently.

I also find that my ideas develop slowly over time, and that I frequently need to update my entries as my ideas develop. 

This process has provided a framework for learning beyond anything I could have imagined.  I notice that I give less advice as time passes.  People are more or less on their own now.

I was about 2 decades into entering the opera house through the stage door before I began entering it regularly through the audience doors, so you will have to forgive me if I tend to think of opera as a normal every day activity.  My first theatrical role was Pauline in No No Nanette at 16 and my last was Gertrude Stein in The Women in the Garden at 37.