Music Post: The history of jazzed-up classics

The original Swingle Singers. Ward Swingle is on the left and that may be Pierre Michelot next to him. Something remarkable happened in Paris in 1959. After decades as the epicenter of music in the world, Paris had ceded the title. All the greatest European composers had moved to America…


Out like Flynn

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn embarrassed his president. Then his situation got so much attention, it diverted the spotlight from his boss. Clearly, he had to go. NBC and CNN reported Monday night that retired General Keith Kellogg, an advisor to the Trump campaign, is now acting national security advisor….


Music Post: Where do composers get their ideas?

Most composers compose mostly “absolute music,” not meant to tell a story or paint a musical picture, and they get their themes from noodling at the piano or interpreting the white noise in the shower or something pops into their heads on a walk through the woods. Beethoven, recognizing that…


Music Post: American composers and their relationships with recordings

If I were wealthy I would endow a fund for the purpose of making second recordings of works that have already had their premiere recordings. My thinking is that for musicians and conductors alike there is enormous value in hearing a piece played by someone else before you take a…


Who is Neil Gorsuch?

President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court has been described as “another Antonin Scalia,” and there is something to that, but as you might guess there is a lot more to Neil Gorsuch than that. So who is this fellow? The biggest surprise for me: I had dinner with his…


Music Post: Jazz meets classical

(Darius Milhaud as a young man.) European writers on classical music like to credit Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) with bringing jazz into classical music. It’s not true, and I say that as someone who likes Milhaud’s music and probably has more Milhaud discs than anyone reading this. I grew up on…


The reluctant geek

I have always felt comfortable in the company of engineers, technicians and geeks. But that is not the same as saying I am an aspiring techie myself, or even that I have any aptitude for it. To the contrary, understanding technology is just hard enough for me that it fosters…


Music Post: A radio Schubertiad

“Howard’s Day Off” explores unfamiliar classical music most of the time. But my unfettered freedom to sample whatever CDs catch my fancy, allow the occasional foray into the core repertory. So it is, for the first time in the 10-year history of the show, that I’m doing a whole show…


Predictions for the new year and new administration

Warning to partisans of either camp: This analysis may annoy everyone. Hawaii’s economy is doing quite well at the moment, so in looking to the future the main question is, what could happen to screw things up? Let’s start with where we stand now. Unemployment has fallen to 2.9%. Anything…


A new Hawaii legislative session

Many years ago when I found myself working for a national radio network at perhaps too young an age, I relied heavily on the mentoring of older colleagues, who provided sage advice… and, sometimes, advice that I would not give to a young person working with me now. One that…