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<<  -- 2 --  Tess Crebbin and Sissy von Kotzebue    BEN HEPPNER


'Wanna know what else I can do, aside from singing?' he greeted us with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

'Yeah, what?'

'I can clap with one hand!'

Anyone who has read the like-named novel by British writer and composer Anthony Burgess, called One Hand Clapping, would have come to the conclusion of the critics: this term was an invention by the author, a physical impossibility. Not for Heppner as he well and truly demonstrates!

'... and when things get really heated up, I can clap single-handedly with both hands,' he continues with a jovial laugh and waves both his huge hands through the air, making clapping sounds. Now, that is an achievement! His other achievements are on the musical side and it is these we have come to discuss, although Heppner's one-hand-clapping is a real hoot. We are sitting in the Bavarian State Opera in Munich as we ask him the first 'serious' question and what comes across, throughout the conversation, is that here is someone who is refreshingly modest and funny despite his incredible talent:

MV: You grew up in rural Canada. Can you tell us something about it? Was it all about whale watching and roaming the countryside, free and wild?

BH: There was no whale watching because I was a long way away from the ocean, in interior British Columbia. It was almost at the border with Alberta, so it's quite hilly. I grew up on a farm until age eight and then moved into a town called Dawson Creek, which some might know as the starting point of the Alaska Highway. It is some fifteen hundred miles from there to Fairbanks. So, it was very rural. I grew up in a family that was naturally gifted in singing but we didn't study. We would sing at home, we would sing in the car, sometimes we would sing at church. We didn't perform in public shows particularly but we were known for singing, just amateur singers having a lot of fun, so I naturally gravitated towards music. In my school, I took brass instruments, started in trumpet.

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Copyright © 23 May 2004 Tess Crebbin and Sissy von Kotzebue, Germany


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