Friday, July 29, 2005

Muslim Unemployment and Alienation in Britain

Unemployment among Muslim youths is 22 percent at a time when overall joblessness is 5 percent, the lowest it has been in decades, according to Britain's Office for National Statistics. Muslims rank at the bottom in having school degrees and decent housing.

A common sight in Beeston is Pakistani youths hanging idly in clusters on street corners, chatting away in Punjabi slang. Others smoke marijuana and drink beer in Cross Flats Park, breaking sacred codes of their faith. At other times, the alienation turns violent: In 2001, young Pakistanis turned out on Bradford streets to battle the largely white police force.

Many British Muslim youths also feel like strangers in their parents' Pakistani culture. Drinking, dancing and dating women, especially white women, are frowned upon.

"We're not English, and we're not Pakistani," said Saeed Ahmed.

Sudarsan Raghavan "Friends Describe Bomber's Political,
Religious Evolution -- 22-Year-Old Grew Up Loving
Western Ways And Wanting for Little"
Washington Post July 29, 2005

Life, Values, and Money

"While Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimates baby boomers and their parents will transfer wealth and other assets worth at least $41 trillion dollars to family members and charities over the next 47 years, that was not the most important issue to those individuals polled in the study.

Some 77 percent of those polled in the study -- baby boomers, who ranged in age from 40 to 59, and elders, age 65 and older -- said the most important inheritance they could receive or pass on would be values and lessons about life."

"Elders, boomers and their inheritance -- Survey: Baby boomers
and their parents treasure values far above money"
CNN-Money July 29, 2005

City Fire Station Tower, Zhytomyr, Ukraine

In Memorium, Arthur Zankel

Historical-Cultural Tourism

Massachusetts museums, theaters, and historical sites would get between $25 million and $29 million in state money this year under a measure House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi unveiled yesterday at the State House.

The new Cultural Facilities Fund, part of a $296 million economic stimulus package DiMasi is proposing for fiscal 2006, would be among the first of its kind in the nation. Aimed at enriching the lives of Massachusetts residents, the fund is also supposed to bolster the state's economy by shoring up attractions that bring tourists and their dollars to the Bay State.

''Arts and culture is not a frill, but a valuable asset for our economy," said Dan Hunter, director of Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences, & Humanities. ''Tourism is the second-largest industry in the state. This bill invests in the infrastructure of tourism, because nobody comes here for the weather; they come here for the culture, the museums, the performances, and the theaters."

Scott S. Greenberger "$296 Million Stimulus Plan Proposed: House Bill has a fund for culture" Boston Globe July 29, 2005

Chinese Pavilion of Zolochiv Palace (Berm Fortified), Lviv Region,
Western Ukraine. Used as a political prison under the Nazis
and the Soviets. Restored as small art museum, 2004.
Photo Credit: Vladyslav Tsarynnyk

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Dearth of Inspiration

Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti's Proposed Wing
for Islamic Art at the Louvre Museum, Paris, France:

See John Tagliabue Louvre Gets $20 for New Islamic Wing
New York Times July 28, 2005

July 28, 1750 ...

... Composer Johann Sebastian Bach dies in Leipzig, Germany, at age 65.

Ozone Exposure Inside Museums of History

"Ozone present in the indoor atmosphere of museums can lead to the fading of organic artists' pigments and textile dyes that are present in paintings, tapestries and historically important clothing exhibits. Ozone concentrations were measured in outdoor air and within the interior galleries of five institutions that house cultural properties in Krakow. The purpose of these experiments was to determine the degree of penetration of outdoor ozone into these museums, and in the case of the National Museum to determine the effectiveness of the existing ozone removal system at that site. It was found that those museums that are rapidly ventilated through many open doors and windows experienced indoor ozone concentrations about 42-44% as high as those outdoors. The Senator's Hall at Wawel Castle, which houses important tapestries, experiences indoor ozone concentrations that are 17-19% of those outdoors due to ozone removal at interior surfaces during transit through the building from distant air intake points."

"Ozone Exposure Inside Museums in the Historic Central District
of Krakow, Poland" Lynn G. Salmon, Glen R. Cass, Katarzyna
Bruckman, and Jerzy Haber Atmospheric Environment, 34
2000) 3823--3832

Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv Historical Museum and Italian Courtyard
in foreground, and Roman Catholic and Slavonic Orthodox
Cathedrals, and old town tower, in background. (Site of
Renaissance-era Synagogue, destroyed by the Nazis, off to
the right).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Days of Reflection and Remembrance -- Martin Luther King Jr and Pope John Paul II

"Polish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to support a measure that will establish a national day to honor the late Pope John Paul II.

The lower house, or Sejm, voted 338-3 for the bill that will make Oct. 16 a day of reflection and remembrance of the Polish-born Karol Wojtyla.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to approve it this week. President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to sign it into law.

The annual holiday will be dedicated to remembering and studying John Paul's teachings, but it won't be a government holiday. Banks, schools and government offices will stay open."

Source: Associated Press July 27, 2005

Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, Poland
Photo credit: Lynn Garry Salmon

Paging Mr Michelangelo Buonarroti

You call this architecture?

At 1,667 feet, Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan is the world's tallest building.
Photo credit: Business Wire

Tony Blair welcomes 'alliance of civilizations'

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, welcomed a Spanish proposal to create an “Alliance of civilizations” between Western and Muslim countries in the fight against terror in a meeting with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, his Spanish counterpart, on Wednesday.

Mr Blair, who also held talks on Wednesday with RecepTayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said that Turkey is particularly involved in this initiative. ...

Leslie Crawford and Mark Mulligan Financial Times July 27, 2005

Pidhirtsi Palace, Lviv Region, Ukraine

Pidhirtsi Palace, Part of the Lviv Region's Golden Horseshoe of
former Polish Castles and Palaces, Western Ukraine
(Pidhirtsi Palace was used first as a military headquarters under
the Nazis and then as a political prison and a sanatorium
under the Soviets. It is currently awaiting funding for restoration.)

Photo credit: Vladyslav Tsarynnyk

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Apotheosis of Washington

Today is the 200th anniversary of Constantino
Brumidi's birth. Brumidi was the Italian-born
fresco artist whose ornate Renaissance- and
Pompeian-style murals decorate much of the
United States Capitol. Brumidi spent 25 years,
from 1854 to 1879, laboring inside America's
great symbol of democracy.

Today, Congress will stage a Brumidi celebration
in the Capitol Rotunda, underneath
"The Apotheosis of Washington," the grand mural,
considered Brumidi's masterpiece, that covers
the canopy of the dome.

Please see Sheryl Gay Stolberg's article and
Robert Caplin's photographs at

Photo credit: Robert Caplin

Tony Blair: World slept after 9/11

Sir, I respectively beg to differ with you.
While you might have joined in a misguided
militaristic effort resulting in the deaths
of thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands
of innocent Iraqi civilians, large parts of the
rest of the world acted promptly to institute
security measures that were lacking prior to 9/11.
And others have sought to understand and
address the root causes of radical Islamic
alienation and violence in the modern global world.


Borobudur, Indonesia

The Gherkin and the Spear

While you might be resting by a lake,
modern architects are planning new
skyscrappers for the world's "leading"
urban areas such as London, Chicago,
New York City, Hong Kong, Singapore,
Shanghai, and Tokyo.

The New London Architecture, the first ever
permanent exhibition space dedicated to the
future of London's architecture, opens
today, July 26. The Guardian Unlimited previews
some of the 31 major new developments planned
for London by 2012. The £100bn projects
(ca. $180 billion or about $5.8 billion per project?)
are showcased in the NLA's debut exhibition
The Changing Face of London (until September 10).

Read Jonathan Glancey's review here.

Image credit: Santiago Calatrava S. A.(Chicago Project) via

Monday, July 25, 2005

Christopher Tye and Herbert Howells Live!

Tomorrow evening,Tuesday, July 26,
Washington, DC area residents will have
an fine opportunity to hear a free
(donations requested) performance, at
Washington's National Cathedral, by
the Ensemble Phoenix, under Robert Lehman,
of five centuries of largely English
renaissance and modern choral ensemble
music. The composers featured are
Christopher Tye (his exquisite Missa
Euge bone , which was also performed
on Saturday evening, at Trinity College Chapel,
Cambridge, England, by the Serlo Consort --
see "On An Overgrown Path" for review),
Herbert Howells (his short, but intense,
Requiem, composed in 1935 on the death of
his son), and short works by
Taverner, Lauridsen, Whitacre, Fissinger,
Stanford, and Britten.

Bob Shingleton, the classical music magus
behind England's leading music blog
"On an Overgrown Path", recommends that
classical music lovers also be sure to check out
Herbert Howells's Hymnus Paradisi,
and Edmund Rubbra's Symphony #9
(Symphonia Sacra). Washington
audiences will remember a fine performance of
the Howells Hymnus Paradisi, several years back,
at the Washington National Cathedral.
Washington audiences will also, of course,
remember Herbert Howells's motet
"Take him, earth, for cherishing" (1964),
composed in memory of President John F. Kennedy.

With so much beautiful music to be listened to
(and written and discussed), who
has time to attend the show-down between the
Chelsea Blues and D.C. United, in Washington, D.C.,
on July 29? I certainly don't.

Lindisfarne Abbey
Photo Credit: University of Sunderland

Building Interfaith Harmony: Learning to Listen

The first Asia-Europe Interfaith Dialogue at the Bali International Convention Center wrapped up Friday, July 22, with the results of the dialogue being formulated in a "Bali Declaration for Building Interfaith Harmony".

The two-day meeting, organized by the Indonesian and British governments, discusses means of promoting interfaith dialogue, barriers to interfaith harmony and the role of education, culture, the media, religion and society in promoting dialogue among the different faiths....

[Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] maintained that moderation did not mean compromising one's adherence to the fundamentals of one's faith but required a holistic approach to religious teachings, rather than a literal and narrow view, which often led to rigid practices and extreme behavior.

"Moderation means we have to refrain from imposing one's views on others and avoiding the use of violence."

The Indonesian President added that listening to the moderate voices doesn't mean to exclude the extremist religious voices.

"The dialogue should involve groups representing all faiths. Every voice including those from the so-called militant groups should be heard."

The Asia-Europe Interfaith Dialogue is attended by officials, intellectuals, religious leaders and journalists from 39 Asian and European countries.

Iranian Quran News Agency July 23, 2005

Ananuria, Armenia

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Lost Generation Confronts Globalization

"From the beginning, Al Qaeda's fighters were global jihadists, and their favored battlegrounds have been outside the Middle East: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir. For them, every conflict is simply a part of the Western encroachment on the Muslim ummah, the worldwide community of believers....

Even if these young men are from Middle Eastern or South Asian families, they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. Moreover, converts are to be found in almost every Qaeda cell: they did not turn fundamentalist because of Iraq, but because they felt excluded from Western society (this is especially true of the many converts from the Caribbean islands, both in Britain and France)....

Western-based radicals strike where they are living, not where they are instructed to or where it will have the greatest political effect on behalf of their nominal causes.

The Western-based Islamic terrorists are not the militant vanguard of the Muslim community; they are a lost generation, unmoored from traditional societies and cultures, frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations. And their vision of a global ummah is both a mirror of and a form of revenge against the globalization that has made them what they are."

Olivier Roy, "Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq"
The New York Times, July 22, 2005
(Olivier Roy is the author of "Globalized Islam")

Ruins of Stare Selo Palace, Lviv Region, Ukraine

Ruins of Stare Selo Palace, Lviv Region, Ukraine
photo credit: Slava Tsarynnyk

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Enjoyment of Music

Tonight at the Washington National Cathedral, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Cathedral Choral Society join forces to present Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass. After intermission, the concert continues with Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, and Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Bring your children, friends, and neighbors, and arrive early for best seating for this special FREE concert.

The Washington National Cathedral is an ecumenical house of prayer open to persons of all schools of religious belief (or no religious belief at all), and there is no special dress requirement for this concert. Furthermore, the Cathedral is, miraculously, air-conditioned (it wasn't always).


[When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome in 1584, Saint Cecilia was made patroness of the institute, whereupon her veneration as patroness of church music became even more universal. Cecilia was the name of one of my grandmothers.]

Fountains at Petershof Palace (Peter's Harbour Palace), Petersburg, Russia

The Death of an East Mediterranean

"In his "Suleymaniye," Stefanos Yerasimos [1942-2005] studied the Suleymaniye Mosque (Blue Mosque) in depth, which was built in the prime of the Ottoman Empire as a sign of the magnificence of the time. His book places this "magnificent" monument in its historical and architectural context and provides details ranging from the materials used in the construction to the organization of the construction yard and the construction chronology. ... Yerasimos did not look at events ideologically; he had no obsession. He knew Ottoman Turkish and Byzantine Greek and he comparatively used texts in both of these languages in his studies. His knowledge of these two languages deeply shaped his world outlook. He was an East Mediterranean."

Blue Mosque, 1616, Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, architect
photo credit:

Pamela Rosenberg to the Philharmonie

Warm congratulations to Pamela Rosenberg
on being named administrative director
of the Berlin Philharmonic. Ms Rosenberg
certainly brought artistic reexamination
to the San Francisco Opera through her
conceptually brilliant "Animating Opera"
scheme. As I have written elsewhere, I
only wish that there had been a stronger
"Animating American Opera" component
to her concept.

I will assume that Ms Rosenberg's successor
David Gockley, from Houston, will move
quickly to commit the San Francisco Opera
company to performing one American opera
every season -- matching the commitment he
made in Houston, and the similar commitments
to American culture made in Washington, D.C.,
Los Angeles, and by the New York City Opera.
(How about it Baltimore? Why don't you join
the one American opera each season commitment
to American culture? Something other than

Now, I await the commitment to American opera
in American culture by the MET Opera.
A company that can ask Julie
Taymor to cut "The Magic Flute" to create a
more family- and American society- friendly
version of Mozart-Schikaneder, can also,
I believe, commit to joining the American
cultural mainstream in its regular, seasonal
production of American operas;
especially given that the MET produces
about 25 operas each and every season.

With thanks to Joshua Kosman
"S.F. Opera Director takes post in Berlin"
S.F. Chronicle
July 21, 2005

Herzog and Meuron, De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

photo credit:

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ritual and Faith in Epic Theater

"[Ariane Mnouchkine's] "Le Dernier Caravansérail" is more Middle Eastern than Eastern. This is a six-hour fresco of interwoven stories and vivid, often searing, sometimes heartwarming memories of refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Chechnya, Bosnia and Africa.... "Le Dernier Caravansérail" is more turbulent and intense from moment to moment, literally turbulent in the two spectacular scenes of churning water that open each of its two parts, and with almost naturalistic dialogue....

In "Le Dernier Caravansérail," Ms. Mnouchkine achieves her impact through sometimes cruelly insistent repetition. After the third or fourth time we witness desperate refugees being extorted or terrorized or robbed or prostituted or injured or killed in their efforts to get into England by clinging to the Channel tunnel train, it might all seem too much.

But Ms. Mnouchkine knows what she is doing. The repetition drives home the grinding despair of these people. Which makes the second half of the second part all the more of a relief. These people are still miserable, still desperate. But some find their way home, to destinies painful and heartwarming. And some actually succeed in the new countries in which they have improbably found refuge. The final picnic scene is a downright peaceable kingdom, enriched by ominous undercurrents eerily anticipatory of the recent London bombings."

John Rockwell "Ritual and Faith in Epic Theater of Two Visionaries"
New York Times July 20, 2005

Michael Berkeley's Tsunami Threnody

"Since the term was coined in the 1920s, the concerto for orchestra has proved a useful addition to the repertoire of genres available to the composer. The latest comes from Michael Berkeley, whose new work pays tribute to the collective virtuosity of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, of which he is associate composer.

It is dedicated to the orchestra's principal conductor, Richard Hickox, who led its world premiere performance last night, but the work also honours victims of the Asian tsunami that struck while he was in the midst of composing the score, and in particular the arts advocate Jane Attenborough.

"Her'' movement is the central elegy, subtitled Threnody for a Sad Trumpet, effectively a solo concerto movement for the BBC NOW's principal trumpeter Philippe Schartz, whose eloquent playing was a highlight of the performance. Yet the outer movements have their elegiac moments, too..."

Matthew Rye
"Proms 2005: sad trumpet pays an eloquent tribute"
The Telegraph (UK) July 20, 2005

Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl - Russian Federation

Congratulations to the Historical City of Yaroslavl,
the Russian Federation, for joining its sister Historical
Cities of Krakow, Poland, and Lviv, Ukraine on the
UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Congratulations also to the Historical Cities of Mostar,
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Macao, China; and Cienfuegos, Cuba
for their ascensions to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Photo credit: Irina and Boris Vinogradsky

The Struve Geodetic Arc

Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine -

The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped establish the exact size and shape of our planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.

UNESCO July 15, 2005

The Inscription of 17 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Durban (South Africa) – The World Heritage Committee, chaired by Themba Wakashe, South Africa’s Deputy Director-General for Heritage and National Archives, today inscribed 17 cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List:

Albania – Museum-City of Gjirokastra

Bahrain - Qal'at al-Bahrain Archaeological Site

Belarus - Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh

Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine - Struve Geodetic Arc

Belgium - Plantin-Moretus House–Workshops–Museum Complex

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar

Chile - Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works

China - Historic Centre of Macao

Cuba - Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos

France - Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret

Iran - Soltaniyeh

Israel - Biblical Tells – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba

Israel - Incense Route / Cities in the Negev

Italy - Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica

Nigeria - Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove

Russian Federation - Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl

Turkmenistan - Kunya-Urgench

France and Belgium - Belfries of Belgium and France

Germany and the United Kingdom - Frontiers of the Roman Empire

India - Mountain Railways of India

South Africa – Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs

Spain - Works of Antoni Gaudí

UNESCO July 15, 2005

Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill
Family (16th c. to 1939) at Nesvizh, Belarus

Saint Andrew Prize to Mikis Theodorakis

"The St. Andrew Foundation has decided to award Mikis Theodorakis the St. Andrew Prize.

Theodorakis is arguably Greece's most famous contemporary composer. The Russian cultural foundation will award him the prize for his efforts to empower people spiritually and to promote peace and harmony between nations.

The diamond-studded St. Andrew Prize will be presented to Theodorakis in Crete on July 31 during his 80th birthday celebrations, which will be attended by guests from all across the world.

The award, established in 1992, is conferred upon both Russians and foreigners regardless of their religious beliefs, political affiliation, race, sex, or professional occupation."

Olga Lipich RIA Novosti, Moscow July 18, 2005

Protaton Monastery and Library, Mount Athos

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Wisdom of Our Leaders

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R - Colorado) said that the United States could ''take out'' Islamic holy sites if there was a nuclear attack on America by Muslim fundamentalists. ...

U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called the statements Tancredo made Friday ''insulting and offensive.'' He said Americans ''respect the dignity and sanctity of other religions.''

The Associated Press, July 19, 2005

Music at the Mission: Transcendence

On Sunday, August 14, 2005, American conductor
Marin Alsop will conduct the following program
at Mission San Juan Bautista, California, as part
of the 2005 Cabrillo Music Festival:

Dominick Argento: Reflections on a Hymn Tune
Aaron Jay Kernis: Air
Magnus Lindberg: Concerto for Orchestra

Ms Alsop and Mr Glicker, could we patrons also
have some similar transcendence at the Meyerhoff
and the Strathmore Baltimore Symphony Concert Halls?
I think that the musicians, the patrons, and the Board
would enjoy the musical challenge. Don't you?

Slavonic Orthodox Church, Zhytomyr, Ukraine

Nathan the Wise -- Missing in Action

"Majorities in Great Britain, France, Canada,
the U.S. and Russia, as well as pluralities
in Spain and Poland, say they have a somewhat
or very favorable view of Muslims. In the West,
only among the Dutch and Germans does a majority
or plurality hold unfavorable views of Muslims
(51% and 47%, respectively).

For their part, people in predominately Muslim
countries have mixed views of Christians and
strongly negative views of Jews. In Lebanon,
which has a large Christian minority, 91% of
the public thinks favorably of Christians.
Smaller majorities in Jordan and Indonesia
also have positive views of Christians.
However, in Turkey (63%), Morocco (61%) and
Pakistan (58%), solid majorities express
negative opinions of Christians."

The Pew Global Attitudes Project July 14, 2005

Saladin, from a 12th c. Arab codex. "Saladin died,
leaving behind only one piece of gold and 47 pieces
of silver; he had given the rest away to his
poor subjects."

Philosopher Roger Scruton and his Music of the Future

I recall reading this past Sunday, in his
The Aesthetics of Music (1997),
that British philosopher (and composer and ecologist)
Roger Scruton most admires the contemporary
classical musical works of John Adams, Robin Holloway,
Nicholas Maw, and (the late) Alfred Schnittke.
It is an interesting and provocative, select list.
(I will ignore, here, his comment on one of
Sir Harrison Birtwistle's operas.)

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Proper Role for Multinational Forces -- Butrint, Albania

BUTRINT, Albania -- More than 2,000 years after Julius Caesar came here for provisions and decided to start a veterans colony, a new army has invaded -- a multinational force of archaeologists in what is perhaps the largest ongoing dig in the Mediterranean.

Led by Professor Richard Hodges of the University of East Anglia in England, 100 archaeologists from 19 nations, 60 Albanian undergraduates and dozens of local laborers are rotating in over the course of this summer's two-month digging season.

The scientific goal of this decade-long project is to learn how society was transformed at the end of the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome, but the city of Butrint is as much of an attraction. Over the course of 3,000 years, successive civilizations made this city their own. "It became a place in the middle of the Mediterranean where everybody came," Hodges said. ...

The city and the national park that surround it have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike many archaeological sites, the wide-open hinterland and unspoiled surroundings give it another dimension, said Ani Tare, director of Butrint National Park: "Butrint is a magical place, very beautiful. There is something very raw, I would say. It takes you back to time."

That timeless quality and a growing national pride of place are also putting Butrint on the tourism map.

David Chanatry "Archaeologists Peel Away More Layers of Butrint" Washington Post July 18, 2005

Photo credit: Richard Hodges

Fundamentals of Pacifism and Non-Violence

"On Sunday, Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group issued a binding religious edict, or fatwa, condemning the [London] bombings as the work of a ''perverted ideology.'' The Sunni Council said the Quran, the Muslim holy book, forbade suicide attacks. The council said Muslims should not use ''atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq'' to justify attacks."

Associated Press "Officials Pursue Clues to London Bombings" July 18, 2005

Oleg Kudryashov "Blind Leading the Blind" (1992)

Courtesy Robert Brown Gallery.

Philippe Boesmans's "Julie" and the "Reconnection of Music to Emotions Through Narrative"

Alan Riding, writing in the New York Times,
offers his European-style musical criticism
of works from this year's Aix-En-Provence
festival. He interestingly discusses Phillippe
Boesmans's new operatic treatment of August
Strindberg's "Miss Julie", which is based upon
a libretto by director Luc Bondy and Marie-Louise
Bischofberger. Riding cites Boesmans's aim as
the reconnection of music to emotions through
narrative: "The beauty of some contemporary music
often resides in a search for light," Boesmans says,
"but it is divorced from human feelings. An opera
must be based on the alternation of emotions and
on an interplay of tension and release from tension."

Mr Riding quotes director Luc Bondy as saying that he
kept the opera to 75 minutes because "our ears are not
yet completely acclimatized to contemporary music, and
they continue to seek harmonies which nevertheless
disappeared some 70 years ago." Well, I'm not sure that
is the real reason for the length of this opera, but
you got to say something if you are asked.

Mr Riding also comments on Patrice Chereau's production
of Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutti" and Luc Bondy's production
of Britten's "Turn of the Screw," which was created
in Aix in 2001 and has toured widely since then.


I saw, two times in Vienna at the Odeon, the
Philippe Boesmans - Luc Bondy treatment of Shakespeare's
"The Winter's Tale" [Wintermarchen (1999), available
on DG]. I very muched enjoyed this modern opera,
and I recommend it to American opera companies.
It has a wonderful, unAmerican, trans-European
musical role for the Accordian.

[I saw, two times in Dresden at the Semperoper, Aribert
Riemann's "Lear" (1978), also available on DG, which has
already received its American operatic premiere
in San Francisco, in 1985.]

Fortified Christian Church in Biertan Mare, Romania

English Renaissance Spirit at the Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral hosted beautiful
choral performances of Thomas Tallis's (largely)
Latin works, this past week, in commemoration of that
great European Renaissance composer, who was born
five hundred years ago in 1505.

(American) Spirit of Baltimore!

Congratulations to Marin Alsop on her (apparent) appointment as
the new Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Last week, before the London tragedy, I had meant to
link here to BSO President James Glicker's very intelligent
open letter to the music community outlining the orchestra's
transparent procedure for seeking its replacement for Yuri
Temirkanov, who served as music director since 2000,
bringing northern Russian refinement to the mid-Atlantic.
However, this morning I see that this letter unfortunately
has been already taken down from the BSO site.
[Update or correction: I located BSO President James Glicker's
open letter Search Update on the BSO Strathmore site.
It is available at:]

This week, American conductor Hugh Wolff makes his BSO debut
(why so late in his career?) with a bizarre summer program
featuring a night of firsts, Liszt's First Piano Concerto,
Schumann's First Symphony and Walton's Façade Suite No. 1.
Is this what the ASOL and the NEA expected, twenty years ago,
when it annointed Mr Wolff one of the American orchestra
field's great white hopes? I wonder what American works
Ms Alsop would have programmed for this occasion?

Now, how about a non-traditionally cast Music Director for
the National Symphony Orchestra (in Washington, D.C.)?
Kent Nagano has already given his NSO debut, but equally
talented Michael Morgan, also from California, has not yet
done so. Time for the NSO to get in touch with the
Spirit of America, no?

Tsarskoye Selo Palace, in Saint Petersburg, Russia
(Also known as Pushkin Palace. Alexander Pushkin,
of mixed European and African descent, was one of
the first new Europeans.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gone for a Walk Along the Canal

Izmail, Ukraine

Photo credit:

A Sacred Indonesian Epic

Edward Rothstein reviews Robert Wilson's "stunningly beautiful music-theater work "I La Galigo," which received its American premiere at the New York State Theater on Wednesday night, as one of the highlights of the Lincoln Center Festival. This sacred epic was adapted by Rhoda Grauer from a 6,000-page sacred epic, Sureq Galigo, written between the 13th and 15th centuries in an Indonesian language that can now be read by no more than 100 people. In modern times, it may never even have been read in its entirety, so fragmented are the manuscripts that have survived the ravages of humidity and decay, and destruction by Islamic fundamentalists in recent decades.

This epic, with its tales of six generations of gods and its focus on the fate of the Middle World - our own - thus offers the mythological and ritualistic thinking of a near-vanished culture, even though the people who created it, the Bugis, number 5 million strong, remain prominent on the Indonesian island of South Sulawesi, and still invoke the folk wisdom and ritualistic instruction of the stories. The drama's transvestite priests, known as Bissu, who are supposed to be invulnerable and play a central guiding role in the epic, still exist, but they, too, are only shadows of their former selves."

Edward Rothstein
"A Sacred Epic and Its Gods, All Struggling to Survive"
New York Times
July 15, 2005

A Poverty of Dignity in the Modern World

"Islam has a long tradition of tolerating other
religions, but only on the basis of the supremacy
of Islam, not equality with Islam. Islam's self-identity
is that it is the authentic and ideal expression
of monotheism. ...

Part of what seems to be going on with these young
Muslim males is that they are, on the one hand, tempted
by Western society, and ashamed of being tempted.
On the other hand, they are humiliated by Western
society because while Sunni Islamic civilization is
supposed to be superior, its decision to ban the reform
and reinterpretation of Islam since the 12th century
has choked the spirit of innovation out of Muslim lands,
and left the Islamic world less powerful, less
economically developed, less technically advanced ....

"Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a
civilization they consider morally inferior, and they
are humiliated by the fact that, while having been
taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations
seem to be doing much better," said Raymond Stock,
the Cairo-based biographer and translator of
Naguib Mahfouz. "When the inner conflict becomes too
great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick
prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust
occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence'
in our own."

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about
the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger."

Thomas L. Friedman
"A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage"
New York Times
July 15, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

"London is the Real Capital of the Islamic World"

"London is the real capital of the Islamic world,"
said Nadim Shehadi, an Islamic affairs specialist
at the Royal Institute of International Affairs
in London. "It's from here where ideas spread.
If you can rob terrorism of its intellectual strength
in Britain the impact of this will be felt all the
way around the world from Chechnya to Uzbekistan,
Iraq, Syria and everywhere."

Source: Brian Murphy "Muslim Help Sought to Battle Radical Islam" July 14, 2005

Renaissance Architect Mimar Koca Sinan 1489 - 1588

"Mimar Koca Sinan, the "Great Architect Sinan", was born of Greek Christian parents in Anatolia, Turkey in 1489. Drafted as a soldier into the Ottoman royal house in 1512, he quickly advanced from calvary officer to construction officer. As construction officer he built bridges and fortifications. In 1538 he was appointed Architect of the Abode of Felicity.

During his career Sinan built hundreds of buildings including mosques, palaces, harems, chapels, tombs, schools, almshouses, madrassahs, caravan serais, granaries, fountains, aqueducts and hospitals. Of this diverse group of works, his mosques have been most influential.

For his mosques, Sinan adopted the design of the Hagia Sophia to create a building in which the central dome would appear weightless and in which the interior surfaces would appear bathed in light. He used buttressing on the exterior of his buildings to open the interiors. He often designed his mosques as part of a complex comprising schools, baths, guesthouses and hospitals.

Generally considered the greatest of all Ottoman architects, Sinan's career spanned fifty years. His great mosques are the archetypal image of Turkish Ottoman architecture. Sinan died in Istanbul, Turkey in 1588."

Dennis Sharp The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991 via

Europe Never Was Meant to be a Christian Citadel

"One third of Britain’s 1.6m Muslims are under 16 –
compared to a fifth of the population as a whole.
Timothy Savage, a US foreign service officer
expressing his own opinion, argued in last summer’s
Washington Quarterly that dealing with Islam would
do more to shape Europe than any other issue this
century. If current trends of immigration, a low
birth rate for non-Muslims and a high Muslim birth
rate continued, he said, “Muslims could outnumber
non-Muslims in France and perhaps in all western
Europe by mid-century.” According to the Pew Research
Center, the population of the European Union’s
current 25 member states will be one-tenth Muslim by 2020.

Detailed but little-noticed research on the attitudes
of British Muslims, published by the London-based
Islamic Human Rights Commission at the end of last
year, suggested a critical view of British foreign
policies and a fear of being stereotyped as terrorist
suspects. The research, based on interviews with
people mostly between 15 and 29, found respondents
overwhelmingly critical about British policy towards
the Palestinians, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia and Iraq."

Stephen Fidler, Jimmy Burns and Roula Khalaf Financial Times July 13, 2005

Banybashi Mosque, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1576

Mimar Sinan, architect

Photo credit: European Commission

Rila Monastery (Bulgaria), 1491

Photo credit: European Commission

In Memorium 7/7

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Khan Mosque, Gözleve, Crimea (Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine), ca. 1550

Photo credit: Inci Bowman

For article on Crimean Tatar Architecture, see:

Univ Monastery-Fortress (Ukraine), ca.1575

Photo credit: A. James McAdams

Pidhaytsi Fortified Synagogue (Ukraine), ca. 1630

Photo credit: Roman Zakharii

Berezhany Synagogue (Ukraine), 1718

Photo credit: Roman Zakharii

Sultanahmet Camii (The Blue Mosque), 1616

Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, architect

The Creation Rose, 1976

"The creation theme for the west rose was adopted
by the [Washington National] Cathedral Chapter in
1935. It is a ten petal rose. Rowan LeCompte chose
to make the window in pure color and free form
taking his cue from the Book of Genesis “and the
earth was without form and void and darkness was
upon the face of the deep” ...”and God said,
Let there be light”. The center of the window has
deep mysterious colors with a single piece of burning
white glass at its core. From this center the light
radiates outward and the colors of the window turn
brighter as the eye moves towards the outer petals.
While the predominant color is blue, it has large
areas of fall colors." — Jewels of Light

The Creation Rose (West Rose), 1976
Artist: Rowan LeCompte

A Suicide Bombing Is NOT an Ultimate Act of Devotion

WASHINGTON, July 12 - "A suicide bombing may be the ultimate
act of devotion, and so it also represents the ultimate
security nightmare: an attack in which the one essential
ingredient is not training or technology but commitment."

Douglas Jehl "Tactics: Experts Fear Suicide Bomb Is Spreading
Into the West" New York Times July 13, 2005


"Firstly, science is limited to its domain of application (the measurable behaviour of physical objects) and so cannot handle features of a quite different nature, such as

- the appreciation of beauty,

- the greatness of literature,

- the joy of cooking,

- the lessons of history,

- the quality of meditation,

- the understanding of love."


George Ellis Mathematics Department University of Cape Town

Web Notes:

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Economic Costs of "Development"

" In the 3 1/2 years since China entered the
World Trade Organization, aggressive industrialization
combined with an outpouring of consumption has
jacked up prices for everything from fertilizer
to transportation, roughly doubling the average
cost of living here.

Those within reach of China's booming coastal cities
have been compensated with new opportunities that have
lifted millions out of poverty, such as factory jobs
making goods for export and cash markets for fruit
and vegetables. But that upside remains beyond this
rural community and thousands of others like it across
this still predominantly peasant country. The costs
of buying food and growing watermelon have climbed
faster than what Wang receives for his crop.
His household income has slipped by 20 percent over
the past five years, to about $300 per year.

"Our lives are more and more difficult,"
Wang said, as his donkey probed the soil near
the family outhouse for stray wheat. "Every year,
it gets harder."

A recent study conducted by the World Bank found
that incomes among rural Chinese -- about three-fourths
of the total population -- have declined slightly
in the years since China entered the WTO, while urban
residents have enjoyed modest gains.

Economists say this trend underscores the downside
of globalization: While free trade has proved highly
efficient in generating wealth, it has failed to share
the spoils, intensifying gaps between rich and poor,
urban and rural. In many instances, new wealth is
coming at the direct expense of the poor as local
governments sell off land for development projects."

Peter S. Goodman "Rural Poor Aren't Sharing In Spoils
of China's Changes: Costs of Goods Rise, Standard of
Living Falls" Washington Post, July 12, 2005

Photo credit: Michel Heurteaux

World Culture versus Car Culture

"As people in this richest of Chinese cities have
grown more and more affluent, they have displayed
an American-style passion for the automobile.
But for Shanghai, as for much of China, getting
rich and growing attached to cars have increasingly
gone hand in hand, and have produced side effects
familiar in cities that have long been addicted
to automobiles - from filthy air and stressful,
marathon commutes to sharply rising oil consumption.

China accounts for about 12 percent of the world's
energy demand, but its consumption is growing at
more than four times the global rate, sending
Chinese oil company executives on an increasingly
frantic search for overseas supplies. The country's
top environmental officials have warned of ecological
and economic doom if China continues to follow this
pattern. But in cities like Shanghai, where
automobiles account for 70 percent to 80 percent
of air pollution, nothing seems capable of stopping,
or even slowing, the rapid rise of a car culture."

Howard W. French "Shanghai Journal: A City's
Traffic Plans Are Snarled by China's Car Culture"
New York Times, July 12, 2005

Photo credit: Michel Heurteaux

London as the World's Musical Capital

This Friday, the BBC Promenade Concerts (Proms)
will begin. They will last until September 10.
These performances will be distributed
globally via BBC Radio 3 webcasts.

Composers receiving Proms commissions and
premieres include: Hans Abrahamsen, Thomas
Ades, Michael Berkeley, Unsuk Chin, John Corigliano,
Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Henri Dutilleux, Detlev
Glanert, Sofia Gubaidulina, Morgan Hayes, Tatjana
Komarova, James MacMillan, Stuart Macrae, Thea
Musgrave, Paul Patterson, Esa-Pekka Salonen,
Bent Sorensen, Fraser Trainer, Mark-Anthony Turnage,
Huw Watkins, and John Woolrich.

Michael Berkeley's Concerto for Orchestra world
premiere includes a slow movement in tribute to the
South-East Asian tsunami victims. In particular,
I look forward to listening to this work.

Other highlights include Michael Tippett's A Child
of Our Time oratorio (also heard, this Spring, in
Washington, D.C. and elsewhere), Edward Elgar's
Dream of Gerontius, the late Luciano Berio's Coro,
choral masterpieces by Perotin, Tallis (Spem in alium),
and Arvo Paert, and symphonic masterpieces by Brahms,
Bruckner, and Witold Lutoslawski.

With thanks to the "On An Overgrown Path" blog.


Ruins of Kosava Castle in Belarus:

Morning Coffee Break

Monday, July 11, 2005

Remember Srebrenica

"The 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre,
the biggest mass murder in Europe since 1945, is a
grim reminder of man's inhumanity to man. A few
hours' drive from the beaches of the Adriatic, an hour's
flight from Rome, Vienna and Athens, 7,000 unarmed
Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered. The veneers of
education, civilisation and law were stripped away to
reveal un­restrained barbarity. ... "

Editorial in the Financial Times, July 7, 2005.


Professor Barry N. Stein, Michigan State University,
web-syllabus on "Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Exiles":

Reader Response: Raphael Mostel's Nacht En Dageraad (Night and Dawn)

I received a very nice e-mail, this weekend, from
American composer Raphael Mostel thanking me
for mentioning, this past winter on,
his memorial composition NIGHT AND DAWN /
NACHT EN DAGERAAD, commissioned for the
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Brass Ensemble
in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the allied
liberation of the Netherlands. In May, the world
premiere was given by the RCO brass in a
once-in-a-lifetime joint performance together
with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra brass.

Mr Mostel will be interviewed about his work today, by
John Schaefer, on, between 2 and 3 PM. He
also hopes that Leonard Slatkin will perform his work
with the brass of the National Symphony Orchestra.
(The Washington Symphonic Brass, consisting of members
of the NSO, has apparently already committed to performing
the work.)

I look forward to hearing this memorial work live here in
Washington, or in the San Francisco Bay Area or in Europe.

(Some readers may recogize Raphael Mostel's name for his
ritualistic and ceremonial works for ancient instruments of
the world frequently performed by the
Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble: New Music for Old Instruments,
which he founded in 1983 and has been conducting and
directing ever since. Also see:

Of Remembrance and Music

Yesterday afternoon, after spending a
couple hours with an old friend and neighbor
who is home-bound due to multiple-sclerosis,
I attended the Washington National Cathedral's
Interfaith Service in Remembrance and Hope,
in memory of last Thursday's London terrorist
attacks. There were prayer readings from the
Christian, Hebrew, and Muslim faiths, as well
as music by J.S. Bach and Anglican hymns. The
cathedral was only a quarter-filled, and the
service was somewhat less moving than earlier
Interfaith Services in Remembrance and Hope
that I have attended at that great national
Cathedral. I always try to sit within view of the
moon-rock stained-glass window during these

Following the service, there was a beautiful organ
recital by organist Marek Kudlicki, from Krakow
and Vienna. Following Bach's B minor Prelude
and Fugue, it was an all Polish organ music recital.
Highlights were Mr Kudlicki's transcription of
Frederick Chopin's Prelude in D flat major, Op. 28,
No. 15 (Raindrops) and Bronislaw Przybylski's
(b. 1941) exceptionally powerful "Rota"
-- Passacaglia on a Theme of Feliks Nowowiejski (1985)
-- to my mind, a perfect evocation of an archaic
Western city during a time of warfare and challenge.

It was a long, summer late afternoon, and I wasn't quite able
to transport myself mentally back to Budapest, Prague,
Warsaw, Krakow, Lviv, Zhovka, Zhytomyr, and Kyiv, where I
had heard comparably beautiful organ performances
earlier this year.

At 7 PM, I re-listened to South African Quaker Cosmologist
George Ellis, on NPR's "Speaking of Faith".

At 10 PM, I thought to close my weekend by seeing
whether there might not be some English Renaissance
Thomas Tallis music on WETA-FM's "Millennium of
Music" program -- Washington's window
into European humanism for over a quarter
of a century -- but instead there was a rebroadcast
of some stupid "Fresh Air Weekend Edition" which
featured performances from some rock band
from Australia which had folded in 1990, but regrouped
in 2000; as well as an interview with the star of the
commercial TV program "Six Feet Under", which I
have never seen. I felt the phantom extremity syndrome
coming on, so I put on an Andrew Parrott and the Taverner
Consort CD , and I listened privately to Tallis's settings
of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and other Latin works.
Thomas Tallis was born five hundred years ago, in 1505.


My sister and her husband are safe in London, and N. is
safe in Lviv conducting some final summer cultural


Interior remains of Zhovka's Renaissance-era synagogue,
in Ukraine: