Thursday, September 28, 2006

In Possible Prelude To Christian/Jewish And Muslim Reconciliation, Catholic Christians Resume Dialogue With Orthodox Christians

"Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox leaders meeting [in Belgrade, Serbia] for the first time in six years said they will continue their efforts to bridge the divide between their ancient branches of Christianity.

About 60 bishops, cardinals and metropolitans convened privately in the Serbian capital from September 18 through Monday to restart the dialogue that broke off in 2000.

The previous talks ruptured over issues including papal authority and Orthodox complaints that Catholics were trying to poach followers in historically Orthodox territory, notably eastern Europe.

The latest meeting focused on writing a text that would serve as a basis to "seek the restoration of full communion" and close the nearly 1,000-year-old rift between the Catholic and the Orthodox, the leaders said in a statement.

"After many observations and comments made during the discussion on the text, a revised text will be discussed at the next meeting of the Joint Commission," expected next year, they said.

Representing the world's 1.1 billion Catholics and more than 250 million Orthodox Christians, the dignitaries began their latest gathering with high hopes of bringing East and West closer together. It was also a fresh start under Pope Benedict XVI, who last year declared a ''fundamental commitment'' to close the rift.

Christianity's East-West split began as early as the fifth century over the rising influence of the papacy and later over wording of the creed, or confession of faith. The split was sealed in 1054 with an exchange of anathemas -- spiritual repudiations -- between the Vatican and the patriarch of Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey, and still the spiritual center of Orthodoxy." ...

Associated Press "Religion News in Brief" New York Times September 28, 2006

Saint Michael's Orthodox Cathedral and Monastery, Kyiv, Ukraine, was damaged by the Nazi's and later razed by the Soviet Government to make space for a planned, but never built, expansion of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Cathedral/Monastery complex was rebuilt, incorporating some original area religious structures, over the period 1992 to 2004. In the foreground, to the left, is a small memorial to the millions of victims of famine following Stalin's forced agricultural collectivization, in Ukraine, in two waves in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Photo credit: With thanks.

On The Impact Of The Music Of J.S. Bach On The Twenty-Six Year Old Mozart

"Because so very little of J.S. Bach’s music was printed, he was quickly forgotten after his death in 1750. Three decades later, the music aficionado Baron van Swieten, a former Viennese representative to Berlin, introduced the lost music of Bach to a 26-year-old Mozart.

The effects were life-altering. Experience this for yourself as the Washington Bach Consort presents two of Mozart’s early works, followed by two that demonstrate the great influence of J.S. Bach, including the first Washington area period-instrument performance of the Requiem mass."

A scene from humanist film director Jean-Marie Straub's The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, from that great humanist year of 1968.

Image credit: Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek. With thanks.

German Films

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Did Poseidon Gain His Revenge For German Opera Director Hans Neuenfels Imposition Of An Added Scene Of Secularism On Mozart's Idomeneo?

..."The disputed scene is not part of Mozart’s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.

“Idomeneo,” first performed in 1781, tells a mythical story of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, who toys with men’s lives and demands spiteful sacrifice. ...

The scene with the severed heads aroused controversy among Muslims and Christians when the Deutsche Oper first staged it. But the company was not the target of any organized protests, and the Deutsche Oper put four performances on its calendar for this November....

The scene devised by Mr. Neuenfels puts a sanguinary ending on an opera that, in the way Mozart wrote it, ends with King Idomeneo giving up his throne to appease the god of the sea, and blessing the romantic union of his son Idamante with the Greek princess Ilia.

The severed heads of the religious figures, Mr. Raue said, was meant by Mr. Neuenfels to make a point that “all the founders of religions were figures that didn’t bring peace to the world.”

André Kraft, spokesman for Komische Oper, a more adventurous opera house where Mr. Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production, described the 65-year-old director as “a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.”" ...

Judy Dempsey and Mark Landler "Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad" New York Times September 27, 2006

[Click to enlarge.]

Buddha, Muhammad, Poseidon (Neptune), and Jesus Christ before their decapitations.

Could this production have been safely performed in American opera houses?

Does toleration between religions and civilizations -- as well as of religion itself--belong in Western and World opera houses?

Photo credit: (c) Claudia Esch-Kenkel/European Pressphoto Agency, 2003 via New York Times. With thanks.

All Participants Of Berlin Conference On Islam, Including 15 Muslims, Decry Cancellation Of Controversial Production Of Mozart's Idomeneo

"The German Muslim community embarked Wednesday on its first collective talks with the government in Berlin, with both sides saying there had been frank differences but they were keen to get down to detail.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble hosted the "Conference on Islam" in Berlin that brought together the federal government and 15 representatives of the 3.2 million Muslims in Germany for the beginning of a two-year dialogue. The government wants the talks to result in a contract between the two sides that will improve integration in Germany and quell the growing influence of Islamist extremists.

The meeting was overshadowed by controversy about a Berlin opera house that cancelled a production showing decapitated heads of the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus. The Deutsche Oper said it had been worried it might be attacked by Muslim extremists.

Schäuble said the meeting's participants had all told him the controversial production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" should go ahead.

"We want this production to be performed as soon as possible," he said, adding that they would then go together to watch it.

His talks with the German Muslim community were "not always harmonious" but proceeded "in a tolerant tone," Schäuble said. There was disagreement over the questions of who were appropriate representatives of the Muslim community, women's rights and whether girls should be allowed to take part in school swimming lessons, but the participants had gotten along, he added.

"It will be difficult and it will be a lot of work," Schäuble said of the talks, which are to be resumed by three working groups on values, religious questions as well as business and the media on Nov. 8. An additional group will discuss questions of domestic security and preventing Islamist violence....

Badr Mohammed, a secular Turkish leader who heads the European Integration Center in Berlin, said the meeting had the nearly three-hour meeting had been "a historic breakthrough in the intercultural opening of society."

The leaders of Islamic religious groups who took part were more cautious in welcoming the talks, but stressed their devotion to Germany's democratic constitution....

This is first time federal authorities have ever launched a dialogue with the country's Muslim minority. Muslims make up more than 4 percent of Germany's 82-million-strong population. They are not only divided into secular and religious camps, but also by country of origin and theological differences.

The government has been calling for all Muslims in Germany to adopt the German language, affirm their support for democracy and help catch violent Islamists. Some Muslim leaders hope their faith can win equal treatment to that given in Germany to Christian churches. Germany's Jewish community has also negotiated an agreement with the government regulating their relations.

Religious groups complained before the meeting that they were only allocated five of the 15 Muslim seats at the table, with the rest distributed among secular and other groups."

Deutsches Welle "Intercultural Dialogue: German Government Launches Dialogue With Muslims" September 27, 2006,2144,2187588,00.html

Controversial scene from the German Opera 2002 production of Mozart's Idomeneo. State-funded opera directors and artists in Europe have much greater latitude to be controversial than do State-funded opera directors and artists in the United States (and increasingly in Russia).

Photo credit: Der Spiegel. With thanks.

Witold Rybczynski On The Problem With Building National Public Proto-Renaissance Buildings Underground

"In 2003, Congress decreed that, since the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was a "substantially completed work of civic art," the construction of any additional memorials within its confines would henceforth be prohibited. The Mall was, in effect, full. However, the same statute included a single exception to the new rule: a proposed visitor center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Perhaps aware that it was authorizing what would be the only freestanding visitor center on the Mall-the Jefferson Memorial has a small facility in its basement-Congress added a rider: "The visitor center shall be located underground."

Underground buildings are all the rage. An underground extension to the Virginia State Capitol is now under construction, buried in the hill below Thomas Jefferson's classical temple. A few years ago the Texas legislature added underground office space next to its own historic capitol in Austin. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is proposing an underground parking structure to be situated beside its Greek Revival building. And the U.S. Congress is building a 500,000-square-foot visitor center beneath the East Capitol grounds. Exceeding half a billion dollars in cost, this behemoth is due for completion in 2007.

To the layman, underground buildings must seem like the perfect solution to building in a historic location. Just bury the sucker; you won't even know it's there. But constructing underground buildings is not that simple. To begin with, people have to get in and out. Military bunkers have ingeniously camouflaged entrances (especially in Hollywood films), but public buildings need plenty of doors, handicapped access, ramps, emergency egress, and exterior assembly areas. None of this can be easily hidden. The entrance to the U.S. Capitol visitor center, for example, will inevitably alter the experience of the Capitol itself. The style of the Virginia State Capitol extension (which also includes a visitor center) will be more or less Classical, so its exterior risks looking like a Jeffersonian mine entrance. All buildings-aboveground or below-need a back door, the place where trucks make deliveries and haul away the trash. Vehicle ramps are rarely attractive. The Philadelphia parking garage, for example, is to be hidden by boulders and landscaping, but cars will drive in and out. There will be stop signs, lights, noise, and other disturbances. All this is unlikely to enhance the experience of the beautiful museum next door.

Buried buildings tend to have dark and gloomy interiors, like crypts (which is why the names of the World Trade Center victims have been moved out of the underground level). Skylights can brighten the interior, but glazed structures sticking out of the ground defeat the purpose of burying the building in the first place." ...

Witold Rybczynski "Big Digs: The problem with underground architecture" Slate September 20, 2006

The Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and African Art Museums set a bad national precedence for underground national museums.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Middle-East War's Lethal Harvest At Time Of New Year

"The scourge of munitions from the cluster bombs now littering southern Lebanon, mostly American-made but some manufactured in Israel, will be a "lasting legacy," the United Nations has said. U.N. officials estimate that the Israeli military fired 90 percent of the bombs during the last 72 hours of the conflict, which began on July 12 after Hezbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid and ended with a cease-fire on Aug. 14. As many as 1 million of the bomblets are unexploded, they say, wounding or killing three people a day. The threat of stumbling across a bomblet has paralyzed life in parts of the south that depend on the harvest of tobacco and now-abandoned groves of bananas, olives and citrus....

International law does not prohibit the use of cluster bombs, which can spread dozens, sometimes hundreds, of smaller munitions, or bomblets, over an area the size of two football fields. But because of their wide dispersal, human rights groups have condemned their use in civilian areas, saying they violate international bans on indiscriminate attacks. The Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on their sale to Israel after a congressional investigation determined that Israel had misused the weapons during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The State Department said it is investigating whether Israel violated agreements with the United States on their use during the conflict this summer.

U.N. officials have said they are still grappling with a problem whose scope has grown by the day. About 100 de-miners on contract to the United Nations are trying to defuse munitions in which as many as two in five of the bomblets failed to detonate. They said many of the bomblets might have failed to explode because they struck soft ground, were snared in trees or other obstructions or were fired too low to the ground to detonate on impact.

Early on, officials estimated that cluster munitions littered 400 sites, anywhere from a house to an entire village. The number now stands at 590, and U.N. officials said they are dumbfounded by the intensity of the firing in the war's last days, when it was clear a cease-fire was approaching.

"It's impossible for me to work out what the logic was," said David Shearer, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon. "To me, it just seems outrageous that it would happen as it did." ...

Anthony Shadid "In Lebanon, a War's Lethal Harvest: Threat of Unexploded Bombs Paralyzes the South" Washington Post September 26, 2006

A de-miner investigates an unexploded American- or Israeli- made cluster-bomb -- one of up to a million now littering Lebanese agricultural land.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Peter Gelb Combines Opera, Hollywood, Fashion, And Advertising For Grand, And Strange, Evening Of Proto-Renaissance Art At The Metropolitan Opera

... "The Metropolitan Opera embarked on a new era with a season-opening gala last night that dripped wealth and celebrity but also included an unprecedented dose of populism: a simulcast in Times Square, where the giant Panasonic, Nasdaq and Reuters screens beamed Puccini’s tale of love and abandonment north to a blocked-off section of Broadway.

“It’s $300 cheaper than getting into the Met,” said Lewanne Jones, 53, a documentary filmmaker from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I like the idea of seeing it in the middle of all this chaos. Art and advertising — which will win? The experience is so bizarre that it kind of adds to the experience.”

Back at home base, the Met also set up a screen on the Lincoln Center plaza for a simulcast. Before it all began, celebrities swept up a red carpet and were interviewed by a host as a press of photographers jostled and shouted out names, in an almost bizarre intersection of Hollywood and high art.

The opening-night performance of “Madama Butterfly,” the first new production to inaugurate a Met season in two decades, raised the curtain on the reign of Peter Gelb, the 16th general manager in the Met’s 123-year history. And the attention-getting season opening was intended to make a splash.

Mr. Gelb, a former artist manager, producer and record company executive, has waded into the job with a strategy of grabbing the public’s attention for what can seem, to rational, modern minds, an odd endeavor: unamplified dramas about human passions expressed through song, often in foreign languages, to the accompaniment of a large orchestra.

He has said his goal is to attract audiences by stressing the theatrical aspect of opera and using technology to spread performances. The results so far have been a combination of digital-age showmanship and innovation.

Mr. Gelb has announced plans to bring in more theater directors and provide recordings via Internet downloads, installed an art gallery, staged an open house and made deals to put Met operas live in movie theaters and on satellite radio If Mr. Gelb wanted to insert opera into the mainstream, the Times Square simulcast did the trick. Early arrivals were greeted with a performance by Nelly Furtado sponsored by MTV. Advertisements at the military recruitment center touted the Army, the Navy and the Air Force as the character of Pinkerton, an American naval officer, sang to Butterfly.

“I think it’s gorgeous,” Kyle Pleasant, 23, a spiky-haired actor, said at intermission. “It gives New York a romantic feeling, and it adds a lot of humanity to Times Square.”

Ron Cross, 57, visiting from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, said: “We’re from the Midwest. We don’t have things like this in the Midwest.” ...

The well-known figures who flowed down the carpet — many invited by the Met in a calculated attempt to attract attention — included Jude Law; Al Roker; Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi; Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts; the designer Zac Posen and Liv Tyler, in a cream dress of his design.

There were a few children in the audience, and at least one dog, an extremely well-behaved Chihuahua." ...

Daniel J. Wakin "Met Opera Brings a Little Punch to Its Puccini" New York Times September 26, 2006

The passage of time over the twentieth century urban landscape of Nagasaki, Japan.

Photo credit: With thanks.


Yanni Live! The Concert Event [As Seen On PBS] Now Available on CD and DVD.

Mozart Opera Production In Berlin Featuring Severed Heads Of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, And Poseidon Cancelled Due To Security Concern

"A leading opera house has canceled a 3-year-old production of Mozart's ''Idomeneo,'' citing authorities' fears that it posed ''incalculable'' security risks because it featured the severed head of religious figures, including Muhammad.

After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over a scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad.

In a statement late Monday, the Deutsche Oper said it decided ''with great regret'' to cancel the production of the 225-year-old opera after Berlin security officials warned of an ''incalculable risk'' because of scenes dealing with Islam, as well as other religions.

''We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures,'' the statement said. ''We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support.''

Kirsten Harms, director of the Deutsche Oper, told the Berliner Morgenpost on Tuesday that Berlin state police had warned of a possible -- but not certain -- threat, and she decided it would be in the best interest of the safety of the opera house, its employees and patrons to cancel the production.

The leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, saying a depiction of Muhammad with a severed head ''could certainly offend Muslims.''

''Nevertheless, of course I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid,'' Ali Kizilkaya told Berlin's Radio Multikulti. ''That is not the right way to open dialogue.''

Others, including Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, condemned the decision, which came ahead of a conference on Islam planned for Wednesday.

''That is crazy,'' Schaeuble told reporters in Washington, where he was holding meetings with U.S. officials. ''This is unacceptable.''

The decision comes after the German-born Pope Benedict XVI infuriated Muslims by characterizing some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as ''evil and inhuman,'' particularly ''his command to spread by the sword the faith.''

Earlier this year, furious protests erupted after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Those caricatures were then reprinted by dozens of newspapers and Web sites in Europe and elsewhere, often in the name of freedom of expression.

Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of Muhammad for fear it could lead to idolatry.

The leader of Germany's Turkish Community said that while he could understand how the production could be seen as offensive, he also encouraged Muslims living in the West to accept certain elements of the traditions here, noting an opera production is not equivalent to a political point of view.

''I would recommend Muslims learn to accept certain things,'' Kenan Kolat told the online Netzeitung newspaper. ''Art must remain free.''

Associated Press "Berlin Opera House Cancels Production" Mew York Times September 26, 2006

An appropriate public exhibition of a Severed Head of the Buddha?

Photo credit: www. With thanks.

Kennedy Center Launches Web-Site "Gift Of The Indus: The Arts & Culture Of Pakistan", A Co-Production With The Pakistan National Council Of The Arts

"The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts [on September 21, 2006] announced the launch of a new web site—Gift of the Indus: The Arts & Culture of Pakistan—at a special ceremony with First Lady of the United States Laura Bush; First Lady of Pakistan Begum Sehba Musharraf; Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser and Kennedy Center Vice President for Education Darrell M. Ayers, as well as Washington-area high school students....

"Today we are celebrating a milestone in a relationship between the Kennedy Center and the people of Pakistan," said Mr. Kaiser, who made his first trip to Pakistan earlier this year at the suggestion of Mrs. Bush. He began discussions with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and its leader, Mr. Naeem Tahir, about ways they could work together to strengthen the arts infrastructure of that nation. Since that first trip six months ago, a great deal has been accomplished, including: developing a plan for cooperative efforts, conducting the first arts management seminar in Islamabad, planning a collaborative children's theater project and creating the web site being launched today.

"We believed this web site was central to our joint mission of building awareness of the beauty and richness of Pakistani culture because it gives people around the world, especially young people, a look at this remarkable cultural heritage," Mr. Kaiser said.

"Learning about other cultures and countries is at the heart of diplomacy," said Mrs. Bush. "By learning about Pakistani music, literature and theater, we also learn about the people of Pakistan and their rich heritage."

"Diversity has been the essence of our people and traditions," said Mrs. Musharraf. "The people of Pakistan are making a real contribution in preserving the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the country. These can be seen in our art, architecture and literature."

"We are making a great beginning in the right direction. Thanks to the vision of President Musharraf and President Bush. I am determined to take this vision of friendship and peace forward through better understanding," said Mr. Tahir.

The site, designed for young people (especially ages 13-18) in the United States, Pakistan and around the world to learn more about the arts and culture of this South Asian nation, is the result of a unique partnership between the Kennedy Center and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts." ...


Gift of the Indus: The Arts & Culture of Pakistan Web-Site.

Mosque of the Pearls, Lahore, Pakistan. The "Pearl Mosque" is a name given to certain structures in more than one country.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Nordic European Nations Outpace United States In Economic Competitiveness And Classical Music Culture

"U.S. economic competitiveness fell significantly over the last year, as high budget and trade deficits hurt America's business environment, according to a survey released Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.

The disappointing response to Hurricane Katrina, government corruption and a decreasing talent pool for employment due to immigration restrictions were other factors cited by the forum, which moved the United States to sixth in its ''global competitiveness index'' from the top spot a year ago.

''While strengths in the technological and market efficiency sectors explain the country's overall high rank, the U.S. economy suffers from striking weaknesses,'' the report said. ''There is significant risk to both the country's overall competitiveness and, given the relative size of the U.S., the future of the global economy.''

Switzerland topped the poll, which was conducted for the 27th consecutive year, but only the second year using a new formula, the forum said.

Over 11,000 business leaders in 125 countries took part in the survey, which found that the Alpine nation's institutional environment, infrastructure, efficient markets and high levels of innovation made it the world's most competitive business environment. It ranked fourth a year ago.

''The country has a well developed infrastructure for scientific research, companies spend generously on (research and development), intellectual property protection is strong and the country's public institutions are transparent and stable,'' the forum said.

Nordic countries -- traditionally strong in the survey -- took the next three places, with Finland, Sweden and Denmark all praised for running budget surpluses and having low levels of public debt. The forum also lauded the high quality of education and social services in these countries. Singapore was fifth ahead of the United States.

Rounding out the top 10 were Japan, Germany, Netherlands and Britain." ...

Associated Press "Survey Says U.S. Down in Competitiveness" New York Times September 26, 2006

World Economic Forum

The great twentieth century composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who was born exactly one hundred years ago, September 25, 1906, in (Saint) Petersburg, Russia. In recent years, Shostakovich has come to be regarded as equal to, if not greater than, Igor Stravinsky; who was widely considered the greatest twentieth century composer due to his stylistic diversity. While Shostakovich was much less stylistically diverse than was Stravinsky, he was perhaps more deeply humanist due in large part to his cycles of symphonies and string quartets, and his late song cycles and Symphony #13, Babi Yar, commemorating the Nazi massacre of Jews in Kyiv, Ukraine during the Nazi march toward the huge oil fields of the Caspian basin and its brutal occupation of Eastern Europe. [The Nazi Conquest of Europe was stopped, at the Battle of Stalingrad, by the Soviets aided, somewhat, by the Western Allies.]

The United States, through its taxpayer supported Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) noted Shostakovich's birth anniversary last night by broadcasting a two-hour documentary on the life of Austrian-born Marie Antoinette, who was Louis XVI's wife and France's failed Queen at the end of the 18th century. Tonight, PBS again celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Wolgang Amadeus Mozart with a concert from Salzburg, Austria.

Featuring some of Mozart's most memorable music from Cosi fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and other classic works, the concert will include performances from several leading young stars in opera, including Magdalena Kozena, Patricia Petibon, Anna Netrebko, Rene Pape, Michael Schade, Ekaterina Siurina, and Thomas Hampson. The concert will be conducted by the 29-year old Daniel Harding.

Semyon Aranovich's and Aleksandr Sokurov's documentary DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: SONATA FOR VIOLA (1981).

Photo credit: Archival photo via Wikipedia. With thanks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quiet Applause For The Retiring Humanist Music Critic Who Gave The Public 12,000 Articles About Classical Music And The Arts

"One of the questions a retiring music critic is most often asked is about what kind of future music is going to have , or even whether classical music will have a future.

There is only one answer: No one can say what the future of music will be, but that music will have a future is certain.

We've heard from the doomsayers for decades, and they aren't entirely wrong. There's no doubt that this is a difficult moment for classical music. We know that the financial situation of many orchestras, opera companies, and smaller ensembles is perilous, support is drying up, the public is graying, and nobody is buying subscriptions anymore.

Part of the public is understandably bored by the endless repetition of core masterpieces that weren't meant to be heard as often as they are, weren't intended to lapse into routine. Another part of the public is resolutely opposed to anything new in music, no matter how much they welcome or even seek out innovation and change in the other arts. And the whole mess, we hear, is the fault of the schools, which are not educating new audiences, and of the media, which are more interested in sensation than in substance.

This is not the whole story of course, but one wonders if the situation has ever been much different. All you have to do is read the letters of Mozart or the memoirs of Berlioz to realize that circumstances have never been easy for musicians, or for anyone who wants to accomplish anything worthwhile.

The history of music is among other things a history of difficult moments that visionary figures have found new and unexpected ways to get through. And while musical institutions and the funding structures that supported them -- the church, the aristocracy, governments, foundations, individuals -- have flourished and withered, come and gone, music itself survives.

The reason for this is that music has qualities in it that can't be found anywhere else. And people are always going to listen to it because it addresses fundamental human needs.

This is not to repeat the old cliché that music is a universal language; it isn't. The cliché arises because a lot of music communicates in nonverbal ways, but there is also a huge body of music that works with and through words that set up boundaries

Also, comparatively few people have no response to music, but almost no one responds to every kind of music. There are highly evolved forms of music in India, China, Africa, the Arab world, and elsewhere that most Western ears find difficult to understand; the opposite is probably true. But most people do respond to music of one kind or another, and often to several kinds.

Art music in every culture will always have a smaller audience than popular music, which represents a different kind of art. But popular music and art music have always been interdependent; many composers of both kinds of music have borrowed from one another -- and some have written both kinds.

Music has a future because every minute someone is born who wants to create it, perform it, or listen to it. How the connections will be made among creators, performers, and listeners will change as often and as quickly in the next generations as it has in the past. This is not a musical issue but a business question: how the music business will operate.

Most major works of music have come into the world despite major obstacles; the case is no different in the visual arts, theater, film, or, for that matter, the popular arts. Often it takes at least 50 years for challenging work to establish itself. Half a century ago, who could have predicted the present-day prominence of the symphonies of Mahler, the operas of Janacek, and the works of Ives? Or the virtual disappearance of figures once as popular as Victor Herbert or Sigmund Romberg, or of the whole genre in which they worked, operetta? Although Mahler, Janacek, and Ives had an unshakable conviction in the value of their own work, even they could not have foreseen how successful it would become." ...

Richard Dyer "One thing is certain: Music has a future -- A departing critic argues for its staying power" The Boston Globe September 24, 2006 [via Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise. With thanks.].

One of the numerous figurative sculptures of Berkeley, California-based artist Stephen De Staebler.

Photo credit: Iowa State University Art Parks Library and e-Library. With thanks.

In Memorium, Sir Malcolm Arnold: Twentieth Century Composer Of Outstanding Film And Orchestral Music Of Clarity, Passion, Humor, Drama, And Sadness

"Sir Malcolm Arnold, the first British composer to win an Academy Award, died Saturday at the age of 84 after a short illness, his companion said.

Arnold, who won an Oscar for the music to "Bridge on the River Kwai" in 1958, died in the hospital in Norfolk county, eastern England, after suffering from a chest infection, said Anthony Day, Arnold's companion for 23 years.

"People didn't see the man that I knew because he had frontal lobe dementia over the last few years which slowly developed but, being with him, he was a happy, lovely man who enjoyed his music and enjoyed his life," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Arnold composed more than 130 films scores, including "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness," for which he received one of Britain's prestigious Ivor Novello awards in 1958; "Hobson's Choice" and "Whistle Down the Wind."

Arnold also composed nine symphonies, seven ballets, two operas, a musical and more than 20 concertos. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in 1970.

Arnold died on the day his ballet "The Three Musketeers" premiered at the Alhambra Theatre in the northern English city of Bradford. The performance went ahead Saturday night as planned and was dedicated to him.

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber said Arnold never received the credit he deserved.

"I think he was a very, very great composer but uneven in his output," he said. "Because he had humor in his music, he was never fully appreciated by the classical establishment. He was a total genius but a very badly behaved genius, but then so was Mozart."

"He was treated appallingly by people who could not live with his bad behavior. He could be extremely rude to people but you should be able to get beyond that and get to the music," he added.

Arnold is survived by two sons and a daughter [who are the subjects of his Symphony #7, available on Naxos. Click link for extensive listening samples of this outstanding modern symphony. Click here for link to extensive listening samples, on Naxos, to Arnold's great final Symphony #9, and an interview with Sir Malcolm Arnold by conductor Andrew Penny]."

Associated Press "British Composer Sir Malcolm Arnold Dies" Washington Post September 23, 2006

See Bob Shingleton's On An Overgrown Path's Arnold's 9th Symphony - neglected 20th century masterpiece?

Sir Malcolm Arnold Commander of the British Empire (CBE) Official Site.


"After the oblique and unsettling fusion between classical and jazz elements in the Sixth Symphony, Arnold took until 1973 to complete its successor. Largely written at Sir William Walton's home on the Italian island of Ischia, the work was first performed in London in May the following year. The dedication, "To Katherine, Robert and Edward" – Arnold's children, would hardly merit comment were it not for the character of the score, which has the most extreme emotional aura of any of his works. Whether or not the dedication conceals a deeper personal intent is something on which to ponder."

Keith Anderson: Note on Arnold's Symphonies #7 and #8 on Naxos. [See "About This Recording" at this link.]

Sir Malcolm Arnold

Photo credit: Faber Music via Bob Shingleton's On An Overgrown Path. With thanks.

Can The New Multi-Billionaire Philanthropists Provide Capitalism With An Acceptable Human Face?

... "There has been too much adulation over these new philanthropists for my liking. Are they really becoming more generous? The amount of money the likes of Gates and Buffet have given away is a drop in the ocean for two of the world’s richest men.
Harold Smith, London, UK

Charles Handy: I think you may be a bit churlish! Bill Gates has so far pledged half his money and Warren Buffett most of his. More important are the signals that the new philanthropy sends out - that wealth entails responsibility, that if you are clever or lucky enough to have made piles of the stuff, much more than you need, it is only right to try to spend it on something of benefit to others.

It can seem unfair that if you are successful in other walks of life, teaching or the arts, for instance, you don’t get rich, but if you are successful in business, by the nature of the game you are in, you pile it up. To offset the apparent unfairness of capitalism we need all the evidence we can get that capitalists themselves are not selfish.


Capitalism already has an acceptable human face. It provides new services of value to customers, gives employees work opportunities and provides 30 per cent or more of its receipts to the government. Only a decadent people, who forget the source of wealth creation, would say altruism is needed-in the interests of society. Is poverty in China being eliminated by World Bank officials or economic growth? I’ll take the extra 1 per cent in GNP growth from the private sector any day to help people. The Americans are criticised for their developmental aid spending as a percentage of GNP but when private contributions are included it is very high-like love you have to have it first (earn it) to give it away.
Peter Strupp, Warsaw, Poland

Charles Handy: Absolutely! Capitalism does create wealth of all sorts, and you do have to earn it before you spend it. I am not in any way decrying the value of creating wealth or of building a successful business. I also agree [sic] that all the philanthropy in the world will always be a drop in the ocean compared with government spending.

But there are niches overlooked by governments where individual initiatives can help ...

If capitalism continues to be seen as selfish it will ultimately be brought down by those left outside." ...

Charles Handy "Ask the expert: New philanthropists" Financial Times September 25, 2006 [updated]

Three exclusive private golf courses in Caracas, Venezuela will be expropropriated by the government in order to build housing for thousands of poor and middle class Venezuelans, officials said August 29, 2006.

Photo credit: CBS News. With thanks.

How Green Or Brown Are Your Work, Leisure, And Saving, Planning, and Giving Behavioral Patterns?

"Gross domestic product, the leading economic measurement, is outdated and misleading.

Long the standard scorecard for any national economy, GDP has become deficient as a measure of long-term economic health in our resource-driven, globalizing world.

Think about it. It's like grading a corporation based on one day's cash flow and forgetting to depreciate assets and other costs.

In today's business reality, where intangible assets have become increasingly important, cash flow can be a particularly bad indicator of a company's value. A startup can have no cash flow and yet be creating a software program of immense value. A company with positive cash flow can be running itself into the ground as its capital depreciates. Economies are no different.

That's why economists looking for an alternative accounting framework to supplement the use of GDP are considering a new measure: green net national product.

The "green" means that GDP must be reduced to take into account the depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment - just as a company must depreciate both its tangible and intangible assets. "Net" national product (NNP) means that there has to be an adjustment for the depreciation of the country's physical assets"....

Joseph Stiglitz "Good numbers gone bad: Why relying on GDP as a leading economic gauge can lead to poor decision-making" Fortune Magazine September 25, 2006

Mountaintop Removal/Valley Fill Mining In The Eastern United States

"Mountaintop removal mining provides a key example about how Ecology, Global Change, and Human Rights can intersect. This issue is also much harder to externalize, as this is not a foreign nation, but right here in the United States. Mountaintop Removal/Valley Fill (MTR/VF) mining involves the systematic demolition and stripping of plants, soil, and bedrock from mountains in order to extract coal seams. The plants, soil, and bedrock (known as "overburden" in the mining industry) are then dumped into adjacent valley to form a fill. Previous techniques of coal mining, such as shaft and contour strip mining, had severe environmental and ecological impacts; however, MTR/VF's damage dwarfs other methods."

Photo and caption credit: Sean Berthrong "Until the Mountains Crumble to Dust ..." Duke University Department of Biology. With thanks.

The Uneasy Cosmopolitanism? Who Said That Nonsuburban, Renaissance Life Should Be Easy?

"A string of eateries on the Seven Sisters Road offers an instant glimpse of the ethnic mosaic that is London.

In quick succession along this main thoroughfare of Finsbury Park, in the north of the city, stand the Alban Cafe (Kosovan), Kostas (Greek), Hana (Japanese) and Fassika (Ethopian). A few yards away are a Somali social centre, a Turkish convenience store, a Chinese massage parlour and a newly opened Polish food shop.

All that within hailing distance of both the Rainbow Theatre, a former rock venue that now houses a black evangelical church, and the Finsbury Park mosque, former base of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the extremist cleric jailed this year for inciting hatred....

Global shifts are driving immigration. The weakening of border controls following the end of communism are, along with economic globalisation and the spread of low-cost air travel and telecommunications, all playing their part. But increased immigration has also sharpened debate about its effects. Supporters cite the benefits of low-cost workers who ease skills shortages. Critics warn of the impact on low-paid natives, public services and national identity. Meanwhile, Islamist terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid and London have kindled fears about the intentions of disaffected Muslims....

The recent history of migration shows, however, that those global forces are very powerful - and hard for governments to control. The net inflow into the UK reached 235,000 in the year to mid-2005, up from 47,000 in the first year of the Blair era. The population exceeded 60m for the first time and is set to grow further, driven largely by more immigration....

The European Union's 2004 enlargement eastward prompted a particularly sharp surge. According to the Home Office, 427,000 registered to work in the UK between May 2004 and June 2006. The total number could be as high as 600,000 once the unregistered are counted. However, east Europeans, unlike those from further afield, will not necessarily settle. As Cezary Olszewski, a Polish-born businessman who is setting up a network of financial services centres for the newcomers, says: "If you ask people how long they will stay, they say they don't know."

Migration has increased the number of foreign-born residents by 30 per cent in a decade to more than 5m - or nearly 10 per cent of the population, not counting some 250,000-500,000 illegal migrants. In London, which has the world's biggest concentration of immigrants, the foreign-born number about 30 per cent. However, the east Europeans are more willing than previous migrants to go outside the capital: Polish workers have become a commonplace sight on Norfolk farms, in Scottish bars and at Cornish hotels....

Rapid economic growth under Mr Blair has allowed the country to absorb migrants. But unemployment is on the way up, posting its largest annual increase in a decade in the year to July. Even the CBI [check], which generally favours immigration, now argues for temporary controls on arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria, the next two EU members....

Communities change, improvements are possible and no one is condemned to a jobless ghetto. For example, young black Caribbean women have made notable gains in the past decade, increasing their employment rate and developing careers. Black entrepreneurs, much scarcer than Asians, are starting to make a mark. Jenni Campbell, advertising manager of The Voice, the Afro-Caribbean newspaper, says: "There has always been the perception that black businesses were never supposed to be part of the mainstream. But that is beginning to change now." ...

Stefan Wagstyl "The uneasy cosmopolitan: how migrants are enriching an ever more anxious host" Financial Times September 21, 2006

Proto-renaissance visual art in Adams-Morgan, Washington, D.C., North America.

Photo credit: (c) Ivan Corsa via Global Graphica. Photo Blog of Street Art, Graffiti, Graphics, Interiors, Architecture, City Life + With thanks.

National Symphony Orchestra To Perform Prelude To Jonathan Harvey's New Computer Music And Acoustic Opera, Wagner Dream

The National Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov, conductor, perform "... toward a Pure Land (2005)" by Jonathan Harvey Sept 28 - 30, 2006.

"This work, completed last year, was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to perform in celebration of the restoration of Glasgow City Hall, as indeed they did on January 19 of this year. In the present concerts, the same conductor presides over the work's American premiere.

The score... calls for 3 flutes and piccolo; 3 oboes, 3 clarinets and bass clarinet; 3 bassoons, 5 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, crotales, glass chimes, a set of very high glass chimes (or metal ones), brass chimes, sizzle cymbal (with bow), 3 suspended cymbals (one with bow), 3 wood blocks, 5 temple blocks, 2 Tibetan bells, xylophone, vibraphone, large bell plate, mark tree, maracas, 2 Oriental finger cymbals, 2 triangles, tam-tam, slit drum, bass drum, 2 tom toms, 2 bongos, geophone, medium-small bamboo cluster, sandpaper blocks, celesta, harp, and strings. Duration, 15 minutes.

Jonathan Harvey began his active musical life as a chorister at St. Michael's College in Tenbury before undertaking his studies at St. John's College, Cambridge. He earned doctorates at Cambridge and at the University of Glasgow, and on Benjamin Britten's advice he studied privately with Hans Keller and Erwin Stein. He was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton in 1969-70, and his pedagogical activity has included a professorship at Stanford University from 1995 to 2000 as well as posts at several British institutions. He holds honorary doctorates from three British universities, one of these being Sussex University, where he served as professor of music from 1977 to 1933.

In the early 1980s Pierre Boulez invited Mr. Harvey to work at IRCAM, and that proved to be a lasting and productive connection, which has seen the creation of Mortuos Plango, a particularly successful piece for electronic tape, as well as several works in which electronic and pre-recorded sounds are combined with live performers. Mr. Harvey has also composed a good deal of music in the more conventional realms of opera, chamber music, choral works and orchestral ones. His orchestral work Madonna of Winter and Spring is to be introduced this fall by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. His large-scale cantata Mothers Shall Not Cry was composed for and introduced in the BBC Proms Millennium of 2000. Following his church opera Passion and Resurrection, filmed by the BBC in 1981, he composed Inquest of Love under a commission from the English National Opera (1983), and his third opera, Wagner Dream, commissioned jointly by the Netherlands Opera, the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, the Holland Festival and IRCAM, will have its premiere next year. He is at work now on commissions from numerous performing organizations throughout Europe....

Mr. Harvey himself is the author of a book on inspiration and another on spirituality.

Last year Mr. Harvey took up the position of composer-in-association (equivalent to the post of "composer-in-residence" at several orchestras in our country) with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow. The present work, . . . towards a Pure Land, is the first of three which that appointment specified, and, as already noted, it was given its premiere last January under Ilan Volkov, who is conducting the present concerts. The score calls for some unusual and exotic instruments (see above), with some of the strings positioned at the back of their respective groups to form an "Ensemble of Eternal Sound"; these, the composers has written, "should be inconspicuous, 'hidden' sound." He calls also for the strings to "make very slow transitions between toneless noise (bow on the bridge) and normal tone, and vice versa," and to produce gradual changes in the sound, "from toneless to different shades of sul ponticello to naturale." The fifth horn is noted as "a bumper who occasionally plays independently." Further, the musicians are to contribute certain vocal effects."...

© Richard Freed 2006


From the Composer's Note for his publisher, Faber Music:

"A small string ensemble, hidden on the stage, starts this work and stays peacefully behind the sound for much of the time. It is called the Ensemble of Eternal Sound. The main orchestra moves through varied types of idea until a central point, after which it moves progressively back to the first idea, making an arch, but an arch with developments. The centre itself is not solid, rather it is an emptiness, an empty presence. There is sound but only insubstantial pitch. In the surrounding music, the tempi are often fluid, the ideas are fleeting: things arise, then cease, in an unending flow. To grasp them and fix them would be to distort them falsely. A Pure Land is a state of mind beyond suffering where there is no grasping. It has also been described in Buddhist literature as landscape --a model of the world to which we can aspire.

Those who live there do not experience ageing, sickness or any other suffering. There is no poverty or fighting, and no danger from fire, water, wind or earth. The environment is completely pure, clean, and very beautiful, with mountains, lakes, trees and delightful birds revealing the meaning of Dharma. There are also gardens filled with heavenly flowers, bathing pools and exquisite jewels covering the ground which make it completely pure and smooth. 'Touching it gives rise to bliss'.

This work is the first fruit of the composer's association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and their principal conductor, Ilan Volkov. It is the first of three commissions from them and is dedicated to them in gratitude.

© Jonathan Harvey and Faber Music

Amitabha Buddhist [Pure Land]Thangka Painting [detail] from Dharmapala Thangka Centre.

Image credit: via With thanks.

With Romania And Bulgaria Set To Join The 'European Union' Early Next Year, Restoration Of Europe Very Slowly Continues

"Romania will win approval on Tuesday to join the European Union on January 1, but the country’s prime minister has denied that it will spark a massive wave of emigration from the Black Sea state.

Calin Tariceanu claims his country is in the middle of an economic boom that could see its gross domestic product double within 12 years, drawing migrant workers to Romania.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Tariceanu also appealed to the British media and public – racked by a debate about the recent arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Poland and other new EU member states – to remain calm: “People with higher educational levels might go to the UK but I don’t see too many.”

He said most poor Romanians would head to Italy and Spain, where they would have less trouble with the language, and only those with better schooling would go to the UK.

Olli Rehn, EU enlargement commissioner, will tell Romania and Bulgaria on Tuesday, the other candidate country, they will face tough monitoring to make sure their fight against corruption and organised crime is effective....

However, he has decided not to recommend a maximum delay of one year until 2008 for Bulgaria, believing that such a move would be counter-productive and a humiliating setback for reformers in the country.

Romania, with a population of 22m, will become the seventh- biggest member of the EU. Romania and Bulgaria, with 8m people, will be the poorest members of the club: both countries had a GDP of about 31 per cent of the EU average in 2004.

The relative poverty of the two – Romania’s average monthly wage is about €200 – and their continuing fight to contain corruption have heightened fears in western Europe that this is “an enlargement too far”."

George Parker "Romania dismisses EU emigration fears" Financial Times September 24, 2006

European Composer George Enescu Museum in Bucharest, Romania, European Union. It was here, in March 2002, that I studied the manuscript score to Enescu's "Oedipe" opera, widely performed in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, but not yet performed in North America.

Photo credit: Christan Balan and With thanks.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Malaysia And Tunisia Outpace Rich OECD Nations In Devoting National Resources To Education And Sustainable Global Development

"Malaysia and Tunisia devote substantially greater shares of their national wealth to education than almost every country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a new report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Entitled Education Counts – Benchmarking Progress in 19 WEI Countries, the report marks the first in a new series about the World Education Indicators (WEI) programme. It presents data for the school year ending in 2004 on educational attainment, finance, participation, as well as teachers and the learning environment for 63 countries which comprise 72% of the world’s population."

Education Counts – Benchmarking Progress in 19 WEI Countries: World Education Indicators 2006

Enthusiastic young students in Tunisia are supported by their national government in their quest for learning and participation in sustainable global development.

Photo credit: AmidEast: Buildling Culture, Building Understanding. With thanks.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Clinton Global Initiative Receives Pledge Allowing It To Increase Commitment To Sustainable Global Development By At Least 50 Per Cent Over Last Year

"British business mogul Richard Branson said Thursday he would invest about $3 billion to combat global warming over the next decade.

Branson, the billionaire behind the multi-platform Virgin brand, said the money would come from 100 percent of the profits generated by his transportation and airline sectors. It will then be invested in efforts to find renewable, sustainable energy sources in an effort to wean the world off of oil and coal.

Branson made the announcement on the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual conference of business, political, and nonprofit leaders hosted by former President Clinton.

"Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents," Branson said at a news conference with Clinton at his side. "We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment."

Clinton praised Branson, calling him one of the most "creative" and "committed" people had ever known.

The commitment ensures that the conference, which brings people together to brainstorm on solutions to global issues, would more than meet its goal of matching last year's efforts. In 2005, the conference received more than $2 billion in pledges." ...

Deepti Hajela "Branson Plans $3B Against Global Warming" Washington Post September 21, 2006

International Coastal Cleanup organized by The Ocean Conservancy.

Clean-up of Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague Island Wildlife Refuge scheduled for Saturday, September 23, 2006.

Chincoteague Island, Virginia/Maryland Marshland, Bird, Fish, and Wild Pony sanctuary.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Metropolitan Opera And Classical Vocal Music Come To 100 Million Satellite Radios And I-Pods

"Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. on Wednesday said it will launch a channel programmed primarily by New York's Metropolitan Opera, which will feature live and archived broadcasts.

Terms were not disclosed, but Sirius said it was a multiyear deal. The channel debuts on September 25, and will replace Sirius' current "Classical Voices" channel.

Sirius and rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. are seeking to woo consumers to their pay-radio services, which cost about $13 a month. XM's channels include "VOX," which showcases vocal classical music selections.

Sirius said: "This is a significant step in our plans to use digital technology to relay our extraordinary content," said Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera." ...

Reuters "Sirius to launch Metropolitan Opera channel" Yahoo!News September 20, 2006

Metropolitan Opera (24-hour Classical Music Internet Radio, including one complete opera broadcast every day.)

A scene from a rehearsal for the world premiere of the contemporary opera 'Sophie's Choice', concerning the European/Jewish Holocaust and its emotional impact on lives in America. The opera is based upon the novel by William Styron.

For those with eyes as well as ears, Nicholas Maw's 'Sophie's Choice' receives its North American premiere at the Washington National Opera on September 21, 2006

Photo credit: With thanks.

State Of California -- Once The Golden Land -- Sues Global Carmakers Over Global Warming

"California filed a global warming lawsuit on Wednesday against Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and three other automakers, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have cost the state millions of dollars.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California was the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions.

The lawsuit also names Chrysler Motors Corp., the U.S. arm of Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG, and the North American units of Japan's Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd..

The lawsuit charges that vehicle emissions have contributed significantly to global warming and harmed the resources, infrastructure and environmental health of the most populous state in the United States.

Ford deferred comment to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group which could not immediately be reached. The other automakers had no immediate comment.

Lockyer, a Democrat, said the complaint states that under federal and state common law the automakers have created a public nuisance by producing ``millions of vehicles that collectively emitt tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks. Enforcement of those rules is being delayed by litigation from automakers."

Reuters "California Sues Carmakers Over Global Warming" New York Times September 20, 2006

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

California greenhouse-gas generators.

Photo credit: The Weeden Foundation. With thanks.

Kyiv Symphony Orchestra And Chorus Brings Sacred Ukrainian And World Classical Music To The Nation's Capital

"In the fall of 2006, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will take its eighth tour of the United States. The 160 members of the KSOC have performed in America's greatest halls, including the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Their programs include not only great Western classics, but also the rich musical heritage of famous Ukrainian composers such as Bortnyansky and Prokofiev.

The KSOC concerts are geared to the American conservative public and they seem to delight their audiences because they keep on coming back to the same communities. Their niche is to have many concerts, stay within the community group that is hosting them (church communities) and collect or earn money for the religious organization which sponsors them which in turn uses that money for its mission in Ukraine.

The tour is sponsored by Music Mission Kiev whose purpose is to bring the sacred masterpieces of classical music to the country of Ukraine proclaiming the Gospel to and through Ukrainian musicians to the world--and ministering to the emerging Christian community in Ukraine [sic] through evangelism, discipleship, and humanitarian outreach to widows and orphans."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
7:30 p.m.
(There will also be concerts in Salisbury, MD on September 19 and in Williamsburg, VA on September 22.)

National Presbyterian Church
4101 Nebraska Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20016-2793
202-537-7553 or 202-537-0800


No tickets required. Freewill offering.


The Ukrainian-American Environmental Association (UAEA) is a private,
non-governmental organization founded in 2004 and chartered in both the
United States and Ukraine. It is a network of more than 700 Ukrainian and
American NGOs, academic researchers, businesses, and government officials
founded to facilitate the exchange of information on a broad array of
environmental issues including, but not limited to, energy policy, climate
change, air and water pollution, toxic wastes, soil conservation,
sustainable agriculture, and wildlife and wilderness protection.

The Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv, although started in 1113, represents one of the most typical examples of Ukrainian Baroque architecture.

Damaged in the Second World War and subsequently razed to make space for the never- begun second building of the Soviet Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cathedral and Monastery Complex was restored by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church between 1991 and 2003.

Original artwork from the razed Monastery is preserved in the nearby Saint Sophia Cathedral and Monastery Museum Complex, which along with the religiously active Kyiv Pecherk Lavra (Caves) Cathedral and Monastery Complexes, have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1990.

Designed to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople [today Istanbul, Turkey], Kyiv's Saint-Sophia Cathedral symbolized the 'new Constantinople', capital of the Christian principality of Kyiv, which was created in the 11th century in a region evangelized after the baptism of Saint Vladimir in 988 CE. The spiritual and intellectual influence of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra contributed to the spread of Orthodox thought and the Orthodox faith in the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian worlds from the 17th to the 19th century.

The Orthodox Christian community of Ukraine -- one of the world's ancient centers of sacred Christianity --is hardly emerging, despite the beliefs of some conservative American evangelicals.

Photo credit: Wikipedia. With thanks.

Former President Clinton Says That For The Current Cost Of The Iraq War, The U.S. Could Fund 10 To 12 Years Worth Of Sustainable Global Development

"The situation in the Middle East has become so bad that a fresh peace initiative is a strong likelihood within the next two months, Bill Clinton, the former US president, said in an interview with the Financial Times.

President Clinton, whose annual conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, begins in New York on Wednesday, said the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the aftermath of the war in Lebanon had created the conditions for “some kind of positive movement to take place.”

While emphasising that he had no “insider knowledge”, President Clinton said: “All these bad news stories have created a sense that if we don’t want further disintegration to occur then we had better come up with a strategy that goes forward in creating a new sense of order that enables everybody to live together. I’m not sure you won’t see some positive things come out of the Middle East in the next 60 days.”

“It is time to think about what we can do to break out of this, otherwise we have three choices. We can say: “We know who our adversaries are and we can accelerate the confrontation, or we can kick the can down the road and hope the underlying realities change, or we can try to rearrange the pieces and players and try to put a puzzle together”. It seems to me the latter course is the best…It wouldn’t surprise me to see some fairly interesting things come out.” ...

"Finally, the US should win over the developing world by committing between $25bn to $30bn a year to achieving the development goals agreed by the group of eight leading global economies in 2000. “We have to recognise – as we have learned in Iraq – that even a country as big and powerful as America cannot handle these problems alone. We need allies, we need friends, we need more partners and fewer enemies.

“Since we have spent so much money in Iraq – more than $300bn - we need to spend more money to get kids into schools, to keep healthy people fighting HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and to provide sensible economic strategies to help people lift themselves out of poverty. These would cost a fraction of the war in Iraq and dramatically enhance our security as well as fulfil our moral responsibility to help other people fulfil their dreams.”"

Chrystia Freeland and Edward Luce "Clinton sees hope of fresh Mideast initiative" Financial Times September 19, 2006

Transcript of President Clinton FT Interview on his Clinton Global Initiative, a non-partisan project of the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Tanzanian health care worker prepares mosquito-abatement spray.

Photo credit: World Health Organization. With thanks.

In Memorium, P'oe Tsawa, or Blue Water (Also Known As Esther Martinez); Narrative Artist, Teacher, Linguist

"Esther Martinez, a storyteller, linguist and teacher who dedicated herself to preserving the Tewa language of the Northern Pueblos of New Mexico, died Sept. 16 in a traffic accident in Espanola, N.M., after receiving the nation's highest honor for folk artists. She was 94.

Mrs. Martinez was on her way home to Ohkay Owingeh [formerly known as San Juan Pueblo] and was near Sante Fe when the car in which she was traveling was struck by a drunk driver, her grandson said. She had been in Washington for a week attending a National Endowment for the Arts celebration. She was one of 11 folk and traditional artists honored [on the evening of September 15, 2006, near the nation's capital] as a 2006 National Heritage Fellow....

Storytelling is a part of the Tewa culture and a way of life, said Matthew Martinez, Mrs. Martinez's grandson. She was a natural and had a skill for conveying stories, he said. "She embodied what it meant to be a Tewa person and lived it and practiced it and served as a role model."

Mrs. Martinez -- also known by her American Indian name, P'oe Tsawa, or Blue Water --was born in Ignacio, Calif., where her parents went to work in fields. She grew up with her grandparents in what was then called San Juan Pueblo, home to one of the eight Northern Pueblos and six Tewa-speaking tribes.

As part of a government program, she and other Indian children were sent to boarding schools. She was 25 miles from her grandparents and alone. She recalled the harsh punishment she received for speaking her Tewa language, her grandson wrote in her biography.

She graduated from the Albuquerque Indian School in 1930, and for the next three decades she worked in a series of jobs -- cooking and cleaning -- and took care of her 10 children.

Two daughters were in the car when she was killed. They are recovering. In addition to them, survivors include eight other children; 18 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and nine great-great-grandchildren.

At 54, while working at the John F. Kennedy School in San Juan Pueblo, a linguist approached Mrs. Martinez about documenting the Tewa language. She took several courses and was soon teaching the language at a day school.

Known by many in her community as Ko'oe Esther, or Aunt Esther, Mrs. Martinez taught her native tongue from 1974 to 1989 at schools in San Juan Pueblo, now known as Ohkay Owingeh.

She helped translate the New Testament of the Bible into Tewa and compiled Tewa dictionaries for pueblos, which have distinct dialects....

"[S]torytelling was done mainly in the wintertime, not summer. It was done in the wintertime because it shortened the evenings, the long winter nights. And it was the time when the last snake had crawled in, the bear and other animals had gone hibernating, and we have heard the last of the thunders. At storytelling, children's stories were told first. Stories were told to teach us tips for survival and for socialization in the community. They were fun. Our whole life is about storytelling.""

Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb "Esther Martinez[sic], 94; Preserved Language" Washington Post September 19, 2006

P'oe Tsawa, or Blue Water, Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, North America

Photo credit: © 2006 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On The Alchemical Transmutation Of A Soul Through Classical Music: From Delilah To Theodora To Triraksha To Dido To Disembodied Love

"On the day before the Fourth of July, the mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died of complications from breast cancer, at the age of fifty-two. News of her passing aroused little interest outside the classical-music world, since she was hardly a household name, and lacked even the intermittently twinkling, Sunday-morning-television stardom achieved by the likes of Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma. She recorded infrequently in later years; she was shy about being interviewed; she had no press agent. Her fame consisted of an ever-widening swath of ardor and awe that she left in her wake whenever she sang. Among those who had been strongly affected by her work, there was a peculiarly intense kind of grief.

I was one of those people. In recent years, I found it hard to assume a pose of critical distance from this artist, even though I never got closer to her than Row H. In the days after she died, I tried to write about her, and failed. It felt wrong to call her “great” and “extraordinary,” or to throw around diva-worship words like “goddess” and “immortal,” because those words placed her on a pedestal, whereas the warmth in her voice always brought her close. Nonetheless, empty superlatives will have to do. She was the most remarkable singer I ever heard. She was incapable of giving a routine performance—I saw her twelve times, and each appearance had something explosively distinctive about it—and her career took the form of a continuous ascent. New Yorkers saw her for the final time last November, when she came to town with the Boston Symphony to perform “Neruda Songs,” composed by her husband, Peter Lieberson. She sang that night with such undiminished power that it seemed as though she would be around forever. Then she was gone, leaving the apex vacant.

She was born Lorraine Hunt, in San Francisco, the daughter of two exacting Bay Area music teachers. She grew up studying piano, violin, and viola, settling on the viola as her main instrument. She made relatively few public appearances as a singer in her youth, but when she did she invariably caught people’s attention. At a concert by the Oakland Youth Orchestra, in 1972, she stepped forward to deliver an aria from Saint-Saëns’s “Samson and Delilah” ...

She rose to fame in Europe in the mid-nineties, mainly on the strength of an instantly legendary performance in Sellars’s production of Handel’s “Theodora” at the Glyndebourne Festival, in 1996. She made a belated Metropolitan Opera début in 1999, in John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby.” The ovations that greeted her Dido in “Les Troyens” at the Met, in 2003, signified her assumption of diva status....

Having run the gamut from angelic serenity to angelic wrath, this most complete of singers concluded her career with a very human demonstration of love. She met Peter Lieberson in the summer of 1997, on the occasion of the première of his opera “Ashoka’s Dream,” in Santa Fe. They fell in love and eventually married, and Lieberson began to write with his wife’s voice in mind. By reputation a brilliant practitioner of twelve-tone technique, he had always had a secret yen for sensuous, late-Romantic harmony, and in “Neruda Songs,” a recording of which is not yet available, that desire came rushing to the surface. This is some of the most unabashedly lyrical music that any American composer has produced since Gershwin. It is also courageously personal music, the choice of Neruda poems seeming to acknowledge the fragility of Lorraine’s health. The final song, “Sonnet XCII,” begins, heartbreakingly, with the words “My love, if I die and you don’t—” The music is centered on a lullaby-like melody in G major, and it has the atmosphere of a motionless summer day. The vocal line ends on a B, and afterward the same note is held for two slow beats by the violas, as if they were holding the hand of the singer who came from their ranks. The composer is holding her hand, too. The last word is “Amor.”"

Alex Ross "FERVOR: Remembering Lorraine Hunt Lieberson" The New Yorker Issue of 2006-09-25 Posted 2006-09-18

Dido and Aeneas in cave

Folio 106, recto: Aeneid 4.160ff.

Index of Images From Vergil MSS Vat. lat. 3225 and 3867
Vat. lat. 3867 = Romanus, R in Mynors' text

Image credit: University of Pennsylvania. With thanks.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hungarian Revolution, 1956

"More than 100 photographs commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution. In this emblematic event of the Cold War, a demonstration led by students blossomed into a national uprising against communist tyrants and their Soviet rulers. A wide range of subjects — Budapest street skirmishes, refugees at the Austrian border, scenes of suppression by the communist loyalists — photographed by foreign news media as well as Hungarian professionals and amateurs are represented. Ferenc Berendi, Mario de Biasi, Tamas Fener, Laszlo Haris, Ata Kando, Erich Lessing, Laszlo Rozsa, Ede Tomori and Geza Varro are among the photographers. The exhibition is jointly organized by the Association of Hungarian Photographers and the Hungarian Museum of Photography under the patronage of the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. A catalog by Peter Baki, exhibition curator and director of the Hungarian Museum of Photography in Budapest, accompanies the exhibition."

The Katzen Art Center at American University, Washington, D.C.

Mario de Biasi "The People's Anger"

Photo credit: Courtesy the Hungarian Museum of Photography via American University. With thanks.


[origo] Galeria, Budapest, Hungary.

PBS's Exciting New Republican Season: It's "Meet The Mormons," "Jane Eyre," And "Antiques Roadshow"!

"PBS: New Season? What New Season?

Little seems new on the PBS bill of fare as the season wobbles off to a start. PBS officials are excited, however, about a two-part, three-hour special called "The Mormons" that will mark the first time that old PBS reliables "Frontline" and "American Experience" have pooled their resources on a program. But it won't air until April [2007].

Among the "Masterpiece Theatre" offerings this season: a two-part, four-hour adaptation of the very venerable "Jane Eyre," with no big names in the cast -- not that there's anything wrong with that. Otherwise, it's more of "Antiques Roadshow" on a network that is beginning to look like something of an antique roadshow itself."

"PBS: New Season? What New Season?" The Washington Post September 17, 2006

The Sun Stone is one of several LDS [Latter Day Saints] symbols on the newly rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple. It was completed in 2002 using limestone block quarried in Russellville, Alabama. The original Nauvoo Temple, on the same site, was only half completed when the Mormon's founder Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844. It was dedicated in 1846, damaged by an arson fire in 1848, and damaged by a tornado in 1850.

Walt Disney Company's new corporate headquarters in Burbank, California. The two to seven story headquarters building was designed by American architect Michael Graves in Indian Red Baruli Sandstone. In lieu of Sun Stones, the facade features statues of Walt Disney cartoon characters.

Photo credits: With thanks.

Modern Urban Muses v. The Life And Death [And Death And Life] Of Great American Cities

... "Like other creative-class centers, Washington [D.C.] is already facing threats to the vital mix, [Richard Florida] said: a dearth of affordable housing and rising income inequality. The very dynamics that are attracting creative-class workers to the area are also helping drive out the qualities they seek. And that, in turn, can lead to stifling homogeneity -- a creativity killer.

"Once a place gets boring, even the rich people leave," he said. "Do I really want to live in a region where everybody looks and acts like me?"

Take Adams Morgan, which [Richard Florida] cited in "The Rise of the Creative Class" [2002] as having the sort of multicultural sensibility and street life that creative-class types crave. A recent drive through the neighborhood on a Saturday night changed that view.

"I was in shock. . . . Adams Morgan has become something fundamentally different on the weekend," he said, referring to the throngs of inebriated, pizza-eating twentysomethings filling the streets. "This isn't the place it's going to happen. This is Las Vegas or something."

On [historically creative] U Street, Florida wondered whether revitalization had already extracted a price.

"I can barely see the legacy of Duke Ellington," he said. Authenticity, he mused, had been sacrificed for "success."

All was not lost, however.

On the way out of Busboys and Poets, a cafe-restaurant tucked inside a new condo development, Florida picked up a free literary journal titled "Divided City." In its pages, he appeared to find the sense of "realness" he had found lacking in the streetscape.

"Holy [expletive]. These people need to be in [on the urban redevelopment/renaissance] debate," he said, paging through it intensely.

He stopped on a poem titled "Towards a Forced Migration of Cranes."

"Emu, ostrich, egret, owl, anything but crane," it read. "Any thing but the flock of cranes that has migrated to this city, migrated to this city to breed contempt and feast on the young and old yet tender, once bold people of this city."

"Holy [expletive], this is it. This is it!" he said. "Oh, this is amazing. It's capturing the emotion of how this city is lived.""

Annys Shin "The City as Modern Muse: Richard Florida Muses on Cultivating Washington's 'Creative Class' Washington Post September 18, 2006

Muses struggle for wings in the fragile historic/creative central cores of Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: 'cris' once at With thanks.

Monday Night Classical Music: PBS Television To Broadcast Vienna State Opera's 50th Anniversary Reopening Concert

"Around 9 p.m. on June 30, 1944, the stage of the Vienna State Opera was illuminated by make-believe flames. Soprano Helena Braun, as Brünnhilde, rode her trusted steed onto the funeral pyre bearing the hero Siegfried, and as the orchestra, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch, poured out its stirring coda, the final scene of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" reached its end -- the "twilight of the gods," the engulfment of Valhalla and, with it, the destruction of a mighty power that once ruled the destiny of humankind.

In a curious twist of fate, that turned out to be the last operatic performance in the famed and resplendent house, which, up until then, had managed to maintain a semblance of normality in wartime. But, following that Wagernian apotheosis, the stage went dark as the war got closer and more intense. On March 12, 1945, just after 11 a.m., air raid sirens signaled yet another bombing run by the Allies. Within minutes, the theater that had been such a prized component of Vienna's and the world's cultural life since 1869 took a direct hit." ...

Prior to its devastating bombing during the final days of World War II, the Vienna State Opera was legendary home to a multitude of classical music giants for nearly a century. The House opened once again on November 5, 1955, and has since played host to some of the world's most esteemed musicians. The program marks the 50th anniversary of the Opera's re-opening with a magnificent concert featuring songs and an international collection of leading opera stars, including Placido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Bryn Terfel and Angelika Kirchschlager.

Tim Smith "An Illustrious History" Essay for PBS and PBS Great Performances Web-site.

The Austro-Hungarian Imperial-styled opera houses of Lviv, Ukraine, and Odesa, Ukraine were not damaged in the Second World War. Their interiors far excel the only partially restored Vienna State Opera House in pan-European classical beauty.

Photo credits: Lviv Ecotour and With thanks.

Max Beckmann, Frank Stella, Joel Shapiro, Wolfgang Laib And The Spirituality Of Twentieth Century Art

N. and I, and a friend, visited the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., yesterday afternoon, intending to attend a gallery talk on the great 20th century German visual artist Max Beckmann's late paintings, including the canvas "The Argonauts" which he completed hours before his death while living in political exile in the United States.

Apparently, the room housing the outstanding late Beckmann canvases had to close to prepare for an upcoming exhibition, and the Gallery's curatorial staff instead substituted a gallery talk on two new works by the contemporary German artist Wolfgang Laib -- a faint drawing in graphite and faint orange paint and a small sculpture recently added to the National Gallery's collection. The two works were gifts from the late Edward R. Broida and represent the first pieces by this important German artist in the national collection. Instead of "The Late Painting of Max Beckmann," the title of the gallery talk became "Spirituality and the Art of Wolfgang Laib". The substitution reminded me of the continuity of art in the world over the past 60 years, and especially of the troubled continuity of German and European art.

I was bothered, however, when the fine curatorial staff lecturer, described the "Rice House" of Mr Laib (or perhaps better, Dr Laib, since the artist completed his medical training before turning to visual sacred art [Max Beckmann had himself earlier in the last century been traumatized by his work as a German medic during the First World War]) as 'spiritual art', and then referred to the stunningly beautiful tri-wood sculpture of Joel Shapiro nearby as 'abstract,' formal, and non-sacred art; when if fact, both Mr Shapiro and Frank Stella based cycles of their wooden sculptures on the Nazi German destruction, by burning, of most of the wooden-built, largely Jewish villages of Belarus during the Second World War.

Wolfgang Laib (b 1950) "Rice House" Sealing Wax, Wood, and Rice, 1988.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Gift of Edward R. Broida, 2005.

Selections from the Collection of Edward R. Broida, National Gallery of Art, on display through November 12, 2006. Like my own small collection, Mr Broida's collection focuses on relationships between abstract and figurative art in the postwar period.

Max Beckmann at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Frank Stella's Polish and Belarusian Shtetl and Wooden Synagogue Memorial Sculpture Cycle. Also see Legacy Project web-site.

Joel Shapiro's United States Holocaust Memorial Museum commission, which is similar but less powerful (or beautiful?), in my opinion, than his tri-wood memorial in the National Gallery of Art, for which no image is currently available.

Interview with German sculptor Wolfgang Laib, known for objects and installations of austere beauty and delicacy, using naturally occuring elements such as milk, pollen, stone, and wax.

Image credit: (c) Wolfgang Laib and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. With thanks.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will Young And Idealistic New Washington Mayor Be Able To Usher In New Age Of Inclusive Quality Public Education And Culture In The Nation's Capital?

We will have to see whether the young, and enormously promising, probable new Mayor of our Nation's Capital, Adrian Fenty, will be able to bring the same focused and progressive energy to Washington, D.C. that Mayor Gavin Newsom is bringing to San Francisco, California since a few years ago and Mayor Andriy Sadovey is bringing to Lviv, Ukraine since April of this year. All three great and promising cities are technically about the same size, with Lviv, Ukraine (the cultural capital of Western Ukaine and of Eastern Europe between Krakow, Poland and Kyiv, Ukraine) technically the largest of the three -- with about 800,000 multicultural and multifaithed residents.

I met and spoke with the probable Washington, D.C. Mayoral elect Adrian Fenty on Monday, September 11, the memorial of the terrorist attacks of five years ago; and I was impressed by his idealism and strength of character. I was shocked after his primary victory to see The Washington Post cite unnamed critics who worry of Mr Fenty's lack of "intellectual gravitas".

Of course, it is hoped that Mr Fenty will now back a new and distinguished Central Public Library and National Conservatory of Music in the Nation's capital; as well as the new baseball stadium which was the center of a disproporionate amount of energy on the part of out-going Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and his business backers the past ten years.

To national public culture, to national public culture ...

PBS is following up on its national live broadcast, last night, of the 'gala' opening of the New York Philharmonic's 2006-07 Season, with two broadcasts from Europe, the center of the classical arts in today's world, and the center of classical arts media broadcasting in today's world. On September 18, there will be a broadcast on PBS Television of the Vienna State Opera 50th Anniversary Reopening Concert, marking fifty years since the reopening of the famous Opera House since its partial destruction near the end of World War II. Then, on September 26, on PBS Television, there will be a concert from the Salzburg Mozart Festival featuring the highly distinguished Vienna Philharmonic, which has featured for many years the musical talents on the trombone of a former high school and youth orchestra friend of mine. Check Charles T. Downey's for future expert updates on PBS public television's rise from the ashes in terms of quality public cultural broadcasting.

On the national public radio broadcasting front, I note that the so-called 'Washington National Opera' has hit the big-time and will be featured for the next four installments of NPR's World of Opera, on Saturday afternoons. Here are the details, but beware that the actual broadcasts in the past have not always matched what was on the PBS or NPR web-sites:

September 16

The Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti

There's not a lot to be taken seriously in this comic romp by Donizetti. Unless, of course, you count the music! It's some of Donizetti's finest, and takes the opera beyond the world of farce to a place where simple confidence can lead to life-changing revelations. Washington National Opera: Emmanuel Villaume, conductor
Cast: Elizabeth Futral (Adina); Paul Groves (Nemorino); Marc Barrard (Belcore); Steven Condy (Dr. Dulcamara); Christina Martos (Giannetta)

September 23

Vespri Siciliani by Giuseppe Verdi

If you've ever wondered why some people think the opera's not over until all the characters are dead, this piece may be the reason. It has enough deadly plotting, and enough of Verdi's finest music, for several evenings in the opera house. Washington National Opera: Placido Domingo, conductor
Cast: Maria Guleghina (Elena); Franco Farina (Arrigo); Lado Ataneli (Montforte); Vitalij Kowaljow (Procida); Erin Elizabeth Smith (Ninetta); Robert Baker (Danieli); Corey Evan Rotz (Tebaldo); J. Austin Bitner (Manfredo); James Shaffran (Roberto); John Marcus Bindel (Bethune); Benjamin von Atrops (Vaudemont)

September 30

L'Italiana in Algeri by Gioacchino Rossini

The plot is more than a little silly -- not to mention politically incorrect in the extreme! But nobody did wackiness better, and more beautifully, than Rossini did in this brilliant score -- heard here from a cast filled top to bottom with world-class Rossini singers. Washington National Opera: Riccardo Frizza, conductor
Cast: Olga Borodina (Isabella); Juan Diego Florez (Lindoro); Ildar Abdrazakov (Mustafà); Lyubov Petrova (Elvira); Leslie Mutchler (Zulma); Bruno de Simone (Taddeo); Valeriano Lanchas (Haly)

October 7

Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner

Placido Domingo's Washington National Opera ends its 2006 broadcast season -- and begins World of Opera's fall quarter -- with the first installment in its striking new production of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen. Washington National Opera: Heinz Fricke, conductor
Cast: Robert Hale (Wotan); Robin Leggate (Loge); Gordon Hawkins (Alberich); Elizabeth Bishop (Fricka); Jane Ohmes (Freia); Gary Rideout (Mime); Jeffrey Wells (Fafner); John Marcus Brindel (Fasolt); Detlef Roth (Donner); Corey Evan Rotz (Froh); Frédérique Vézina (Wellgunde); JiYoung Lee (Woglinde); Jennifer Hines (Flosshilde); Elena Zaremba (Erda).

Art or Life?

Mayoral Democratic Primary Victor in Washington, D.C., 35 year old Adrian Fenty.

Distinguished American Opera Singer Anthony Dean Griffey stars in the so-called 'Washington National Opera' production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 2004.

Photo credits: Adrian Fenty campaign committee ( and Anthony Dean Griffey Web-site ( With thanks.