Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Library Of Congress Music Division Explores Musical Metamorphoses And American Creativity Through A Variety Of Musical Experiences

"My plea for modern music is not that we should like it, nor necessarily that we should even understand it, but that we should exhibit it as a significant human document." -- Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge

"Western classical music is changing radically from its European roots as a result of the convergences of other traditions and genres. New ways of composing and listening arise, forms and genres morph into shifting shapes. Over the next few seasons Concerts from the Library of Congress, in performances and other presentations, will explore various aspects of musical transformation in an increasingly global society changes."


The Library of Congress Concert Series this season is exploring American creativity in three ways: in its overall, eclectic American celebratory programming; in its series of three concerts exploring 'American' choral music, a series which opened last night with Chanticleer performing works of Robert Kyr, Ezequiel Viñao, Carlos Sánchez Gutiérrez, Arthur Jarvinen, Steven Stucky, and Paul Schoenfeld; and in its three American Creativity Portrait Concerts, featuring music of Jonathan Larson, Elliott Schwartz, and Daniel Bernard Roumain. There are also several American jazz performances on the calendar and a Seeger Family Tribute, as well as an evening by 'spoken word performance artist' Marac Bamuthi Joseph.


The next concert in the American Creativity Portrait Concerts is on Friday, November 3rd, at 8:00 pm, and will feature a concert of the chamber music of American composer Elliott Schwartz [and works of Schubert and Ravel] in the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Before the concert there will be a discussion with the composer about his music (6:15, Whitall Pavillion). The evening is curated by Stephen Soderberg, Senior Specialist for Contemporary Music, Music Division, Library of Congress.

The concert features The Cassatt Quartet, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, violin & Aaron Shorr, piano, in the following program:

Bellagio Variations for String Quartet (1980)
Tapestry for Piano Trio (1996)
Memorial in Two Parts for Violin & Piano (1988)
(McKim Commission)

Fantasy in C Major, D. 934, for Violin and Piano

String Quartet in F Major

American composer Elliott Schwartz's chamber music will be featured at the Library of Congress. He is one of a few dozen American composers -- from both South and North America -- whose musical creativity is being celebrated at the Library of Congress this transformational season.

Photo credit: Schirmer.com With thanks.

Hermitage Ensemble Follows Chanticleer To Nation's Capital In Honor Of Ecumenical All Saints Day Of Spiritual And Humanistic Reflection


The Hermitage Ensemble, a six-man a cappella choir from Saint Petersburg, the Russian Federation, performs Eastern Orthodox motets and psalms, and Russian folk songs.

November 1, 2006 7:30 p.m.

St. Albans Episcopal Church, 3001 Wisconsin Ave. NW.

Freewill offering.


An All Saints Day celebration at the Wooden Architecture Museum, Saint Petersburg [?], the Russian Federation, in 1992.

Photo credit: (c) www.orangepin.com With thanks.

Warsaw, Poland, European Union's Jewish Cemetery Silently Reflects Upon Its Bicentennial, 1806 - 2006

"Elsewhere in Poland, Jewish cemeteries were usually destroyed by the Nazis and the stones used for road-building material. Warsaw’s cemetery was fortunate to avoid such wholesale destruction, possibly because Warsaw already had well-paved thoroughfares. Nonetheless, what the Nazis left has suffered from half a century of neglect. What remains is in need of extensive repair and restoration, but is still a fascinating and poignant place, and well worth a visit.

Established in 1806 and occupying some 33 hectares, the cemetery contains anything between 100,000 to 250,000 graves and tombs. It is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe and one of the few to be still in use today. Although the Nazis allowed the cemetery to survive, they did destroy all documentary records of Warsaw’s Jews. As a result, the cemetery is considered to be the last remaining archive. Since 1996 the Friends of the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw have been working to raise money towards to cemetery’s upkeep and create an index of all those buried there.

To visit the cemetery, men must cover their heads. The entrance is through a small gateway on Okopowa Street, opposite the end of Anielewicza Street."

Photo and text credit: Warsaw-Life.com. With thanks.

Europe Prepares For Reflective All Saints Day; Turns Icy Shoulder To American-Style Hedonistic Halloween

"Halloween, ancient Celtic festival or U.S. marketing gimmick according to your point of view, is dying in France after a short-lived breakthrough, French media reported on Tuesday.

"Halloween pretty much buried," the daily le Monde reported, quoting Benoit Pousset, head of costume company Cesar, who attributed the festival's demise in France to "a cultural reaction linked to the rise of anti-Americanism."

"Our Halloween sales have been falling by half every year since 2002," Franck Mathais of toys retailer La Grande Recre told the newspaper.

A group called "Non a Halloween" set up to fight the trend, which it saw as an unwelcome intrusion fostered by purely commercial interests, even wound itself up last year.

"There was no need for the group to exist any more," former president Arnaud Guyot-Jeannin told Reuters.

Halloween is believed to have originated as a Celtic agricultural festival before becoming associated with the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day on November 1." ...

Reuters "French press declares Halloween dead" WNED.org October 31, 2006


Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland, European Union, on a recent All Saints Day, November 1.

[Click image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Sabina Garncarz and culture.polishsite.us. With thanks.

Forget Putin And Halloween ... The Russian Post-Soviet Middle Class Is Finally Beginning To Develop Economically And Politically

..."After the hardships of the 1990s, Russia is finally witnessing the rise of a prosperous post-Soviet middle class.

Politically and economically, this has become one of the most important, and least talked-about, trends in Russia today. While international attention has focused on President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian approach, that tends to obscure what many Russians believe to be his main legacy – the extent to which they have, materially, become better off under his presidency.

Some international observers feel, moreover, that if democracy, press freedom and the rule of law are to flourish in Russia, that may depend on an assertive middle class pushing for such rights.

Those economic conditions are being created. Although the country is known abroad primarily as an exporter of raw materials, companies from carmakers to cosmetics giants now list Russia alongside China and India among their most dynamic consumer markets....

The consumer boom is the fruit of nearly eight years of economic growth averaging 6.6 per cent – thanks in part to record oil and natural gas prices – since Russia’s debt default and financial crisis in 1998. Real wages and consumer spending are growing twice as fast. The average monthly wage was up 13.6 per cent year-on-year in September to $415 – still low, but four times what it was when Mr Putin became president in 2000.

Low housing and utility costs mean a relatively high proportion of Russians’ wages goes straight into disposable income. A lingering suspicion of banks, born of the 1998 crisis, also means spare cash is more likely to go into flat-screen television sets or washing machines than into savings accounts.

Russians are less wary of borrowing, however. Consumer credit has mushroomed from zero a few years ago to about $40bn – though at barely 5 per cent of gross domestic product, one-tenth of western European levels, there is plenty of room for growth.

Yet despite the progress, yawning inequalities exist – and overall trends are not wholly encouraging. Tatyana Maleva, a sociologist at Moscow’s Independent Institute for Social Policy, led a study in 2000-01 of Russia’s social structure. Analysing salaries and factors such as savings and property ownership, she classed fewer than 1 per cent of Russians as a super-rich elite. At the other extreme, 10 per cent of the 144m population lived in real poverty [a smaller percentage than in the United States].

In between, 20 per cent formed a more-or-less comfortable middle class; just under 70 per cent were lower middle class – struggling, but able to afford a few consumer luxuries.

The picture already differed sharply from Soviet times. Then, too, says Ms Maleva, there was a privileged elite and poor underclass. But 80-90 per cent of Russians formed a middle layer" ...

Neil Buckley "Russia’s middle class starts spending" Financial Times October 30, 2006


Moscow, Russian Federation satellite image

Topics in Economic and Human Development: Will Western-style overconsumption flourish in the new Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Belarus?


"Moscow, the political and economic heart of Russia, sits on the far eastern end of Europe, roughly 1300 kilometers (815 miles) west of the Ural Mountains and the Asian continent. The city boasts a population of nine million and encompasses an area of 1035 square kilometers (405 square miles). The Moscow River runs through the center of the city, and the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government, lies in the direct center.

Moscow is thought to have been founded in the 12th Century by Yury Dolgoruky, Prince of Suzdal, who hosted a big feast on the site. The city was shortly after established as a trading route along the Moscow River. Ivan III, who is largely credited with uniting all of Russia, built the Kremlin’s cathedrals and declared Moscow the capital of his new kingdom in the 15th century. In the 17th century, Ivan the Great moved the capital to St. Petersburg, where it remained until the Bolsheviks brought the seat of government back to Moscow in 1918. Over the years the city has been sacked and burnt to the ground by the Tartars, the Poles, and the French. Thanks to the resilient spirit of the Russian people, the city remains as vital as ever. Now it is as capitalist in nature as London or New York, and everything from Big Macs to BMWs can be found on its streets.

The blue-gray pixels in this false-color image are urban areas. The light green areas surrounding the city are farms and the brown regions are more sparsely vegetated areas. This image of Moscow was acquired by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+), flying aboard the Landsat 7 satellite. July 23, 2002, marks the 30th anniversary of the Landsat program."

Photo and caption credit: Ron Beck, USGS EROS Data Center Satellite Systems via Wikimedia Commons. With thanks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"We Hope These Discussions Will Not Result In The Creation Of Some New Berlin Wall Along The EU Borders"

"Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko continued to hammer on enlargement as the EU-Ukraine meeting in Helsinki drew to a close on Friday (27 October) afternoon, but got zero political commitment in return.

The dioxin-scarred Orange Revolution veteran told press he was "occasionally worried about the intention to determine EU borders" adding "we hope these discussions will not result in the creation of some new Berlin Wall along the EU borders."

Ukrainians "need to see the European doors open" the president stated, warning that unless the new EU-Ukraine treaty for post-2007 relations contains explicit recognition of Kiev's accession hopes "the political chapter of the agreement will have no sense."" ...

Andrew Rettman "Ukraine enlargement plea falls on deaf ears" EU Observer October 27, 2006


Odesa (Odessa), Ukraine Opera House built in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Style, at a time when Europe was unified and there were no "Berlin Walls".

Photo credit: www.tourkiev.com With thanks.

Argentina-born Composer Ezequiel Viñao's New Choral Work "The Wanderer" Inspired By Renaissance Six-Part Counterpoint

"Chanticleer, as fans of the popular men's chorus know, draws its name from the clear-singing rooster in Chaucer's ``Canterbury Tales.'' For going on three decades, the group has lived up to the image: 12 men whose confident, clear-as-water sound lies somewhere between the Beach Boys and a choir of angels.

Its first program of the new season, titled ``Quotations,'' posed a couple of challenges, though. One, the group was breaking in seven new singers; and two, it was doing something really risky, taking on the music of six living composers, much of it brand new.

No problem: Saturday at Mission Santa Clara, where ``Quotations'' had its fourth Bay Area performance (including its premiere in Berkeley last week), the music was as gorgeously sung as it was ambitious.

Music director Joseph Jennings must be some kind of magician to coax the reconfigured group (which takes on new members each season, though usually not this many) into shape so quickly, but there it was.

All those light, creamy harmonies were tucked into place for ``In Praise of Music'' by Robert Kyr, which had its world premiere with this program. The music had a taffy-stretching quality of words being pulled out of words, a gentle massaging of the text, about the transporting power of sound.

The heart of the concert came next: ``The Wanderer,'' another world premiere, this one by the Argentina-born composer Ezequiel Viñao, whose translation into modern English of an Old English text about a man's journey from worldly attachment to Christian salvation had the ring of an ancient epic.

Viñao's music, in six-part counterpoint and inspired by Josquin des Prez (the 16th-century composer), was full of drones and curling, muezzin-like embroidery, as well as graduated entrances and slow-building dissonances, chewy and tightly bundled, then opening into miraculous colors. A lot of it was heart-rending, with its story of war and loss:

Mead-halls crumble, kings lie dead

Deprived of song, all the proud ones fell.

Where now the mare? Where now the men?

Where now the monarch?

What became of the high seats? What of the hall's joy?

At this point, the harmonies grew droopy, quietly feverish, almost hallucinatory, as the lost soul gropes toward salvation." ...

Richard Scheinin "New Chanticleer lineup sings new songs as sublimely as ever" Mercury News September 26, 2006


Mission Santa Clara de Asis, in Northern California, in 1777.

Image credit: missionart.com. With thanks.

While Washington, D.C. Awaits National Music Conservatory, Leonard Slatkin Accepts Conducting And Composition Post At Indiana University

"Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who will step down as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra at the conclusion of the 2007-08 season, has joined the faculty of Indiana University, effective next fall.

Slatkin, 62, will spend "several weeks" conducting student orchestras and working intensively with conducting and composition students, the university said in a statement Thursday. The initial appointment is for three years, but Gwyn Richards, dean of the university's Jacobs School of Music, said that as far as he was concerned, it was an "open-ended" commitment. Slatkin will be named the Arthur R. Metz Foundation Conductor.

"During the past two summers, I had the pleasure of working with the [Indiana University Summer Music] Festival Orchestra at the university," Slatkin said in a statement. "They so impressed me, as did the dedication of the faculty and staff, that it seemed logical to develop a further association. Working with young musicians has always been something at the forefront of my own agenda." Indiana University has long had a strong music department, but in the past three years its recruiting has grown increasingly aggressive. Recent hires include pianist Andre Watts, singers Sylvia McNair and Carol Vaness, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson." ...

Tim Page "Slatkin to Join Indiana U. Faculty" October 28, 2006


San Francisco Conservatory of Music
San Francisco, California, United States

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander provided theatre consulting services for the conceptual design for the renovation of Hellman Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It also provided services to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and numerous other musical and cultural organizations.

Image credit: www.auerbachconsultants.com. With thanks.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

'The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculpture' Opens In Washington, D.C. ... Please Wake Me When It Closes

"The Uncertainty of Objects and Ideas: Recent Sculpture features the work of nine international contemporary artists. These freestanding, self-contained objects result from labor-intensive processes in which materials are carefully combined and articulated-often deliberately incorporating the handmade with mass-produced consumer goods. While these artists propose new possibilities and challenges for the medium, they simultaneously engage with the formal concerns of modern sculpture and build upon the strategies of a number of groundbreaking twentieth-century movements, such as Dada, Fluxus, assemblage, and the readymade. The exhibition's title evokes a quality of open-endedness wherein questions are posed and single meanings are denied. It is this sense of uncertainty that the artists in the exhibition reflect upon and mirror in their sculpture. This project is organized by associate curator Anne Ellegood."

Andrea Cohen
Björn Dahlem
Isa Genzken
Mark Handforth
Rachel Harrison
Evan Holloway
Charles Long
Mindy Shapero
Franz West

October 26, 2006 - January 7, 2007

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.


In Conversation: The Current State of Sculpture

October 26, 2006 at 7 pm

This conversation will revolve around the current state of sculpture and will include artists Mark Handforth, Rachel Harrison, Charles Long, and Franz West, whose works are on view in the fall sculpture exhibtion. Focusing on the specific strategies and materials used by these artists, and moderated by exhibition curator Anne Ellegood and art historian and catalogue contributor Johanna Burton, the discussion will offer an opportunity to hear from artists about how both the history of the medium and the nature of contemporary life impact their approach to making objects.

Charles Long
Winterwork, 2004.

Photo credit: Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, via Hirshhorn website. With thanks.

NATO Warplanes Kill At Least 50 Civilians: "It Was Late At Night -- That Might Be The Reason They Didn't Know Where To Bomb"

"NATO warplanes killed at least 50 civilians, mostly women and children, in bombing in southern Afghanistan during a major Islamic holiday, local leaders said on Thursday.

The incident happened on Tuesday, the middle of the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month, in Panjwai, an area where the alliance said it had killed hundreds of insurgents in a two-week offensive last month.

NATO says it killed 48 insurgents during heavy fighting in the area in Kandahar province on Tuesday and had received credible reports several civilians were killed in the operation.

The defense ministry has sent a team to investigate.

"It was late at night -- that might be the reason they didn't know where to bomb," said provincial assembly member Agha Lalai.

"They have bombed residential houses."

Visiting the wounded in hospital, tribal elder Naik Mohammad said 60 civilians had died. Villagers also said 60 died and another member of the provincial assembly put the toll at 80.

Witnesses say 25 homes were razed in 4-5 hours of bombing." ...

Reuters News Agency "NATO bombs kill scores of Afghan civilians: officials" October 26, 2006


Skeptical, and increasingly fearful of NATO, Ukrainian civilians in Kyiv, Ukraine.

How can NATO hope to convince skeptical Ukrainians of the benefits of NATO treaty membership if the organization continues wantonly to kill civilians as they did earlier in its Balkan War bombing campaign of the late 1990s. The majority of Ukrainians reject the need for NATO membership; forcing NATO and the now alienated President Viktor Yushchenko to attempt clumsy, backdoor attempts to introduce unwanted NATO troops to Crimea, a largely Tatar and Russian settled and speaking Autonomous Region of Ukraine.

Photo credit: Nicholas and his blog.kievukraine.info. With thanks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Before There Was The Shostakovich Centennial There Were Dmitri Shostakovich And Mstislav Rostropovich, Working And Struggling Artists And Humanists

With all best wishes to Mstislav Rostropovich for a speedy recovery, and with congratulations and best wishes to Galina Vishnevskaya on her eightieth birthday, today ...


"Shostakovich composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 107 in 1959 for Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave the first performance on October 4 of that year, in Leningrad. Mr. Rostropovich was the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra's first performances of this work, in observance of the 70th anniversary of the composer's birth, on September 25 and 26, 1976, on which occasion the soloist was David Geringas; Mr. Rostropovich was also either the soloist or the conductor in all the NSO's subsequent performances of the Concerto ...

In addition to the solo cello, the score calls for 2 flutes and piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, horn, timpani, celesta, and strings. Duration, 28 minutes.


Shostakovich's four concertos for solo string instruments--two each for violin and for cello--are all works of his maturity, brought out in the last two decades of his life. Both of the violin concertos were composed for David Oistrakh, both of the cello concertos for Mstislav Rostropovich, and it happened that each of those dedicatees introduced his respective First Concerto to the United States and recorded it here within a few weeks of the Soviet premiere. Like the Tenth Symphony, with which the First Violin Concerto is contemporaneous, and the chamber works of those years, these concertos are not only substantial but profound, filled with the composer's personal feelings, expressed with his characteristic urgency and, in the case of the present work, with a conciseness not always encountered in his symphonies."...

© Richard Freed. All rights reserved.

Full Program Note to this great musical work.


Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1906, Dmitri Shostakovich was the leading Soviet composer of the mid-20th century. He studied piano with his mother, then at the Petrograd Conservatory (1919-1925). His graduation piece, Symphony No. 1, brought him early international attention.

Like many Soviet composers of his generation, he had to write under the pressures of government-imposed standards of Soviet art. His first two operas, The Nose (1930) and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1934) received popular and critical acclaim, but Party publications condemned them. However, his Symphony No. 5 (1937) and No. 6 (1939) were well received by both the Party and the public. Afterward he devoted himself primarily to symphonies, concertos and quartets.

He settled in Moscow in 1943 as a teacher of composition at the Conservatory, and from 1945 he taught also at the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1948 he was condemned again, and for five years wrote little besides patriotic cantatas, quartets, preludes and fugues.. Stalin's death in 1953 opened the way to less rigid aesthetic control. In 1956 he received the supreme Soviet honor, the Order of Lenin.

Shostakovich visited the United States in 1949, and 1958. He also made an extended tour of Western Europe, including Italy and Great Britain, where he received an honorary doctorate of music at the University of Oxford. In 1966 he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's Gold Medal. Works produced during his life include two operas, 15 symphonies, two violin concertos, two cello concertos, two piano concertos, ballet music, songs and scores for motion pictures.

Rostropovich, Oistrakh, Richter, and Karajan.

Mstislav Rostropovich was born in what is now Baku, Azerbaijan; David Oistrakh was born in what is now Odesa, Ukraine; and Sviatoslav Richter was born in what is now Zhitomir,Ukraine . Herbert von Karajan was born in Salzburg, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Photo credit: © Siegfried Lauterwasser

On 21st Century 'Preventive Warfare', Civilian Deaths, Statistics, And Sadness

More on Counting Civilian Casualties

"The online debate continues about a recent report in a British medical journal estimating 655,000 civilian deaths since the U.S. led invasion in March 2003. After my column on the study last week, lead author Gilbert Burnham defended its methodology in a discussion with readers.

Three British academics argue in Science.com (by subscription) that the study suffers from "main street bias."

"By only surveying houses that are located on cross streets next to main roads or on the main road itself," wrote co-author and Oxford University physics professor Sean Gourley in a press release. "The study inflates casualty estimates since conflict events such as car bombs, drive-by shootings artillery strikes on insurgent positions, and marketplace explosions gravitate toward the same neighborhood types that the researchers surveyed."

But Rebecca Goldin, writing for Statistical Assessment Service (stats.org) at George Mason University, rejected such criticism, saying the JHU study used statistical weighting methods that took into account the location of interviewees.

"The methods used by this study are the only scientific methods we have for discovering death rates in war torn countries without the infrastructure to report all deaths through central means," she wrote. "Instead of dismissing over half a million dead people as a political ploy as did Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, we ought to embrace science as opening our eyes to a tragedy whose death scale has been vastly underestimated until now.""

Jefferson Morley "World Opinion Roundup: A Daily Survey of What the International Online Media Are Saying" washingtonpost.com October 25, 2006


The United States military is said to be looking into civilian deaths in Haditha, Iraq.

Photo credit: (c) Lucian Read/World Picture Network via New York Times May 25, 2006. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Emerging Explorers And Emerging Artists Unite On The Forefront Of Renaissance Exploration And Research

"Meet two individuals on the forefront of exploration and research and take part in the new National Geographic Live! Emerging Explorers Salon. This event, held in the studios of the National Geographic Channel, showcases Losang Rabgey, executive director of Machik, an NGO whose mission is to empower and strengthen local communities on the Tibetan plateau, and Maria Fadiman, an ethnobotanist who studies how indigenous peoples in Latin America and Africa use plants.

These two women were recently inducted into the National Geographic Emerging Explorers program, an initiative established to recognize and support uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, and others who—at the beginning of their careers—are making significant contributions to world knowledge through exploration."

Friday, October 27, 2006 7:30 PM

The Grosvenor Auditorium
National Geographic Society Headquarters
1600 M Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
+1 202 857 7700

National Geographic Live!

Emerging Humanist Explorer Losang Rabgey

Photo credit: (c) Diana Rowan Rockefeller via National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. With thanks.

The 'New' Library Of Congress Concert Programming Highlights Continuing American Music Theater Creativity

"It isn't often that the Library of Congress books a rock band. The emphatic pulse of drum and electric guitar filled the august institution Monday night, though, as it celebrated the induction into its archives of "Rent" composer Jonathan Larson's papers.

Larson, who died of an aortic aneurysm in 1996 at age 35-- days before the premiere of his landmark rock opera -- is the first of a younger cadre of Broadway songwriters to have his manuscripts, letters and other materials preserved at the library alongside those of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein. Library officials say that scholars already are inquiring about access to Larson's collection.

"It's a surprisingly rich collection for someone who died so young," said Mark Eden Horowitz, the senior music specialist who spearheaded the library's efforts to acquire Larson's papers, which consist of about 3,800 items. "I've never seen anyone who wrote down his thoughts as much as he did. There's just so much of the person there, what he was thinking and feeling about things."

The library's musical commemoration was an exuberant retrospective that featured a half-dozen Broadway singers -- including "Rent" original cast members Anthony Rapp and Gwen Stewart -- performing Larson's pop-inflected compositions from both his well-known and unproduced shows.

A large, particularly fascinating portion of the evening was devoted to songs that were either cut from "Rent" or completely overhauled before the show's off-Broadway opening in January 1996 at the New York Theatre Workshop. (It moved later that year to Broadway, where it won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize.) ...

At the end of the evening, the Washington-based gospel group the Ministers of Music joined the actors onstage for the signature Larson anthem, "Seasons of Love." Not only were the papers of a singular American talent there, but the spirit was, too."

Peter Marks "'Rent' Creator Gets His Due: Jonathan Larson's Papers Join Library of Congress Archives" Washington Post October 25, 2006



Concerts from the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Foundations for Music

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra. List of timings, and first page of the autograph full orchestral score. Completed in 1943, and later revised in 1945, the Concerto was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. It was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Koussevitzky on December 1, 1944. The Concerto is one of the early commissions by the Foundation; part of a series of distinguished works from twentieth-century composers. (Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation Collection) (London, New York, Boosey & Hawkes, 1946)

Photo credit: Library of Congress. With thanks.

Where's Rasputin (Foley?): A Once Great Nation Auctions A Celebrity-Signed Guitar To Fund Its Struggling National Culture

October 25, 2006

Dear Garth:

As part of the celebrations being held during National Arts and Humanities Month this October, Americans for the Arts is auctioning a Gibson/Epiphone Dove acoustic guitar signed by an eclectic group of more than 20 celebrity arts supporters, ranging from the Dixie Chicks and Renee Fleming to Wayne Newton and Leonard Nimoy.

This is Americans for the Arts’ first ever online auction and all proceeds will benefit our advocacy efforts on behalf of the arts and arts education. The auction, which is being presented through eBay’s charitable program Giving Works, will conclude this Thursday, October 26 at 9:00 a.m. ET. To place a bid, please visit Americans for the Arts' eBay auction page.

The following celebrities have graciously signed the donated Gibson/Epiphone Dove acoustic guitar:

Alan Alda, actor, author
Alec Baldwin, actor
John Corbett, actor, musician
Kurt Cobain, legendary performer
Jamie Lee Curtis, actress, author
The Dixie Chicks, platinum-selling musicians
Pierre Dulaine, dancer, subject of the films Mad Hot Ballroom and Take the Lead
Melissa Etheridge, musician
Renee Fleming, opera star
The Indigo Girls, musicians
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway star
Wayne Newton, legendary performer
Leonard Nimoy, actor
Peter, Paul, and Mary, musicians
Lisa Marie Presley, musician
Harry Shearer, actor
Pete Yorn, musician
Dan Zanes, musician

Winner of the auction will also receive a brand new Epiphone hard shell case as well as the black Sharpie used to sign the instrument by all of the celebrities.
Thank you for your continued support of the arts and happy bidding!...



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Dressing up isn’t just for kids — according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, one third of adults in the U.S. dressed up for Halloween last year. Several operatic characters will disguise themselves onstage this month, too. At Atlanta Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera, audiences will be moved by the tears of a clown as he applies makeup in performances of Pagliacci. We will also see Mozart’s men disguise themselves in pursuit of (what else?) women: Don Giovanni will swap clothes with his servant at Houston Grand Opera and Opera Ontario, and two straight-laced suitors will dress up as “exotic” Albanians in performances of Così fan tutte at Canadian Opera Company and New York City Opera.

There’s never a shortage of ghosts on the street on October 31; they’ll also inhabit several stages this month, as well. Don’t miss Die Tote Stadt at New York City Opera, Boris Godunov at Opera Pacific, and Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera Queensland. If you’re more frightened by characters of the flesh-and-blood variety, you’ll thrill to portrayals the power-mad wife of Macbeth at Arizona Opera, the unswervable Salome at Lyric Opera of Chicago, the indomitable (well, almost) Queen of the Night at the Metropolitan Opera, and the bigamous Bluebeard [sic] at Washington National Opera."

Opera America


WNO to Present Simulcast of Puccini's Madama Butterfly on the National Mall

WNO and National Museum of Women in the Arts Present "The Year of the Woman in Opera," Beginning October 29, 2006

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's 2005 production of Dominick Argento's The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe. Photo by Mark Lyons.

Photo credit: (c) Mark Lyons via Opera America. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

After Bartok And Between Razionalita And Passionalita: Michael Steinberg On Goffredo Petrassi American Premiere

San Francisco Symphony Oct 25-28, 2006
Davies Hall, San Francisco

Roberto Abbado, conductor
Midori, violin


Petrassi Concerto for Orchestra No. 2
Britten Violin Concerto
R. Schumann Symphony No. 4



Second Concerto for Orchestra

GOFFREDO PETRASSI was born in Zagarolo, Italy, on July 16, 1904, and died in Rome on March 2, 2003. He composed his Second Concerto for Orchestra between April and October 1951, and the first performance was given on January 24, 1952, by the Basel Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Paul Sacher, who had commissioned the work. These are the first performances of the Second Concerto in the United States. The score calls for two flutes (second doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings (with three sections of violins rather than the usual two).

If, while visiting Rome, you ever undertook a pilgrimage to Palestrina out of interest either in the great Renaissance composer of that name or in Thomas Mann, who began Buddenbrooks there in 1897 and half a century later set a dramatic scene of Doctor Faustus in the house where he had lived, you perhaps noticed a road branching off to the left with a sign to indicate that, two and a half kilometers along, it would bring you to the little medieval town of Zagarolo. ...

Petrassi’s catalogue grew and the range of his musical activity widened as he became a skilled conductor, a teacher, an administrator of festivals and various types of musical societies, and for three years General Director of La Fenice Opera in Venice. During those troubled Mussolini years Petrassi’s style darkened, moving away from what one writer called his “eupeptic diatonicism” toward a more chromatic and generally more nuanced harmonic language. He wrote a series of meditative vocal works on texts from the Bible, the Roman liturgy, the tormented and invincible nineteenth-century poet Giacomo Leopardi (Coro di morti, 1941), and the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross (Noche oscura, 1951). Coro di morti and Noche oscura rank high among the twentieth century’s choral masterpieces. ...

Petrassi never wrote a symphony. For him, that title was too much burdened with nineteenth-century baggage. The eight Concertos for Orchestra are the backbone of his work as a composer of instrumental music. He thought of them as “the diagram of my evolution, of all my experiences . . . the explanation of my life, of everything I have been through, all the vicissitudes”—another Autoritratto. The gap between the first two concertos—1934 to 1951—is big, and the great choral works are the bridge across that gap. The war also makes the gap even bigger in psychological time than it appears on the calendar. For a while the concertos appeared in rapid succession (1953, 1954, 1955); then they were spaced more widely (1957, 1962, 1972). With the Eighth Concerto we approach the end of Petrassi’s composing life. He was nearly blind in his last two decades, and, not able to contemplate the idea of composing by dictation (as, for example, Frederick Delius did), he drew his last actual and symbolic double bar in 1978 at the conclusion of his Grand Septuor. Though silent as a composer, he remained to the end a forceful figure on Italy’s musical landscape."

Michael Steinberg

Full program note.

San Francisco Symphony Program Notes For Adults.

Goffredo Petrassi, whose Second Concerto for Orchestra receives its long-delayed American premiere tomorrow, in San Francisco, under the baton of Roberto Abbado.

Photo credit: www.milanomusica.org. With thanks.

San Francisco Youth Orchestra Offers Semi-Professional, Budget-Priced Survey Of Classical Music From Mozart and Beethoven To Webern And Shostakovich

"The San Francisco Youth Orchestra is one of the finest ensembles of its kind, anywhere. For twenty-five years, the Youth Orchestra has delighted audiences at home and abroad, in such legendary venues as Vienna’s Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Paris's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Leipzig's Gewandhaus, St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and of course, at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

Celebrate the Youth Orchestra's 25th Anniversary Season — and experience the outstanding artistry of 100 of the San Francisco Bay Area's most talented young instrumentalists under the leadership of Youth Orchestra Music Director Benjamin Shwartz. You'll be amazed by the thrilling artistry of these gifted young musicians as they explore great music!

The Youth Orchestra's 25th Anniversary Season begins with a salute to the International Shostakovich Centennial Celebration and culminates in a special performance of Beethoven's monumental Symphony No. 9. Don't miss this thrilling celebration of twenty-five years of music-making by the Bay Area's most talented young instrumentalists."

Note: These semi-professional concerts are recommended for ages 12 and older.


While at the Curtis Institute (Conservatory) of Music, San Francisco Youth Orchestra conductor Benjamin Shwartz worked with Philadelphia and Paris Orchestras conductor Christoph Eschenbach in the preparation of Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, and also assisted the composer Ned Rorem in revising his opera, Miss Julie, which was recently revived at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, a performance now available on Albany Records.


Sunday, Nov 19 2006 2 PM

Gugene Kang, cello

Wagner Overture to The Flying Dutchman
Lalo Cello Concerto
Liadov The Enchanted Lake
Shostakovich Symphony No. 1


Sunday, March 11, 2007 2 PM

Webern Passacaglia
Mozart Symphony No. 39
Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition


Sunday, May 20, 2007 2 PM

Colin McPhee Tabuh-Tabuhan
Beethoven Symphony No. 9

For further details.

Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory

[Click for enlargement.]

Let conservative elitists scoff at the musical talents -- and world travels -- of very young, semi-professional orchestral musicians throughout the world.


"The Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory is one of the most famous concert venues not only in Moscow and Russia but in the world – thanks to its wonderful decoration, comfortable location and – which is the most important for the musicians – perfect acoustics.

It was opened on 7 (20) April 1901.

The building was made under the project of architect V. Zagorsky. The Hall’s famous façade was a feature of the building previously staying here – a house of Russian princess Ekaterina Dashkova which was built on this place in the end of the 18th century.

A big part of the whole work – from the furniture and carpets to the organ of Paris «А. Cavaille-Coll» company (1899) presently staying in the Hall – was funded by Russian patrons of arts. The organ of the Hall was regarded as one of the best organ in the world during the Paris exhibition of 1900. Great Hall for Moscow is much bigger then a concert hall only. During the First World War (1915 – 1917) it was a hospital here, and in a period of 1924 – 1933 at daytime the Hall was used as a popular movie theatre.

Since 1940 the Conservatory was named after Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and in 1954 the monument to him was opened in front of the Great Hall.

The best soloists, orchestras and ensembles of the world play there concerts here. A number of international festival and competitions take place at the Great Hall, and among them there is the most famous in the world Tchaikovsky Competition. And it is considered as the most favorite hall in Moscow."

Capacity: 1737 seats

Photo and text credit: © Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, 1998-2006. All rights reserved. With thanks for use.

On The Non-Destructive Use Of Nuclear Science: The Renaissance Marriage Of Art And Science

"Eager for precision in a field notorious for ambiguity and frustration, curators at top museums in Europe and the United States have long reached for the instruments of nuclear science to hit treasures of art with invisible rays. The resulting clues have helped answer vexing questions of provenance, age and authenticity.

Now such insights are going global. The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations unit best known for fighting the spread of nuclear arms, is working hard to foster such methods in the developing world, letting scientists and conservators in places like Peru, Ghana and Kazakhstan act as better custodians of their cultural heritage.

“It’s very exciting,” said Matthias Rossbach, an agency official who helps direct the endeavor. “I learn so much.”

The agency runs the program as an adjunct to its global advancement of nuclear and related technologies for peaceful uses. In a way, it is one of the carrots meant to offset the intrusive policing that the agency does around the world to try to make sure nations refrain from secretive cheating in pursuit of nuclear arms.

Here at the agency’s headquarters, in late September at its annual conference, Dr. Rossbach and colleagues set up a booth to publicize the program and took time to explain analytic gear and its applications to a reporter and delegates from the agency’s 140 member states. The booth brandished the team’s credo: “Protecting the Past for the Future.”

In a nearby building, beneath a rotunda decorated with flags from around the world, a display featured some of the collaboration’s recent findings. Exhibited were dozens of scientific papers and abstracts describing how research projects had used the nuclear methods to address historic and artistic riddles.

For instance, Chinese scientists had fired the subatomic particles known as neutrons at ancient pottery from the Tang dynasty, which ruled China from [C.E.] 618 to 906." ...

William J. Broad "Rays and Neutrons, for Art’s Sake" New York Times October 24, 2006


One building of the Pechersk Monastery, in Kyiv, Ukraine, and a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the museum housing Ukraine's outstanding collection of Scythian Gold Treasures.

The other outstanding world heritage collection of Scythian Gold Treasures is housed at the Hermitage Museum, in [St] Petersburg, the Russian Federation.

Photo credit: (c) Galen R Frysinger http://www.galenfrysinger.com/ With thanks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The French And Hungarian (And American) Composers Are Coming, The French And Hungarian (And American) Composers Are Coming!

Psssst ... for those who prefer their classical music experiences alive and kickin', La Maison Française, at the Embassy of France, Washington, D.C., offers two [three] state of the classical artform concerts by leading world contemporary music performers Marilyn Nonken and Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Colleagues:

Monday, October 30, 2006 7:30 PM

Marilyn Nonken, piano

Joel-Francois Durand (in attendance): Le Chemin (1994)
Tristan Murail: Les travaux et les jours (2003)
Pascal Dusapin: Preludes (2006)


Monday, May 7, 2007 7:30 PM

Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Colleagues, pianos and percussion

Music by Bartok, Nancarrow, Ligeti, Reich, Kurtag, and Eotvos.

(See the above link for complete program details.)


And for those preferring the mixture of the old and new:

Sunday, May 6, 2007 7:30 PM

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

Piano music by Bartok, Beethoven, Boulez, Cage, Scarlatti, Janacek, Kurtag, Liadov, Ligeti, Messiaen, Mussorgsky, Ravel, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Stockhhausen, Stroppa, Tchaikovsky, Murail, and Webern.

(See the above link for complete program details.)

A little over two weeks before the November 7 mid-term national elections in the United States, demonstrators in Budapest, Hungary, the European Union, on October 23, 2006, demanded democracy and transparency and accountability of government processes.

Photo credit: Associated Press. With thanks.

October 23rd, 1956 ... And Today's 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

"On October 23rd, 1956, thousands of Hungarian students and workers stood up to the Stalinist regime and began a revolt in the pursuit of freedom. Although twelve days later Soviet troops suppressed the rebel armies, by November 4th millions of Hungarians had either joined the fight or supported it. In these twelve days, 2500 Hungarians were killed in action; and, in the months and years that followed hundreds of people were executed and thousands persecuted in their own country. After this uprising, over 200,000 Hungarian fled their homes into neighboring countries and many eventually came to United States. At the time many viewed this revolution as unsuccessful, but, as we remember our history, we take pride in knowing that this was the first in a series of events that triggered the decline of communism and led to the peaceful transition into democratic rule decades later in Central and Eastern Europe. The bloodshed fifty years ago bears powerful witness to the unwavering spirit of freedom that resounds in the hearts of the Magyar people."

The Embassy of Hungary in Washington, D.C., proudly invites you to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.

1956 Photo Exhibition at the Katzen Center for the Arts, American University, Washington, D.C. September 6 - October 29, 2006


October 16, 23 and 30, 2006

The Hungarian Revolution in Film: Looking Back After 50 Years

Film Screenings at the Goethe Institut in cooperation with the Embassy of Hungary


On Truth, Lies, Politics, and Media – in Dialogue with Hannah Arendt [1906-1975]

Film and Workshop
November 27, 2006 - November 29, 2006

Goethe-Institut Washington, GoetheForum

No charge
+1 202 289 1200 info@washington.goethe.org

November 27-29, 2006

Given the constant political pressures, demographic shifts, and technological changes, mass media are under increasing scrutiny. How do today's media portray events and shape public opinion?

Our two-day workshop On Truth, Lies, Politics, and Media uses the writings of Hannah Arendt [1906-1975, and almost exactly contemporary with world-renowned composer Dmitri Shostakovich] as a springboard to open discussions on politics and media today. The event is opened with the film A Face in the Crowd, depicting the transition of media from radio to television in 1950s America.

The Budapest Uprising of 1956

The Arrival of Soviet Tanks and the Suppression of the Uprising

Photo credits: Associated Press Archives via the BBC and menziesera.com. With thanks.


"Police expelled several hundred protesters early Monday from a square outside parliament as Hungary commemorated the 50th anniversary of its anti-Soviet uprising.

Protests on Kossuth Square started on Sept. 17, when a recording was leaked revealing Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitting that the government lied about the economy before its re-election in April.

The protesters had vowed to stay until Gyurcsany was dismissed, but police pushed them off the square after they refused to submit to security checks. But authorities did not dismantle the dozens of tents set up by the protesters, and they were expected to allow the demonstrators to return after Monday's commemoration.

State news agency MTI reported that police beat some of the protesters - including women and elderly people - with rubber batons, and some had head injuries.

President Laszlo Solyom pleaded Sunday for national unity, trying to keep the bitter political divisions from spilling over into the celebrations.

'Oct. 23 could be a real national holiday if we wanted it to be, and if we took the steps leading back to the unity and uniqueness of 1956,' Solyom said at a gala event at the Hungarian State Opera that launched the official ceremonies." ...

Pablo Gorondi and Associated Press "Hungary Police Expel Protesters" via Topix.net October 23, 2006


Choral Music, World Literature, And The Loss Of American Humanist Philanthropy

Over the past two Saturday evenings, Washington regional audiences have been fortunate to be able to hear live, and superb, performances of Gustav Holst's 'Hymns From The Rig Veda' (preceded by sacred Hindu solo chanting), and Alfred Schnittke's 'Requiem', from 1975, which the Soviet/Russian/'European' composer based upon his own personal selection of the words of the Latin Mass (the composer, of Jewish and atheist ethical/religious background, converted to Christianity later in his life, but incorporated Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox humanist strains in his orchestral and choral music).

Not this evening, but next Monday, October 30, the Library of Congress will celebrate its Founders' Day with a chamber choral program by the San Francisco-based ensemble Chanticleer, featuring the the East Coast premiere of Ezequiel Viñao's 'The Wanderer', a setting of an ancient Anglo-Saxon poem. Works by American composers Paul Schoenfeld, Carlos Sánchez Gutiérrez, Arthur Jarvinen, and Steven Stucky round out the concert.

The program is the first of three Library of Congress concerts this season highlighting American choral music.

A podcast with Chanticleer music director Joseph Jenning and composer Ezequiel Viñao on The Wanderer is available from the Library of Congress here.


Two extraordinary American women, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and Gertrude Clarke Whittall, by their generosity toward the Library of Congress Music Division, had a profound influence on the history of music in the United States and laid the cornerstone for all subsequent musical philanthropy in the Library. They were born within three years of one another, and their support of music in the Library overlapped for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. Although their devotion to music was equal, they expressed that devotion in divergent but complementary ways, Mrs. Coolidge focusing largely on the new, Mrs. Whittall on the classic tradition exemplified by the repertory of the string quartet.

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), one of the most notable patrons in the history of American music, seized an opportunity in 1924 to expand the vision and mission of the Library of Congress through underwriting concerts, commissioning new music, and encouraging musicological scholarship.

To date, the new American oligarchs of the early 21st century, while expressing strong support of science and medicine, have failed to express a comparable level of commitment and thought to American and world humanist-based culture.


In the Beginning: The Bible Before The Year 1000

October 21, 2006–January 7, 2007

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C.

The [Judeo-Christian] Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been produced in numerous editions, from the book form popularized over 1600 years ago, to tape recordings, CDs and now on the Internet. However, few people know the fascinating history of the Bible. What were some of the first Bibles like? What materials were used to make them? In what languages where they written?

(Answer to last question: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Glagolitic [early Slavonic], Armenian, Ethiopian, Coptic, Georgian.)

St. Mark and St. Luke; Right cover of The Washington Manuscript of the Gospels
7th century; Byzantine period
Encaustic painting on wooden panel
H: 21.3 W: 14.3 cm; Egypt
Freer Gallery of Art
Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1906.298


Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: Freer/Sackler Galleries of Art, Washington, D.C. With thanks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Profile Of One Of The Top 10 Most Polluted Places In The World

The World's Top 10 Most Polluted Places

CHORNOBYL, UKRAINE (Part of the Soviet Union in 1986)

"Potentially affected people: Initially 5.5 million [largely in the post-Soviet Union nations of Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation], now disputed levels of effect.

Type of pollutants: Uranium, Plutonium, Radioactive Iodine, Cesium-137, Strontium, and other metals

Site description: The world's worst nuclear disaster took place on April 26, 1986, when testing in the Chernobyl power plant, 62 miles north of Kiev [now Kyiv], triggered a fiery melt-down of the reactor's core. Thirty people were killed in the accident, 135,000 evacuated, and one hundred times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki was released. To this day, the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant remains uninhabitable.

Within seven months, the reactor was buried in a concrete casing designed to absorb radiation and contain the remaining fuel. However, the sarcophagus was only meant to be a temporary solution and designed to last 20 or 30 years. A program to re-contain the site is underway.

One major reason for the concern is that though an enormous amount of radiation was released during the disaster, most of the radioactivity remained trapped within the plant itself. Some estimate that more than 100 tons of uranium and other radioactive products, such as plutonium, remain to be released if there is another accident. Chernobyl is also thought to contain some 2,000 tons of combustible materials. Leaks in the structure lead experts to fear that rainwater and fuel dust have formed a toxic liquid that may be contaminating the groundwater.

Thyroid cancer in children surrounding this area is a main health problem. Over 4000 thyroid cases had been diagnosed since 2002. Most of these cases have been attributed to elevated concentrations of radioiodine found in milk. It is hard to project lethal cancer rates and other health risks associated with this fallout. What is known is more than five million people currently inhabit the affected areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, which have all been classified as `contaminated' with radionuclides due to the Chernobyl accident (above 37 kBq m-2 of 137Cs)." ...

Source: www.blacksmithinstitute.org


Chernobyl Children's Project International

Chernobyl.info. The international communications platform on the longterm consequences of the Chernobyl disaster

Satellite photograph of Chornobyl, Ukraine. From the Landsat 4 TM Image Coverage of Ukraine, June - August 1988.

Photo credit: http://www.ulrmc.org.ua/archive/landsat/ With thanks.

***At John F. Kennedy Center For The Arts, Russian Conductors Lead Former Cold War Enemies In Protracted Celebration Of Dmitri Shostakovich Centennial

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Mstislav Rostropovich has unfortunately cancelled his Shostakovich Centennial concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra, in order to undergo medical tests and evaluations. Most of the artists and repertoire originally scheduled for these concerts have been changed, with the hope that Maestro Rostropovich will lead these programs in a future season. However, Yo-Yo Ma will still appear in the Nov. 11 concert.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Petersburg, Russian Federation, Europe

Valery Gergiev, music director
Alexander Toradze, piano

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (“The Year 1905”)

Click this link for expert program notes to this Shostakovich work.


Thursday to Saturday, November 2-4, 2006
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C., United States, North America

Mstislav Rostropovich, former NSO music director
Maxim Vengerov, violin

Shostakovich: Violin Concerto in A minor
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E minor

Click this link for expert program notes to these Shostakovich works.


Thursday to Saturday, November 9-11, 2006
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C., United States, North America

Mstislav Rostropovich, former NSO music director
Martha Argerich, piano & Steven Hendrickson, trumpet (Nov. 9-10)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Nov. 11)

Shostakovich: Festive Overture (Nov. 9 & 10)
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor (for Piano, String, Orchestra, and Trumpet) (Nov. 9 & 10)
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major (Nov. 11)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 in C minor (Nov. 9, 10, & 11)

Click this link for expert program notes to these Shostakovich works.


Saturday, March 24, 2007
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

National Philharmonic of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation, Europe

Vladimir Spivakov, music director
Olga Kern, piano

Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

Click this link for expert program notes to these Shostakovich works.


Click here for On An Overgrown Path's posting on NATO's use of 31,000 rounds of DU (depleted uranium) weaponry during the Southeastern European Balkan Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s.

This sculpture of Shostakovich's head, by Russian artist Ernst Neizvestny, was one of Mstislav Rostropovich's late cold war gifts to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the American people. This gift occured at a time when the military-industrial complexes of both the United States and the Soviet Union were each aiming tens of thousands of nuclear-tipped missles at each other's major population centers.

Photo credit: Via http://www.cannes.artinfo.ru/ru/exhibition.htm With thanks. (This is a very interesting contemporary visual arts website.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki's Third String Quartet And The Lost Decade In Eastern Europe's And The World's Renaissance

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung op. 67 (1994-95) 56'
for string quartet

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Father Kolbe Catholic Church, Bielsko-Biala, Poland, Europe
World Premiere

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, United States

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Krakow, Poland, Europe

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Jugendstiltheater , Vienna, Austria, Europe

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Orange County Performing Arts Center, California, United States

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
University of California, Berkeley, United States

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj: ...songs are sung
Kronos Quartet
Theatre de la Ville, Paris, France, Europe

Henryk Mikolaj Górecki’s third string quartet, …songs are sung, received its much-anticipated premiere by the Kronos Quartet on 15 October, 2005 at the Bielsko-Biala composer festival in Poland, Europe.

Górecki’s earlier quartets, Already it is Dusk (1988) and Quasi una Fantasia (1991), were both written for the Kronos Quartet and the group has toured them extensively and made highly successful recordings for Nonesuch. The new quartet also looks set to travel widely [but will not soon be performed in Washington, D.C.]...

Górecki’s string quartets are central statements within the composer’s output, and the new work has been in gestation since the mid-1990s: the bulk of the composition was completed in 1994 and 1995, but the quartet was only released for performance in its finalised form this year. The five movements total a duration of 55 minutes, while the title …songs are sung sums up the essentially lyrical nature of the work. The recurring expression marking is Cantabile, appearing repeatedly in three of four characteristically slow movements. The central movement is a contrasting marcato outpouring of energy, while the extended Lento final movement is something of a peaceful benediction, marked Tranquillo.

Górecki's two earlier string quartets are coupled on a single disc from Nonesuch.

Parts for performance and study scores of both quartets are available for sale.

Source: Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers

Father Kolbe (1993) by Czeslaw Medrek (d. 1997). Ceramic relief.

While imprisoned in a German concentration camp, the Franciscan friar Maksymilian Kolbe offered to sacrifice his life for that of another prisoner condemned to die. The Nazis accepted and Fr. Kolbe was starved to death. The man he saved -- Franciszek Gajowniczek -- is still alive.

Photo credit: © The Provincial Museum of Alberta. PMA:J99.2002. With thanks.


Unlike in Krakow, Poland, Jews in Lviv, Ukraine, historically were allowed to live within that city's municipal fortified walls.

Not Coming Soon To The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts .... A Flowering Tree, An Opera Of Humanity

A Flowering Tree, An Opera

Music by John Adams

Libretto by John Adams and Peter Sellars adapted from the ancient Indian folktale and poetry in translations by A.K. Ramanujan.

A Flowering Tree was commissioned as part of the Vienna New Crowned Hope Festival to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. It takes as its model Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and its themes are magic, transformation and the dawning of moral awareness.

The Story

A Flowering Tree is based on a folktale from the Kannada language of southern India as translated by A.K. Ramanujan.

Kumudha, a poor but beautiful young girl, discovers that she has the magic gift of being able to turn herself into a flowering tree. Wanting to give comfort and support to her old and suffering mother, she asks her sister to help her perform a ceremony that will transform her body into a tree. The sister gathers up the flowers of the tree and Kumudha returns to her human form. They sell the flowers in the town marketplace and give the money without explanation to their mother.

A young Prince, hiding in a tree, spies on Kumudha during one of her transformations. Enchanted and troubled by both her beauty and her magic abilities, he demands of his father, the King, that Kumudha be brought to the palace so that he can marry her.

On the night after their wedding Kumudha enters the bridal chamber only to find the Prince silent and sullen. Several nights pass without him speaking to her or touching her. Finally he makes his demand: she must do her transformation for him. Kumudha, ashamed, resists, but finally relents and performs the ceremony for him.

The Prince’s jealous sister, suspicious of Kumudha, hides in the royal bedroom and sees the ceremony and transformation take place. The next day, while the Prince is away, she taunts Kumudha and commands her to perform the ritual for her and a group of her wealthy young friends. Kumudha reluctantly assents, but the bored young people lose interest and leave her in the midst of a rainstorm, not having completed her return to her human form.

Kumudha, now a hideous freak--a stump of a body, half tree and half human--crawls into a gutter, where she is found by a roving band of minstrels.

The Prince does not know what has happened to his young wife. He assumes his arrogance has made her leave the court forever. Full of remorse, he leaves the palace, becoming a beggar and wandering mute and aimlessly through the country.

Time passes. The Prince, haggard and almost unrecognizable, comes to the palace courtyard of a distant city. The new Queen of this city is his sister, she who had taunted Kumudha. In shock, the Queen recognizes her brother and brings him into the palace, bathing and feeding him. But he will not utter a word and only lies lifeless in his bed. In the town marketplace, several of the queen’s maids see the minstrel troupe and hear the beautiful singing of a freakish thing with neither hands nor feet. They bring this strange and misshapen torso to the palace and suggest that its beautiful singing might revive the Prince. Not knowing that this is Kumudha, the Queen orders her to be bathed and covered with scented oils and brought to the Prince’s bed.

Alone, Kumudha and Prince recognize one another. They are both overcome with grief and then with joy. He takes two pitchers of water and performs the old ceremony. Kumudha returns to her human form.


First performances: November 14, 16, 17 & 19, 2006, MuseumsQuartier, Vienna. Orquesta Simón Bolívar and Schola Cantorum of Caracas, John Adams, conductor. Storyteller: Eric Owens; The Prince: Russell Thomas; Kumudha: TBA

Further performances: Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle, cond., December 21& 22, 2006; San Francisco Symphony, John Adams, cond., March 1, 2 & 3, 2007; London Symphony, John Adams, cond., Barbican Center, Aug. 10 & 12, 2007

Commissioned by New Crowned Hope Festival, the Berlin Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Barbican Center and by Lincoln Center.

Lyric soprano, tenor, baritone; picc, 2 fl, 2 ob (2=Eng hrn), soprano recorder, alto recorder, 2 clar, bass cl, bsn, contrbsn (=bsn); 4 hrn, 2 tpt, timpani, 2 percussion, harp, celesta and strings.

SATB chorus (minimum 40)

Duration: approx 2.5 hours with intermission
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

Source: (c) John Adams and his Earbox 2006. All rights reserved.

Kumudha, after she is returned from the liminal world and restored to truly human form.

Photo credit: www.srivaishnavam.com. With thanks.


A River

In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
every summer
a river dries to a trickle
in the sand,
baring the sand ribs,
straw and women's hair
clogging the watergates
at the rusty bars
under the bridges with patches
of repair all over them
the wet stones glistening like sleepy
crocodiles, the dry ones
shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sang of the floods.

He was there for a day
when they had the floods.
People everywhere talked
of the inches rising,
of the precise number of cobbled steps
run over by the water, rising
on the bathing places,
and the way it carried off three village houses,
one pregnant woman
and a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda as usual.

The new poets still quoted
the old poets, but no one spoke
in verse
of the pregnant woman
drowned, with perhaps twins in her,
kicking at blank walls
even before birth.

He said:
the river has water enough
to be poetic
about only once a year
and then
it carries away
in the first half-hour
three village houses,
a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda
and one pregnant woman
expecting identical twins
with no moles on their bodies,
with different coloured diapers
to tell them apart.

-- A. K. Ramanujan

Source and credit: (c) A. K. Ramanujan. All rights reserved.
Submitted to the World Wide Web by Suresh Ramasubramanian. With thanks.


John Adams's Doctor Atomic Symphony is based on orchestral music from the opera. Among the music incorporated and reworked into this 30-minute symphony are passages from the overture, Oppenheimer’s Baudelaire soliloquy, the electrical storm music, “Batter my heart”, and the culminating “Countdown” music. It will receive its premiere by the Saint Louis Symphony, under David Robertson, early next year. The Symphony is reported to only include acoustic instruments, and not the electro-acoustic instruments used in the opera score.

Score and parts for the Doctor Atomic Symphony will be available from Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. beginning in early 2007.

A music sample is available at the above link.

Coming Soon To The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts, The Cello That Thought That It Was Almost Human

Maya Beiser, cello
Almost Human

Saturday, October 21, 8:00 pm
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

“Cross a deeply serious, technically honed classical musician with a fiercely sexy, attitude-driven pop star and you will have some idea” of Maya Beiser’s onstage persona, says Strings magazine. Her genre-defying program, Almost Human, includes the Washington, D.C. premiere of “I am writing to you from a far-off country,” a multimedia dreamscape of poetry, music, video, and speech, commissioned in partnership with WPAS.

Over the last decade Maya has conceived of and presented major pieces for the cello, written for her by some of the most prominent contemporary composers. Each one of her projects received great critical acclaim and was featured in the foremost concert halls worldwide. Described by the New Yorker Magazine as “The Cello Goddess,” she has been on the forefront of her field, creating a vast new repertoire for her cello.

This performance includes a video installation by Shirin Nishat, an Iranian-born artist and 2006 recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. The Gish Prize is given annually “to a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”

Click here for music samples.


Michael Gordon: Light Is Calling
Chinary Ung: Khse Buon
Joby Talbot: Motion Detector
Tan Dun: Antiphonal Song
Evan Ziporyn: Kebyar Maya
Eve Beglarian: I am writing to you from a far-off country

Source: Washington Performing Arts Society.

Maya Beiser will be featured in one of the Kennedy Center's rare contemporary art evenings. The last one that I recall, off-hand, was New York-based Chinese visual artist's Cai Guo-Qiang's fireworks display, over the Potomac River, last October; part of the National Center's Festival of China. Mr Cai's current exhibition, on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, is barely human, in my opinion.

Photo credit: Via Washington Performing Arts Society. With thanks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

After Six Years, Berlin's Bode Museum/Museum Island Reopening Marks Milestone In Restoration Of European Civilization

"Berlin's famed Museum Island complex moves a big step closer to recovering its former glory this week when the Bode Museum, home to the city's sculpture collection, reopens after six years of restoration.

The domed building, which juts out into the Spree River in the heart of former East Berlin, is the second of the five Neoclassical museums to get a full makeover as part of a government-funded $1.5-billion overhaul.

It houses about 1,700 sculptures, along with Berlin's Museum of Byzantine Art and Numismatic Collection. The museum will reopen to visitors on Thursday, after a ceremony today.

Visitors can expect "an overview of the history of European sculpture from late antiquity, around [C.E.] 300, to about 1800," said Arne Effenberger, the sculpture collection's director.

The collection includes medieval works such as Giovanni Pisano's "Man of Sorrows" and Presbyter Martinus' "Madonna," and Renaissance pieces such as Donatello's "Pazzi Madonna" to German sculpture of the 18th century.

Effenberger said in an interview that visitors also would see about 150 paintings from the city's Gemaeldegalerie museum, illustrating "aspects of the mentality of a particular era in art history" that are common to painting and sculpture.

The Byzantine collection features works from the 3rd to the 15th centuries, including Roman sarcophagi, ivory carvings and mosaic icons....

The five museums, at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suffered severe damage during World War II and were only partly restored by communist East Germany." ...

Geir Moulson "Berlin museum set to reopen" Los Angeles Times October 17, 2006


Bust of a Lady of Rank, late 5th–early 6th century C.E.
Byzantine; Made in Constantinople
Marble; H. 20 7/8 in. (53 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1966 (66.25)
Metropolitan Museum, New York City


America faces a choice as to whether it will continue to participate in European civilization.

Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters. With thanks.


Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Garden. Washington, D.C.

Kyiv Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Kyiv, Ukraine, Europe.

Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington, D.C. "In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000"

Lviv History Museum, Lviv, Ukraine, Europe

Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Kren and Daniel Marx, Budapest, Hungary, Europe.

American Composers Michael Gordon And Michael Hersh Employ Different Artistic Strategies To Approach Horror Of September 11, 2001

Sunday, October 22, 2006, 7:00PM

George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium presents

Kronos Quartet

David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello)

This perfomance will include pieces featured on 2005’s You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood and 2000’s Caravan, as well as unrecorded works from German industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten and composers Dan Visconti and Ram Narayan.

Additionally, Kronos Quartet will perform the DC premiere of Michael Gordon’s The Sad Park, a four-part piece featuring recordings made between September 2001 and January 2002 of children from the University Plaza Nursery School in Lower Manhattan.


Derek Charke / Cercle du Nord III *

Rahul Dev Burman (arr. Osvaldo Golijov) / Aaj Ki Raat (Tonight Is the Night)

Rahul Dev Burman (arr. Stephen Prutsman / Kronos) / Mehbooba Mehbooba (Beloved, O Beloved)

Ram Narayan (arr. Kronos, transc. Ljova) / Raga Mishra Bhairavi

Dan Visconti / Love Bleeds Radiant

Unknown (arr. Kronos, transc. Ljova) / Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me

Einstürzende Neubauten (arr. Paola Prestini & Kronos) / Armenia

Michael Gordon / The Sad Park

Part 1 two evil planes broke in little pieces and fire came
Part 2 there was a big boom and then there was teeny fiery coming out
Part 3 I just heard that on the news that the buildings are crashing down
Part 4 and all the persons that were in the airplane died
Played without pause


"The 9/11 memorial has fast become a compositional cliché, but [The Sad Park], raw and ritualistic, felt necessary." -The New Yorker

Listen to the Kronos Quartet


Song cycle without words, by [Michael] Hersch
Philadelphia Inquirer

October 15, 2006

"Music speaks to the troubled times in which it was written, though the instances when it addresses its contemporary audiences with unflinching directness are special chapters in history reserved for, say, Kurt Weill in soon-to-be-Nazi Germany and Dmitri Shostakovich in Stalinist Russia.

Not so expectedly, Philadelphia-based Michael Hersch took his place among them with his two-hour, 50-part, full-evening piano work, 'The Vanishing Pavilions.' Premiered on Saturday under the auspices of Network for New Music, the piece represented a summation of the great but disturbing symphonic and chamber works he has written during the last 10 years.

The performance at St. Mark's Church also signified Hersch's emergence as a pianist. Looking a bit like an accountant at the keyboard, he conjured volcanic gestures from the piano with astonishing virtuosity. The evening felt downright historic.

The piece is so directly inspired by British poet Christopher Middleton that the 35-year-old composer and 80-year-old writer can be called collaborators, though no words were set to music. Hersch has described the piece as a shattered song cycle without words. Sections of music were inspired by lines of verse - included in the voluminous program booklet - but didn't literally reflect them. Both artists are the intuitive sorts whose work is better contemplated than explained. But some of Middleton's lines, such as 'explosions of clocks and winds without routine,' described Hersch's music perfectly.

Nothing in the music is rounded or symmetrical. Everything unfolds in open-ended, haiku-like eruptions, though built on ideas that recur throughout the 50 movements, from a lamenting, chantlike melody to passages of such speed and density you'd think the complete works of Franz Liszt were played simultaneously within three minutes.

The long-term trajectory of 'The Vanishing Pavilions' is from music of polarized extremes (like our political climate) to something more integrated, but harshly mirroring how elements of daily life that were unacceptable before Sept. 11 are confronted daily. Overtly or covertly, 'The Vanishing Pavilions' is about the destruction of shelter (both in fact and in concept) and life amid the absence any certainty. In other words, welcome to 2006.

It sounds daunting and exhausting, but the piece is actually a model of clarity and economy if you can handle the reality Hersch's music embraces. Though seemingly surreal in its collection of cantankerous non sequiturs, the music is hyper-real in its poetic projection of the random horrors of modern life. The piece also has some thrilling virtuoso fireworks - one section has huge blocks of chords that somehow echo in a distant key.

Remarkably, the piece ends with some 36 chords that ascend to a troubled heaven in a route that's direct but could only be carved by Hersch's individualistic use of inner voices. And though the music is as deeply troubled as can be, its restless directness also commands listeners not to be paralyzed by existential futility."

Copyright © 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer, All Rights Reserved.

Source: Topix.net Publisher Platform (beta)

Washington, D.C.'s "Children's Peace Day" Proclamation, September 11, 2003, soon after the commencement of the U.S.-Led War and Occupation of Iraq which has killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi civilians including thousands of Iraqi civilian children.

Photo credit: International Child Art Foundation. With thanks.

Shostakovich Centennial Autumn Pauses For Performance of Alfred Schnittke's Poignant Requiem Mass

Alfred Schnittke's Requiem Mass, of 1975 [the year of Dmitri Shostakovich's death], will be performed in Washington, D.C., this Saturday evening by the Cantate Chamber Singers, under Gisèle Becker. The evening also includes music of J.S. Bach. For those needing them, discounted tickets to the performance are available now at Ticketplace, a project of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, D.C.

An excellent on-line analysis of this major Schnittke work, by Prof. Heinz-Albert Heindrichs, is available at Schnittke's German Web-site (in German, and computer-generated English translation).

Adapted Text to European Composer Alfred Schnittke's Requiem Mass, of 1975.

1. Requiem
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem; exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.

2. Kyrie
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison!

3. Dies Irae
Dies irae, dies illa, solvet saeclum in favilla, teste David cum Sybilla. Quantus tremor est futurus, quando judex est venturus, cuncta stricte discussurus!

4. Tuba Mirum
Tuba mirum spargens sonum, per sepulchra regionum, coget omnes ante thronum. Mors stupebit et natura, cum resurget creatura, judicanti responsura. Liber scriptus proferetur, in quo totum continetur, unde mundus judicetur. Judex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit, nil inultum remanebit. Quid sum mister tunc dicturus, quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus?

5. Rex Tremendae
Rex tremendae majestatis, qui salvandos salvas gratis, salva me, fons pietatis!

6. Recordare
Recordare, Jesu pie, quod sum causa tuae viae, ne me perdas illa die. Quaerens me sedisti lassus, redemisti crucem passus; tantus labor non sit cassus.

7. Lacrimosa
Lacrimosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus. Huic ergo parce, Deus, pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem! Amen!

8. Domine Jesu
Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae, libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu. Libera eas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadent in obscurum: sed signifer sanctus Michael repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini eius.

9. Hostias
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus. Tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus, fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.

10. Sanctus
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis!

11. Benedictus
Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini.

12. Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem. Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam.

13. Credo
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilum. Credo in unum, Dominum, Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula, Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri, qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis. Osanna!

14. Requiem
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem; exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnius caro veniet. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.

Alfred Schnittke's gravestone.

Photo credit: (c) Alex Ross. All rights reserved. Via The Rest Is Noise. With thanks.