Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gone Scrambling And Scrabble-Playing

Looking down at the valley from the rocky summit of Stony Man.

Shenandoah Mountains, Virginia, United States, North America

Photo credit: (c) and hgrapid -- researcher in renewable energy. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

'And Now For A Quick Check On The Numbers With Dharshini David In New York' ... [Redefining World Growth In Age Of Sudoku]

A Quick Look at the Numbers

Real GDP Growth (Annual percent change) 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

World 2.6 4.1 3.5 4.0 3.5 3.5 3.6 3.4 3.2
United States 2.5 3.9 3.2 3.3 2.1 2.8 3.3 3.1 2.6
Eurozone 0.8 1.8 1.5 2.8 2.6 2.1 2.0 1.9 1.8
Japan 1.5 2.7 1.9 2.2 2.2 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.6
Non-Japan Asia 6.5 7.5 7.3 7.5 7.2 7.1 6.7 6.5 6.2
Exchange Rates (Year-end)
Dollar/Euro 1.26 1.36 1.18 1.32 1.42 1.48 1.47 1.40 1.37
Yen/Dollar 107.1 104.1 118.0 119.0 109.5 101.8 97.1 94.2 92.7

Source: Global Insight. (c) Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: (c) The Colour The World Foundation. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Beyond Hogwarts Academy: Practical Magic Carpets And Water Wands For The Five Billion Persons Living On Less Than $2 A Day

“A billion customers in the world,” Dr. Paul Polak told a crowd of inventors recently, “are waiting for a $2 pair of eyeglasses, a $10 solar lantern and a $100 house.”

The world’s cleverest designers, said Dr. Polak, a former psychiatrist who now runs an organization helping poor farmers become entrepreneurs, cater to the globe’s richest 10 percent, creating items like wine labels, couture and Maseratis.

“We need a revolution to reverse that silly ratio,” he said.

To that end, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is housed in Andrew Carnegie’s 64-room mansion on Fifth Avenue and offers a $250 red chrome piggy bank in its gift shop, is honoring inventors dedicated to “the other 90 percent,” particularly the billions of people living on less than $2 a day.

Their creations, on display in the museum garden until Sept. 23, have a sort of forehead-thumping “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” quality.

For example, one of the simplest and yet most elegant designs tackles a job that millions of women and girls spend many hours doing each year — fetching water. Balancing heavy jerry cans on the head may lead to elegant posture, but it is backbreaking work and sometimes causes crippling injuries. The Q-Drum, a circular jerry can, holds 20 gallons, and it rolls smoothly enough for a child to tow it on a rope.

Interestingly, most of the designers who spoke at the opening of the exhibition spurned the idea of charity.

“The No. 1 need that poor people have is a way to make more cash,” said Martin Fisher, an engineer who founded KickStart, an organization that says it has helped 230,000 people escape poverty. It sells human-powered pumps costing $35 to $95." ...

Donald G. McNeil, Jr. "Design That Solves Problems for the World’s Poor" New York Times May 29, 2007

A portable light mat.

Photo credit: (c) Stanford Richins for the New York Times. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Pan Cogito Surreptitiously ["he was watching her surreptitiously as she waited in the hotel lobby"] Scopes Out 'The Future' By Googling

"Google itself has a philanthropic arm, and company cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page spell out their hopes for it at The site, still under development, bears this simple message from the Google cofounders: "We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems.""



" engages Google's talent, technology and resources to address some of the globe's most difficult challenges. We’re currently exploring the best approaches and solutions for significant, positive impact in the areas of:

Global Development: develop scalable, sustainable solutions to poverty by focusing on economic growth in the private sector and improving access to information and services for the poor.

Global Public Health: enable the world to better predict, prevent and eradicate communicable diseases through better access to and use of information.

Climate Change: mitigate the effect of climate change on the poor by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and supporting clean energy sources.

While we continue to determine the best ways we can have impact in these three broad areas, we've made learning grants to a variety of organizations including: Acumen Fund, Seva Foundation, TechnoServe, The World Bank’s Development Marketplace 2006, and Planet Read.

In addition, Google gives free advertising to selected non-profits through its Google Grants program, supporting more than 2,100 non-profit organizations in 16 countries to date. Current Google Grants participants include the Grameen Foundation USA, Doctors Without Borders, Room to Read, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. For information about the Google Grants program, please visit:"


In Somalia, Doctors Without Borders

Nurse Ali Haji Hussein (left) takes the blood pressure of Shaciro Hassani, who was found to have pneumonia. Dr. Eduardo Silvestri (right) of Doctors Without Borders trains clinic staff.

Photo credit: (c) S.F. Chronicle photo by Michael Macor via All rights reserved. With thanks.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Somewhere In The Deep Archives Of The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts Is An Historical Live Recording Of Harry Somer's Opera Louis Riel

Louis Riel
Opera in Three Acts

Music by Harry Somers
Libretto by Mavor Moore, with Jacques Languirand


Perhaps the most controversial figure in Canadian historiography, Louis Riel was born in the Red River Settlement (in what is now Manitoba) in 1844. After his studies in Montreal, he returned to Red River in 1868. Ambitious, well educated, and bilingual, he rapidly became the leader among the Métis of the Red River. In 1869-1870, he headed a provisional government, which would eventually negotiate the Manitoba Act with the Canadian government. Undisputed spiritual and political head of the 1885 Rebellion, Riel was sentenced to death and hanged in Regina on November 16, 1885.

Harry Somers’ work begins in November 1869, when William McDougall, future governor for Manitoba, is in Minnesota, awaiting a proclamation from Queen Victoria legalizing the transfer of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Canadian government. Anxious to assume his governorship, he tries to cross the border with a forged document. A band of Métis led by Ambroise Lépine turned back his entourage. Thomas Scott, a violently fanatic Orangeman, attacks the Métis and is arrested… A music drama in three Acts (18 scenes) based on a libretto by Mavor Moore with the collaboration of Jacques Languirand, and Harry Somers; Louis Riel was commissioned for the Canadian Opera Company by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation. Produced with the financial assistance of the Centennial Commission, the Canada Council and the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts, the work received its premiere on September 23, 1967 at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre... under the musical direction of Victor Feldbrill. That performance was followed by seven other live performances, including two in Montreal as part of the Expo 67 World Festival. In 1969, the entire opera was telecast in colour over the full CBC-TV English network. It was then performed during the 1975 season of the Canadian Opera Company, including a performance on October 23, for which a historical live recording from Washington's Kennedy Center has been produced.


Wendell Margrave of the Washington Star described the opera as 'one of the most imaginative and powerful scores to have been written in this century.' Using a broadcast tape from this 1975 US performance, Centrediscs produced a three-record set of the complete opera (CMC-24/25/2685-3). (Wikipedia)

Canadian-American Politican Louis Riel, Canadian Composer Harry Somers, and Canadian dramatist and librettist Mavor Moore.

Photo credits: Wikipedia Commons and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Moore). With thanks.


Louis Applebaum and Mavor Moore's opera Erehwon was performed by Canada's Victoria Opera in March, 2000.

'Pan Cogito! If You're A Cultural Economist, As You Claim To Be, Why Don't You Ever Talk About Economics And The Arts?'

"Americans for the Arts is proud to announce the release of Arts & Economic Prosperity III, our third study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry's impact on the nation's economy. These studies are the most potent and oft-cited advocacy tool used to justify public- and private-sector support to nonprofit arts organizations. This new study is our largest ever, featuring findings from 156 study regions (116 cities and counties, 35 multicounty regions, and five states). Data were collected from a remarkable 6,080 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 94,478 of their attendees across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

America's nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year— $63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by audiences.

The economic activity from America's nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 5.7 million jobs nationally and generates $29.6 billion in government revenue. Between 2000 and 2005, the nonprofit arts and culture industry grew 24 percent, from $134 billion to $166.2 billion.

Event-related spending by the audiences of nonprofit arts and culture organizations boasts an even greater increase of 28 percent—from $80.8 billion in 2000 to $103.1 billion in 2005."


House Bill Would Give Arts and Humanities Endowments Bigger Budgets in 2008

"An appropriations panel of the U.S. House of Representatives endorsed legislation on Wednesday that would provide the largest spending increase ever for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The bill, which still faces votes by the full Appropriations Committee as well as the entire House and U.S. Senate, would provide $160-million for the arts endowment in the 2008 fiscal year, a $35-million increase over the 2007 figure and $32-million above President Bush’s request.

The bill would also provide $160-million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, $19-million over the president’s request. The provisions for the cultural endowments are part of broader legislation to finance the Interior Department and other agencies in the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1."

Kelly Field News Blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education May 24, 2007

Mariinsky Cultural Center, New Holland
St. Petersburg, Russia

Samitaur Constructs, Developer

St. Petersburg is not an assemblage of discrete buildings. Rather it is a chronology of monumental spaces that sweeps one along from plaza and canal to building and monument. Buildings originated in different eras and were built in various styles. But the consistent lessons are scale and power. There is no consigning the asymmetry of those public spaces to a sedate conclusion. To architecturally intervene in the area is to exploit its spatial message. The tradition of long diagonal views and expansive public space is open ended. There is room for more.

The reconstitution of New Holland is not merely a location for new building “events” in the historic center of St. Petersburg, but rather an attempt to understand the site as an extension of the existing organization of the historic district. The city’s historic center consists of a linear arrangement of the Winter Palace and Hermitage, Palace Square with Alexander’s Column, the Admiralty, and St. Issac’s Cathedral along a west-east axis. The grand tree-line dnogvardeiskiy Boulevard continues west from these landmarks and terminates at New Holland, making it a pivotal site in St. Petersburg that can both continue the cultural corridor as well as create new ones.

Caption and photo credits: (c) With thanks.


David Throsby, 2005. "On the Sustainability of Cultural Capital," Research Papers 0510, Macquarie University, Department of Economics.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Classical WETA-FM Lite, In Nation's Capital, Deconstructs Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances While Also Unearthing An American Classical Music CD

Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital, May 23, 2007:

7:35am: Symphonic Dance #1
Sergei Rachmaninoff
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin (conductor)
[Vox 3002]
Buy now


5:49pm: Overture to Shakespeare's "As You Like It"
John Knowles Paine
New York Philharmonic
Zubin Mehta (conductor)
[New World 374]
Buy now

Missing in Action at Sharon Rockefeller's new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital : John Knowles Paine, George Chadwick, Horatio Parker, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, Amy Beach, Charles Ives, Aron Copland, and dozens of other American classical composers.

Photo credit: Harvard University Chorale. With thanks.

In Which Mr Cogito Engages In Lite Musicological Chatter With Mini-Critic's Father, Charles T. Downey, Regarding Music And The Library of Congress

"By my count, there were 20 ..." (CTD, of ionarts)

Thanks, Charles. Mini-critic and I count 21 concerts which you found interesting (your sidebar, plus the Borromeo Quartet and Wu Han).

Like you, I question the appropriateness (if not necessarily the 'musical quality') of up to 12 performances on this past year's Concerts from the LC series.

I think that I understand and respect, however, the reasoning behind the Library of Congress Music Division's inclusion of at least 6 of those 12.

I too hope that the LC Administration seriously rethinks its evening concert programming.

I agree with you that classical music values, European, American, and Asian, are now being seriously compromised.

Thanks again for the superb reviewing.



Interesting Library of Congress Concerts, 2006-07, according to Charles T. Downey, of

Beaux Arts Trio (Jens F. Laurson, October 11, 2006)

Mandelring Quartet (JFL, October 13, 2006)

Montage Music Society (Charles T. Downey, October 18, 2006)

Chanticleer (Washington Post, October 30, 2006)

Chamber Music of Elliot Schwartz (Washington Post, November 3, 2006)

Music from the Bard Festival (Washington Post, November 18, 2006)

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (CTD, December 7, 2006)

Steven Isserlis and Friends (Washington Post, December 15, 2006)

Ensō Quartet (CTD, December 18, 2006)

Yuri Bashmet and Wu Man (JFL, January 24, 2007)

Robert Mann and Friends (Washington Post, February 16, 2007)

Venice Baroque Orchestra (February 21, 2007)

Hantaï Brothers and Friends (Michael Lodico, February 23, 2007)

Artis-Quartett Wien (CTD, February 28, 2007)

Aron Quartett (CTD, March 2, 2007)

Camerata Ireland and Barry Douglas (CTD, March 23, 2007)

Jerusalem Quartet (JFL, April 11, 2007)

András Schiff and Miklós Perényi (Washington Post, April 18, 2007)

Euclid Quartet and Degas Quartet (Washington Post, April 20, 2007)

American Chamber Players (Washington Post, May 4, 2007)

Borromeo Quartet and Wu Han (CTD, May 20, 2007)


Charles T. Downey's stellar blog.

The Library of Congress's generally stellar, though unfocused, full 36 concert 2006-07 Concert Series.

The new Classical WETA-FM Lite's not stellar at all, anti-American classical music programming, in the Nation's Capital.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts only-promising The Conservatory Project, at the Millennium Stage.

Will the Blue Man Group musicians soon be performing at the Library of Congress Concert Series at Coolidge Auditorium?

Photo credit: (c) With thanks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Once Home To World-Class Opticians, Lens Cutters, Librettists, And Composers, Germany Now Accounts For 52% Of The World's Installed Solar Panels

"The former East Germany, once one of the world's gloomiest places, has become home to one of the world's brightest industries: solar power.

In late April ground was broken at a former Soviet air base near Leipzig for a $176 million, 40-megawatt photo-voltaic power plant, four times the size of the largest existing solar plant in the world. The facility, being built by Germany's Juwi International, is scheduled to begin production in late 2009. When it does, it will add significant capacity to eastern Germany's mushrooming solar power industry.

Germany has invested $1.3 billion in photovoltaic research over the past decade, creating a $5 billion industry that accounts for 52% of the world's installed solar panels. Of 45 producers in Germany, 33 are start-ups in the former East Germany, employing 70% of the industry's 8,000 workers, with 2,000 new jobs on the way. Even companies headquartered in the west have most of their production in the east.

The manufacturers have found a new foothold in an economically depressed place, which has an educated labor force, 20% unemployment, and old industrial complexes with redevelopment potential. Eastern Germany was the engineering center of the Eastern bloc, and top tech schools and research centers pepper places where solar manufacturing is now booming - near the world-class opticians and lens cutters of Jena and the old industrial centers of Dresden and Chemnitz." ...

Michael Dumiak, Fortune Magazine "Eastern Germany's sunny future" via CNNMoney May 22, 2007

'Let the sun shine in'.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Dresden's Drama House, below, Zwinger Baroque Era Palace [including the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery)], center, and Semper Opera House, above.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

While Classical WETA-FM Lite Finds 6,000 Supporters Of American Music-Less Format; Kennedy Center Feigns Interest In Building World Class Conservatory

May 22, 2007 (Tue)
6 pm
San Francisco Conservatory [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

May 23, 2007 (Wed)
6 pm
Oberlin Conservatory [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

May 24, 2007 (Thu)
6 pm
Berklee College of Music [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

May 25, 2007 (Fri)
6 pm
Eastman School of Music [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

May 26, 2007 (Sat)
6 pm
Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

May 27, 2007 (Sun)
6 pm
Shepherd School of Music, Rice University [FREE]
Millennium Stage Conservatory Project
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

John F. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage Conservatory Project.

American music-less Classical WETA-FM Lite, in Nation's Capital today featuring:

10:30pm: Symphony in D Major
Frederick the Great of Prussia
CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra
Hartmut Haenchen (conductor)
[Capriccio 10.064]
Buy now

Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia. American classical music-less Classical WETA-FM Lite's, in the Nation's Capital, featured composer of the Millennium.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

International Museum Day 2007: Towards A Sacred, Ecological, Humanistic, Exchange-Based, And Sustainable World Museum Culture

"On International Museum Day 2007 [May 18], ICOM encourages museums to announce “Universal Heritage Museum Partnerships” for long-term cooperation, especially between museums with extensive, encyclopaedic collections and those museums and communities from which these collections have been derived.

Dividends from highly profitable international museum operations might certainly be reinvested in setting up annexes or sustainable museum development programmes in those countries from which the collections have emerged. Museums claiming for themselves the title “universal museums” must by the same token accept responsibility for universal access to that heritage for which they are merely the custodian, not the owner. No one can own the heritage which rightfully belongs to specific cultures in specific places and times and through history, to all of

As Universal Heritage is something to share, not to own, there are also cultural dividends to consider. Ignorance is dispossession. The amazing breadth of knowledge, research and image banks related to specific objects in museum collections must be shared through new technologies. In addition to returning museum objects and co-ownership schemes, what can and should be shared universally and in particular with countries of origin and “source communities” are the images, including intellectual property rights to the reproduction of those images, and importantly, the literature, documentation, research and bodies of knowledge or cultural understanding developed about civilizations by virtue of possessing these objects.

This is what ICOM means by supporting “digital repatriation”, as expressed by Bernice Murphy at the public debate organised by UNESCO - “Memory & Universality” on 5 February. It’s not simply the image of an object in lieu of its return. Digital repatriation requires a long-term and enduring cooperation between museums, most notably along with universities and research institutions, to ensure open access to the databanks on collections.

ICOM will support through its worldwide network partnerships between “universal museums” of the have’s with the “source community” museums of the have not’s. The obligatory returns must start with the return of the tangible objects and intangible dividends upon which some museums have capitalized over time, but which when returned will bring a new measure of peace through justice, the return of the spirit of the gift."

Alissandra Cummins "Universal Heritage Museum Partnerships" The International Council of Museums

Hildegard K. Vieregg "ICOM's Universal Heritage"

Italian Renaissance style courtyards of the Lviv History Musuem, Lviv, Ukraine, Future Europeaen Union; and the Collegium Maius, the oldest college of Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, European Union.

Photo credits: (c) and naruto at With thanks.

Over At Joshua Kosman's House, Opera Intellectuals Discuss General Director Reigns Of High-Brow Pamela Rosenberg And Euro-Show-Brow Gerard Mortier

Joshua Kosman: "Allow me to ... make the following prediction: Gerard Mortier's tenure as head of the New York City Opera will be brief and ill-starred. I say this without pleasure, indeed with a fervent hope to be proven wrong; but also without much doubt. The reason is that I lived through Pamela [Animating Opera] Rosenberg's brief and ill-starred tenure as head of the San Francisco Opera, and the parallels seem to be shaping up with eerie exactitude.

It would be simplistic and wrong to call Rosenberg's stewardship of the San Francisco Opera a failure — her time here was marked by an invigorating spirit of dventure, and of course a number of genuine theatrical triumphs, including Saint François d'Assise, Le Grand Macabre, and Doctor Atomic. But it was also based on some very deep-rooted errors in judgment, both by her and by the folks who hired her. And the most fundamental one can be summed up in two hypothetical sentences: "It worked in Europe. Why on earth wouldn't it work here?"

You can take that "it" to refer to any number of things: repertoire choices, production styles, casting decisions, marketing strategies, financial priorities. They all apply. The Rosenberg era was based on a belief that San Francisco could become [the Stuttgart State Opera] if we all just wished it hard enough. But Peter Pan isn't an opera, and the observers (out-of-towners, mostly) who still insist that Rosenberg was "run out of town" by mobs of provincial burghers-by-the-bay are actually just mad at reality for failing to conform to their own desires.

Now comes M. Mortier, with what looks from here like the exact same game plan. The priorities he cites in [the May 7, 2007] New York Times interview with Dan Wakin include the familiar intention to "bring in fresh European faces as directors," and his repertoire choices are positively Rosenbergesque: Stravinsky, Janácek, Bartók, and — oh, yeah — Saint François d'Assise.

Well, look, those are my repertoire choices, too; and when I win ten lotteries and can support my own opera company, they'll be on the boards nightly. But the real world isn't so malleable. Because here, if you'll forgive me, is the money quote:

Mr. Mortier said two prospects "scared" him. One is having to raise large amounts of money from private donors without the kind of government money that finances the Paris National Opera.

Exactly. Of all the things that don't replicate well from one side of the Atlantic to the other, funding is number one on the list. Maybe two, three, and four as well. And from there, all things flow.

"It worked in Europe. Why on earth wouldn't it work here?" If history is any guide, M. Mortier and the board that hired him may find out soon enough."

Joshua Kosman "Déjà Vu à la Belge" On the Pacific Aisle May 7, 2007


Pacific Visions [sic]

In November of 1992, then General Director Lotfi Mansouri introduced Pacific Visions, an ambitious program designed to maintain the vitality of the opera repertoire through new commissions and the presentation of unusual repertoire. It was launched with the commissioning of the following operas:

The Dangerous Liaisons, composed by Conrad Susa to a libretto by Philip Littell. The work had its premiere during the 1994 Fall Season and was the subject of a nationwide TV broadcast.

Harvey Milk, a new opera by composer Stewart Wallace and librettist Michael Korie. The work was performed in 1996 as a joint commission and co-production of the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and New York City Opera.

A Streetcar Named Desire, composed by André Previn to a libretto by Philip Littell, after the play by Tennessee Williams. The work had its premiere during the 1998-99 Fall Season, which was telecast and released on video.

Dead Man Walking, composed by Jake Heggie to a libretto by Terrence McNally, after the book by Sister Helen Prejean. The work had its premiere during the 2000-2001 Season and was recorded on CD.

Animating Opera

In January of 2001, General Director Pamela Rosenberg announced her first artistic initiative for San Francisco Opera, Animating Opera, a multi-year plan of interwoven themes and series including: Seminal Works of Modern Times, The Faust Project, Composer Portrait: Janacek/Berlioz, Women Outside of Society: Laws Unto Themselves, Metamorphosis: From Fairy Tales to Nightmares, and Outsiders or Pioneers?: The Nature of the Human Condition. Incorporated within the production programming of Animating Opera was the American stage premiere of Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise, Thomson’s The Mother of Us All as well as the new work by John Adams and Peter Sellars, Doctor Atomic.

[Source: History of the San Francisco Opera. San Francisco Opera Web-site.]


Pacific Visions [sic] Redux [under David Gockley]:

Appomattox by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton. Conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, directed by Robert Woodruff, designed by Riccardo Hernandez, and featuring Dwayne Croft as Robert E. Lee and Andrew Shore as Ulysses S. Grant. Opens October 5, 2007.

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Stewart Wallace and Bay Area novelist Amy Tan, based upon her best-selling novel.

David Gockley, above, of the San Francisco Opera [and before that of the Houston Grand Opera] is wasting no time Animating American Opera(c) by commissioning opera and music theater artists and writers such as Philip Glass, Stewart Wallace, Christopher Hampton, and Amy Tan.

Does the New York City Opera's incoming Gerard Mortier believe that Animating Opera requires world premieres of works by American artists, or only modern dress productions of [modernist] classics?

OPERA America.

Photo credit: (c) San Francisco Opera. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Chinese Renaissance Research: "As Society Moves On And Becomes More Sophisticated, There Comes A Taste For Nationalism, For What Is Local"

"But there's a not-so-subtle shift happening in China. After more than a decade of embracing all things Western, Chinese are turning to things Chinese. Today, mainland companies are no longer churning out only shoddy goods. They are producing products that in the eyes of consumers rival or are better than those in the West.

A survey by McKinsey of 800 teenagers found that 88 percent trust Chinese brands, compared with 65 percent who say the same of foreign ones. The reasons are many, including a spate of stories about safety issues involving foreign consumer products and food. But the improved quality of Chinese brands is also a factor. The brands aren't well-known outside China - yet. But they include Haier appliances, Aigo electronics and Geely and Chery cars.

These days China has world-class fashion designers whose modern takes on mandarin collars and silk designs of bygone dynasties are worn proudly to parties by chic Chinese and incorporated into streetwear by the middle class. Chinese modern art is fetching record prices. Traditional patterns and styles are making their way into modern furniture, architecture and design. The teachings of Confucius, the practice of traditional medicine, and worship at Buddhist temples are experiencing renewed popularity - and receiving tacit if not outright government support. ...

So now it's Chineseness that's hot. "People are increasingly proud of their country and proud of the progress of the country," says brand consultant Martin Roll, author of Asian Brand Strategy. "As society moves on and becomes more sophisticated, there comes a taste for nationalism, for what is local. We're going to see Western brands have more and more competition in China."

Sinofication presents a challenge most Western companies have yet to come to terms with. While many have set up R&D centers in China, their experiments have mostly resulted in minor tweaks to products developed abroad. The major innovations being worked on in China have yet to hit the market. And so far there's little evidence that Western brands are suffering - after all, an economy rising at 11 percent lifts all boats.

But increasingly, Chinese companies are benefiting from nationalist feeling, gaining market share in sectors such as passenger cars and consumer electronics that were previously the exclusive province of foreign companies. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will likely add more kindling to this nationalist spark."

Sheridan Prasso, Fortune contributing editor "China's new cultural revolution" May 17, 2007

RM 208, Paris Fashion Building
500 Xiangyang Road (S)
Shanghai 200031, P.R. China

Photo credit: (c) INTERGEST Shanghai International Business Administration and Management. All rights reserved. With thanks.

After 80 Year Schism, Reconciliation Between Moscow Russian Orthodox Church And Emigre Russian Orthodox Church Said To Be Achieved

"Church bells pealed as leaders of the Russian Orthodox faith signed a pact Thursday healing a historic, 80-year schism between the church in Russia and an offshoot set up abroad after the Bolshevik Revolution.

After a choir sang hymns, Moscow Patriarch Alexy II, leader of the main Russian Orthodox Church, led the ceremony with a sermon praising the end of the formal division.

''Joy illuminates our hearts,'' Alexy said, addressing worshippers in the vast Christ the Savior Cathedral. ''A historic event awaited for long, long years has occurred. The unity of the Russian church is restored.''

Alexy later signed the reunion agreement with Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Worshippers wept and incense wafted up into the cathedral's soaring cupola.

Later in the ceremony, also attended by leaders of church and state, Alexy formally signed the reunion agreement with Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

President Vladimir Putin joined the celebration, broadcast live on television. Alexy thanked him for helping end the split by meeting with leaders of the church abroad." ...

Associated Press "Russian Churches End Rift" New York Times May 17, 2007

Onward sacred pacifists ...

Eastern Europe and the World await additional ecumenical reconciliations.

[Click on Map for enlargement.]

Image credit: (c) Christian Solidarity International via BBC News. With thanks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wary Of A Pending Thunderstorm, Mr Cogito Tries To Think About Dmitri Shostakovich And His Musical Creativity In The Year 1960

STRING QUARTET NO. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108 Moscow, March 1960
Dedicated to the memory of Nina Vasilievna Shostakovich
1. Allegretto
2. Lento
3. Allegro
Duration: 12’
First performance: 15 May 1960, Leningrad, Glinka Concert Hall
Beethoven Quartet (Dmitri Tsyganov, Vasili Shirinsky, Vadim Borisovsky, Sergei Shirinsky)
►Muzyka Collected Works: Vol. 35
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 102

SATIRES (PICTURES OF THE PAST), Op. 109 [Satiri (Kartinki Proshlovo)] 19 June 1960
Five romances for soprano and piano
Texts by Sasha Chorny (pen-name of Alexander Glikberg)
Dedicated to Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya
1. To a Critic (Moderato)
2. Spring Awakening (Moderato – Allegro)
3. Descendants (Moderato – Allegro molto)
4. Misunderstanding (Moderato)
5. Kreutzer Sonata (Adagio – Allegretto)
Duration: 14’
First performance: 22 February 1961, Moscow, Small Hall of the Conservatoire
Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano) – Mstislav Rostropovich (piano)
►Muzyka Collected Works: Vol. 33
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 91
‘Kreutzer Sonata’ (No. 5) shows references to Beethovens Sonata Op. 47, the final Allegretto segment is based on the lullaby theme from ‘The Story of a Silly Baby Mouse’, Op. 56. English translation by Myron Morris, German version by Jörg Morgener.

STRING QUARTET NO. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 Dresden, 12 - 14 July 1960
Dedicated to the memory of the victims of fascism and war
1. Largo
2. Allegro molto
3. Allegretto
4. Largo
5. Largo
Duration: 19’
First performance: 2 October 1960, Leningrad, Glinka Concert Hall
Beethoven Quartet (Dmitri Tsyganov, Vasili Shirinsky, Vadim Borisovsky, Sergei Shirinsky)
►Muzyka Collected Works: Vol. 35
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 102
Also known as ‘Dresden Quartet’. Apart from Shostakovich’s initials DSCH which serve as musical motto, several themes from other works by the composer are quoted in the present work: Symphonies No. 1, Op. 10, No. 5, Op. 47 and No. 8, Op. 65, Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra No. 1, Op. 107, Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67, ‘The Young Guard’, Op. 75a (No. 6), and Katerina’s ‘Seryoscha, My Love’ from Act IV of ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District’, Op. 29. Moreover the second theme from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, Op. 74 (first movement) and the Funeral March from Wagner’s ‘Götterdämmerung’ are cited.

NOVOROSSIISK CHIMES [Novorossiyskiye Kuranty] Moscow, 1960
for orchestra
In Commemoration of the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War
Commissioned by the City of Novorossiisk
3(picc).3(cor anglais).3.2 – – timp. perc (tgl, side dr, cym). cel. strings
Duration: 3’
►Muzyka Collected Works: Vol. 11 (score)
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 36 (score), Vol. 37 (piano score)
This work, subtitled ‘The Flame of Eternal Glory’, is based on the first bars of an unsuccessful entry for the National Anthem Contest from 1943. The pre-recorded music was to be heard for the first time on 27 September 1960 (Moscow, All-Union Radio Orchestra conducted by Arvid Jansons) and is played every hour from the clock above the War Memorial at Heroes’ Square, Novorossiisk.

FIVE DAYS – FIVE NIGHTS, Op. 111 [Pyat dnei – Pyat nochei] Moscow/Dresden, 1960
Music to the film
Produced by Mosfilm in collaboration with DEFA (GDR) – Lev Arnshtam, W. Ebeling
(scenario) – Lev Arnshtam (direction). First showing: 23 November 1961
1. Introduction
2. [without title]
3. Meeting with the Liberators on the Road
4. ‘It was Nearly Half an Hour Ago’
6. [without title]
7. [without title] 8. Paul’s Soliloquy (Adagio)
9. Madonna
11. Flight in the Loft
12. Meeting of Katerine and Paul (Allegro)
13. Night Scene (Andante)
14. Katrin’s Dream (Moderato)
15. Solitude
16. Frau Rank’s Parting with the Pictures – Alarm
18. Finale
3(picc).3.3.3(db bn) – – timp. perc (tgl, side dr, bass dr, cym, tam-t, glsp). harp. piano. org. strings
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 141 (complete score)
Subtitled ‘Dresden Art Gallery’. The autograph score is preserved at the State Central
Glinka Museum of Musical Culture. The score contains Nos. 1-4, 6-9, 11-16 and 18 – nothing is known about the missing items. The above listing is adopted from D. C. Hulme. Vol. 42 of Muzyka Collected Works (its editor‘s note states that the first showing took place on 27 February 1961) prints No. 6 in a version for organ and strings.

compiled by Levon Atovmian (1961)
1. Introduction (Adagio)
2. Dresden in Ruins (Largo)
3. Liberated Dresden (Moderato – Presto – Largo – Allegro)
4. Interlude (Andante – Moderato – Allegro)
5. Finale (Moderato – Allegretto – Largo)
3(picc).3.3.3(db bn) – – timp. perc (tgl, side dr, bass dr, cym, tam-t, glsp). harp. piano. strings
Duration: 32’
First performance: 7 January 1962, Moscow Radio
USSR Cinematograph Symphony Orchestra – Enim Khachaturian (conductor)
No. 3 (‘Liberated Dresden’) is concluded by a quotation of the ‘Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy)’ theme from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125


From String Quartet No 7 in F sharp minor Op 108
Second Movement: Lento
Third bar after Fig. 22 (viola part only)

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Shostakovich dedicated this work to the memory of his first wife, Nina, who had died of cancer.

Image credit: (c) Shostakovich Kontakion Score Example. With thanks.


Library of Congress Season Finale, Washington, D.C.

Friday, May 18 at 8:00pm [Free]
with Wu Han, piano

STRAVINSKY: Concertino for string quartet

BARTÓK: String Quartet no. 5 (Coolidge commission)

SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 57


SHOSTAKOVICH PIANO QUINTET in G minor, Op. 57 Moscow, Summer - 14 September 1940

1. Prelude (Lento – Poco più mosso – Lento)
2. Fugue (Adagio)
3. Scherzo (Allegretto)
4. Intermezzo (Lento)
5. Finale (Allegretto)
Duration: 29’

First performance: 23 November 1940, Moscow, Small Hall of the Conservatoire
Beethoven Quartet (Dmitri Tsyganov, Vasili Shirinsky, Vadim Borisovsky, Sergei Shirinsky) – Dmitri Shostakovich (piano)
►Muzyka Collected Works: Vol. 37
►DSCH New Collected Works: Vol. 99

Although there was no actual commission it is evident that Shostakovich conceived Op. 57 for the Beethoven Quartet and himself. The Piano Quintet was awarded the Stalin Prize, First Class, on 16 March 1941.


[Alfred Schnittke's Symphony No. 9 (1996-98) [Opus 253], as decoded and completed by Russian composer Alexander Raskatov, will receive its premiere in Dresden, Germany, European Union, on June 16, 2007.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kennedy Center And National Symphony To Offer Performances Of Bach, Shostakovich, Bernstein, And Tchaikovsky In Tribute To Mstislav Rostropovich

This Saturday, May 19, 2007, at 6 PM, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony Orchestra will offer a free tribute concert -- in the Concert Hall -- to the NSO's great conductor laureate, Mstislav Rostropovich. The program will open with the cello section of the NSO performing the Sarabande from J.S. Bach's Suite No. 6 for unaccompanied cello (BWV 1012). Next will be the Largo movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's powerful Symphony #5 [which is, in fact, too powerful to be programmed on the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital]. Then there will be another work banned by the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital: Leonard Bernstein's Slava! (A Political Overture), which includes satirical recordings of political speeches. Next will be the Finale from Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, the "Pathetique". The evening tribute will close with a recorded performance, by Rostropovich playing the cello alone, of the Bach Sarabande that opened the tribute.

[Today, the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital, broke its weeklong boycott of ALL American classical music -- including tokenist, short single movements of early American piano works -- by broadcasting Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.]

Source for tribute programming:

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 With thanks. (This is a very interesting contemporary visual arts website.)

Bad Arolsen Holocaust Archives To Head To U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum In Washington And Other International Research Sites

"Diplomats from 11 countries agreed Tuesday to bypass legal obstacles and begin distributing electronic copies of documents from a secretive Nazi archive, making them available to Holocaust researchers for the first time in more than a half century.

The decision was meant to avoid further delays in allowing Holocaust survivors to find their own stories and family histories, and for historians to seek new insights into Europe's darkest period.

The countries governing the archive maintained by the International Tracing Service approved a plan to begin transferring scanned documents as soon as they are ready so that receiving institutions can begin preparing them for public use, said a delegate, requesting anonymity because a formal announcement was due later Tuesday.

The decision circumvents the requirement to withhold the documents until all 11 countries ratify the 2006 treaty amendments that enabled the unsealing of the documents. Ratification is still pending in four countries, and Tuesday's vote was likely to shave several months from the distribution timetable.

Until now, the files maintained in the central German town of Bad Arolsen have been used to track missing people, reunite families, and later to validate restitution claims. The Tracing Service is an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Three countries, the United States, France and Germany, pledged to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to offset costs for preparing and transmitting the papers, said the delegate.

But some U.S. survivors expressed dismay that the documents will remain restricted to a single place -- the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington -- and that they won't have unfettered access.

''I'm anxious, because 105 people from my immediate family did not make it. I am the only survivor,'' said David Schaecter, of Miami, Fla. ''How do I obtain what I am rightfully entitled to obtain -- (to know) what happened to these 105 people,'' he said.

The archive contains Nazi records on the arrest, transportation, incarceration, forced labor and deaths of millions of people from the year the Nazis built their first concentration camp in 1933 to the end of the war. It also has a vast collection of postwar records from displaced persons camps.

The name index refers to 17.5 million victims, and the documents fill 16 miles of shelves. But the archive is indexed according to names, making it difficult to use them for historical research.

Seized by the Allies from concentration camps and Nazi offices after of the war, the files were closed under a 1955 agreement to protect the privacy of survivors and the reputation of the dead who may have undergone humiliating medical experiments or been falsely accused of crimes.

Last year's amendments to the 1955 accords, reached after years of negotiation and resistance by several members, stipulated that some privacy guarantees remain. A single copy of the documents would be available for each of the 11 member states to be used ''on the premises of an appropriate archival repository.''

Each government was expected to take into account ''the sensitivity of certain information'' the files may contain, the new agreement said.

In addition to the United States, Israel and France indicated they also would seek copies.

The seven countries that have ratified the treaty amendments are the United States, Israel, Poland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain. Endorsement was awaited from Luxembourg, Greece, Italy and France."

Associated Press "Diplomats Agree to Transfer Nazi Archive" New York Times May 15, 2007

Photo credit: (c) With thanks.

Over 4 Million Central Asians Flood Fast-Renewing Cities In Kazakhstan, Russia, And Ukraine Seeking Larger Dreams In Uneven, Globalizing World Economy

"Dressed in ratty sport coats and dirty T-shirts, Uzbek men clutching yellow job contracts squeezed recently into packed buses heading for cities to the north in fast-urbanizing Kazakhstan and on up to Russia.

The flood of immigration is emptying swaths of Central Asia of young men. Kazakh officials say that approximately 4,000 Uzbek migrants cross each day to the Kazakh side of this tiny frontier town. In recent weeks, the number of migrants has spiked sharply, border guards say, in response to the economic vitality in Kazakhstan and Russia and the worsening economic and political conditions in the rest of Central Asia.

Russia’s Federal Migration Service estimates that up to 2.5 million Uzbeks, a million Tajiks and 800,000 Kyrgyz nationals are working legally or semi-legally in the country. Those numbers include seasonal workers.

The surge of workers to the north this spring has surprised many Central Asian analysts, who say the increase in migrants in Jibek Joly is just one stream in a broader flood of immigration that is emptying whole swaths of Central Asia of young men.

“This is a new problem for Kazakhstan and to a lesser extent for Russia, and so they have been unsure how to deal with it,” said Khadicha Abysheva, the director of a private agency in Shymkent, a sprawling city on Kazakhstan’s southern border, that is dedicated to campaigning on behalf of migrant workers and victims of human trafficking." ...

Ilan Greenberg "Central Asians Chase Jobs, and Endure Exploitation" New York Times May 15, 2007

Above, Uzbek workers at a construction site outside Shymkent, a sprawling city on Kazakhstan’s southern border. Below, the blighted West Oakland 16th Street Railroad Station awaits renewal in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area, another sprawling 21st Century city attracting migrants from poorer regions to the south of California and the United States, as well as from the rest of the world.

Photo credits: (c) Abdujalil Abdurasulov for The New York Times and Devon Williamson for the Daily Berkeleyan. All rights reserved. With thanks.


"Tens of thousands of international migrants from areas not traditionally associated with Ukraine began to arrive in Kyiv in the mid-1990s. Largely from South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, many of these new, "non-traditional' immigrants have settled in Ukraine's capital Kyiv. The city's Troeshchyna district subsequently became home to the burgeoning community of international migrants. Afghan, Vietnamese, and African merchants and traders have established the neighborhood's vast "informal' market on abandoned industrial land along the city's boundary after police raids had closed down the Ukrainian capital's primary market at Republican Stadium in April 1996. [Troieschyna (Ukrainian: Троєщина) is a historical neighbourhood, part of the Desnianskyi Raion, on the left bank of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.]..."

"Kyiv's Non-Traditional Immigrants," Blair Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Lecture February 5, 2003 at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University.

Economic Potential of Regions of Ukraine


About 16th Street Oakland, California Train Station

"This is a group for photos of the historic 16th Street Train Station in Oakland Ca. The station, designed by architect Jarvis Hunt, was completed in 1912. In 1971 Southern Pacific leased the station to Amtrak, which continued passenger business until the Loma Preita earthquake in Oct. 1989 damaged the building, causing it to be 'red tagged' as unsafe for occupation.

In 1984 the Oakland City Council had declared the station an official landmark. The station's connection to the Pullman system, and its function as one of the main terminals of the transcontinental railroad, meant that the 16th Street Station was instrumental in bringing African Americans to Oakland, many of whom settled in West Oakland to be close to where they worked.

Even prior to the earthquake, the station's future was uncertain, as local developers had purchased the property with plans to develop housing on the site. Concern began to grow as the plans appeared to call for the razing of at least part of the Train Station structure. There was intense opposition to the proposal, and a local group calling itself "the 16th & Wood Train Station Coalition" formed to fight the proposed development plans. In 2005 a compromise was reached that included renovation of the station structure as part of a larger urban development surrounding it."

Source: Flickr 16th Street Train Station discussion thread.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Banned From Soliciting, Mr Cogito Promises To Continue Campaign For Conservatory In The Nation's Capital And American Classical Music On Public Radio

... "Yesterday was the second and final day of auditions held by Metro and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to find performers who will entertain riders at a handful of District subway stations starting in June. About 40 winners will be announced at the end of the month.

Live entertainment is a staple in subway systems in New York, Paris and elsewhere, but this will be a first for Metro. The agency is also organizing auditions with arts councils in Montgomery and Prince George's counties for performances at stations there.

Metro has not picked which District stations will have performers, but officials have promised riders that their paths won't be blocked by some overzealous dance troupe. Performances will be limited to station entrances and will occur once or twice a week during lunchtime and the evening rush. The arts commission will pay D.C.-based artists about $200 per show. They will not be allowed to solicit." ...

Lena H. Sun "Entertainers Audition to Make Metro a Moving Experience" Washington Post May 13, 2007

The late cellist, conductor, and humanitarian Mstislav Rostropovich dreamed of helping build a world-class Music Conservatory on the banks of the Potomac River, in the Nation's Capital of the United States of America.

Here, he offers a free music recital [1989] in the shadow of the Berlin Wall -- which, at one time, was thought to separate two world civilizations.

Photo credit: Reuters via the New York Times [?] via Wikipedia. With thanks.


The National Symphony Orchestra's Mstislav Rostropovich free tribute concert, this Saturday evening at 6 PM in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall, will contain an example of the American classical music -- Leonard Bernstein's "Slava! [A Political Overture]" banned on Sharon Rockefeller, Dan De Vany, and Jim Allison's new classical WETA-FM Lite, public radio, in the Nation's Capital.


Despite being a short, single-movement classical work, Igor Stravinsky's Elegie for solo viola (1944), is also banned on the new classical WETA-FM Lite, public radio, in the Nation's Capital.

"This short 5-minute work remains to be Stravinsky's only contribution to viola literature. It has been said that world renowned violist William Primrose once proposed commissioning a viola concerto from Stravinsky, but Stravinsky was not interested in the project, so he went to Bartok instead who did agree to the offer. The Elegie was commissioned by Germain Prevost, violist of the Pro Arte Quartet (now in residence at UW-Madison) to honor the memory of Alphonse Onnou (1893-1940), a founding member of the Pro-Arte Quartet. Prevost, who was an extremely sentimental man, not only commissioned Stravinsky for this work, but also his friend Darius Milhaud, who wrote three works for viola and piano in memory of Onnou as well. Undoubtedly in the war torn year of 1944, in which this work was composed, there were many victims worthy of this somber token of remembrance.

Two manuscripts preserved in the Library of Congress show how clearly and rationally Stravinsky went about constructing this work. The first version was written over two staves and gives the impression that it is intended for two instruments. The second version, however, consists of exactly the same notes as the solo version- the other version was undoubtedly written out by the composer as a visual aid for the complex polyphony, especially the middle section.

This work is written in a simple ABA form in which the first A section consists of a quiet funeral hymn with a simple accompaniment characteristic of his primitivist style. The B section is a two-part fugal section. Due to the numerous voice crossings and distance between the voices, the construction of each of the two lines in often obscured. As one listens to the pungent dissonances created by the two lines, one quickly perceives that Stravinsky's intention is to convey the intense and natural expression rather than the articulate artifices of his musical craft. At the climax of the fugue, the theme's inversion answers the theme itself immediately in the next bar in counterpoint. As a link to the final A section, there is one bar consisting of a series of chords: a minor sixth, a perfect fifth, a perfect fourth, a major third, and augmented second, all rising in pitch within a diminuendo- creating an atmospheric affect as if one is rising to the heavens. The entire work is played with mute- creating an eerie, mysterious color."

Note by Kenneth Martinson


Young French cellist Alexis Descharmes (b. 1977) has prepared and recorded a beautiful violoncello transcription of the Stravinsky Elegie for solo viola (1944).

Beyond Belief ... (Mr Cogito Reaches For His Dictionary In Order To Look Up The Meaning Of "Silently Longing")

..."[Pope] Benedict also defended the church's campaign centuries ago to Christianize indigenous people, saying Latin American Indians had been ''silently longing'' to become Christians when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors violently took over their native lands centuries ago." ...

Associated Press "Pope Assails Marxism and Capitalism" New York Times May 14, 2007


"Africa's economic growth rate will rise to 6 percent this year, the highest level in two decades, the African Development Bank reported Monday.

Strong demand for oil and other African resources from China and other fast-developing nations is driving growth, the bank said in a statement released in China's commercial hub of Shanghai, where it is holding its annual meeting.

Rising investment, good weather for agriculture, and sound macroeconomic policies also are contributing to the economic expansion, it said.

Increased growth follows an expansion of 5.5 percent in the African economy last year, up from an average of about 5 percent in the preceding years, the bank said.

Growth was strong in South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt, the continent's four largest economies, with South Africa seeing growth of 5 percent, the highest level since the end of apartheid, the bank said.

Oil-rich Nigeria's economy grew 5.3 percent last year, a rate projected to increase to 7 percent this year.

However, Zimbabwe's economy contracted about 5 percent amid soaring inflation and the collapse of the farming sector, while Mauritius and Madagascar were hit by competition from Asian textile producers.

Despite the overall expansion, the bank's chief economist Louis Kasekende said growth must accelerate to a steady 7 percent to 8 percent for Africa to reach its goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015."

Associated Press "African economy to grow 6 pct this year" Business Week May 14, 2007

Photo credit: (c) Murry MacAdam and With thanks.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mr Cogito Rediscovers A 'Wanderer' Composer, Ben Johnston, And Discovers That He Is Able To Read All About His Ten String Quartets For Free On-line

'The ten string quartets of Ben Johnston are among the most fascinating collections of work ever produced by an American composer. And yet, like similarly imposing peaks in the American musical landscape—Ives’s Universe Symphony, for example, or the Studies for Player Piano of Conlon Nancarrow—these works have, for decades now, remained more known about than known, more talked about than played. All the quartets have been performed in public (with one exception, the immensely difficult String Quartet No. 7), but only four have previously been recorded. The scores have been analyzed by musicologists and theorists fascinated by their fusion of advanced compositional techniques (serialism with just intonation, for example; microtonality with a kind of neoclassical revisionism), but they have been too little heard. The Kepler Quartet’s recordings—this disc is the first of a series of three, prepared with Johnston’s active support and supervision—offer lively and scrupulously accurate readings that unlock the door to these marvelous pieces. Like Ives and Nancarrow before him, there is the sense that Johnston’s time has finally come.

Ben Johnston was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1926. His interest in music showed itself early on, and he began piano lessons at the age of six. When he was eleven the family relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where he continued his studies and, at the age of thirteen, began to compose. By the age of seventeen he had already produced enough pieces to mount a whole Sunday afternoon concert of his music at Richmond’s College of William and Mary; prophetically, from our point of view, a feature on the young Johnston in the Richmond Times Dispatch quotes him as looking forward to a musical future in which “there will be new instruments with new tones and overtones.” Later that year, with war raging, he entered the Navy and was sent to the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C., where he studied analysis, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration for dance bands, and pursued studies of piano and trombone. Personal and medical problems curtailed this activity; in 1947 he returned to Virginia for undergraduate study at the College of William and Mary, graduating in 1949. He then studied for a Masters degree at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

During his year in Cincinnati one of Johnston’s teachers showed him a book that was profoundly to reshape the course of his musical life: Harry Partch’s Genesis of a Music, the classic account of the work of the visionary American composer, theorist and instrument builder, the first edition of which had then just been published. Johnston was fascinated by Partch’s rejection of equal temperament and the whole instrumentarium of Western music; and he read avidly his description of his “new” system of just intonation (taken out to microtonal lengths to yield an expandable source scale of more than forty divisions of the octave) and its application in the tuning of his newly invented instruments. It was not the first time Johnston had been inspired by the science of music. When only twelve he had been taken by a family friend to a lecture at Wesleyan College in Macon on the relationship of Debussy’s music to the acoustic theories of Helmholtz, which made a big impression. It is no exaggeration to say that much of Johnston’s career has been, as he himself has written, an attempt “to connect Debussy and Partch, to complete the revolution [begun in earlier twentieth-century music, of realigning music and acoustics] and connect it with a redefinition of older values.”1 Johnston has never shared Partch’s anti-establishment stance and has worked all his career to bring Partch’s theoretical ideas closer to the mainstream of contemporary music, where they have exerted a fruitful influence.' ...

BEN JOHNSTON (b. 1926)

String Quartet No. 9 (1988)
1. Strong, calm, slow 6:18
2. Fast, elated 3:39
3. Slow, expressive 4:08
4. Vigorous and defiant 5:46

5. Verging, String Quartet No. 3 (1966) 11:10
6. The Silence 1:38
7. The Ascent, String Quartet No. 4, “Amazing Grace” (1973) 10:29

String Quartet No. 2 (1964)
8. Light and quick: with grace and humor 4:33
9. Intimate, spacious 4:56
10. Extremely minute and intense; not fast 7:34

Kepler Quartet: Sharan Leventhal, violin I; Eric Segnitz, violin II; Brek Renzelman, viola; Karl Lavine, cello

All compositions published by Smith Publications. Recording available from
New World Records, A Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc.

© 2006 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Author, Bob Gilmore.

[Bob Gilmore is the author of Harry Partch: A Biography (Yale University Press, 1998) and has recently edited a collection of Ben Johnston's writings, Maximum Clarity and other writings on music.]

Full Liner Notes

Deborah O’Grady 'Before the world ended the people were to destroy all their property so they buried this thing or threw them in the lake,' from the series: Talking Lake, 1998, c-print.

Photo credit: (c) Deborah O’Grady. All rights reserved. Via With thanks.


Re-Imaging the West: A New History
Ken Gonzales-Day · Eirik Johnson · Simon Norfolk · Deb O’Grady · Matt O’Brien · Pipo · David Taylor · Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie · Joo Kyung Yoon

Back In The Days When Men Were Men And Sacred Carpets Meant Something (For Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield)


The return of the Saint Carpet from Macca to Cairo (1875)

Oil on canvas (138x222)

Collection of the National Museum of Armenia, Future European Union.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

"In 1863 Makovsky, together with the other 13 students eligible to participate in the competition for the [Czarist] Large Gold Medal of Academia, refused to paint on the set topic in Scandinavian mythology and instead left Academia without a formal diploma.

Makovsky became a member of a co-operative (artel) of artists led by Ivan Kramskoi, typically producing Wanderers [Peredvizhniki] paintings on everyday life (Widow 1865, Herring-seller 1867, etc.). From 1870 he was a founding member of the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions and continued to work on paintings devoted to everyday life. He exhibited his works on both the Academia exhibitions and the Traveling Art Exhibitions of the Wanderers.

A significant change in his style occurred after traveling to Egypt and Serbia in the mid-1870s. His interests changed from social and psychological problems to the artistic problems of colors and shape.

In the 1880s he became a fashioned author of portraits and historical paintings. At the World's Fair of 1889 in Paris he received the Large Gold Medal for his paintings Death of Ivan the Terrible, The Judgement of Paris, and Demon and Tamara. He was one of the most highly appreciated and highly paid Russian artists of the time." (Wikipedia)

Photo credit: (c) National Museum of Armenia (All rights reserved) via John Malyon/Artcyclopedia. With thanks.


Harvey Mansfield's 2007 National Endowment for the Humanities Lecture.

Extra! Extra! Cultural Scientists To Collect Historical Data About Nesvizh Castle, Belarus; Duelling European Castle-Palace Restoration Projects

Specialists to Collect Historical Data about Nesvizh Castle

'In 2007 the State Committee for Science and Technologies will start financing the project of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus for collecting rare historical data related to the Nesvizh Castle. As a result, the information regarding the benefits of the Nesvizh Castle, about the oldest part of the Radzivills’ archives, other information will be introduced in scientific circulation, supervisor of the project, head research officer of the Institute Andrei Metelskiy recently told to reporters.

The final goal of compiling the database will become the preparation for publishing a book dedicated to the history of the Nesvizh Castle. This innovation project envisages searching underground passages and communications described in numerous documents related to the construction of the Nesvizh Castle.

According to Andrei Metelskiy, specialists started the archeological dig in the early 1990s. By the time, four underground passages have been discovered, cleaned and included in tourist itineraries. The first passage goes from the Castle’s yard to a bastion and a fighting ground, the second one goes from the castle’s yard to the water and to the castle’s moat. Two maintenance passages more have been discovered as well. Their usage has not been determined yet as a human does not pass through them. This year the search will be continued and, possibly, a new story about lives of the Nesvizh Castle’s owners will appear, Andrei Metelskiy noted.

The Nesvizh Castle, the official residence of the Radzivills, was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.

The city of Nesvizh is located about 112 km (70 miles) westward from Minsk. The city was first mentioned in historical chronicles in 1446. In 1513 the city of Nesvizh became the official residence of the Radzivills – the biggest and the most powerful tycoon family in Belarus. The residence included the Castle, and a cathedral with a marketplace.

Reconstructed in the 18th century, the Radzivills Castle is the only surviving original tycoon residence in this part of the European continent [sic -- see Pidhirtsi Castle near Lviv and the new monograph on that Castle-Palace by Wawel Palace, Krakow, Director Jan K. Ostrowski]. The gem of the Nesvizh Castle is a crypt-based vault of the Radzivill dukes. Today it features 72 open caskets with remains of the renowned members of the family. The earliest grave dates back to 1616. The Nesvizh Castle has beautiful and harmonic combine of medieval architectural features, styles of late Renaissance, the Baroque and original stylish research of local masters.'

Source: Embassy of Belarus to the United States.

Duelling Eastern European Castle-Palace Restoration projects. Above, Nesvizh Castle, Belarus; below, Pidhirtsi Castle near Lviv, Ukraine. The Belarus Castle currently has UNESCO and State funding; while the Ukrainian Castle has the completed, scholarly monograph by Wawel Castle [Krakow, Poland] Director, Jan K. Ostrowski . The Pidhirtsi Castle-Palace was used as a Nazi headquarters and stripped of its vast collections of paintings and decorative artwork; and subsequently used as a political prison and as a sanatorium under the Soviets.

Photo credits: (c) [Minsk, Belarus]; and Wikipedia Commons [under challenge]. With many thanks to both copyright owners for use.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

'Victory Day 2007 (Russian: День Победы, Den' Pobedy; Ukrainian: День Перемоги, Den' Peremohy; Belarusian: Дзень Перамогі, Dzień Pieramohi)

'Victory Day (Russian: День Победы, Den' Pobedy; Ukrainian: День Перемоги, Den' Peremohy; Belarusian: Дзень Перамогі, Dzień Pieramohi; Kazakh: Жеңіс Күні, Jeñis Küni; Lithuanian: Pergalės diena; Moldavian: (Cyrillic) Зиуа Викторией, Ziua Victoriei; Latvian: Uzvaras Diena; Estonian: Võidupäev; Tatar Cyrillic: Җиңү көне, Latin: Ciñü köne) marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War commonly referred to in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. This capitulation was signed late in the evening on May 8, 1945 (May 9 in the Moscow time zone), following the original capitulation Germany signed earlier to the joint Allied forces. The Soviet government announced the victory early on May 9 after the signing ceremony in Berlin.

The May 9 Victory Day is celebrated in most of the successor states to the Soviet Union, especially in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.'


For N. and her family; and in memory of her grandmother and uncle killed by the Nazis in a village outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine, and at the Battle of Kursk.

'Soviet poster based on the famous photo of the Soviet flag being raised over the German Reichstag in 1945. The caption reads: "And the saved world remembers", a line from a Soviet post-war song about two young men who did not return from the war, and about how life in their home city has to go on without them.'

Photo and caption credit: Public domain in Russia via Wikipedia Commons. [It was published in the Soviet Union before January 1st, 1954.] With thanks.

Scholar And Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield's 2007 NEH Jefferson Lecture On "How To Understand Politics: What The Humanities Can Say To Science"

"You may think I have some nerve coming from a university to Washington to tell you how to understand politics. Well, I mean how to understand, not how to practice. In any event the understanding I propose comes from practice, not really from a university, and it has something to do with nerve—which is not often found at universities. Still less is it understood.

A person with “nerve” thinks himself more important than he is. But how do we back up the reproof: How important is he, how important are we? This is the central question in politics. Politics is about who deserves to be more important: which leader from which party with which ideas. Politics assumes that the contest for importance is important; in a grander sense it assumes that human beings are important. ...

Tonight I want to suggest two improvements for today’s understanding of politics arising from the humanities. The first is to recapture the notion of thumos in Plato and Aristotle, referring to a part of the soul that makes us want to insist on our own importance. Thumos is psychology or biology, hence science as conceived by those philosophers, but I say it is proper to the humanities now because, having been expelled from modern science, thumos lingers, unnoticed and unemployed, in the history of science, which is a museum of rejected science. The second improvement is the use of names—proper to literature and foreign to science. Literature tells stories of characters with names, in places with names, in times with dates. While science ignores names or explains them away, literature uses and respects them.

Let us make our way to thumos from an elementary observation. Politics is about what makes you angry, not so much about what you want. Your wants do matter, but mainly because you feel you are entitled to have them satisfied and get angry when they are not. Many times people who seem to us poor do not complain of their wants, because they do not feel entitled to those wants. When you complain, it is not so much that you lack what you want as that you feel slighted or offended in not having what is rightfully yours. In our democracy politics is motivated especially by the sense that you are not being treated equally. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement are obvious recent examples. They were initiated not for the sake of gaining benefits but to receive equal honor and respect. We do not worry so much about the wants of the rich and their desire for inequality. In a democracy that desire is latent and suppressed, though in our kind of democracy, a liberal democracy, we make room for the rich and allow inequality in practice if not in principle. But the rich are not allowed to get angry unless their democratic rights are violated. ...

Generalized self-esteem or self-satisfaction or power arises from the modern concept of the “self,” which has a history back to the sixteenth century that I will not go into. It is enough to say that the self is a simplification of the notion of soul, created to serve the purposes of the modern sciences of psychology and economics, both of which want you to be happy in a simple, straightforward way they can count. As against simplified modern self-interest I too will simplify—but in a manner that leads away from simplification. In the pre-modern thought of Plato and Aristotle, the soul was inferred from the possibility of voluntary action—what moves you to action—and from the possibility of thought—which makes you stop and think, perhaps think about yourself. This is complication, marking a difference between the contrary requirements of practice and theory. When is it necessary to act, when is it proper to reflect? And when you add to that complication the need to determine what is the good you move towards and think about, science becomes uneasy and looks for a way out.

Why is science uneasy? Science wants to overcome the discrepancy between practice and theory so that theory can go into effect, for example so that the discovery of DNA can be put to use. The need to count, more generally the resort to mathematics, serves the goal of application. Science wants the fruits of science, and it does not tolerate much doubt about the goodness of those fruits. If you have a doubt about the use of DNA, that is your affair; it is not the business of science to question whether all fathers should be found out. Scientists had a bad conscience about making the atom bomb, it’s fair to say, but their doubts were not prompted, still less endorsed by their science. ...

In thumos we see the animality of man, for men (and especially males) often behave like dogs barking, snakes hissing, birds flapping. But precisely here we also see the humanity of the human animal. A human being not only bristles at a threat but also gets angry, which means reacts for a reason, even for a principle, a cause. Only human beings get angry. When you lose your temper, you look for a reason to justify your conduct; thinking out the reason may take a while, after the moment of feeling wronged is past, but you cannot feel wronged without a reason—good or bad, well considered or taken for granted. ...

... What did Achilles do when his ruler Agamemnon stole his slave-girl? He raised the stakes. He asserted that the trouble was not in this loss alone but in the fact that the wrong sort of man was ruling the Greeks. Heroes, or at least he-men like Achilles, should be in charge rather than lesser beings like Agamemnon who have mainly their lineage to recommend them and who therefore do not give he-men the honors they deserve. Achilles elevated a civil complaint concerning a private wrong to a demand for a change of regime, a revolution in politics. To be sure, not every complaint goes that far. But every complaint goes in that direction, from anger to reason to politics. The reason is not that Achilles is making a point everyone would concede, as with self-interest. Just the contrary. Because the reason he gives opposes the rule of Agamemnon and challenges the status-quo, one expects it to be contested. To complain of an injustice is an implicit claim to rule. It is a demand that the rulers adjust their rule to provide for you, and not merely as a personal favor but as one case of a general principle. Since the rulers already hold their own principles, you might well want to remove them to make way for yours. Politics is about change, or to speak frankly, let us say revolution—large or small, active or latent. It is not about stability or equilibrium, the goal that political science today borrows from the market.

In a contested situation the asserted reason typically has to be made with bombast and boast because one cannot prove it. Certainly one cannot prove it to the satisfaction of one’s opponent or enemy. That is why the atmosphere of politics is laden with reasons that convince one side but not the other. Assertion is a passionate statement with a conclusion to which the asserter is far from indifferent. Socrates said that reasoning means following the course of the argument regardless of where it goes, and of how much it might hurt you: this is the dispassionate spirit of science. But in politics, people make assertions that they try to control; the argument goes where you want it to go. Today this is called spin. Sometimes, of course, the argument turns around and comes back to bite you, as for example when your party gains the presidency after you have loudly attacked the imperial presidency. Here we see the resistance of logic to imperious political assertions. But let us not underestimate human ingenuity in reasoning its way around reason. ...

The notion of thumos tells us further that politics is about protection, not primarily about gain. The reason you assert in your defense protects you and people like you that are included in the argument you advance. In an assertive, political argument you assume that you are perfectly OK. You are not apologizing for your self or your soul. The problem lies in things outside you, accidents that have happened or might happen, or the faults of others besides yourself. You therefore want to be protected in your self-satisfaction. If being protected requires gain, so be it. Even the most ambitious and vicious imperialists of our time wanted to conquer the world for the sake of protecting the Aryan race and the proletariat. When on the contrary you are ashamed, you believe that the fault lies in yourself, and your assertiveness falters, even turns against yourself. Consider the reaction of the democracies in Germany and Japan after World War II, or of the American sensitive male in response to the women’s movement. ...

Sociobiology reduces the human to the animal instead of observing how the animal becomes human. Thumos shows that we are self-important animals. Having eliminated the soul, modern science cannot understand the body in its most important aspect, which is its capacity for self-importance. Modern biology, particularly the theory of evolution, is based on the overriding concern for survival in all life. This is surely wrong in regard to human life. If you cannot look around you and must insist on indulging a taste for the primitive, you have only to visit the ruins of an ancient people and ponder how much of its GNP was devoted to religion, to its sense of the meaning of human life rather than mere survival. ...

Having considered the importance of human importance, and how it makes us individuals, we may now compare science and literature. Let me propose that literature and science have the same aim of finding and telling the truth, but, obviously, literature also seeks to entertain. ...

Literature, to repeat, besides seeking truth, also seeks to entertain—and why is this? The reason is not so much that some people have a base talent for telling stories and can’t keep quiet. The reason, fundamentally, is that literature knows something that science does not: the human resistance to hearing the truth. ...

My profession needs to open its eyes and admit to its curriculum the help of literature and history. It should be unafraid to risk considering what is ignored by science and may lack the approval of science. The humanities too, whose professors often suffer from a faint heart, need to recover their faith in what is individual and their courage to defend it. Thumos is not merely theoretical. To learn of it will improve your life as well as your thinking. It is up to you to improve your life by behaving as if it were important, but let me provide a summary of the things that you will know better after reflecting on the nature of thumos: the contrast between anger and gain; the insistence on victory; the function of protectiveness; the stubbornness of partisanship; the role of assertiveness; the ever-presence of one’s own; the task of religion; the result of individuality; the ambition of greatness. Altogether thumos is one basis for a human science aware of the body but not bound to it, a science with soul and taught by poetry well interpreted." ...

© 2007, Harvey Mansfield. Excerpted from the Full 2007 NEH Jefferson Lecture.

Achilles is taught by Chiron to play the lyre.

Image credit: Professor Lawrence Kim. With thanks.