Monday, April 30, 2007

Mr Cogito Watches Stephen Hawking Fly For 8 Minutes And Then Ponders His Own Attempt At Weightlessness At 2 to 15 Meters Above Current Sea Level

" ... offshore the same depletion and near extermination of marine mammals occurred. There, the decimation began even before the advent of mining, without the influence of tens of thousands of gold seekers. Two aquatic animals—the sea otter and the beaver—were the targets of the fur rush beginning more than a century before the Gold Rush. The sea otter was abundant along the California coast, particularly around San Francisco and Monterey bays and the Channel Islands. Perhaps 300,000 or more swam in the offshore waters. Unfortunately for the otters, they had a dense, warm brown coat with a silvered frosting of guard hairs. This came to be regarded as highly desirable among fur wearers in Moscow, Peking (Beijing), and elsewhere among the world's elite.

The trouble started in 1740, when the Russian government sent Vitus Bering to explore the northern Pacific toward Alaska. In the Aleutian Islands, the native Aleuts brought him large numbers of otter skins, which on the return of his expedition proved to be highly popular in Russia and China, and by the late 1700s, Russian ships were hunting the animal along the California coast. The Spanish exploitation of sea otters, probably using Chumash hunters, began before 1785, when the first government regulations on the trade were issued. Between 1786 and 1790 alone, nearly 10,000 skins were exported from Mexico to Asia via the Manila galleons. The Russians, partly to improve their access to the fur trade, established bases at Fort Ross in 1812 and in the Farallon Islands, from which they went forth with their Aleut hunters to kill sea otters. One hunting party in San Francisco Bay in 1811 massacred 1,200 otters. The French also played a minor role; in 1786 the expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse obtained 1,000 skins, which they sold in China for $10,000. The price went up from $10 to $60 a skin by the 1790s. Americans became involved in the early 1800s and were still active by gold-rush times. The best known American hunter, George Nidever, was particularly busy in the Channel Islands and offshore in Baja California from 1834 to 1855. By gold-rush times the otters were becoming scarce, and prospecting held a greater allure for the hunters. Nevertheless, the otter population had been reduced to perhaps thirty-two survivors by the time it was given full protection in 1911." ...

Raymond F. Dasmann from Chapter 5 "Environmental Changes before and after the [California] Gold Rush" in James J. Rawls and Richard J. Orsi, editors A Golden State: Mining and Economic Development in Gold Rush California California History Sesquicentennial Series, 2

'Egg pickers gather the harvest on one of the Farallon Islands, some thirty miles off the Golden Gate, in 1880. The wild rush west of thousands of gold seekers created an enormous demand in California not only for game, but also for fish and fowl and eggs. Between 1850 and 1856 the Farallone Egg Company alone brought over three million eggs—chiefly those of the common murre—to the San Francisco markets.' California Historical Society, FN-30975.

Photo and caption credit: (c) California Historical Society from sources cited above. With thanks.

Friday, April 27, 2007

'Art And Literature Should Be Judged By The Conscience Of The Creator, His Peers In His Field And All Of The People, Not By A Separate Bureaucracy'

"Art and literature should be judged by the conscience of the creator, his peers in his field and all of the people, not by a separate bureaucracy, artificially compressing the arteries and veins of this life-sustaining circulation."

-- Mstislav Rostropovich, testifying at a 1990 United States Senate hearing on the National Endowment for the Arts.


"The passing of Mstislav Rostropovich is a bitter blow to our culture. ... He gave Russian culture worldwide fame. Farewell, beloved friend."

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, commenting to the Russian ITAR-Tass news agency.

This sculpture of Dmitri 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, in the Nation's Capital; and to 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.)

In Memorium, Mstislav Rostropovich, Musician and Humanist, 1927 - 2007

Portrait of Rostropovich (right), as young performer and humanist, with Sergei Prokofiev, senior performer, composer, and humanist -- Moscow ca. 1950.

Such a musical meeting would be inconceivable in today's Nation's Capital -- Washington, D.C.

Prokofiev is represented by only one work on Sharon Rockefeller's new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital; where Rostropovich was ultimately unsuccessful in instilling a living classical music culture and where his calls for a national music conservatory were ignored by the musical Establishment and by Congress.

Rostropovich's other great mentor and friend, composer and humanist Dmitri Shostakovich, is not truly represented at all on the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital; though occasionally snippets of Shostakovich's minor ballet music or jazz settings are performed for tokenist purposes. This morning, however, National Public Radio did intervene in the new Classical WETA-FM Lite's reactionary silliness by broadcasting a powerful passage from Shostakovich's great Symphony #5, when announcing Rostropovich's passing.

The last work that I heard Rostropovich perform as a cellist, in Washington, D.C., was Sofia Gubaidulina's Canticle of the Sun; with members of the NSO and Washington Chorus. I believe that one of the last works, if not the last work, that I heard Rostropovich conduct with the National Symphony was the world premiere of Alfred Schnittke's Symphony #6. Mr Schnittke was in the audience, though he looked very pale at the time.

Rostropovich also commissioned and permiered with the National Symphony two symphonies by Vyacheslav Artyomov; though Rostropovich was ultimately frustrated in his plan to give the North American premiere of Artyomov's Requiem to the Victims of Stalin's Terror at the Washington National Cathedral.

With sympathy to the Rostropovich family.

Photo credit: (c) Boosey and Hawkes, Ltd. via With thanks.


I first saw Rostropovich when he conducted an afternoon cello master class at Alfred Hertz Memorial Concert Hall, in Berkeley, in 1976. We revisited Hertz Hall last Wednesday noon where Graeme Jennings performed a superb solo violin recital, sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute, of works by Berio, Donatoni, and Sciarrino. Rostropovich would certainly have approved of the seriousness of that recital in that it reflected his own musical vision of a living classical music tradition; a living tradition he ultimately found lacking in Washington, D.C.

[Rostropovich is forgiven for calling my wife N. "a little rabbit", a few summers ago.]

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Still Shunning American Classical Music, Classical WETA-FM Lite, In Nation's Capital, To Program Saturday Operas From American Companies Year-Round

"Classical WETA-FM (90.9) has decided to air opera year-round, expanding upon its current Saturday afternoon broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances during the December-May season, the Arlington public radio station said yesterday.

"Classical WETA Opera House," debuting on May 12, will air productions from five major national companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and, of course [sic], the Washington National Opera. The program will air during the same slot as the Metropolitan broadcasts at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

"Opera House" will kick off with a broadcast of Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot" as performed by the Lyric Opera of Chicago." ...

Kara Rowland "WETA expands opera lineup" Washington Times April 25, 2007


Last week in Berkeley, California, in one single hour of public radio listening, I heard classical music by three living classical composers: Jake Heggie [sung by Frederica von Stade], Ricky Ian Gordon, and Vladimír Godár [performed by Iva Bittová].

I also heard, on public classical radio, San Francisco conductor Michael Tilson Thomas's The MTT Files [from American Public Radio and the San Francisco Symphony] program on Stravinsky; and a delayed broadcast, by the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, of Stravinsky's Divertimento from The Fairy's Kiss and Symphony in Three Movements, and Tchaichovky's first attempt at a symphony -- his Winter Daydreams [Symphony #1].

All of these three works -- along with similarly public radio broadcast works by Kissine, Takemitsu, Aho, Ades, and Piazolla -- are too new and unusual for Sharon Rockefeller's currently constituted, Luddite Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital. [San Francisco Symphony Program Notes]

Classical and new classical music artists Frederica von Stade and Iva Bittova, above, are good enough for classical music lovers around the world; but not good enough for Sharon Rockefeller's new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital.

What national American classical culture an older generation of the Rockefeller family gave to the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums [the De Young Museum's Rockefeller Collection of American Art] and the Nation, has been taken away by Sharon Rockefeller, Dan De Vany, and Jim Allison of the new, American classical music disdaining, Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital.

National Gallery of Art, American Painting Galleries

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Celebrating 20 Years

Photo credits: (c) Hans Fahnmayer and; and Prague Radio and With thanks.

And Now ... In Memorium, Guernica, Basque Country, Spain, April 26, 1937 [... O For A Muse Of Morning Memory]

The bombing of Guernica was an aerial attack on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War by planes of the German Luftwaffe "Condor Legion" and subordinate Italian Fascists from the Corpo Truppe Volontarie expeditionary force organized as Aviazione Legionaria. The raid was titled Operation Rügen and resulted in widespread destruction and civilian death in the Republican held town of Guernica, Basque Country. (Wikipedia)

[Click on image for enlargement.]


On May 12, 1999, the New York Times reported that, after sixty-one years, in a declaration adopted on April 24, 1999, the German Parliament formally apologized to the citizens of Guernica for the role the Condor Legion played in bombing the town. The German government also agreed to change the names of some German military barracks named after members of the Condor Legion. By contrast, no formal apology to the city has ever been offered by the Spanish government for whatever role it may have played in the bombing. (PBS)

Image credit: (c) Estate of Pablo Picasso. All rights reserved. Reproduced under fair use copyright provisions from Wikipedia Creative Commons. With thanks.

Again ... In Memorium, April 26, 1986, Chornobyl, Ukraine, The Former Soviet Union

The Soviet fire brigade "liquidators" sent to repress the Chornobyl [Chernobyl] nuclear power station meltdown on April 26, 1986. Most died soon after from radioactive exposure.

Most Ukrainians and other Soviet citizens -- especially young or pregnant mothers and the ill -- across the north-central portion of the Ukrainian nation including the capital city of Kyiv [Kiev] fled eastward to such larger cities as Kharkiv [Kharkov] -- Ukraine's second largest city -- and Poltava and Sumi; as well as smaller ancestral towns and villages far away from the immediate contamination zone.

Before there are monuments, artworks, and masterpieces, there are people.

Photo credit: Facts About the Chernobyl Disaster. (c) Massimo Bonfatti and With thanks.


On An Overgrown Path "Mahler's message for German Parliament [on the 21st Anniversary of the Chornobyl catastrophe]" April 25, 2007

Unwilling To Commit To New American Classical Culture, New York Philharmonic Joins National Symphony In Announcing New Principal Conductor Position

"The New York Philharmonic, hunting for a successor to its music director, Lorin Maazel, has decided to divide up its leadership by adding the new position of principal conductor, orchestra officials said yesterday.

In a meeting with the musicians, the Philharmonic’s president, Zarin Mehta, said the orchestra would create other new positions, including composer in residence; director for a mini-festival; and artist in residence, probably a soloist.

“An organization like ours needs somebody who’s there more than a regular musical director,” Mr. Mehta said in an interview later. “We just thought that more than one person would be a better idea from the musical standpoint.”

Most American orchestras have music directors, a sole authority who controls hiring and firing, helps with fund-raising, programs concerts, oversees the hiring of guest conductors and soloists and serves as the public face of the institution. The Philharmonic has generally operated that way for its 165 years.

Under Mr. Mehta’s plan, a music director would serve the usual 12 to 14 weeks on the podium out of a 44-week season, but the principal conductor would come in for another 8 to 10 weeks to increase the presence of an artistic leader, adding a collaborative voice and, potentially, excitement. Mr. Mehta said he knew of no parallel setups [sic]..."

Daniel J. Wakin "Philharmonic to Add a Position at the Top" New York Times April 25, 2007


And while the National Symphony Orchestra's Leonard Slatkin, in his final season with the NSO, continues belatedly to try to begin to build a new American classical orchestral culture [in a city in which public radio, under Sharon Rockefeller's ultimate control, disdains American classical music], the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, next season, will invite to its podium such exciting living composer/conductors as Tan Dun, James MacMillan, Thomas Ades, and HK Gruber [and living composer/violinist Mark O'Conner].

Scene from HK Gruber's contemporary chamber opera, Gloria von Jaxtberg (1992-94), staged in Hamburg, Germany, European Union, in 2004.

"…the non-Aryan curly-haired pig that dreams foolishly of a fairy-tale prince while the butcher sharpens the knife appeared to Gruber to be just what he was waiting for - a tale eminently suitable for a low budget chamber opera format. Herfurtner provided the right swilling text for this pigs’ parable: a libretto supportive of song and sound with dance rhythms, in upper Bavarian metre… epic theatre out of a Brechtian picture book."
-- Die Welt

Photo credit: © Copyright 2006 With thanks.

In Memorium, April 26, 1986, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Українська Радянська Соціалістична Республіка, Союз Советских Социалистических Республик

Memorial in Chornobyl, Ukraine, Future European Union to the Soviet-era firefighters who died trying to extinguish the blazes caused by the so-called clean nuclear-material reaction powered electric power station meltdown of April 26, 1986.

Chernobyl Children's Project International

Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund

United Nations Millennium Development Goals

These goals range from halving extreme world poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015

Photo credit: © Waclaw Gudowski via Department of Reactor Physic, AlbaNova University, Stockholm, Sweden, European Union All rights reserved. With thanks.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra Begins To Scout Conducting And New Music Terrain Beyond Kent Nagano And 2009

On Thursday, Kent Nagano led the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in Berlin-based Grawemeyer Prize winning composer Unsuk Chin's "Cantatrix Sopranica" for two sopranos and countertenor; as well as George Benjamin's "Olicantus", for Oliver Knussen's birthday. Next season, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra will audition three conductors to replace Kent Nagano in 2009. Quasi-humanistic new music highlights of next season include Mr Nagano conducting Toshio Hosokawa's Piano Concerto (with Momo Kodama); Hugh Wolff conducting Aaron Jay Kernis's "... of Feet and Meters," Osvaldo Golijov's "Night of the Flying Horses," and Shostakovich's "From Jewish Folk Poetry"; Guillermo Figueroa conducting Roberto Sierra's "Boriken"; and Laura Jackson conducting Susan Botti's "Translucence."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Faced With New Classical WETA Lite And Recent Developments At NSO And Washington National Opera, American Classical Music Under "Challenge" In Capital

"Ivan Fischer will become the principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, the NSO announced yesterday [Thursday, April 12, 2007].

It is an interim appointment, slated to last two years while the search continues for a full-time music director to replace Leonard Slatkin, who will step down at the end of the 2007-2008 season. Fischer will not serve as music director.

A principal conductor generally has authority only over the concerts that he or she conducts, while a music director sets the creative philosophy for the ensemble, oversees artistic operations and has the right to initiate the re-seating, or even the replacement, of musicians, subject to conditions in the labor contract.

Fischer, 56, who made his debut with the NSO in 1997, is currently the orchestra's principal guest conductor. In the 2008-2009 season, he will spend eight weeks in Washington, including five weeks on the orchestra's formal subscription series. The following year, he will spend seven weeks with the NSO, six of which will take place during the subscription season.

... This will be only the second time in its 76-year history that the NSO has not had a music director waiting in the wings to step in at the close of another director's tenure.

According to a participant who spoke only under the condition that his name not be used, the NSO had "serious and substantial" talks with Fischer about the position of music director. In the end, he said, negotiations broke down over Fischer's determination to continue his work as the founder and director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Hungary, where he lives with his wife and two small children.

"The music directorship may have crossed some people's minds," Fischer acknowledged yesterday from Budapest. "But in the end, this was the best arrangement for everybody involved. I am very busy and committed to my orchestra here. But I love to work with the NSO. I really appreciate its collection ambition and search for good quality. It is very close to my heart, this orchestra."

Fischer is a specialist in Central European music, including the works of Bela Bartok and Antonin Dvorak. Yet he has led Mozart opera at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, conducted an all-Mendelssohn program on his last trip to Washington and has made widely admired recordings of Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

Rita Shapiro, executive director of the NSO, said that she admired the "intensity of [Fischer's] musicmaking, the depth of his preparation, his attention to detail and the color and nuance he draws from the orchestra...."

Shapiro declined comment on any aspect of the music director search yesterday but said that she would plan the seasons and steer the orchestra's direction for the next two years, in tandem with the NSO's recently appointed director of artistic planning, Nigel Boon, and with advice from Fischer. Shapiro has an extensive background in orchestra operations and touring. She served as operations manager of the Cleveland Orchestra for 12 years.

Fischer had been the clear favorite to succeed Slatkin for some months.

"What I really think has happened here is that the NSO put all of its eggs in one basket and just assumed Fischer would take the job," a member of the orchestra who spoke only under the condition of anonymity, said yesterday. "Now, with just about all the good guys already snapped up by other orchestras, the list of possible candidates, other than heavies like Lorin Maazel, is growing thin." ...

Indeed, interviews with several NSO players indicated strong admiration for recent guest conductors such as Maazel, Kurt Masur and Christoph von Dohnanyi, all in their late 70s, toward the end of distinguished careers and unlikely to want the challenges of another music directorship. "If we could work with one of these people for a few weeks a year, we'd be in better shape than we would with some younger and less authoritative person who gives us three or four months," one said." ...

Tim Page "NSO Picks Fischer as Interim Maestro: Hungarian to Become Principal Conductor for 2 Years at the Start of 2008-09 Season" Washington Post April 13, 2007


American classical music, in the Nation's Capital, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of such individuals as Classical WETA Lite's Jim Allison, the National Symphony's Rita Shapiro and Nigel Boon [and Michael Kaiser], and Placido Domingo of the Washington National Opera [who is, reportedly, facing opposition from American classical music- disfavoring Board Members for the National Company's historic commitment to program one American classical opera each and every season].

The NSO's recently appointed director of artistic planning, Nigel Boon, will work with distinguished, but Central Europe-focused, NSO Principal Conductor Ivan Fischer (above), to try to counteract the pernicious influence that the new Classical WETA-FM, under Jim Allison, Dan De Vany, and Sharon Rockefeller, is having on American classical music culture in the Nation's Capital.

Photo credit: (c) Budapest Festival Orchestra. With thanks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On World Day Of Celebration For Yuri Gagarin And 'Vostok 1', Ukrainian President Yushchenko States That Ukraine Will Not Host U.S. Missile Defenses

KYIV. April 12 (Interfax) - "Ukraine has never considered and will not consider the deployment of U.S. missile defenses on its territory, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said at a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

He was replying to an Interfax request that he comment on the Pentagon's report that Ukraine is among the 15 countries that the U.S. views as potential partners in building its missile defense system."

Interfax "Ukraine will not host U.S. missile defenses - Yushchenko" April 12, 2007 3:07 PM

"Восток 1" (Vostok 1)

Yuri Gagarin's Soviet spacecraft for humankind's first manned space flight, April 12, 1961.

The Vostok 1 capsule is now on display at the RKK Energiya Museum.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Ю́рий Алексeeвич Гагaрин

Ю́рий Алексeeвич Гагaрин (English: Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, 1934-1968)

Mr Gagarin was Soviet cosmonaut who on April 12, 1961 became the first person in space and the first person to orbit the Earth.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons (Under Fair Use Provision). With thanks to Wikipedia and Google.


For our Y.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Orthodox Easter Postcard From Lishchyn Village, Near Zhytomyr, Ukraine

With thanks to Y. of Kyiv.

Music Critic Justin Davidson On The Half-Fulfilled Promises Of Paul Kellogg's Tenure As General Director Of The New York City Opera

"For better or worse, everyone is expecting Gerard Mortier, the grand poobah-designate of New York City Opera, to transform the company, which is precisely what everyone expected from his predecessor Paul Kellogg, and from his predecessor Christopher Keene. Kellogg is now the old guard - not, I suspect a role he would have cast himself in, and not one he's particularly well suited for. When he took over a decade ago, he moved with Gelb-like efficiency to put his stamp on a company that had been slammed by the AIDS-related deaths of Keene and many other members. City Opera was demoralized, financially and artistically shaky, and on many nights the house was depressingly empty (a trend abetted by Keene's penchant for programming operas that many people enthusiastically avoided).

Kellogg took the following steps, which almost nobody objected to: He doubled the number of new productions and started gradually replacing dated stagings of standard repertoire, most successfully with Mark Lamos' exquisite "Madama Butterfly." He moved all weekday performances back to 7:30. He brought in several productions each year that had been developed at the other house he ran, Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY. He started systematically presenting Handel operas and other baroque works, including Stephen Wadsworth's never-to-be-forgotten staging of "Xerxes" with Lorraine Hunt (no Lieberson, then) and, in his New York City stage debut, David Daniels. Besides Daniels, Kellogg also introduced Lauren Flanigan, Amy Burton, Mark Delavan and Anthony Dean Griffey to New York audiences.

Kellogg did not make City Opera much of a force in creating new operas, but he did recommit the company to American and 20th century work. And after commissioning the atrocious triptych of one-acters collectively called "Central Park," he wisely decided not to trust his own taste in contemporary opera. Instead, he imported certified crowd-pleasers: Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking," Mark Adamo's "Little Women," Rachel Portman's "Little Prince," Tobias Picker's "Emmeline." He inaugurated VOX, the annual full-orchestra reading of new operas, some of which have gone on to full-fledged productions.

Such a catalog of good decisions makes the eyes glaze over, I know, which is why Kellogg will likely be better remembered for two more exciting initiatives, one a failure that some applauded, the other an accomplishment that many detest." ...

Justin Davidson "Operaman" The Rest Is Noise [Critic/Writer Alex Ross's blog] April 11, 2007

Daniel Okulitch in the Canadian premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, 2005-2006 Calgary Opera Season.

Photo credit: (c) Trudie Lee via All rights reserved. With thanks.

Living American Classical Music From The Nation's Capital [Not Soon To Be On The New Classical WETA-FM]: Composer Tudor Dominik Maican

"Composer Tudor Dominik Maican has received more than 40 international awards and honors for his work, a remarkable accomplishment for a 17 year old. In 2006 alone, he received top honors at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory's Competition for Young Composers, Italy 's Cultural Music Association's 7 th Annual International Competition for Solo Instrument (piano), and, for the second time, the Juilliard School of Music's Annual Competition for Young Composers.

This year Dominik was also named Composer-in-Residence Fellow at Dumbarton Concerts in Washington , DC . The fellowship includes commissions for four works to be premiered by the internationally acclaimed Borromeo String Quartet and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra.

“A four-year residency is very unusual, but then so is Dominik,” said Connie Zimmer, Executive Director of Dumbarton Concerts. “His talent and imagination simply blow us away, and we are thrilled to be part of this young man's exciting musical journey.”

Dominik began playing the piano at the age of three, and by five he was composing. He has written four symphonies, numerous instrumental works and a requiem. He spends weekends commuting from his home in suburban Washington , DC to Juilliard's Pre-College Division, where he begins his fifth year as a scholarship student this fall. At Juilliard, Dominik has studied with Anthony Abel, Ira Taxin and Olegna Fuschi. He also has studied with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany."

Dumbarton Concerts


The Borromeo String Quartet performs string quartets by Tudor Dominik Maican, Beethoven, and Shostakovich this Saturday, April 14, 2007, at 8 PM; as part of the Dumbarton [Georgetown] Concerts.

Young Washington, D.C. area - based American classical composer Tudor Dominik Maican with Mature European classical composer and classical music mentor Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Neither will ever have their music broadcast on the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital (though like Wagner before him in 1876, Stockhausen and his music played an important role in the Nation's Capital Bicentenniel Celebrations, in 1976.)

Photo credit: (c) Tudor Dominik Maican via Dumbarton Concerts site. With thanks.

"Art For Opera" ... (Or "Vissi d'Arte") ... (Or "When Zeno Met Renee")

""Art for Opera," the Metropolitan Opera's benefit auction of new works by major living artists, is the latest effort to renew the Met's historical connection to the visual arts. The big news for art collectors is that specially commissioned works, as well as a few existing pieces, will be on the market for the first time. The pieces are by 12 acclaimed artists, including John Chamberlain, Chuck Close, Barnaby Furnas, William Kentridge, Richard Prince, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, William Wegman. The auction is the centerpiece of a gala dinner, on Sunday, May 6 [2007]. The event will raise money for new Met productions and fund future collaborations with visual artists.

The opening last September of the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met featured an exhibition of works by some of contemporary art's most innovative and provocative figures.The new space was a first step in fostering what Dodie Kazanjian, director of the gallery and one of the co-chairs of the May 6 auction, calls "cross-cultural excitement between two of the most vibrant art forms in New York. We are saying to artists, ‘We want to hear your voices, and we want you to see what we're doing.' "

Kazanjian calls the collaboration a "laboratory—not just for the gallery, but for the stage." Literally so, in the case of soprano Renée Fleming, the subject of two pieces in the auction. One is a portrait by Close in the artist's new tapestry-ground technique, the other a video portrait by Robert Wilson." ...

Auction House: The Stage of the Metropolitan is the setting for an auction of important contemporary works. Article by Bill Goldstein originally appearing in Playbill.


Photo Journal: William Kentridge's Magic Flute at BAM by Matthew Westphal and Matt Blank. PlaybillArts April 10, 2007

William Kentridge "Birdcatcher/Papageno," 2007,
diptych, watercolor on Misumi Kozo paper, each 39 x 39 in,
Courtesy of the Marian Goodman Gallery

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Image credit: (c) William Kentridge and Marian Goodman Gallery. With thanks.

The New Classical WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Slowly Realizing Need To Build American Classical Music Museum Wing

"American" classical music on today's Classical WETA-FM Playlist, April 11, 2007, in the Nation's Capital:

6:07am: Jazz Suite #2: Waltz #2
Dmitri Shostakovich
National Symphony Orch. of Ukraine
Theodore Kuchar (conductor)
[Brilliant 6735]

8:46am: Piano Quartet: II
Arthur Foote
James Barbagallo (piano)
Da Vinci Quartet
[Naxos 559.014]

10:07am: Florida Suite: By the River
Frederick Delius
English String Orchestra
William Boughton (conductor)
[Nimbus 5208]

8:54pm: The Frogs
George Chadwick
Peter Kairoff (piano)
[Albany 745]

The National Gallery of Art's American Painting Collection.

John Singleton Copley -- Watson and the Shark
National Gallery of Art, Washington , D.C.
Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund

Photo credit: (c) National Gallery of Art Interactive Art Education Site. 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.


What would Herman Melville and Gregory Peck have thought of the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital?

On Trying To Find Time To Think About Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Wagner, Janacek, Coriolanus, And Meyerhold

"In 1936, two of the Soviet Union’s greatest artists decided to work on a new theatrical production of Pushkin’s “Boris Godunov” for its author’s coming jubilee. Sergei Prokofiev wrote 24 musical pieces while the visionary stage director Vsevolod Meyerhold mapped out scenes and started rehearsals. The following year, Stalin’s terror fixed its gaze on Meyerhold and he abandoned the project. Three years later, he was dead, shot by a firing squad.

Now, thanks to the recent discovery of Meyerhold’s original notes and Prokofiev’s handwritten score and comments, their collaboration is finally having its world premiere on Thursday night at the Berlind Theater at Princeton University, 70 years after its planned opening.

This mammoth undertaking by Princeton, in conjunction with the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, rescues a production that artists and scholars thought was lost forever. The four sold-out performances will also introduce Meyerhold, a seminal theatrical thinker, to an audience largely ignorant of his work.

“I was fairly stunned and I continue to be stunned,” said Simon Morrison, an associate professor of music at Princeton, who excavated Meyerhold’s notes in 2005 from a sealed section of the Russian archive, to which he managed to gain access. Mr. Morrison, who is writing a book about Prokofiev, said: “This is one of the scores that he composed in the ’30s when he was at the top of his game, and it went to waste. He never heard it in his lifetime.”" ...

Patricia Cohen "A Lost ‘Boris Godunov’ Is Found and Staged" New York Times April 11, 2007 [with April 8, 2007 dateline]


Prokofiev's "Semyon Kotko (Семён Котко)"

Prokofiev's recently discovered handwritten score for Boris Godunov.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Russian State Archive of Literature and Art via New York Times. With thanks.


Program to the FREE performance last Sunday evening at the National Gallery of Art of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, from 1936.

Civilians Without Protection: International Red Cross Reports Ever-Worsening Conditions For Civilians In Worn-Torn Iraq

"The situation for civilians in Iraq is ''ever-worsening,'' even though security in some places has improved as a result of stepped-up efforts by U.S.-led multinational forces, the international Red Cross said Wednesday.

Thousands of bodies lie unclaimed in mortuaries, with family members either unaware that they are there or too afraid to go to recover them, according to a key official with the neutral agency. Medical professionals also have been fleeing the country after cases where their colleagues were killed or abducted, the group said.

''Whatever operation that is today under way, and that may be taken tomorrow and in the weeks after, to improve the security of civilians on the ground may have an effect in the medium term,'' said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC.

''We're certainly not seeing an immediate effect in terms of stabilization for civilians currently. That is not our reading,'' he said.

Kraehenbuehl spoke in releasing a new ICRC report titled ''Civilians Without Protection: The Ever-worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq.''" ...

Associated Press "Red Cross: Iraq Is 'Ever- Worsening'" New York Times April 11, 2007

Iraqi civilian Abdallah Yaqoob. Does he and his family see a world of possibilities?

'On March 25, 2003 Abdallah Yaqoob was sleeping along with his family when a cluster munition strike hit his neighbourhood in Basra. Shrapnel came through the window and nearly cut off his left arm and opened his abdomen. While the family escaped to the
hospital Abdallah’s father tried to keep Abdallah’s intenstines inside his body and prevent his arm from coming off completely. Abdallah, his family and the rest of Hay al-Zeitun neighbourhood know very well why they were hit by the British forces: Iraqi forces were hiding in the neighbourhood. Abdallah was hit by British L20A1/M85 grenades. ”I stayed after the attack to watch the house. I clearly saw the bombs
because there were four left behind around our house and many more in the whole neighbourhood”, says Ali, Abdallah’s older brother.

Today Abdallah’s arm is buried not far away from his house.'

Photo and caption credit: (c) Kirsten Hjørnholm Sørensen and Danish Church Aid. With thanks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

World Monuments Fund And UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Cultural Tourism; And Economic Development

... "The phrase Unesco World Heritage site has been crossing from the lips of travel agents and popping up more and more on travel Web sites. That's no coincidence: the list has grown steadily from the first 12 in 1978 to 812 today, and includes everything from the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat to the Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland and the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape in Mongolia.

But as the list expands each year, many, including Unesco staff members, are left wondering: is this rapid growth watering down the list's meaning? And by drawing both tourism and development that's often left unchecked, can the honor do as much harm as good to those places so anointed?

Although Mexico devotes more resources to the World Heritage efforts than many countries, the Yucatán provides lessons in what can happen after a site makes the list. Mexico's most emblematic site is probably the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, which by the time it was inscribed was already overrun with tourists on day trips from Cancún, three hours to the east. The numbers grew after nomination, with peak months bringing more than 5,000 visitors a day, according to Yucatán government statistics.

Standing before Chichén Itzá's iconic Kukulcan pyramid is still stunning, to be sure, but watching the line of tour buses spewing forth American tourists outside is just as remarkable. Visitors emerge with stickers on their shirts identifying their bus numbers. Cheery guides with set scripts shepherd them through the gate, where they are given official admission wristbands.

Beyond the gates, souvenir hawkers are well trained. One regular, Ermenegildo Kahum Kem, knows how to say, ''Nothing for your mother-in-law?'' in five languages.

Unesco's manifesto sounded simple enough: It set up a World Heritage Convention in 1972 to protect cultural and natural sites of ''outstanding universal value.'' The convention established a World Heritage Committee, a rotating group of 15 (now 21) nations, and a World Heritage Fund to provide oversight, technical assistance and loans. The World Heritage Center in Paris oversees the program, and the committee annually decides on new designations.

It has become clear, though, that for many sites, getting on the list might be more an end goal than the beginning of conservation efforts. Once the four- to five-year nomination process is over, Unesco generally doesn't provide funds or technical assistance from its 35-person staff (plus consultants), nor regular monitoring to ensure that the ambitious plans come to fruition.

''Countries found out that while they didn't get money from Unesco, they did get recognition, and recognition results in tourism,'' said Bonnie Burnham, the president of the New York-based World Monuments Fund, a nonprofit group that assists in preserving and protecting historic sites. ''It's not a secret that this is one of the primary benefits of World Heritage listing.''" ...

Seth Kugel "JOURNEYS: WORLD HERITAGE SITES; Preservation: Sure, It's a Good Thing, but" New York Times January 15, 2006


Sites previously listed on the World Monuments Watch of the World Monuments Fund

Belarus, Mahilyow, Pervomaisk, Pervomaisk Church (2002)

Russia, Perm Oblast, Perm-36 (2004)
Russia, Republic of Karelia, Paanajärvi Village (1996 1998 2000)
Russia, Republic of Karelia, Belomorsky and Pudozhsky Districts, Karelian Petroglyphs (2002)
Russia, Irkutsk Oblast, Irkutsk, Irkutsk Historic Center (1998 2000)
Russia, Moscow Oblast, Istra, New Jerusalem (2002)
Russia, Republic of Karelia, Kondopoga, Assumption Church (2002)
Russia, Republic of Karelia, Lake Onega, Kizhi Island, Kizhi Pogost (1996)
Russia, Leningrad Oblast, Lomonosov, Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum State Museum (2000 2002 2004)
Russia, Moscow, Russakov Club (1998 2000)
Russia, Moscow, Arkhangelskoye State Museum (2000 2002)
Russia, Moscow, Narkomfin Building (2002 2004 2006)
Russia, Yaroslavl Oblast, Rostov Veliky, Church of our Savior on the Market (Spas-on-Torg) (2002)
Russia, Yaroslavl Oblast, Rostov Veliky, Rostov Veliky Historic Center (2000 2002)
Russia, Leningrad Oblast, St. Petersburg, Yelagin Island Palace/Park Ensemble (1998)
Russia, Leningrad Oblast, St. Petersburg, Tsarskoje Selo, Catherine Palace (1998)
Russia, Siauliu, St. Petersburg, Tsarskoje Selo, Alexander Palace (1996 1998)
Russia, Leningrad Oblast, Vyborg, Viipuri Library (Vyborg Library) (2000 2002)

Ukraine, Odessa Province, Belgorod-Dnestrovsky, Tyras-Belgorod Fortress (2004)
Ukraine, Khmelnytsky Province, Kamyanets-Podilsky, Kamyanets Podilsky Castle Bridge (2000)
Ukraine, Crimea, Kerch, Panticapaeum Ancient City (2004)
Ukraine, Kiev Municipality, Kiev, Church of our Savior of Berestove (2002)
Ukraine, Crimea, Sevastopol, Chersonesos Ancient City (1996 1998 2002)
Ukraine, L’viv Province, Zhovkva, Zhovkva Synagogue (2000)

'The Uch Monument Complex, located in the Bahawalpur District, Pakistan, is the home of tile-bedecked mausoleums built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The tombs suffered severe damage in a 19th century flood, and attempts to repair them (with cement) further compromised their preservation.'

Photo and caption credit: Courtesy World Monuments Fund via AIArchitect November 2001. With thanks.

Entire Country Of Iraq Remains On New York City's World Monument Fund List Of World's Most Endangered Historic Sites

Iraq Cultural Heritage Sites

"Ten thousand years ago, the foundations of human civilization were laid in the fertile floodplain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what was Mesopotamia and is now the modern nation of Iraq. Within its borders are an estimated 10,000 sites that chronicle thousands of years of human history, including many great cultural achievements. It was in this ancient land that the Sumerians wrote humanity’s first words and planned its first cities and the Babylonian king Hammurabi enacted the first-known code of law. In the millennia that followed, Roman, Arab, and Ottoman architects and engineers and urban planners each left their mark on this extraordinary landscape in the form of temples, schools, and townscapes.

Decades of political isolation, a protracted war with Iran, and, more recently, the invasion and continuing conflict, which began in 2003, have put this extraordinary heritage at risk. Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire.

In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, WMF has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. In addition, WMF is working with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), which presented the nomination, to assess and document what has survived and plan for its long-term preservation, an effort undertaken in partnership with the Getty Conservation Institute and supported by the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), UNESCO, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and other concerned citizens and organizations."

Source: World Monuments Fund, New York City

2006 World Monuments Watch 100 Most Endangered Sites. [The next list is due to be announced in June 2008. Nominations and applications are being accepted now.]

Photo credit: (c) World Monuments Fund. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kurtag's Ghosts ... Marino Formenti, piano

Kurtág’s Ghosts

DE MACHAUT: Loyauté, que point ne delay
KURTÁG: Hommage à Farkas Ferenc No. 2
DE MACHAUT: Trés douce dame
KURTÁG: Hommage à Farkas Ferenc No. 4
Hommage à Stockhausen
STOCKHAUSEN: Klavierstück No. 2
KURTÁG: …humble regard sur Olivier Messiaen…
MESSIAEN: Île de Feu 1
KURTÁG: Hommage à Pierre Boulez
BOULEZ: Notation No. 12
KURTÁG: Hommage à Musszorgszkij
MUSSORGSKY: The First Punishment
KURTÁG: Hommage à J.S.B.
Hommage à Domenico Scarlatti
Hommage à Farkas Ferenc No. 3
SCARLATTI: Sonata K 394
KURTÁG: Hempergös (Tumble-Bunny)
The Five-Finger Quarrel
BACH: Praeludium d-moll BWV 875
KURTÁG: Versetto: Temptavit Deus Abraham…
Consurrexit Cain adversus fratrem suum…
HAYDN: Il Terremoto (The Earthquake)
KURTÁG: Sirens of the Deluge
SCARLATTI: Sonata K 197
KURTÁG: Fugitive Thoughts about the Alberti Bass
All’ Ongherese
SCHUBERT: Ungarische Melodie D 817
LIGETI: Musica Ricercata No. 8
BARTÓK: Hungarian Peasant Song Op. 20, No. 2
KURTÁG: Orosc Tánc—Russian Dance
BARTÓK: Hungarian Peasant Song Op. 20 No. 5
BEETHOVEN: Bagatelle Op. 119 No. 10
BARTÓK: Rumanian Folk Dance No. 6
KURTÁG: Do-Mi D’arab
Studie zu Büchners «Lenz»
WEBERN: Kinderstück
KURTÁG: Les Adieux (in Janáceks Manier)
JANÁČEK: On an Overgrown Path, II, 2
SCHUBERT: Walzer D 365, no. 22
KURTÁG Hommage à Schubert
Keringö ( Waltz )
CHOPIN: Mazurka Op. 41, No. 2
KURTÁG: Hommage à Petrovics
Hommage à Zenon
SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen: Frightening
KURTÁG: …and once again: Shadow-play
SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen: Blindman’s Buff
KURTÁG (…and round and round it goes)
Face to Face
SCHUMANN: Davidsbündlertänze Op. 6, No. 8 and 9
KURTÁG: Nyuszicsököny (Stubbunny)
SCHUMANN: Davidsbündlertänze Op. 6, No. 4
KURTÁG: In Memoriam Edison Denisov
LIGETI: Bela Bartók in Memoriam
KURTÁG: In Memoriam András Mihály
LISZT: La Lugubre Gondola No. 1
KURTÁG: For Marianne Teöke
In Memoriam Lajos Vass
LISZT: At Richard Wagner’s Grave
KURTÁG: Szunyogh Istvàn in Memoriam
Marina Tsvetayeva: It’s Time
SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen: The Poet Speaks
KURTÁG: …de már elfelejtettem…
Lendvai Ernö in Memoriam
In Memoriam Pál Járdányi

Kurtag's Ghosts ... Marino Formenti, piano. April 15-21, 2007. San Francisco.

Marino Formenti

Photo credit: (c) San Francisco Performances. With thanks.

Will War-Engulfed Wealthy G-8 Nations's Aid To Global Poor And Diseased Be Eclipsed By Wealthy Private Philanthropy?

"Wealthy philanthropists have the potential to do more than the Group of Eight leading nations to lift Africa out of poverty, according to Jeff Sachs, special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general.

Mr Sachs told the Financial Times that the financial clout of the likes of Microsoft’s Bill Gates and international investor Warren Buffett, who have pledged billions of dollars to global health and education, could eclipse flagging governmental initiatives.

“The Rockefeller Foundation was the world’s most important development institution of the 20th century, and the Gates Foundation can be that of the 21st century,” he said. “Gates can make a huge difference if they hit the right model.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was already the biggest charitable group in the world before Mr Buffett last year pledged to give it the bulk of his $40bn-plus (€30bn, £20bn) fortune.

Mr Sachs proposed that other, less wealthy people could contribute to a new private sector foundation that could help speed the elimination of diseases and tackle specific challenges.

“There are 950 billionaires whose wealth is estimated at $3.5 trillion [$3,500bn]. An annual 5 per cent ‘foundation’ payout would be $175bn per year – that would do it. Then we don’t need the G8 but 950 people on the Forbes list,” said Mr Sachs. “Maybe private philanthropists will champion solutions to individual problems rather than the G8,” he said.

He was speaking as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported last week that aid from rich countries to Africa remained static last year even though G8 leaders promised in 2005 to spend $50bn more each year to 2010 on aid, with half the rise going to sub-Saharan Africa." ...

Leyla Boulton and James Lamont "Philanthropy ‘can eclipse G8’ on poverty" Financial Times April 8, 2007

Photo credit: (c) With thanks.

Next Sunday, April 15, The Kennedy Center And The Washington Chorus, And The National Gallery Of Art, To Celebrate American Classical Choral Music

The Washington Chorus: American Masters: Bernstein, Barber, and Copland
April 15, 2007 at 3:00 PM
Concert Hall, Kennedy Center

The Washington Chorus, under the inspired leadership of Robert Shafer, Music Director, and David Hayes, Guest Conductor, celebrates the music of three of our most significant American composers: Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, and Aaron Copland. Bernstein allowed some of his jazz and Latin dance music influences to color the spiritual Chichester Psalms, with texts from the Hebrew Psalms. Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard, with its inspiring texts, is a gem. Copland's Old American Songs and The Tender Land gave a contemporary voice to traditional American folk music.


Carthage College Lincoln Chamber Singers: American Masters Continued: Jennings, and Gwyneth Walker
April 15, 2007 6:30 PM
National Gallery of Art, West Garden Courtyard, FREE

The Carthage College Lincoln Chamber Singers perform music by Brahms, Jennings, Gwyneth Walker, and others.

Prgram Notes to the National Galllery of Arts superb free Sunday [and, soon, Wednesday noon] concert series.

National Gallery of Art American Painting and Sculpture Collections.

American artist Edward Steichen, Le Tournesol (The Sunflower), c. 1920, tempera and oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee 1999.43.1

Photo credit: (c) National Gallery of Arts. All rights reserved. With thanks.

On National Classical Music Education, Youth Orchestras, Young Conductors, And The Future Of Classical Music In An Aging United States Of America

"Esa-Pekka Salonen, the onetime wunderkind from Finland who has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic as music director for 15 seasons, has decided to leave the orchestra when his term ends in 2009. His successor? A wunderkind from Venezuela named Gustavo Dudamel, one of the hottest — and youngest — conducting properties around.

Mr. Dudamel, 26, is a product of his country’s extraordinary youth orchestra system, founded three decades ago to help disadvantaged youngsters. It has grown into a network of scores of ensembles, training hundreds of thousands of musicians. He is music director of its capstone, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, which he joined as a violinist at 11....

When he takes over as music director in Los Angeles in September 2009, Mr. Dudamel will be all of 28, three years younger than Mr. Salonen was when he won the job.

Mr. Salonen, now 48 and also the product of a country that places great weight on musical education, said he wanted to devote more time to composition. Under his leadership the orchestra has won acclaim for its playing and inventive programming....

Other major American orchestras are in the throes of a conductor search, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, [and the National Symphony Orchestra] and the choice of Mr. Dudamel may put pressure on them to come up with daring and youthful choices of their own."

Daniel J. Wakin "Maestro of Los Angeles Philharmonic to Pass the Baton to a Wunderkind" New York Times April 9, 2007

William Kentridge, Zeno Writing, 2003.

Image credit: (c) William Kentridge. 2003. All rights reserved. Via With thanks.

Mozart, Schikaneder, And Kentridge: An Exuberant Dialogue Between Drawing And Music [And Drama]

"Picasso’s flashlight draws a centaur in the air, Matisse’s brush hovers over the paper before committing itself to the first stroke, Jackson Pollock pours arcs of thick paint: all famous examples of the artist’s hand caught on film in the act of creation, in a particular kind of theater.

And exactly this theatricality is the hallmark of William Kentridge, the South African artist who at nearly 52 is an unlikely star of the international art scene. Mr. Kentridge’s medium is charcoal: he draws an image, photographs it, erases and redraws it many times to create evocative video animations that at once tell stories and convey the narrative of the act of drawing.

From here to live theater is a small step, one Mr. Kentridge has now attempted on his largest scale yet. After a series of puppet operas (including a moving adaptation of Monteverdi’s “Ritorno d’Ulisse,” seen in New York in 2004) he undertook in 2005 a full production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” for La Monnaie, the Royal Opera House in Belgium. That production opens tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The result is an exuberant dialogue between drawing and music, a three-dimensional work of art with video projected across and around the human figures onstage." ...

Anne Midgette "Artist’s Video Adds Magic to ‘Flute’" New York Times April 9, 2007

Zeno (Dawid Minnar) on his bed in William Kentridge's The Confessions of Zeno.

Photo credit: (c) Ruphin Coudyzer via ARTTHROB Reviews. With thanks.

Where Will It End? Usually American Classical Music-Less WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Allows Broadcasting Of Classical Music By American Composer

The usually American classical music-less new Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, surprised listeners last night before 10 P.M. by broadcasting the eight-minute 'Interrogation scene' from living composer Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light" [Jeanne d'Arc] CD, on Sony Classical. (Last week at the same Sunday time, they broadcast living composer Sir John Tavener's 10 minute choral "Song for Athena.")

I didn't think the "Interrogation Scene" was the best sampling from the Einhorn oratorio, but it was, none-the-less, an interesting contemporary foray by the usually, exceptionally conservative public classical station. I couldn't help but think of the neo-figurative Fernando Botero new "Interrogation scenes" oil paintings.

Excepting the Great Performances/MET's television broadcast of Bellini's 'I Puritani', I only listened to a half-hour of public media yesterday. (On Easter Saturday morning, during the snowfall, we heard longish stretches of live Slavonic Orthodox chant.)

Two of the Washington, D.C.'s Russian Orthodox Churches. [Ukrainian Orthodox Churches are in the Maryland suburbs.]

Slavic and Central European Sights of Interest: Washington, DC and Vicinity by Angela Cannon and Harry Leich of the European Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Photo credits: (c) Angela Cannon and Harry Leich. Library of Congress. With thanks.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

St. Parascevia Church, Lviv, Ukraine

St. Parascevia Church, Lviv, Ukraine, was erected on the ruins of ancient Orthodox church in 1644. A supreme masterpiece of Ukrainian art, the high iconostasis with seventy icons of the XVII century, is still preserved here.

Photo and textcredit: (c) and With thanks.

Remains Of The Day: From The Basilica Of The National Shrine Of The Immaculate Conception To Erfurt Cathedral To Lachva Synagogue

HOLY THURSDAY (April 5, 5:30 pm) Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.

Roland de Lassus, Gustate et videte
Juan de Lienas, Coenantibus autem illis
Michalenagelo Grancini, Suspirat anima mea and Dulcis Christe
Robert Powell, Anima Christi
David Hurd, Love Bade Me Welcome
Maurice Duruflé, Tantum ergo and Ubi caritas
William Byrd, Ave verum corpus
Giovanni da Palestrina, Sicut cervus
João Rebola, Panis angelicus

Wood carving at the choir benches of the Erfurt cathedral, Thuringia, Germany (about 1400-1410)

'Ecclesia on a horse is attacking the Synagogue with a lance. Her shield carries the Christian symbol of a fish. The Synagogue is symbolized as riding a pig. Her eyes are closed and with her left hand she holds on to a branch. One of many depictions of the "Judensau" in the art work of European churches.'

Marburg Bildarchiv

Lachva Synagogue, Lachva, Belarus, Europe (no longer existing)

Photo credits: which is devoted to fostering mutual respect and understanding between Christians, Jews, and more recently Muslims around the world and which is headquartered in the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim, Germany, where the great Jewish thinker lived until Nazi persecution forced him to flee; and [?]. With thanks.

On Pacific Rim Of North America Both Fragile And Robust Classical Music Tradition Continues To Develop And Interact With New Sonic Possibilities

University of California at Berkeley Music Department FREE Noon Concerts

Contemporary Music for Piano & Electronic Tape

Wednesday, April 4

Mei-Fang Lin, piano:

Mei-Fang Lin, Interaction
Mario Davidovsky, Synchronism No. 6
Jonathan Harvey, Tombeau de Messiaen
and a new work by Jean Ahn

University Symphony Orchestra

Wednesday, April 11 - The Elizabeth Elkus Memorial Noon Concert

University Symphony Orchestra
David Milnes, conductor

Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist Marina Sharifi

Contemporary Jazz Improvisation

Friday, April 13

New innovations in contemporary jazz improvisation performed by students from the seminar of pianist/composer Professor Myra Melford, along with special guest performers

Modern Italian Violin

Wednesday, April 18

Graeme Jennings, violin

Luciano Berio, Sequenza VIII (1977) for violin solo
Franco Donatoni, Ciglio (1989) for violin solo
Salvatore Sciarrino, 6 Capricci (1976) for violin solo

Graeme Jenning's performance is supported by the Italian Cultural Institute.

New Works for String Quartet

Wednesday, April 25

New Works for String Quartet by Nils Bultmann, Robin Estrada, and Jen Wang
from the graduate composition seminar directed by Professor John Thow
Performed by the Del Sol String Quartet

Javanese Gamelan

Wednesday, May 2

Department Gamelan Ensembles,
directed by Midiyanto, presents Music of Java

Computer simulation of new California Academy Of Sciences Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, by Renzo Piano/Chong Partners.

Image credit: With thanks.

The New Classical WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Celebrates African Diaspora Classical Music As Long As It Sounds Like Mozart

Today, April 5, 2007, there is again no American classical music on the new Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital. [Also see Update below.]

There is however one fine movement of a work by African-European composer Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, whose style closely mirrors that of Mozart:

5:46pm: Violin Concerto #10 G Major: I
Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Qian Zhou (violin)
Toronto Camerata
Kevin Mallon (conductor)
[Naxos 557.322]

Besides Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, here are some other African, African-European, and African-American composers for the new Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, to begin to explore as it develops classical music programming that reflects the American experience and the classical music interests of all of the members of its culturally rich and diverse regional audience (and not just those for whom classical music can be summed up in the bodies of work of Bach, Wagner, and Mahler -- excluding Josquin, Monteverdi, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Brahms, Stravinsky, and the Italian, French, Scandinavian, Russian, Soviet, British and American classical composers):

Adams, H. Leslie
Akpabot, Samuel Ekpe
Alberga, Eleanor
Bonds, Margaret Allison
Brouwer, Leo
Burleigh, Henry Thacker
Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel
Cunningham, Arthur
Dawson, William Levi
Dede, Edmond
Dett, R. Nathaniel
Elie, Justin
Ellington, Edward K. "Duke"
Euba, Akin
Garcia, José Mauricio Nunes
Hailstork, Adolphus C.
Holland, Justin
Jeanty, Occide
Johnson, James Price
Joplin, Scott
Kay, Ulysses Simpson
Khumalo, Mzilikazi
Lambert, Charles Lucien, Sr.
Lambert, Lucien-Leon G., Jr.
Lamothe, Ludovic
Leon, Tania
Moerane, Michael Mosoeu
Morel Campos, Juan
Perkinson, Coleridge-Taylor
Pradel, Alain Pierre
Price, Florence Beatrice Smith
Roldan, Amadeo
Sancho, Ignatius
Smith, Hale
Sowande, Fela
Still, William Grant
Verret, Solon
Walker, George Theophilus
White, José Silvestre
Williams. Julius Penson

Classical composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.



American, early, and choral music on WSHU Public Radio, Fairfield, Connecticut, today, April 5, 2007.


Alan Hovhaness: Symphony No.66, "Hymn to Glacier Peak" Op 428 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic /Gerard Schwarz Telarc 80604 CD

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring: Simple Gifts The Prairie Winds Albany 401 CD

Ned Rorem: Early in the Morning (Robert Hillyer) Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano; Malcom Martineau, piano Erato 80222 CD

George W. Chadwick: String Quartet No. 4 in e Portland String Quartet Northeastn 234 CD


Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga: Los Esclavos Felices Overture Le Concert des Nations /Jordi Savall Astree 8532 CD


Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium Hope in all things The Tallis Scholars /Peter Phillips Gimell 454906 CD

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

HBO's Family Documentary "Music In Me: Children's Recitals From Classical To Latin, Jazz To Zydeco" Awarded Peabody Prize For Broadcasting Excellence

"This 30-minute family documentary profiles six young musicians between the ages of 7 and 12 who, though they live in different parts of the country, share a love of music and possess undeniable skill with their chosen instruments. With their virtuosic performances of both classics and lesser-known tunes from the traditions of classical, jazz, and many forms of roots music, the featured musicians open their hearts and share their passion for living musical lives. The talent rundown includes:

Nathan, age 11, from Hillsborough, CA - a classical cellist who shares the concepts and emotions that inform his artistic interpretation of "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saëns. "I think Saint-Saëns was trying to put a whole bunch of feelings together," explains Nathan, "sad and happy at the same time."

Elena, 10, Berkeley, CA - An accomplished flutist with a penchant for Latin Jazz that connects her to a unique Latin community, she says, "I just feel that Latin music is in my body."

Guyland, 7, Frilot Cove, LA - a zydeco accordion player who got started at the age of 2 when his father bought him a toy accordion. Guyland now carries on the tradition of his late great-grandfather, a well-known accordion player, who Guyland says teaches him to play in his dreams.

Úna, 11, Portland, OR - a composer and rock guitarist who believes music has the power to influence people and performs her own composition entitled "Global Warming." In this music video-like segment, Úna sings, "Be friendly to the earth; it will be friendly back. Global warming, it's not just a prediction anymore."

Tyler, 10, Virginia Beach, VA - a trumpet player who performs in a brass band with his parents and two younger siblings by day... and by night jams on the street with a sophisticated jazz combo. Tyler says, "I like playing with my family. But most of all, I love playing jazz. I like jazz because I get to improvise."

Qaasim, 8, Brooklyn, NY - a percussionist who loves the West African djembe drum, even though at times he struggles to carry the heavy instrument. But Qaasim says, "I can make music with anything, actually. Music is everywhere," and creates a symphony of percussive sounds by tapping his drumsticks on mailboxes, fire hydrants, benches and even metal security gates."

Source: HBO

The 66th annual George Foster Peabody Awards For Broadcasting Excellence Washington Post article.

Guyland, Age 7, of Frilot Cove, Louisiana is an American zydeco accordion player, who began his musical studies at the age of two.

America's musical future is celebrated in the HBO Family Documentary.

Photo credit: (c) HBO Family: The Whole Family 2006. All rights reserved. With thanks.

What Do You Want Classical WETA-FM To Play, Mr Cogito??!! ....... oh, what about eight works a day by American classical composing men and women? ...

Another good day for American classical music on WSHU Public Radio, Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. Another lousy day for American classical music on the new Classical WETA-FM, public radio in the Nation's Capital, the United States.

WSHU, Fairfield, Connecticut [Music Director, Kate Remington]

4/4/2007 Wednesday


Vally Pick Weigl: New England Suite Adelicia Ensemble Gasparo 236 CD

George W. Chadwick: In the Canoe fr. 5 Pieces for Piano Peter Kairoff, piano Albany 745 CD


Rick Sowash: Trio No.2 "Enchantement d'Avril" for Clarinet, Cello and Piano Les Gavottes Sowash 3 CD


Charles Tomlinson Griffes: Roman Sketches Op 7 Joseph Smith, piano MHS 513043 CD


Victor Herbert: Irish Rhapsody Manhattan Chamber Orchestra /Richard Auldon Clark Newport 85572 CD

Roy Harris: Symphony No. 3 New York Philharmonic /Leonard Bernstein DeutGramop 419780 CD


Elmer Bernstein: To Kill a Mockingbird ..Film themes Royale Philharmonic Pops Orch. /Elmer Bernstein Denon 75288 CD


John Adams: Tromba Lontana "Distant Trumpet" City of Birmingham Symph Orch /Simon Rattle Angel/EMI 55051 CD

Brock Peters (r) and Gregory Peck star together in the great American movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. The movie featured American classical music by the late American classical music composer Elmer Bernstein.

Photo credit: With thanks.

Unlike The New Classical WETA-FM, WETA-Television Feels Pulse Of The American Experience Through Coverage Of News, Jazz, And The American Novel

WETA-Television, in the Nation's Capital, April 4, 2007:

Newshour with Jim Lehrer 7 PM

Jim Lehrer anchors the nation's only hour-long nightly newscast with detailed analysis of major national and international issues. Lehrer is joined by a host of journalists and correspondents including Gwen Ifill, Margaret Warner and Ray Suarez.

In Performance at the White House - Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz 8 PM

This program showcases an evening of celebration with President and Mrs. Bush at the White House in honor of the jazz music genre and the Thelonious Monk Institute. Hosted by Barbara Walters, the evening includes performances by Anita Baker, Nnenna Freelon, Clark Terry, Lisa Henry and Bobby Watson. The broadcast includes interviews with jazz notables including Thelonious Monk Jr.

Novel Reflections on the American Dream 9 PM (Two Hours)

Many of our finest writers have dared to wrestle with the inequities that lie in the shadows, beyond the dream -- class and money and, often, a false promise of upward mobility. Presented in a dynamic visual style, designed to maximize viewer appreciation of the stories, the program examines these themes reflected through universal characters found in Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie," Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth," F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." Passages from each book are dramatized through haunting still photography and woven together with original and archival footage to evoke the American spirit.


The new Classical WETA-FM, American classical music loathing public radio in the Nation's Capital.

Scene from the Metropolitan Opera's World Premiere production of the American opera, The Great Gatsby, composed by John Harbison and based upon the American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Unlike WETA-Television and American Opera Companies, the new Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, is afraid of American classical music and the American Experience.

Photo credit: (c) USOperaWeb: The on-line Magazine dedicated to American Opera. All rights reserved. With thanks.

European Western Classical Music To European Chinese Classical Music Without The Bothersome European American Classical Music

"With stunning swiftness China’s surging ranks of classical musicians have found a home in Western concert halls, conservatories and opera houses, jolting a musical tradition born in the courts and churches of Europe.

Large solo fees, plush orchestra jobs, an established audience and the presence of teachers steeped in the tradition have lured them to American and European cities. The phenomenon, which has been building for at least a decade, has gathered steam in the last few years, injecting new vitality into the American classical music scene after historic influxes of Italians, Germans and Russian Jews, and more recently Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans.

“I honestly think that in some real sense the future of classical music depends on developments in China in the next 20 years,” said Robert Sirota, the president of the Manhattan School of Music. “They represent a vast new audience as well as a classical-music-performing population that is much larger than anything we’ve had so far. You’re looking at a time when, maybe 20 to 40 years from now, Shanghai and Beijing are really going to be considered centers of world art music.” ...

Daniel J. Wakin "Increasingly in the West, the Players Are From the East" New York Times April 4, 2007

[Click on image for 'Grander Canyon'.]

The 'Grand Canyon', North America, from Space.

Even Ferde Grofe's once popular Mississippi Suite (1926) [13’38"]; Grand Canyon Suite (1931) [31’57"]; and Niagara Falls Suite (1961) [22’06"] are unwanted and unloved on the new American classical music disdaining Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital.

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

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

World Premieres Of Humanist Oratorios Which Escaped Earlier Note Here: Oratorio 1956 By Oscar-winning Polish Composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

"The Oratorio 1956, finished just recently by Oscar winning Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, was commissioned by the government of Poznań to commemorate the deadly demonstrations that took place there in June of 1956. This monumental work requires a 120 piece orchestra, a 200 piece choir and 3 soloists [two soprano 'belle canto' and one soprano 'folkloric']. The composition consists of four movements entitled: Poranny Polonez [Morning Polonaise], Trend dla Romka [Threnody for Romek], Poznań – Budapeszt , and Jednym Tchem [In One Breath].

Kaczmarek's inspiration came from historic texts, including memoirs of the participants and of the victims. The composer also included a tribute to similar events in Budapest in October 1956, which were a direct result of Polish protests, by including one of the National Hungarian Songs with words by Sandor Petrofi [Sándor Petőfi].

The work was premiered by the Poznań Philharmonic under Michał Nesterowicz, the men's and boy's choir “Poznańskie Słowiki”, the Poznań Boy's Choir and Adam Mickiewicz University Choir. The solo parts were performed by sopranos Elżbieta Towarnicka and Agnieszka Tomaszewska, with folkloric vocals by Sussan Deyhim. The concert took place on June 28, 2006 on the Adam Mickiewicz Square in Poznań."

Source: Polish Music Newsletter July 2006, Vol. 12, No. 7. Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California.

Zadamy chleba! [Give us bread!] Poznan, Poland, 1956

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

Lachva, Belarus And "Yisgadal Víyiskadash Sh'me Rabbo," The Ancient Prayer For The Departed

"We are now taken to Lachva, a small town approximately ten miles east of Kozhanhorodok, and slightly larger. We are witness to the memorial for the former Jewish inhabitants and to the remnants of the Lachva ghetto. We see the place where our relative Yankel Moraff had his place of business. Stories abound about the Nazi roundup and the killings. Kopel Kolponitzky, our guide and a former resident of Lachva, tells how he escaped on this terrible day. He joins the partisans, and survives in the forests and the marshes, fighting the enemy at every opportunity. He hears for the first time the story of his brotherís death. As his brother lies wounded in the street, his fiance refuses to leave his side. The doctor in Lachva approaches the weak and dying boy to render whatever assistance he can. A Nazi soldier confronts the doctor and tells him not to touch the Jew. He is reminded that he must treat only German soldiers. The doctor defiantly tells him that he will not treat any Germans, soldiers or otherwise. The soldier then methodically raises his rifle and proceeds to shoot all three, as if they were animals in a cage. The local Belarusians now learn too late that the Germans are not their liberators who will free them from their Russian captors. Far from it. As soon as they finish with the Jews the plan is to exterminate at least eighty percent of the non-Jews of Belarus. The die had been cast long ago and their fate was now sealed.

The bus stops by the ancient Lachva cemetery, where many headstones are over two hundred years old. It is neglected now and the grass has grown around the broken, barely visible stones. Some of the Hebrew writing can still be made out but most markers are deteriorated beyond recognition. It is here that my great-grandfather Aaron Morafchick lies. My uncle Ellie steps forward and in memory of all the Morafchick family, begins to recite "Yisgadal Víyiskadash Sh'me Rabbo," the ancient prayer for the departed."

(c) Larry Gaum "A Visit to Belarus -- The Circle is Complete" Belarus (sig) Newsletter: An On-line Magazine for People with Jewish Roots in Belarus Issue No. 2 - February 1999

Lachva, Belarus, today.

During the Second World War, Lachva, Belarus lost almost 100% of its Jewish residents, and 80% of its Slavic residents.

In order to facilitate the war effort and Germanization of Belarus and Ukraine, Hitler's Generals and Planners had wanted to drain the Pripyat marshlands dividing Belarus from Ukraine; but Hitler, having viewed newsreels of the dustbowls of 1930s North America, turned down Konrad Meyer's 1941 strategic plan.

Photo credit: (c) Larry Gaum and Belarus (sig) Newsletter. All rights reserved. With thanks.