Friday, May 30, 2008

Stalin's Holodomor, Hitler's Holocaust, Globalism's Hunger

"As leaders gather in Rome [today in 2008] to discuss the global food crisis, our task is clear, but not sim­ple: to help those in danger today and ensure that the poor do not suffer this tragedy again.

What has been described as a silent tsunami is not a natural catastrophe, but is man-made. The nexus between high energy and food prices is unlikely to be broken, and will be exacerbated by global climate change. The results have been rising production and transport costs for agriculture, falling food stocks and land shifted out of food production to produce energy substitutes. This is a 21st century food-for-oil crisis." ...

World Bank President Robert Zoellick "A 10-point plan for tackling the food crisis" Financial Times May 29, 2008


Holodomor, The Great [Earlier] Man-Made Famine of 1932-33

Save the Children



Photo credit: Malnourished child in Darfur (c) The Columbia Observer. 2008. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

"Art Is All Around You" (Marketing Slogan Of The Hirshhorn Museum Of Modern & Contemporary Art, Washington, D.C. In All The Buses And Metro Stations)

[Click on images for enlargement.]

But is it Art?

The first image, by Berkeley photographer Richard Misrach, is of a 'Developed-World' tourist to the Hawaiian Islands, and is part of the "On the Beach" exhibition currently at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The second image, for the New York Times, is by photographer Tomas Munita, and accompanies Simon Romano's article in the World section of the newspaper on "Peru Guards Its Guano as Demand Soars Again".

The post 9/11 Misrach series and exhibition refers to the Cold War Era 1959 film "On the Beach" about fall-out contaminated Australian survivors of a devastating nuclear Third World War between NATO and the Soviet Union which has detroyed the total Northern Hemisphere; while the Munita photograph refers strictly to the 'Developing-World' workers in the global energy and guano marketplaces, as pictured.

Photo credits: (c) Richard Misrach and Tomas Munita via the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the New York Times. All rights reserved. With thanks.


World Bank President Robert Zoellick "A 10-point plan for tackling the food crisis" Financial Times May 29, 2008


The Hirshhorn Museum

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C.

The Washington National Opera

Public Radio Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Assignment On Contemporary Opera Composition: Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth To Be Set

MILAN, Italy -- "First it was the film and the book. Now the next stop for Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is opera.

La Scala officials say the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been commissioned to produce an opera on the international multiformat hit for the 2011 season at the Milan opera house. The composer is currently artistic director of the Arena in Verona".... May 29, 2008


Assignment: What other works by Nobel Peace Laureates do you think could be bases for operas?

Globalization of Science and the Arts ... Librettist [and conductor?] Al Gore (United States) and Composer Giorgio Battistelli (Italy and the European Union).

Photo credits: (c) The Solar Navigator and Ricordi. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Listening Assignment On Aging And Musical Creativity

" ... As such, no other single work of [Sibelius's] shines with the unique radiance of this final symphony [Symphony #7, in a single movement], which indeed identifies itself unmistakably ... as "the climax of the spiritual experience of a lifetime.""

Washington-area musicologist Richard Freed on Jean Sibelius's Symphony #7 in C Major Opus 105.

National Symphony Orchestra: Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor
May 29 - 31, 2008
Concert Hall, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Running Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.

Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor


SIBELIUS - Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39
SIBELIUS - The Oceanides, Op. 73
SIBELIUS - Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 105

Musicologist Richard Freed NSO program notes to all three works.


CARTER, ELLIOTT: Quintet for piano and string quartet (1997) 16'

World Premiere
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Ursula Oppens, piano / Arditti Quartet

Composer's Notes

"Quintet for Piano and String Quartet was composed during the summer of 1997 for the pianist, Ursula Oppens and the Arditti Quartet, commissioned for them by the Library of Congress ...

The work is in one movement of many changing characters and contrasts. The moods and materials of the piano are contrasted with those of the string quartet, which, itself, is a combination of four different strands that maintain somewhat independent existences, played by the four strings."

Elliott Carter

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 8:00 pm


The Library of Congress begins its year-long salute to Elliott Carter’s Centenary with a performance of his Quintet for Piano and String Quartet, commissioned by the Library of Congress. Also on the program are string quartet masterpieces by Mendelssohn and Beethoven.

Jean Sibelius and Elliott Carter

Photo credits: Wikipedia and (c) Elliott Carter Centenary Website. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Assignment On Contemporary Opera Composition: American Writer Amy Tan On "The Bonesetter's Daughter"

"Adapted from the best-selling novel by beloved Bay Area author Amy Tan, these world premiere performances of "The Bonesetter's Daughter" by the San Francisco National Opera company tell a resonant story of belated intergenerational understanding that leads to emotional healing. A troubled Chinese-American woman learns the horrible secrets of her immigrant mother’s past in this touching and terrifying tale, set in both modern-day San Francisco and the Chinese countryside during the tumultuous events surrounding World War II.

Composer Stewart Wallace incorporates the timbres and textures of Chinese music into his highly expressive and lyrical score—an American opera with roots in China. Mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, the splendid Suzuki in San Francisco National Opera’s recent Madama Butterfly, heads the cast of this deeply personal work. Star of the Lincoln Center Festival’s historic production of The Peony Pavilion, Kunju singer Qian Yi has been acclaimed by the The New York Times Magazine as “China’s reigning opera princess.”"

The San Francisco National Opera

Public Television KQED preview and interview with The Bonesetter's Daughter author and librettist Amy Tan

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabal, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. [and which will be on exhibition at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco at the time of the San Francisco National Opera world premiere of "The Bonecutter's Daughter".]

The Phillips Collection Exhibition of Jacob Lawrence's Over The Line: The Great Migration Series


Assignment: What are your thoughts about the KQED public television Amy Tan preview of, and interview about, this new American opera? Would you be interested in seeing this new American opera? Have you ever seen an interview with an American composer or librettist on public television in your area? Do you have your own favorite contemporary novel, poem, film, series of paintings or photographs, or story?

Arnold Genthe, Chinatown, San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century [1898]. The population is predominantly male because U.S. policies at the time made it difficult for Chinese women to enter the country.

Photo credits: Header photo is of a painted Bodhisattva — "enlightened being" — on gilded clay from seventh-century Fondukistan, a medieval settlement and Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan. (c) Fredrik Hiebert and National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Genthe photo is (c) Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. With thanks.


Paintings of migrant working women by Edgar Degas and Jacob Lawrence, in the collections of, respectively, the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California, and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Degas is reported to have made 27 paintings of women laundering clothing.

(c) Norton Simon Museum Foundation and Jacob Lawrence and The Phillips Collection. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Assignment On Contemporary Opera Composition

"Renaissance Research Conservatory Project" Assignment:

Below are two excerpts from Sharon Percy Rockefeller's WETA Television website. How would you go about fashioning this material into a synopsis and libretto to a new opera?

"In the early 16th century, Japan is a warlike society ruled by samurai and their daimyo warlords. When Portuguese merchants arrive in 1543, they are the first Europeans to set foot in Japan. Missionaries quickly set out to convert the nation to Christianity. In the same year, a samurai boy named Tokugawa Ieyasu is born to a low-ranking daimyo family. To prove his family's loyalty to their ruling warlord, Ieyasu is given as a hostage, and he remains so for most of his childhood. When he is finally freed, Ieyasu reclaims his family's domain and allies himself with the most powerful rulers in Japan: Oda Nobunaga, and his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Awarding him a small fishing village named Edo, later to be known as Tokyo, Hideyoshi provides Ieyasu with a vast area to rule. But the two are uneasy allies. At his deathbed, Hideyoshi places Ieyasu in command until his true heir and son Hideyori is able to rule. When daimyo rebels challenge his control, Tokugawa Ieyasu's armies defeat them at the Battle of Sekigahara. The victory brings to Ieyasu the title of Shogun. Hideyori is now Ieyasu's only obstacle to total control of Japan. In 1614, Ieyasu renounces his allegiance to Hideyori and attacks Osaka Castle, slaughtering more than 100,000…"


"With Ieyasu in control, peace descends on Japan, and a new society based on the samurai ethics of obedience and loyalty is established. In 1600, William Adams becomes the first Englishman to set foot in Japan. Impressed by European trading vessels, Ieyasu asks Adams to help him build his own fleet. Aware that the English have no interest in converting the Japanese to Christianity, Ieyasu decides to expel the Portuguese and Spanish, who too often combine missionary work with trade. When he dies at 72, Ieyasu's vision of a strictly controlled class system based on the rule of the samurai is a reality. But his grandson, Iemitsu, will rule more harshly. With no wars to fight, Iemitsu tightens control over the power and movement of the daimyo and their restless samurai armies. Though foreign missionaries have been expelled, Iemitsu still fears the influence of Christianity. In 1637, impoverished peasants and persecuted Christians explode in anger in the Shimabara Rebellion, and thousands die. In order to prevent further dissention resulting from foreign influence, Iemitsu closes Japan to the western world. …"

Two scenes from Kagemusha (影武者). Kagemusha is a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa with music by Shinichirô Ikebe . The title (which means "Shadow Warrior" in Japanese) is a term used for an impersonator. It is set in the Warring States era of Japanese history and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying warlord in order to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan. The warlord whom the kagemusha impersonates is based on daimyo Takeda Shingen and the climactic 1575 Battle of Nagashino.

Photos and caption credit: Wikipedia. With thanks. Header image is of General launching his troops to attack the castle of Nagashino in 1575, and is by Yoshitoshi.

A Distinguished American Conductor Offers His Suggestions For American Opera At The Washington National Opera

"Deems Taylor: Peter Ibbetson; William Grant Still: Troubled Island; Howard Hanson: Merry Mount; Robert Ward: The Crucible; Nicolas Flagello: Mirra, The Sisters, The Judgement of St. Francis; Henry Hadley: Cleopatra's Night; Vittorio Giannini: The Taming of the Shrew; Louis Gruenberg: The Emperor Jones, Antony & Cleopatra.

This is a good start, but I'm afraid the default method of operation in most companies is best described as craven, so I hold out no hope. The performance culture in the United States has declined so much that I believe we are now in a period where the best we can do is seek to preserve our heritage through recordings. This is the best chance for any of the above works to be heard properly, at least."



ONE NATIVE OPERA AMONG 4 NOVELTIES; Metropolitan to Give Hadley's "Cleopatra's Night" and Maeterlinck's "Blue Bird." "ZAZA," WITH MME. FARRAR Revivals of Wagner's "Parsifal" in English, and "La Juive," with Caruso--Fifteen New Singers. New Stars.

The Metropolitan Opera Company last night made public its prospectus for 1919-20...

New York Times, 1919

"The Metropolitan Opera is a vibrant home for the world's most creative and talented artists working in opera, including singers, conductors, composers, ..."

The Metropolitan Opera Web-site, 2008

Living American conductors Placido Domingo and John McLaughlin Williams. Will they unite for the sake of a living American culture and a living Washington National Opera?

[or, ... Setting Sun and Rising Sun .... As the World Turns, American culture slowly renews itself under the watchful and alert eyes of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities...]

Photo credits: (c) Opera Today magazine and (c) With thanks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Renaissance Research Nation's Capital 'Conservatory Project' Assignment

'Renaissance Research Conservatory Project' Assignment:

A distinguished American conductor has posted a comment below suggesting that our Washington National Opera should consider staging American operas by American classical composers Deems Taylor, William Grant Still, Howard Hanson, Robert Ward, and Nicolas Flagello -- among others.

Which American operas would you like to see staged by our Washington National Opera in each of the upcoming 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20 seasons?

Remember, our Washington National Opera promised the Congress of the United States, and the American people, that it would stage one American opera each and every season.

Photo credits: Copyrighted materials. Some rights reserved. William Grant Still and Deems Taylor photos by the great American portrait photographer Carl Van Vechten and part of the Collection of the United States Library of Congress. With thanks.


Extra credit assignment: What do you think American President's Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy would have thought about the Washington National Opera's promise to the Congress of the United States and to the American people to produce one American opera each and every season?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

America's Last Transformational President (After FDR) On Peace, Security, Civilization, Nationality, And The Arts

"What kind of peace do we seek? Not a PAX Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time."

- John F. Kennedy


"I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.

This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.

To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art--this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.

There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life can also be a New Frontier for American art.

I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.

I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

- John F. Kennedy


Economists for Peace and Security

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: A Living Memorial

FDR and the American Presidents on Public Broadcasting Service, produced with major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

On Little Cats Feet? .. U.S. Federal Government Said To Be Moving In On American Opera Terrain While Washington National Opera Abandons American Opera

(Old but new-to-me news -- as we were in the Virginia mountains last Wednesday and Thursday, following last Monday's final snowfall of the season ...)


"Think of American art forms, and opera doesn't typically spring to mind. But now the federal government is setting out to change that.

Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts announced the four winners of the first annual NEA Opera Honors, the first new program of national arts awards since the Jazz Masters awards were established in 1982. The first opera honorees are the great soprano Leontyne Price, conductor James Levine (who has led the Metropolitan Opera for 32 years), composer Carlisle Floyd ("Susannah") and administrator Richard Gaddes, who will retire this year from the Santa Fe Opera. Each will receive $25,000 in a ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, since the Washington National Opera is the NEA's partner for this first presentation.

"I would say at the moment American opera is really second to none in the world," NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said in a telephone interview before yesterday's announcement." ...

Anne Midgette "NEA Launches National Opera Awards" Washington Post May 14, 2008


Let me guess. Next season, Placido Domingo will be one of the four winners of this award, and there will be a posthumous award honoring Beverly Sills ...


Despite its promise to the U.S. Congress to stage one American opera every season, the Washington National Opera is holding top secret the name of the American opera that it plans to stage next season, 2008-09.


Distinguished American writer and librettist John Updike to deliver the National Endowment for the Humanities 2008 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities.

Marian Anderson in 1940; and John Updike today.

Photo credits: Carl Van Vechten and Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, reproduction number LC-USZ62-42524; and Martha Updike. With thanks.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Belarus, And The Poor, (Still) On My Mind ...

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail,” Mr. Bush said in an address to the World Economic Forum here in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on May 19, 2008.

Sounds like Belarus, Future European Union, as well...


"Energy prices have risen more than 30 percent in what the World Bank calls "low-income" CIS countries, which include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Food prices have risen the most -- 20 percent -- in the category of "middle-income" CIS countries, which include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. But all countries in the region have seen food costs increase.

This has put enormous financial pressure on the poorest citizens of these countries." ...

Heather Maher "World: CIS Countries Among Hardest-Hit In Global Financial Crisis" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty April 11, 2008


Beyond GDP ... See why the head of UNDP, the OECD’s Secretary General and the Chief Economist of the World Bank are among those who think the time has come to get serious about 'Measuring the Progress of Societies'.


Belarusian Composers and Classical Music. By the Virtual Guide to Belarus - a collaborative project of Belarusian scientists and professionals abroad.


Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative


"On Friday, May 16, 2008, Belarusian police quickly dispersed about 50 opposition activists who attempted to hold a rally on the capital's central square to urge the release of political prisoners."


Belarus and Baltic Sea Region — common interests and challenges

By Aliaksandr Milinkevich

[Click on map for enlargement.]

Belarus map credit: U.S. Agency for International Development, Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

American (And British And Continental Masters): Several Powerful Hits And One Huge Miss

I enjoyed the Chicago Lyric Opera broadcast of John Adams's and Peter Sellars's Doctor Atomic on Saturday afternoon. The music and sonic design was gripping, and the (assembled) libretto effective. If only more Saturday afternoons by the radio could be as culturally meaningful and exciting. The CLO provided excellent supporting commentary for the radio broadcast. [Peter Gelb's exciting New MET Opera will also be producing and broadcasting this American masterpiece next season; while Placido Domingo's Washington National Opera is holding top secret the identity of the American opera that it will be producing, and possibly broadcasting, next season. -- Click here for information on this Wednesday's New MET Opera celebration of American classical composer Elliott Carter.]

Saturday night, since N. was working downtown in preparation for Sunday's International Museum Day, I decided that I should work too; and I trudged out by 'tube' to Maryland to hear the Baltimore Symphony and British composer/conductor Thomas Ades conduct two Beethoven symphonies and his own Violin Concerto "Concentric Circles" composed for the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The twenty-one minute, three year old concerto was well worth the trip, as masterfully performed by Anthony Marwood. (There was also a stunning sunset that evening). The new concerto is available for auditioning on MP3s for a fairly small cost ($3.94), and is highly recommended. The Maryland audience also seemed to warm to the piece under the two master leaders, especially as the early dissonances gave way to warm neo-romanticism.

Following the international economic conference on Friday, I almost felt compelled to rush to the Library of Congress to hear a Gyorgy Kurtag masterpiece (Op.44), as well as Bloch lecturer Steven Mackey's new string quartet; until I remembered that the Mackey performance had been cancelled/postponed. I'm still kicking myself that we didn't use our tickets to the Saint Petersburg String Quartet the previous cold, rainy Friday, especially since they -- at the last minute, apparently -- inserted a rare performance of Alfred Schnittke's String Quartet #3, a work that they should be championing instead of Smetana.

On Sunday, I prefaced an evening performance of John Adams's and Peter Sellars's El Nino by watching, that afternoon, Derek Jarman artistically powerful treatment of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.

Arriving alone early for the El Nino (N. was again working that evening), I wandered into the Kennedy Center beautiful new Family Theater for the first time and, unexpectedly, heard a superb, lush (and free) performance of Ligeti's String Quartet #1 performed by, if I recall correctly, the young Oberlin String Quartet, in residence now at the Rice University Shepard School of Music. The excellent performance -- part of something the Kennedy Center calls THE CONSERVATORY PROJECT -- was atttended by many alert and appreciative young people of diverse skin appearances and body shapes, and styles of clothing.

Later, Norman Scribner conducted the Choral Arts Society of Washington and excellent soloists in a superb musical performance of John Adams's El Nino to an appreciative fairly large audience. The performance was warmer and better balanced than the performance of El Nino that I heard in Berlin's Philharmonie six years ago.

While in Berlin, they showed the Peter Sellars's video on monitors before, at intermission, and after the performance (a good idea, I now think); for the Washington premiere we were "treated" to establishment genius Peter Sellars's video throughout the performance (as at the U.S. premiere of the oratorio in San Francisco in early 2001.)

I found the video less than masterful. Perhaps 2% was inspired; and the rest was hugely distracting from the beautiful music and poetry, in my opinion. The film project value, in my opinion, fell well short of the achievement of Derek Jarman (for the Britten War Requiem film treatment of 1988) or even Jean-Luc Godard's treatment of mystical themes. (And with all due respect to the late Robert Rauschenberg.)

My own 'Conservatory Project' Assignment for next week: Compare the Renaissance qualities of Derek Jarman's film treatment of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem to Peter Sellars's film treatment of John Adams's El Nino.

The Nativity of the Virgin
15th century, C.E.
135 x 83. Egg tempera on lime wood.
From the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the village of Vanivka (Poland, European Union). Lviv National Museum, Lviv, Ukraine (Future European Union).

[Click on image for enlargement.]

"This subject appeared in Byzantine art as far back as the 9th century, its literary sources being St. James' version of the Gospel and pseudo-Gospel according to St. Matthew. All representations of this theme are characterized by their narrativeness and bear, to some extent, the same features. The earliest composition on this subject in the art of Kyivan Rus' can be found in the 11th-century fresco in Kyiv's St. Sophia Cathedral. The main personage, St. Anna (mother of the Virgin Mary), is usually represented reclining on a bed (sometimes she is arising from it); she is surrounded with servants who, according to a Byzantine tradition, bring gifts, bathe a newly-born baby, or are preparing for these action. With time, the composition became enriched with such details like the wall dividing the representation into two conventional scenes. Often the image of St. Joachim (Mary's father) is depicted. The Ukrainian icon renders accurately all the elements peculiar to the iconography of the subject in Orthodox art. The theme preserves its solemn air which is emphasized by pavilions with complicated architectural forms, with veils thrown over them, ornaments and fern-like bushes decorating the terra verde of the foreground."

Image and text credit: (c) Lviv Icon Gallery and Andrii Borovets, M.A.K. Ltd., Lviv, Ukraine. All rights reserved. With thanks.


[This post dedicated to the memory of Lorrie; with whom I performed the Britten War Requiem in 1972.]


[Aide memoire.]

May 14th Luncheon speakers on employment, happiness and poverty in a changing world:

Session Chair: Jack Triplett (Brookings Institution)

1:15-1:35 Richard Freeman (Harvard University and NBER)
“Informal Employment in Economic Growth and National Accounts”

1:35-1:55 Betsey Stevenson (University of Pennsylvania)
“Economic Growth and Happiness: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox”
by B. Stevenson and J. Wolfers

1:55-2:15 Erik Thorbecke (Cornell University)
“The Impact of Globalization on the World’s Poor”
by M. Nissanke and E. Thorbecke (Cornell University)

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Weekend Only, Two Of Nation's Capital's Classical Musical Institutions Celebrate John Adams's And Peter Sellars's American Musical Civilization

On Saturday afternoon at 1 PM, Sharon Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM broadcasts, on a delayed basis, the Chicago Lyric Opera's production of John Adams's and Peter Sellars's Doctor Atomic.

On Sunday evening, Washington's superb Choral Arts Society, under Maestro Norman Scribner, performs, in the John F. Kennedy Center Concert Hall, John Adams's El Nino, with accompanying film by Peter Sellars.

Program notes to the contemporary oratorio (El Nino, that is) here.

Fortunately, the former Amerindian deer breeding park at Big Meadows (Virginia) was not used by the U.S. or U.S.S.R. militaries for testing nuclear warheads. The tree, above, was split by lightning; not nuclear weaponry.

Photo credit: (c) Mike Quinn. 2006. All rights reserved. With thanks.


I apologize for failing to post regularly, recently. I have been tied up at a week- long international conference on improving the underlying economic and social concepts to international growth accounting statistics.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Thanks To Rostropovich & Michelle And Barack Obama's Chicago Lyric Opera, Sharon Rockefeller's WETA Forced To Broadcast Shostakovich #9 And John Adams

This month's NSO Showcase: May 7, 2008, 9 p.m.

A Tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich

Featured artists:

Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor
Mayu Kishima, violin

Featured music:

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 64
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5


Chicago Lyric Opera Broadcasts

May 17 at 1:00pm

Chicago Lyric Opera

John Adams: Doctor Atomic

Conductor: Robert Spano


J. Robert Oppenheimer / Gerald Finley
Kitty Oppenheimer / Jessica Rivera
Edward Teller / Richard Paul Fink
General Leslie Groves / Eric Owens
Robert Wilson / Thomas Glenn
Pasqualita / Meredith Arwady
Jack Hubbard / James Maddalena
Capt. James Nolan / Roger Honeywell

Plot summary:

Director Peter Sellars takes us to Los Alamos, New Mexico. It's 1945. Scientists are working on a top-secret project for the U.S. government: development of the A–Bomb. We're there for the frenzied three weeks before the blast, and we're there for the final countdown. We watch real people grapple with monumental moral and ethical dilemmas. Could "the gadget" ignite the world's atmosphere?

At the helm, the mercurial Robert Oppenheimer; plus a take-no-prisoners general and scientists — some hawks, some doves — racing for a "successful" conclusion — and unleashing the unfathomable.

Gerald Finley stars as Robert Oppenheimer in the Peter Sellars-directed Doctor Atomic.

Hopi Zuni War God c. 1930

'A traditional Hopi Kachina of the Zuni Dark Warrior God of the Nadir. The piece is carved of Cottonwood root and painted with a combination of mineral pigments and poster paints of the era. The piece is adorned with turkey and pheasant feathers on the head and the ruff.'

An America beyond skin color and horrid and recurrent threats of nuclear obliteration?

Photo credits: (c) Terrence McCarthy/San Francisco Opera. All rights reserved. And (c) Sherwood, Spirits of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Contemporary Classical Music Continues Slow March On Nation's Capital's Now Crumbling Conservative Classical Music Monoliths

eighth blackbird: The Only Moving Thing
May 13, 2008 at 7:30 PM
Terrace Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Steve Reich Double Sextet
David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe [and choreographer Susan Marshall] singing in the dead of night

Tim Munro, flutes
Michael Maccaferri, clarinets
Matt Albert, violin & viola
Nicholas Photinos, cello
Lisa Kaplan, piano
Matthew Duvall, percussion



Friday, May 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm
Library of Congress

The Parker String Quartet opens the program with György Kurtág’s Six Moments Musicaux, op. 44, commissioned for the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition which it won in 2005. The Borromeo Quartet will perform Bela Bartok's String Quartet No. 6 (1939).


Choral Arts Society of Washington Sunday, May 18, 2008 | 7:30pm
Concert Hall, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

John Adams
El Niño

Norman Scribner, conductor
Children's Chorus of Washington
Joan Gregoryk, Artistic Director

Sharla Nafziger, soprano
Leslie Mutchler, mezzo-soprano
Christópheren Nomura, bass

Brian Cummings, countertenor
Paul Flight, countertenor
Steven Rickards, countertenor


The Great Noise Ensemble: Learning to See
May 18, 2008 at 6:30PM
West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art

Armando Bayolo, conductor
Music by Bayolo, Chambers, Goins, Rudin, and White


Sharon Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, celebrates the North Carolina and Indiana presidential primary elections with American Classical composer Arthur Foote's Piano Trio #1 (to be broadcast in its entirety at 11:17 PM).

Oleg Kudryashov "Vsek Muchenikov (All Sufferers)," 1996, drypoint, watercolor and gouache, 42 x 67 in. (106.7 x 170.2 cm). Private Collection.


..."Another Pushkin-related production is called "He who Believes, is Blessed…" based on the novel in verse "Eugene Onegin". The composition, created by graduates of the Russian Academy of Theater Art under the direction of Oleg Kudryashov, combines various things ranging from poetry reading - solo and in chorus - to eccentric, nearly circus numbers with changing clothes and different tricks. The production is filled with music: arias, romances, folk tunes. "School study often makes fresh perception of Pushkin impossible," says producer and teacher Oleg Kudryashov. "At first the students took the novel as something dead. Then, in my opinion, a real interest in Pushkin was awakened. Pushkin is a whole universe, an endless world. Finally the students realized that one could enjoy reading and listening to Pushkin in any epoch, that he is always wonderful. Our today's graduates, who live 170 years after the novel was written, seem to trust Onegin. They look upon the story of Onegin's dramatic life and belated love as if it all happened to them. They take the novel as a contemporary story about unfulfilled dreams and frustrated plans." ...

Source: Russian Culture Navigator

Image credit: (c) Oleg Kudryashov. All rights reserved. Image reproduction credit: Gene Shapiro Auctions, LLC. 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Bogalay On My Mind ... (Or, Did or Did Not The World Change After December 26, 2004?)

What is all of this talk -- by an elite educated American -- of obliterating Iran with nuclear weapons?


Bogalay is on the Ayeyarwady Delta, in the global political jurisdiction of Myanmar, close to the Andaman Sea.

December 26, 2004

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press. 2008. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Perfect Machines, Technically Speaking, With Versatility To Perform Works Like Prokofiev's Symphony No. 3 Or Scriabin's "Poem Of Ecstasy"

... "[Riccardo Muti] called the Chicago Symphony "a perfect machine," technically speaking, with the versatility to play huge works like Prokofiev's Symphony No. 3 or Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" and to perform with the refined delicacy needed for Schubert." ...

Daniel Wakin "Muti Named New Director at Chicago Symphony" New York Times May 5, 2008


And for the Other America?

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series (1940-41, Panel No. 1)
During World War I there was a great migration north by southern
African Americans. Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 inches
The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1942 © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Great American Epic:
Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series
May 3-October 26, 2008

The complete 60-panel series, rarely seen in its entirely, will be on view until Oct. 26, 2008 exclusively at the Phillips Collection. Told through vivid patterns and colors, this masterpiece of narrative painting is the first ever produced on the great 20th-century exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. The exhibition will take an in-depth look at Lawrence’s powerful interpretation of this significant moment in American history and examine how the story still resonates today.


The Phillips Collection: Celebrating Responsible American Cultural Stewardship in Washington, D.C.


Classical WETA-FM: Generally Celebrating Non-Responsible American Cultural Stewardship in Washington, D.C.

A one-off exception:

May 5, 2008: Concerts from Wolf Trap (Week 12 of 13)

Chopin: Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante in E-flat Major, Op. 22
Joyce Yang, piano

Paul Moravec: Tempest Fantasy
Winner 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music
Trio Solisti

Sadness, Beauty, And Lightness Convergence: Weekend Of Gubaidulina, Maciejewski, And Hakim ... And A Future Of A Jack Reilly Spiritual Oratorio

After N. left for work each day, I listened on Saturday morning to Sofia Gubaidulina's 'Saint John Passion and Saint John Easter'; and on Sunday morning to Roman Maciejewski's 'Missa pro defunctis - Requiem'.

I then attended the beautiful late afternoon organ recital, at the National Cathedral, of Naji Hakim performing his own works, and those of Franck and Messiaen. I was surprised that there appeared to be only about 200 persons in the audience on the beautiful Spring afternoon.

Late yesterday, I received notice that American composer Jack Reilly has been invited to give the UK premiere of his oratorio "The Light of the Soul" -- to be performed at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales, April 20, 2009 during the college's 60th Anniversary Celebration.

Erick van Egeraat builds National Library and National Bank of the Republic of Tatarstan - A New City Centre for Kazan, the third Capital of Russia

Erick van Egeraat has won the international competition for the National Library in the Republic of Tatarstan's capital, Kazan. The new National Library has a gross floor area of 81.000 m2 and is situated at the Tukay square on the South-Eastern edge of the city centre. Besides offering all traditional facilities of a state library, Erick van Egeraat wants to "invite citizens to explore and experience knowledge. The building provides a home to all modern ways of accessing information, but its flexible setup allows for future forms of working with knowledge, too." Erick van Egeraat designed the building as a covered extension of the city centre. A multi-functional, 18 metre-high atrium serves as a portal between the library and the city. "The building becomes part of the public domain, a portal between the city and the library, a place where the collective and cultural qualities of downtown spaces are combined." The entrance space can be meeting point, boulevard, gallery, living room, garden and educational facility at the same time. Embedded into a hill, the building continues the shape of the landscape and offers a park on top of the building. By linking the existing Hermitage Park, the new library park and the National Library to the adjacent Tukay square, Erick van Egeraat transforms the area into a vibrant hub of Kazan city life. Consequently, Erick van Egeraat proposes to extend the proposed site and allow for the development of the Headquarters of the National Bank, for high-quality offices, luxury apartments and retail. The project is a cornerstone in the urban redevelopment of Kazan and sets an example for other urban regeneration schemes throughout the Russian Federation."

Photos and text credit: (c) (EEA) Erick van Egeraat associated architects. 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Twentieth Century Architecture ... Hitler's [Gitler's] Bunkers (And The Briefcase) ... And Twentieth Century Architecture of Vinnytsya, Ukraine

Ruin's of Hitler's [Gitler's] Wolf's Lairs in Gierloz, Poland; and Vinnytsa/Stryzhavka, Ukraine.

[Click on images for enlargements.]


Associated Press "Member of Failed Plot to Kill Hitler Dies at 90" New York Times May 2, 2008. ... [But Tom Cruise lives.]


... "Nearly 10 German reconnaissance schools were situated near Vinnitsa [Ukraine], which allowed for controlling partisan and conspiracy movements. Not the least role was paid to the fact that the location of the town coincided with the way of the future Trans-European highway from Hamburg to Gotenland (as the Germans called Crimea). Some historians claim that Fuhrer followed the advice of 400 magicians and astrologer from the Institute of Occult Sciences, in Berlin, in the choice as the place of the [Eastern] headquarters." ...

An Art and a Secondary School in Vinnytsya, Ukraine, Future European Union.

[Click on images for enlargements.]


Photos, text, and map credits: (c) Steve le Gassick. All rights reserved; © 2006 "Vinnitsatourist". Vinnitsa, Ukraine [photo and text]; and (c) Polish map of Hitler's Bunkers. All rights reserved. Wikimedia Commons. With thanks. [find map source]

Pan Cogito Reads The New York Times ... The Return Of Sad Friday

The Gallery of Modern Art at Columbus Circle, New York City, in 1964 and as I remember it from when I lived in NYC in the late 1970s (above); and as deconstructively remodeled into the Museum of Arts and Design, today (2008).

[I remember attending, with my mother, the opening day of the old American Crafts Museum, on West 53rd Street in NYC. I especially remember the beautiful and wonderful craft objects and the beautiful light oak flooring.]

Photo credits: Via New York Times. With thanks.

A Special Invitation To You, Dear Reader, To Picture America (But Not To Hear America)

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Restored Warner Theatre, Washington, D.C.
Free. Tickets required. or call 202-606-8400


Your National Endowment for the Humanities invites you to Picture America.

Your National Symphony Orchestra invites you to Hear Aaron Copland's America.

Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, so-called public radio in the Nation's Capital, denies you the opportunity to Hear American Classical Music.


Please write to WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefellor and demand that WETA-FM restore American classical music to its programming:

Sharon Percy Rockefeller
President and CEO
2775 South Quincy St.
Arlington, VA 22206
tel 703.998.2600
fax 703.998.3401


Image credit: (c) National Endowment for the Humanities. 2008.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day! May Day! ... Belarus Dictator Lukashenka Steps Up Anti-Democratic Campaign While Promising To Bring Belarus To Forefront Of World Nations

April 30, 2008

... "Belarusan dictator Lukashenka has also stepped up his campaign against pro-democracy activists.

On April 22, a Belarusian court sentenced opposition activist Andrey Kim to 18 months in prison for allegedly attacking a police officer during a protest in January. Two days later, on April 24, another activist, Syarhey Parsyukevich, received a 30-month sentence for allegedly beating a guard while serving a 15-day sentence for participating in the same protest.

In his April 29 state of the nation address, Lukashenka fiercely defended the crackdown, ridiculed the young pro-democracy activists, and questioned the motives of opposition leaders.

"Who should we protect in this case? Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens or a group of unrestrained loafers who want to play the role of professional revolutionaries with someone else's money," Lukashenka said. "Honestly, I feel sorry for these kids who are posing as revolutionary fighters. They are put in the front lines like meat, while those behind them seek to fulfill their own personal political ambitions. A whole dynasty of professional revolutionaries is emerging."

In response to the crackdown, Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of the European Parliament, called Belarus "Europe's last dictatorship."

Lukashenka in his speech pledged to modernize Belarus's economy, bring the country into the ranks of "leading nations," and double average monthly wages by 2011." ...

Brian Whitmore "Belarus: Lukashenka Abandons Courtship Of West" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty April 30, 2008


"Political prisoners in Belarus are of greater importance for the United States of America than the number of American diplomats in the country", Jonathan Moore, US Chargé d’Affaires, during press conference in Minsk on April 30, 2008.


According to the World Bank's (possibly biased) statistics [2006], Belarus has a poverty rate of about 40%, while Ukraine had a poverty rate under 20%. [The World Bank has also estimated (July 2007) that Ukraine's poverty rate may have most recently dropped to 8 to 10% following almost a decade of very strong economic growth, the 'Orange Revolution', and strong government transfer payments -- especially to the elderly.]


The Strategic Plan of Minsk Development by the Year 2020.


28 May 2008: Opening concert of the first International Forum of Graduates from the Belarusian (Soviet) Higher Educational Establishments “Education without Frontiers”.


Photo credits [Faces of those arrested by Lukashenka]: (c) With thanks.