Thursday, January 31, 2008

Globalization, Human Inequality, and Human Poverty Matters (World Monopoly Edition): Ukraine Strained Between Social Democracy And 20th C. Capitalism


"Join Ukrainians and Concerned Democrats all over the world in voting for Kyiv to become one of the 22 cities of the world to be included in the new Monopoly World Edition game board. After much lobbying of Hasbro in Europe (ironically led by a Swiss gentleman living in Ukraine), Kyiv was included in the 68 city shortlist for voting - a major feat in and of itself.

You just have to log onto to cast your vote online. In fact, you may continue to do so each day until the cut-off of the contest on February 28, 2008.

At the close of the online voting, the twenty cities that receive the most votes will become part of Monopoly history as the first cities selected to be on the World Edition game board. These cities will appear on the Monopoly board from highest rent property to lowest based upon the total number of votes received.

This is a significant development as this World Edition board game will be sold in over a hundred countries around the world and manufactured in 37 languages (including Ukrainian). This is a great (albeit symbolic) way to get Ukraine on the international map!"


"Western Ukraine is the homeland of one of the most profound and intriguing altar sculptors of the 18th century - the famous artist known as Master Johann Pinzel (1751 - 1770s). Master Pinzel, whose real name remains a mystery, is most known as the founder of “Lviv Rococo” style in art and the author of beautiful altars and sculptures he made in Buchach and Horodenka.

Not much is known about the life of the Master, besides his genius artistic legacy and the fact that he was living and working in Buchach for the most of his life and spent his last years in the city of Lviv."

Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union. Angel from the Ioann George Pinzel altar in the Uspensky Cathedral, Buchach, Ukraine, Future European Union.

According to the World Bank's 2007 World Development Indicators, Ukraine has significantly less income inequality than does its neighbours Poland and the Russian Federation; as well as the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Japan have the lowest degrees of income inequality in the world today. [Income inequality is now about the same in the United States of America and the Russian Federation.]

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In Memorium

Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I. "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius";

II. "to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design";

III. "to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared";

IV. "to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history";

V. "to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change";

VI. "to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.


We visited Monte Albán at Christmas time in 1971.

Class (Without Class)... John Edwards Championed Concern For The Welfare Of The Middle And Lower Classes Without The Aid Of A Harvard Or Yale Degree

Photo credit:

Is Waterboarding Giving Way To U.S. Military Madrassas Building In Afghanistan And Iraq? (What Did You Learn, And When Did You Learn It?)

"The US military is funding the construction of Islamic schools, or madrassas, in the east of Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the tide of young people going to radical religious schools in Pakistan.

Such schools spawned the Taliban movement, which harboured Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader behind the September 11 terror attacks on the US, before it was swept from power in 2001.

Commander David Adams, head of the US provincial reconstruction team in Khost, the province on the border with Pakistan, said more were planned.

“We would like to see small religious schools in every district so that parents don’t have to send their children over the border [to Pakistan],” he told the Financial Times.

The initiative shows how much leeway US commanders have been given to implement counter-insurgency strategies that focus on development and education." ...

Jon Boone "US funds madrassas in Afghanistan" Financial Times January 29, 2008


Khost University, Afghanistan

Madrassa in Khasavyurt, Republic of Daghestan, Russian Federation.

Derbent, Republic of Daghestan, being in practice a huge museum and with magnificent mountains and shore nearby, a great potential for development of the tourism industry exists, further increased by UNESCO's classification of the Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress as a World Heritage Site in 2003; however, instability in the region has not allowed further development. [Update to late 2007/2008]

Photo credit: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved. With thanks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In 1967 Kidnapped With Wife By The South Korean Secret Police [SKStasi]... In 1984, The Isang Yun Music Institute Opened in Pyongyang, North Korea

"North Korea's main symphony orchestra will play in Britain in September [2008] in the communist country's largest-ever musical performances abroad, a U.S. government-funded radio station reported.

The State Symphony Orchestra of the reclusive communist regime will perform three times in London and Middlesbrough and British Broadcasting Corp. television will broadcast each concert live, Radio Free Asia reported on its Web site." ...

Hyung-Jin Kim/Associated Press "NKorean Orchestra to Perform in Britain" Washington Post January 28, 2008

Isang Yun -- Esteemed Musical Colleague of Igor Stravinsky and Herbert Von Karajan (but just don't expect to hear any of his music on reactionary Classical WETA-FM, in Washington, D.C.).

His life-long concern with his native country and culture was expressed in several of his compositions, including the Exemplum in Memoriam Kwangju which he wrote in 1981 to the memory of the Gwangju massacre.

In 1998, State Symphony Orchestra of [North] Korea played Arirang under South Korean conductor Beom-Hun Park in the 'Isang Yun Reunification Concert'.


Yun, Isang: "Teile dich Nacht" (1980) 12'
for soprano and chamber ensemble [Text by Nobel Prize Laureate Nelly Sachs]

Yun, Isang: Symphony V in five movements for full orchestra with baritone solo nach Gedichten von Nelly Sachs (1987)

1 Memory 11'36
2 We the Saved - You who Watch (1) 12'14
3 Appeal 13'14
4 We the Saved - You who Watch (2) 7'36
5 Peace 11'43

Yun, Isang: An der Schwelle. Sonnets by Albrecht Haushofer
for baritone, female choir, organ, winds and percussion (1975) 17’14
Ernst Gerold Schramm (baritone), women of the RIAS-Kammerchors,
Zsigmond Szathmáry (organ), Solisten-Ensemble Berlin, Uwe Gronostay

Photo credit: (c) Copyright controlled. Publicity photo of the composer contributed to Wikipedia by Rizzleboffin. With thanks.

Genocide Prevention Task Force -- Responding To Threats Of Genocide Today

Genocide Prevention Task Force

This unique partnership of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy for Diplomacy, and the United States Institute of Peace is the first high-level body dedicated to improving the U.S. government's capacity to respond to emerging threats of genocide.

Photo credits: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Would A President Barack Obama Help Build Washington, D.C.'s New Historic Central Park?

"Until now, a cottage three miles from the White House where Abraham Lincoln paced the floors contemplating the end of slavery, was largely unknown to the public.

But after a seven-year, $15 million restoration, the cottage at the Armed Forces Retirement Home is set to open to the public for the first time on President's Day, Feb. 18.

The cottage was rediscovered -- so to speak -- by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and declared a national monument in 2000...

Audio and video of actors portraying the president, first lady Mary Lincoln and their associates will recreate stories from the cottage. Visitors will also be able to play the roles of rival cabinet secretaries and debate emancipation with the museum's multimedia room.

Lincoln's decision to emancipate the slaves is the most prominent theme at the retreat. Some historians believe Lincoln may have written the Emancipation Proclamation there, although there's still debate."

Associated Press "Lincoln's Summer Home Opens On President's Day" Jamuary 27, 2008

President Lincoln's Summer White House, opening to the public on Feburary 18; and the concept plan for the district of the Nation's Capital's new Central Historic Park, north of the Nation's Capitol building.

Don't look to Sharon Percy Rockefeller or to the Current Washington Establishment for leadership help in building this new United States National Central Park.

Photo credits: National Park Service and With thanks.


National Building Museum, the long-term Washington Symbol and City exhibition.

National Coalition To Save Our Mall.


Stryiskyi Park, Lviv, Ukraine, Future European Union. May 30, 2005.

City parks as a chance for ecotourism, education and recreation.

In The Shadows Of The State, Washington Celebrates Underground Music By Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Janacek, Bartok, Reich, Lang, Gordon, Wolfe, Koerber

"My true guiding principle...which I have been fully aware of ever since I have come upon myself as a composer: the ideal of the brotherhood of peoples, brotherhood created despite war and all conflict. It is this ideal which I work with all my power to serve through my music; this is why I do not avoid any influence, be it from Slovak, Rumanian, Arabic or any other source. The only thing that matters is that the source be pure, fresh and healthy!" (Béla Bartók)


Join composer, musician, and scholar Jessica Krash as she tunes your ears and acquaints your mind with some of the music and composers featured in the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts. In this enlightening three-part series full of intriguing dualities, Krash examines the works and composers, where they connect, and where they diverge.

Session III - "Now/Then"

The works of Steve Reich
The works of Lang, Gordon, Wolfe
Bartók: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Sz. 75

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Monday, January 28, 2008 6 PM


Merlin Ensemble

Martin Walch, violin S. Weinmeister, piano Cyrille Tricoire, cello

Alexander Zemlinsky: Serenade for Violin and Piano in A Major
Leos Janácek: Kreutzer Sonata - arranged by Till A. Koerber
Till A. Koerber : Pieces for Violin and Piano (world premiere)
Arnold Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) op. 4 - transcribed by Eduard Steuermann

January 28 | 7:30 pm | Embassy of Austria, Austrian Cultural Forum
Free admission. RSVP required: 202-895-6776 or

Now Let Us Praise Classical Music and the Smaller House Museums (including the Phillips Collection) ...

Bela Bartok Memorial House, Budapest, Hungary, No Longer Future European Union; and Music Room of the Dumbarton Oaks Estate, Washington, D.C.

Photo credits: (c) Bela Bartok Memorial House 2007 and (c) Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection 2007. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Obama-Clark (or Obama-Sebelius)... 100 More Years Of Erratic Steps Toward The End Of American And Global Inequality?

Lewis Wickes Hine, Child coal miners and mules,
Gary, West Virginia. 1908 CE. [Gary, West Virginia was named in honor of Judge Elbert Gary, one-time president of U.S. Steel Corporation.]

[Click on image for enlargment.]

"Working as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), Lewis Hine (1874-1940) documented working and living conditions of children in the United States between 1908 and 1924. The NCLC photos are useful for the study of labor, reform movements, children, working class families, education, public health, urban and rural housing conditions, industrial and agricultural sites, and other aspects of urban and rural life in America in the early twentieth century.

The collection consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives, given to the Library of Congress, along with the NCLC records, in 1954 by Mrs. Gertrude Folks Zimand, acting for the NCLC in her capacity as chief executive."

Photo and caption credit: The American Memory Project of the Library of Congress, United States of America.

Henry Hadley's "The Ocean": National Symphony Orchestra (Ukraine) And American Conductor John McLaughlin Williams Champion American Classical Music

Video from the January 04, 2008 performance of American classical composer Henry Hadley's tone poem "The Ocean" op. 99: the final section of the work, as heard in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

Conducted by American conductor John McLaughlin Williams.

Washington, D.C.-born Grammy Award winning American classical conductor John McLaughlin Williams.

Will Mr. Williams be granted a guest-conducting opportunity with the National Symphony Orchestra (United States of America) before Ivan Volkov is selected as Leonard Slatkin's successor?

Photo credit: © Eliesha Nelson | Cleveland, Ohio 44106. All rights reserved.


"A World Trade Organization (WTO) accession committee approved Ukraine's membership bid on Friday, clearing the way for the former Soviet republic to join the body, trade officials said.

"The Working Party has adopted Ukraine's accession package," one diplomat said after the meeting's conclusion at the WTO's Geneva headquarters." ...

Reuters "WTO Committee Approves Ukrainian Membership Bid" January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

" ... And Tom Hanks As Franz Joseph" ........ אױ װײ

"Last week, local [Viennese] media were abuzz with reports that a Hollywood film, ''Sisi,'' is in the works starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sisi and Tom Hanks as Franz Joseph." ..

Can we watch half the movie?

"Sisi Palm" -- RIP?

Photo credit: © 2000 - 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.

"Ukrainian Literature And Ukrainian Politics: Which One Is More Dynamic?" -- What, Note, When, Where

Author Andrey Kurkov from Kyiv will discuss "Ukrainian Literature and Ukrainian Politics: Which One is More Dynamic?" This presentation is part of the Kennan Institute/Harriman Institute Ukrainian Literature Series.

There will be a reception prior to the event at 5:30 p.m.

NOTE: The Kennan Institute, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University, is pleased to announce the Kennan Institute/Harriman Institute Ukrainian Literature Series in 2008. This series will feature at least three prominent contemporary Ukrainian writers, including Andrey Kurkov, Larysa Denysenko, and Taras Chubai. Each writer will speak once at the Kennan Institute and once at the Harriman Institute. We invite you to join us at these literary evenings at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. or at Columbia University in New York.

Thursday, January 24
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004-3027

Call 202-691-4000

Photo credit: (c) The Williard Group. The Ukrainian Observer. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

'Globalization' In The Shadow Of The Davos 'Magic Mountain' ... And The New Egyptian Global Renaissance Library

Gazans pour into Egypt in search of freedom and manna, January 23, 2008 CE.

The New 'Global' Renaissance Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt.

Photo credits: (c) Reuters. 2008. All rights reserved. Omar and Wikipedia. With thanks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snowboarding On The Cusp Of Economic History ... While Desperately Awaiting Sen And Stiglitz's More Holistic Indicators Of Economic Progress

"Is economic history about to change course? Among the chieftains of politics and industry gathering in Davos for the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, a consensus appears to be building that the capitalist system is in for one of those rare and tempestuous mutations that give rise to a new set of economic policies.

As the prospect of a U.S. recession overshadows a tense and drawn-out election campaign in the world's most emblematic market economy, a corrosive cocktail of factors is eating away at old certainties: Power is steadily leaking from West to East. Income inequalities are rising in rich countries.

And signs of a protectionist backlash are multiplying as worries about climate change, the rise of state-run investment funds and the bursting of the recent credit bubble give novel ammunition to those in the West who question free markets and clamor for more shelter from globalization.

What exactly will emerge when the dust settles is hard to predict, economists and executives say. But this much seems clear: With the frontier between state and market once again up for grabs, the era of easy globalization is over - and big government in one form or another is back....

When students of economics open their history books in 2030, they might read about 2008 as the year when the groundwork was laid for a re-regulation of certain markets, a more redistributive tax system and new forms of international policy coordination, economists say.

"We are seeing the seeds of a new paradigm," said Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who will be at Davos this year. "Whoever wins the U.S. election will have to pay more attention to equity. And whatever comes out of the next climate change agreement will be international economic cooperation on a scale never seen before." ...

Others say an even deeper review might be called for. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, this month commissioned two Nobel economists, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, to help devise a more holistic indicator of economic progress than growth in gross domestic product, which fails to account for issues like income inequality that have been at the heart of the globalization debate.

"Economics is not just politics," Sen said. "There is more to human progress than aggregate statistics of growth. We have to ask the right questions and concentrate on what matters to people." ...

Katrin Bennhold "On the cusp of economic history" International Herald Tribune January 22, 2008

"The Hotel Schatzalp lies 300 metres above Davos in a splendid south-facing situation. The hotel, built in art-nouveau style from 1898 to 1900, was originally intended as a luxury sanatorium and was regarded as one of the most advanced of its kind in the region. In his novel «The Magic Mountain», written in 1924, acclaimed German author Thomas Mann devotes several passages to the Schatzalp Sanatorium.

Since 1953/54, the Schatzalp Sanatorium has been run as a first-class hotel.

The «Alpinum Schatzalp» is another of Schatzalp's superb attractions. Visitors to this beautiful botanical garden can admire more than 3'500 alpine species from mountains of all over the world (Switzerland, Pyrenees, New Zealand, China, Nepal, Tibet, etc.).

Sledging back to Davos on the thrilling 2.5 km sledge run which is well prepared and offers yet another appealing attraction."

Photo and caption credit: (c) Davos Tourismus. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Letter To WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller: Notes Toward A Nation's Capital Public Classical Radio Station Worthy Of A Great Nation

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

Dear Ms. Rockefeller:

Below is American Pianist Jeni Slotchiver's
program from this past Sunday evening's National Gallery
of Art distinguished recital and concert series.

I understand that WETA, in the Nation's Capital,
was once interested in 'The American Experience'.

Sincerely yours,

Pan Cogito



Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959)
Bachianas brasileiras no. 4 (1930 – 1941)
Preludio (Introdução) (Prelude: Introduction)
Coral (Canto do sertão) (Chorale: Song of the Jungle)
Aria (Cantiga) (Aria: Song)
Dansa (Miudinho) (Dance: Samba Step)

Francisco Mignone (1897 – 1986)
Sonatina no. 4 (1949)
Allegro con umore

Carlos Guastavino (1912 – 2000)
Las Niñas (The Girls) (1951)
Bailecito (Dance) (1941)
Gato (Cat) (1940)
Camargo Guarnieri (1907 – 1993)
Dansa negra (1948)

Frutuoso de Lima Viana (1896 – 1976)
Corta-Jaca (Brazilian Folk Dance) (1932)


Ferruccio Busoni (1866 – 1924)
Indian Diary: Book One (Four Studies on Motifs of the
Native American Indians) (1915)
He-Hea Katzina Song (Hopi)
Song of Victory (Cheyenne)
Blue Bird Song (Pima) and Corn-Grinding Song (Lagunas)
Passamquoddy Dance Song (Wabanakis) and
He-Hea Katzina Song (Hopi)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 – 1912)
Deep River (1904)

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882 – 1943)
Juba (1913)

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869)
Souvenir de Puerto Rico, op. 31 (1857)
L’Union (1862)

American Pianist Jeni Slotchiver's classical musicianship is too American for Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, so-called classical public radio for 'Greater Washington' and the Nation's Capital.

Photo credit: (c) Cadenza Musicians Directory. All rights reserved.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art American Art Wing, Paintings and Sculpture

The San Francisco De Young Museum of Art American Art Wing

"The de Young houses one of the finest collections of American paintings in the United States. Strengthened by the acquisition of the Rockefeller Collection of American Art, the de Young's treasures include more than 1000 paintings that represent a spectrum of American art from colonial times into the twenty-first century. Gems of the collection include George Caleb Bingham's Boatmen on the Missouri, Frederic Edwin Church's Rainy Season in the Tropics, Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park #116, and 20th-century treasures from artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood."

The National Gallery of Art's American Paintings Galleries.

Selected Online Tours

American Portraits of the Late 1700s and Early 1800s
American Impressionists of the Late 1800s and Early 1900s
American Realists of the Early 1900s
Mary Cassatt: Selected Paintings
John Singleton Copley
Portraits of the Founding Benefactors
Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Stuart Paints the First Five Presidents
Homer and Eakins: American Painters in the Late 1800s
Selected African American Artists
Whistler, Sargent, and Tanner: Americans Abroad in the Late 1800s

In-Depth Studies

American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection
Exploring Themes in American Art
American Impressionism and Realism
John Singleton Copley: Watson and the Shark
William Harnett: Trompe l'Oeil
Winslow Homer in the National Gallery of Art
Jasper Johns: Perilous Night
Thomas Moran
Jackson Pollock: Number 1, 1950, (Lavender Mist)
Edward Ruscha: Lisp
Frederic Remington
Mark Rothko
Edward Steichen: Le Tournesol (The Sunflower)

Streaming Slideshow

Winslow Homer: Right and Left

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'Recession' Causing WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, To Purge Playlists Of Any American Classical Music; Other Venues Uphold Living Classical Tradition

WETA-FM, so-called public radio in the Nation's Capital, is in recessionary mode, and has increasingly resorted to programming absolutely no American classical music. You may witness for yourself the pathetic, so-called public radio programming for today, January 17, 2008.

Please write or call WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller and demand living classical music programming in Greater Washington in exchange for the station's tax-exempt status and membership support:

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


The National Symphony Orchestra is offering outreach $25 Orchestra seats to Friday, January 18th's matinee at 1:30 PM featuring Sarah Chang in the Brahms Violin Concerto, and Leonard Slatkin also leading John Corigliano's Symphony #2 and a Mozart Overture. You must mention offer number 27102; and the "NSO staff" of course reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time without notice. Other restrictions, as well, of course.


Possible cultural bets for the snowy and freezing long weekend in the Nation's Capital (where thousands will be performing volunteer and community service on Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday):

The Phillips Collection -- off Dupont Circle -- offers a Sunday afternoon 4 PM concert by the superb violinist Michelle Makarski. [Music of Crockett, Hartke, Berio, Carter, Dallapiccola?]

Later at 6:30 PM on Sunday the National Gallery of Art continues its utterly natural mission of programming American classical music by hosting Pianist Jeni Slotchiver in a free concert of American classical works by Busoni, Gottschalk, Villa-Lobos, and others. In my view, Ms. Sharon Percy Rockefeller should send her public radio staff to immediate training with the curatorial staff of the National Gallery of Art. (Program notes to the concert will probably be up on the NGA Concerts Web-site sometime tomorrow.)

Also please note:

Beyond the Keyboard: Exploring the Piano's Resources Beyond the Keys

Can the piano really do that? Explore non-traditional piano techniques through the music of Cowell, Crumb, Cage and other contemporary American composers at this lecture and recital presented by Dr. Laurie Hudicek. FREE!

Levine School of Music (NW DC Campus)
Jane Lang Recital Hall
2801 Upton Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Click here for directions.

Date: Sunday, January 27, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM
RSVP: 202/686-8000

Violinist Michelle Makarski and the Phillips Collection help demonstrate that Life Is Elsewhere.

Photo credit: (c) Silvia Lelli. All rights reserved. Via Ms. Makarski's website.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Again No Room For American Opera At The Kennedy Center? ... Cultural Conservatives Hail WNO 'Ring' As Most Culturally Important!

"The Washington National Opera has announced its 2008-09 season ... The complete cycle of all four [of Richard Wagner's] Ring operas [sic] in November 2009, the first ever for the company, will be one of the most important cultural events in the history of Washington, D.C." ...

Charles T. Downey Ionarts January 16, 2008


According to Monday's Washington Post, the Washington National Opera will also present in 2008-09 a new American opera (to be revealed at a later date and to be staged at a not yet disclosed venue) with the members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.

The German National Opera [Deutsche Oper Berlin] produced two cyles of Richard Wagner's four music dramas, the Ring, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in May and June 1989 -- one half a year before the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It is inconceivable that the German National Opera of Berlin, or indeed any other European Opera House, would ever mount a season without a single opera or music drama by a classical composer from that nation.

Image of John F. Kennedy speaking at the Berlin Wall, Divided Europe, June 26, 1963.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American, 1848 - 1907
Shaw Memorial
, 1900, patinated plaster
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
On Loan from U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire

[Currently off-view during staged major renovations to the NGA West Building Galleries.]

[Click on image for enlargement.]


"The Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, also known as The Shaw Memorial, has been acclaimed as the greatest American sculpture of the 19th century. Created by the preeminent sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907), the monumental relief depicts Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the valiant members of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment—the first African American infantry unit from the North to fight for the Union during the Civil War—marching to battle. Among the soldiers were Frederick Douglass' sons Charles and Lewis. The Shaw Memorial, usually on view in the West Building, Gallery 66, is temporarily off-view."

The National Gallery of Art also offers an online tour of some of the more than 150 works of art by African Americans in the Gallery's collection.

Photo and caption credit: (c) National Gallery of Art. 2007. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Let me feel with unalloyed gladness that all the great glories of man are mine"

... "During three childhood years (between the ages of 3 and 6) I was in Mandalay in Burma, where my father was a visiting professor. But much of my childhood was, in fact, spent in Dhaka, and I began my formal education there, at St. Gregory's School. However, I soon moved to Santiniketan, and it was mainly in Tagore's school that my educational attitudes were formed. This was a co-educational school, with many progressive features. The emphasis was on fostering curiosity rather than competitive excellence, and any kind of interest in examination performance and grades was severely discouraged. ("She is quite a serious thinker," I remember one of my teachers telling me about a fellow student, "even though her grades are very good.") Since I was, I have to confess, a reasonably good student, I had to do my best to efface that stigma.

The curriculum of the school did not neglect India's cultural, analytical and scientific heritage, but was very involved also with the rest of the world. Indeed, it was astonishingly open to influences from all over the world, including the West, but also other non-Western cultures, such as East and South-East Asia (including China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea), West Asia, and Africa. I remember being quite struck by Rabindranath Tagore's approach to cultural diversity in the world (well reflected in our curriculum), which he had expressed in a letter to a friend: "Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin... Let me feel with unalloyed gladness that all the great glories of man are mine."

I loved that breadth, and also the fact that in interpreting Indian civilization itself, its cultural diversity was much emphasized. By pointing to the extensive heterogeneity in India's cultural background and richly diverse history, Tagore argued that the "idea of India" itself militated against a culturally separatist view, "against the intense consciousness of the separateness of one's own people from others." Tagore and his school constantly resisted the narrowly communal identities of Hindus or Muslims or others, and he was, I suppose, fortunate that he died - in 1941 - just before the communal killings fomented by sectarian politics engulfed India through much of the 1940s. Some of my own disturbing memories as I was entering my teenage years in India in the mid-1940s relate to the massive identity shift that followed divisive politics. People's identities as Indians, as Asians, or as members of the human race, seemed to give way - quite suddenly - to sectarian identification with Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh communities. The broadly Indian of January was rapidly and unquestioningly transformed into the narrowly Hindu or finely Muslim of March. The carnage that followed had much to do with unreasoned herd behaviour by which people, as it were, "discovered" their new divisive and belligerent identities, and failed to take note of the diversity that makes Indian culture so powerfully mixed. The same people were suddenly different." ...

Amartya Sen

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1998, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1999.

Rabindranath Tagore meets members of Iran's parliament. Image is from early 1930's in Tehran's Majles.

Photo credit: Public Domain (originally Iranian copyright protected) via Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Leonard Slatkin Avails Himself Of His Final Semester With The National Symphony To Celebrate Musical Friendship And Three Living Classical Composers

Musical Friendship and More
By Leonard Slatkin


"During the next few weeks the [National Symphony Orchesta] and I will be performing three works by composers who are very close to me. Each [John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, David Del Tredici] has become a good friend, and all of them are vital voices in today's music. Of the three, it is perhaps the composer represented in this week's concerts that our audience knows best." ...

What a living classical musical culture looks like: John Corigliano lecturing; Christopher Rouse's Soli Deo Gloria-funded world premiere, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, of his new Requiem; David Del Tredici being interviewed for web-magazine (published by the American Music Center); and composer and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts guest lecturer Jessica Krash photo in the free Washington City Paper.

Photo credits: (c);; the American Music Center, and Washington City Paper. All rights reserved. With thanks.


The January 15, 2008 edition of PBS's late night The Charlie Rose Show will feature interviews with conductor Marin Alsop and music critic Alex Ross.

Onute Narbutaite’s String Quartet No. 2: Atverk Uzmarsties Vartus (Open the Gates of Forgetfulness) .. And Aulis Sallinen On WETA/Library Of Congress

Thanks to the strong-arming of the concert producers at the Library of Congress, WETA-FM will be this evening featuring the delayed broadcast of a work of classical music by a living composer. Tonight at 9 PM, WETA-FM and the Library of Congress will be presenting, from the Coolidge Auditorium, the Corigliano String Quartet with oboist Thomas Gallant in Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen's Echoes from a Play, Op. 66


N. and I tremendously enjoyed, last night, the Vilnius String Quartet performance of Onute Narbutaite’s beautiful String Quartet no. 2 at the National Gallery of Art (free):

"The imagery of Onute Narbutaite’s String Quartet no. 2: Atverk uzmarsties vartus (Open the Gates of Forgetfulness) is both tragic and lyric. The quartetis a single movement marked by a minimal use of resources. The transparentpolyphonic texture renders each detail clearly. Individual sections of thequartet are separate domains of sound that reflect one another and intertwineonly at transitional moments. The course of development of the quartet isbased upon the juxtaposition of passive and active elements. Serene melancholyis dominant in the first section — the sound is muffled while newrhythmic pulsations of repeated seconds and thirds seem to strike new poeticassociations. The unreal, dreamy, and subconscious moods of the first sectionare overcome by the active element of the second, as diverse rhythmic patterns are achieved by the movement of sixteenth notes. Gradually rising to a higher register, the music moves to a climax that, in fact, brings no resolution. It is rather a kind of question mark, which is followed not by an answer but by a micro-reprise of the first section, a reminder only of the initial melancholy."
(c) Rūta Gaidamavičiūtė


No time or spirit for personal musical reflections on 2007, but I refer you to my friend Andras Goldinger's live concert list for Politics and Prose Book and Music Store and Coffeehouse:

Concerts of the Year: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (May 7 & 8, French Embassy)—Two mind-blowing recitals: Aimard meticulously put together an evening called “Collages-Montages” one night (including Ligeti, Stockhausen, Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann), then followed with “Programming Games” (including Reich, Nancarrow, and Bartók). I will never forget the sounds of one of Kurtág’s short pieces (from Játékok) being played by Aimard onstage, with a distant sound of another piano answering quietly (played by Tamara Stefanovich on an upright hidden in the back of the auditorium). It was magical; and at only $10 a concert, affordable even for a bookseller.

Hilliard Ensemble (Jan. 24, Freer Gallery)
Venice Baroque Orchestra (Feb. 21, Library of Congress)
Instant Composer’s Pool (ICP) Orchestra (March 31, Library of Congress)—in the great spirit of jazz, drummer Han Bennink played a solo with his drumsticks on the stage floor—Coolidge Auditorium will never be the same!
Academy of Ancient Music (April 29, National Gallery)
Erin McKeown (June 24, Kennedy Center)
Anat Cohen (Sept. 15, Bohemian Caverns)
Rudresh Mahanthappa & Kadri Gopalnath (Nov. 10, Freer Gallery)
Marta Topferova (Nov. 15, Czech Embassy)
Youssou N’Dour (Nov. 19, Kennedy Center)
Later the Same Evening, an opera inspired by five Edward Hopper paintings
(Dec. 2, National Gallery)
Two plays with lots of music: Peter & Wendy (June 19, Arena Stage) & The Second Shepherd’s Play (Dec. 13, at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre)
Terrence Blanchard Quintet, plus orchestra and guest vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, and Raúl Midón (Dec. 8, Kennedy Center)

Music Book of the Year: Alex Ross, THE REST IS NOISE (FSG)"

Living classical composer Onute Narbutaite.

Photo credit: (c) Aanonsas [Lithuania, European Union]. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

World Bank Predicts Developing Countries To Cushion Rich-Country Slowdown In 2008; Interactive Prospects For The Global Economy Now Available

"Resilience in developing economies is cushioning the current slowdown in the United States, with real GDP growth for developing countries expected to ease to 7.1 percent in 2008, while high-income countries are predicted to grow by a modest 2.2 percent, says the World Bank.

Global Economic Prospects 2008 (GEP 2008) notes that world growth slowed modestly in 2007 to 3.6 percent compared with 3.9 percent in 2006, a downturn due largely to weaker growth in high-income countries. In 2008 global growth is expected to be 3.3 percent.

A weaker US dollar, the specter of an American recession and rising financial-market volatility could cast a shadow over this soft landing scenario for the global economy. These risks would cut export revenues and capital inflows for developing countries, and reduce the value of their dollar-investments abroad. In this context, the reserves and other buffers that developing countries have built up in past years may be needed to absorb unexpected shocks.

“Overall, we expect developing-country growth to moderate only somewhat over the next two years. However, a much sharper United States slowdown is a real risk that could weaken medium-term prospects in developing countries,” said Uri Dadush, Director of the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group and International Trade Department.

The report’s authors assume that credit turmoil in international markets will persist into late 2008, but that costs to large financial institutions will remain manageable. Moreover, they predict that spillover from problems in the US housing market on consumer demand will remain limited." ...

World Bank "Developing Countries To Cushion Rich-Country Slowdown In 2008" January 9, 2008


Interactive prospects for the global economy can be found at:

The housing boom in Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union, is being driven both by high-rise luxury condominium towers and low-rise, more contextual, architecture.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

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

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

French President Sarkozy Calls For “Policy Of Civilisation,” New Measures Of Wealth And Economic And Human Progress, And A 'Moralized' Capitalism

"French television operators would be taxed to fund a public broadcaster similar to Britain’s BBC under a radical broadcasting shake-up that President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday described as a “policy of civilisation”.

As part of the shake-up, advertising on France’s two public television stations would be scrapped and replaced by revenue from new taxes on mobile phone operators, internet service providers, plus a levy on the advertising revenues of private television channels....

Mr Sarkozy called into question the conventional methods of measuring wealth and standards of living and said the economists Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz would advise on “more complete” ways of measuring France’s economic progress.

The government would also pursue its drive to “moralise” capitalism, withdrawing tax breaks from profitable companies that refused to increase salaries."

Ben Hall "Sarkozy’s vision of a ‘BBC’ for France" Financial Times January 8, 2007

Cupola of Saint Volodymyr’s Orthodox Cathedral (Kyiv Patriarchate), Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

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

President Bush Endorses Turkey's Bid To Join The European Union; Pan Cogito Endorses Ukraine's Bid To Join The European Union

"President Bush gave Turkey's bid to join the European Union a glowing endorsement on Tuesday and called the Islamic nation a ''constructive bridge'' between the West and the Muslim world, offering a much-needed boost to U.S.-Turkish relations." ...

Associated Press "Bush Supports Turkey Bid To Join EU" New York Times January 8, 2008


'The Rest Is History' (c)

Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

[Click on images for enlargement.]

Photo credits: (c) U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Trey Ratcliff and All rights reserved. With thanks.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Shunning WETA/WGMS Radio's March To Segregated Past, WETA Television To Program Banned Works By Composers Mahler, Bartok, And Stravinsky

"Great Performances returns to Carnegie Hall's famed stage for a celebration with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Featuring the orchestra under the baton of music director and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, Carnegie Hall Celebrates Berlin will include highlights from the Hall's two-week "Berlin in Lights" festival in November 2007. Performances include the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. The program also features conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the renowned orchestra as they perform such classics as Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring."


Also tonight, more WETA/WGMS-banned music at the Austrian Cultural Forum, Washington, D.C.:

Hermine Haselböck, mezzo soprano Russell Ryan, piano

Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children);
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Travelling Journeyman); Rückert-Lieder


Unlike WETA-TV, WETA/WGMS-FM Radio features playlists from America's segregated past.

Mr. Barack Obama, above, speaks to a crowd that couldn't get in to his speech at the filled-to-capacity Opera House in Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States. The rest is history.

Photo credit: (c) Ozier Muhammad for The New York Times. 2008. All rights reserved. With thanks.

Peace On Earth And In The Cosmos -- Goodwill Toward Mankind, Animals, And Plants

Merry Christmas wishes to my Orthodox Christian readers (and to N. and our family and friends in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation)


A Prayer of Saint Basil the Great

"We bless thee, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who ever workest great and mysterious deeds for us, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who providest us with sleep as a rest from our infirmities and as a repose for our bodies tired by labor. We thank thee that thou hast not destroyed us in our transgressions, but in thy love toward mankind thou hast raised us up, as we lay in despair, that we may glorify thy Majesty. We entreat thine infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our minds from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouths and fill them with thy praise, that we may unceasingly sing and confess thee, who art God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the Only-Begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."


[Click on image for enlargement.]

Late 14th century C.E.
80 x 48. Egg tempera on the lime wood.
From the Intercession Church in Lutsk, Ukraine [near the frontier with Poland and Belarus]. The Ukrainian State Museum of Ukrainian Fine Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

"The Virgin of Volhynia belongs to the so-called Odegetria type of Byzantine provenance, the type most popular in Ukraine. Legends associate its origin with the name of St. Luke the Evangelist, who was not only a writer, the author of a Gospel, but an artist as well. The first icon of Odegetria painted by him was passed on to Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch. After his death it was transferred to Jerusalem where it was rediscovered by Eudocia, wife of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, in the 5th century. From then on the icon was kept in the Ton Hodigon Church until its destruction in 1453 during the Turkish invasion. Some scholars hold that the name Odegetria (Directress) appeared under the special influence of the name of church. The Odegetria type of icon is a representation of Mary and Child. Jesus usually holds a scroll of Gospel in His left hand and gives a blessing with His right. In most analogous icons the Virgin's maphorion bears three stars (originally crosses) which symbolize chastity. In this icon, the maphorion is decorated with four stars arranged cross-like, a symbol which was found occasionally in the Middle Ages and which enhanced the significance of the icon.

The icon from the Intercession Church was renowned as an agent of miracles. Poem- prayers were composed about it, and at various times it was given a special place in honor in the church, in which connection it suffered greatly. In the 18th century both upper corners of it's panel were removed in order to install the icon in a new case, while the representation itself was plated with a bronze gilt. In the 19th century, when the icon was transferred to a new icon-case designed in the classical style, the panel, together with the mounting, was cut from the sides, so that the icon lost its initial almost square form and original margins with their two pink bands of different tones. The background of the icon was also spoiled being covered with red velvet and plaster stars set on it with the help of thick metal pintles.

The present meticulous restoration of the icon was executed by M.V. Pertsev."

Image and caption credit: (c) Lviv Icon Gallery via 2008. All rights reserved. With thanks.