Friday, August 22, 2008

Under Smoking Ruins Of Ethnically Cleansed Town, Russian Kirov Orchestra, Under Gergiev, Offers Televised Concert Dedicated To Victims Of 'Aggression'

... "The concert, dedicated to victims of the war, was held in front of the ruins of the South Ossetian Parliament. “We are here to remember those who died in the tragic days of aggression,” said Valery Gergiev, the conductor and artistic director of the Maryinsky Theater and the principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Mr. Gergiev is Ossetian. He spoke and the orchestra played while Kekhvi, a Georgian village inside South Ossetia, burned on a ridge overlooking the town. Throughout the territory in and near South Ossetia, Georgian villages have been looted and many buildings were set on fire. In a few places, entire villages were burned....

Together, the looting and the fires have chased away almost all of the Georgian population from South Ossetia and the territory reaching to the city of Gori, about 25 miles from Tskhinvali. The Georgian government has called this a program of “ethnic cleansing,” though Russia disputes that claim. Nevertheless, Mr. Kokoity [Acting President of South Ossetia] has said that Georgians will not be allowed to return.

The concert, which began at nightfall, was clearly a Kremlin priority, and it aimed to show that the war was over, Russia had won and order was returning.

It was a televised spectacle ..."

Andrew E. Kramer and Graham Bowley "Russian Says It Is Pulling Out of Georgia, but Troops Remain" New York Times August 22, 2008

Not invited to yesterday's Russian Kremlin Celebration in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia? Villagers of Khurvaleti in the currently Russian-occupied Gori district of the Republic of Georgia.

Architectual detail, Republic of Georgia.

Photo credits: (c), and With thanks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pan Cogito Closes His Eyes & Tries To Recall When Valery Gergiev And The Russian Mariinsky (Kirov) Orchestra Last Performed In Grozny Or Tskhinval

... "Later in the evening, Russia’s Mariinsky symphony orchestra from St. Petersburg, which is known as the Kirov symphony on its frequent tours outside Russia, was scheduled to hold a concert in [Tskhinval, South Ossetia], which is largely in ruins.

A bus carrying Western journalist to the concert over the Caucasus Mountains from Russia stopped for about 40 minutes beside the road en route Thursday. The military escorts said the bus had been halted as additional security was needed for the delegation. From the bus windows, several fires could be seen burning in ethnic Georgian villages along the route. Journalists were prohibited from photographing the fires."

Andrew E. Kramer "Despite Yielding Ground, Russia Takes Critical Spots" New York Times August 21, 2008



"Today the future of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is of the moment. And how to help people so that they feel protected from a similar tragedy in the future, well, that is the role that Russia is trying to perform."


"Georgia did not believe Russia would respond to its offensive in South Ossetia and was completely unprepared for the counter-attack, the deputy defence minister has admitted.

Batu Kutelia told the Financial Times that Georgia had made the decision to seize the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali despite the fact that its forces did not have enough anti-tank and air defences to protect themselves against the possibility of serious resistance." ...

Jan Cienski "Tbilisi admits miscalculating Russian reaction" Financial Times August 21, 2008

Photo credits: (c) Kavkaz Center [Grozny, Russian Federation],(c) RIA Novosti [Tskhinval, South Ossetia], and (c) Sergei Grits and Associated Press [Republic of Georgia]. All rights reserved. With thanks.

As The World Turns .. Pan Cogito Peeks At The 2008-09 Line-up Of MET Opera Broadcasts On PBS While Checking Whether His Old Demo Sony Is Digital Ready

From music critic and composer Greg Sandow's blog, in 2001:

"Why PBS doesn't broadcast opera. A report in Opera News explains the reason -- hardly anybody watches. Why public radio is cutting back on classical music. The bad news -- few people listen, and those who do, don't give money..."


The following ten MET Operas are scheduled for broadcast on PBS sometime later in 2008/09 (check your local PBS station -- or foreign television station -- for details; and consider making a contribution, if you can afford one, when you make your cultural and charity contributions):

Strauss’s Salome, starring Karita Mattila

Adams’s Doctor Atomic NEW PRODUCTION
Starring Gerald Finley

Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust NEW PRODUCTION Conducted by James Levine, starring Susan Graham and Marcello Giordani

Massenet’s Thaïs NEW PRODUCTION
Starring Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson

Puccini’s La Rondine NEW PRODUCTION
Starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna

Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice conducted by James Levine
Starring Stephanie Blythe and Danielle de Niese

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
Starring Cristina Gallardo-Domâs and Marcello Giordani

Bellini’s La Sonnambula NEW PRODUCTION
Starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez

Rossini’s La Cenerentola, starring Elīna Garanča

The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation.

In association with PBS, the HD Broadcasts are supported by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder.®

"The Bonesetter's Daughter" composer Stewart Wallace and author/librettist Amy Tan.

Will the San Francisco Opera world premiere, on September 13, 2008, of this new American opera be broadcast on PBS?

Amy Tan's book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, examines the secret lives of three generations of Chinese-American women, and is the latest in Tan’s growing list of bestsellers including The Joy Luck Club (also a movie), The Kitchen God’s Wife, and the children’s book The Moon Lady.

Photo credit: (c) Drew Alitizer, Jeanne Lawrence, Heather Wiley, & Tom Gibbons and 2008. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Economic Update: Sherlock Holmes's Brother Takes A Random Walk Along The Boulevards Of The Nation's Capital

Based upon forthcoming [August 26, 2008] U.S. Census Bureau data and an analysis of historical relationships between employment, income, and poverty, the poverty rate in the United States of America increased by about 0.4 percent, or by roughly 1.2 million people, between mid-2007 and mid-2008.

Inside the main hall of the headquarters of the World Bank Group in Washington D.C.

'The World Bank, Working for a World Free of Poverty.'

Photo credit: (c) With thanks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sadness And Now Maybe Some Money [But Deferred Beauty] In The Former Jewels In The Crown Of The Former Czarist Russian Empire And Former Soviet Union

Mr. Barack Obama today, August 19, 2008, called for $1 billion in reconstruction aid for the Republic of Georgia, Future European Union [if not necessarily Future NATO].

Any chance of any "Marshall Plan" aid for Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Armenia?

[Click on images for enlargements.]

The Government House of Abkhazia, in Sukhumi [above], de facto independent Republic/Autonomous Region within Republic of Georgia, destroyed in the Abkhaz offensive on September 27, 1993, still stands in ruins. The offensive involved the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. The photo was taken in 2006. The population of Abkhazia, in 2004, was approximately 180,000. The Republic/Autonomous Region borders the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russian Federation. [The ports of Novorossiysk and Sukhumi: potential future homes of the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet?]

Sevastopol, Special Administrative District of Ukraine [middle] is a port city located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimean Autonomous Republic of Ukraine. It has a population of 328,600 (2004). Former home of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, the city is now a naval base shared by the Russian and Ukrainian Navy. The Russian Federation lease on the Naval Port is scheduled to end in 2017. [NATO recently made an abortive attempt to modernize a decaying military facility in Eastern Crimea, but was blocked by opposition by Ukrainian citizen groups. The majority of Ukrainians, unlike Georgians, oppose membership in NATO. The President of Ukraine supports membership in NATO.]

Sochi, Russian Federation [below] is a resort city situated just north of the southern Russian border. It sprawls along the shores of the Black Sea against the background of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. At 145 km (90 mi), Greater Sochi is claimed to be the longest city in Europe. In 2006, the population was estimated to be 395,000. Home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.


Photo credits: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko and Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

Opera Matters; Or Why Can't The Washington NATIONAL Opera Find An American Opera To Program During Its 2008-09 Season, As Promised To U.S. Congress

Dominick Argento and Charles M. Nolte's "The Voyage of Edgar Allen Poe", an American opera, could soon be waiting in the bullpen to be locally premiered by Placido Domingo's Washington National Opera, which promised Congress, in exchange for the NATIONAL moniker, to stage one American classical opera each and every season. The otherwise distinguished and responsible company has managed to stage an American opera only about one-half the time, and it has not yet announced the American classical opera that it intends to stage in the 2008-09 season.

Here is a fascinating review, by James Wierzbicki, of the 1990 production of "The Voyage of Edgar Allen Poe" by the distinguished Chicago Lyric Opera company (which premiered the fine Bolcom, Weinstein, and Miller, "A View from the Bridge", which was the last American opera the Washington National Opera produced, as promised to Congress and the American people). [The often highly imaginative Minnesota Opera commissioned and premiered "The Voyage of Edgar Allen Poe" in 1976, the last great year for new American classical opera.]


James Wierzbicki "The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe"

CHICAGO -- THE SUFFERING ARTIST has long been a popular figure in American and European fiction. He emerged when suffering first became fashionable, at the end of the 18th century, when ancient regimes were bowing to new democracies and when the first blooms of the literary movement known as romanticism were heralding the start of ''modern'' culture. And he rose to prominence almost overnight; especially during romanticism's early years, Goethe's Werther and his literary cousins were the role models the in-crowd sought to emulate. ...

It is certainly the essence of Dominick Argento's ''The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe,'' an opera from 1976 that has recently been revived by the Chicago Lyric Opera. The work was inspired by the mysterious journey that Poe took just before his death in October of 1849. Normally, the boat trip from Richmond, Va., to Baltimore lasted 48 hours; on this occasion, it took five days, and to date no one knows why." ...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Nov. 18, 1990 [see bottom of linked page for full review]


Why isn't the current Washington National Opera interested in American history, literature, and culture?

The San Francisco Opera and the Dallas Opera are both producing world premieres of new American operas based upon classical and classical contemporary American literature.

Meet the new American National General Directors of the San Francisco Opera Company and the Dallas Opera Company: David Gockley and George Steel, both with deep roots in American history and culture.

Photo credit: The U.S.S. Monitor Onandaga. U.S. Library of Congress via With thanks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

University Of California Berkeley Music Composition Rebuilds From Tragedy By Hiring Students Of Gerard Grisey And Sir Harrison Birtwistle (And Others)

This autumn, younger composers Franck Bedrossian and Ken Ueno are joining Edmund Champion, Cindy Cox, and David Wessel as composers on the Music Department faculty of the University of California at Berkeley.

There will be no Visiting Ernest Bloch Lecturer in music, at Berkeley, in the Fall of 2008.

[Click on images for enlargements.]

Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Today the library holds autograph scores of Sir Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch, Luigi Dallapiccola, Darius Milhaud, Roger Sessions, and Randall Thompson, among many others. There are countless Ernest Bloch letters and the files of the WPA's California Folk Music Project.

Photo credit: Copyright © 2008 The Regents of the University of California. All Rights Reserved. Ernest Bloch's 'Macbeth', by Alex Cohen © 1938 Oxford University Press.


Voices in the Wilderness: Six American Neo-Romantic Composers [including Bloch], by Walter Simmons. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

First in a series of six studies which will also cover American neo-classicists, American opera composers, American nationalists and populists, three traditionalists of the Juilliard School, and American traditionalists of the post-1930 generation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Economic Update: U.S. Contemplates New Economic Stimulus Packages For United States And Republic Of Georgia; Russia Plans To Rebuild South Ossetia

[Click on image for enlargement]

"Georgian officials, speaking privately, said the country has suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and estimated that double-digit growth figures for gross domestic product may plummet, at least in the short term, to 3 percent.

Matthew Bryza, the U.S. State Department's special envoy to the region, told reporters here that Washington was working on a major aid package to stimulate growth and "maintain stability." He didn't put a dollar amount on the assistance or say whether it would be structured as loans, grants or both. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has offered the equivalent of about $400 million to rebuild South Ossetia....

Gori's university and post office were burning Tuesday afternoon."

Source: Washington Post, August 13, 2008


The Russian Federation gross domestic product increased from approximately $200 billion in 1999 to about $1.2 trillion in 2007; just under one-tenth the size of the U.S. gross domestic product last year. The Russian Federation economy, in 2025, is expected to be the fifth largest in the world, behind the European Union, the U.S., China, and Japan; or, alternatively, the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany.


Russian Federation Sets Up a National Statistical System for International Development Aid Assistance


Uplistsikhe Cave City near Gori, Republic of Georgia, August 6, 2006 at 7:35 AM. [above and below]

Photo credits: (c) Nicolai Bangsgaard [header] and Kobar via Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.

Addresses Of The National University Of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” And The Tbilisi State University To The United Nations And The World Academic Community

Address Of The National University Of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” To The United Nations And The World Academic Community:

"National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” condemns Russia’s interference in the internal conflict of the sovereign state of Georgia.

The title of “peacekeeping operation” is being used as a cover for Russian aggression in Georgia. In fact, we are witnesses to an international security threat caused by a totalitarian system, which rests upon traditions of Russian imperialism, including its communist period.

Since 2002, the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Collegium has worked in Tbilisi; it belongs to the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Collegiums Network and is supervised by Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. This year Mykhailo Hrushevsky Collegium celebrated its first graduation. From the Collegium teachers, students and parents we are informed about aggressive hostilities, perpetrated by Russia, about bombardment of innocent civilians and about victims among Georgian citizens of different nationalities. Today the Collegium students are waiting for new bombs from the Russian “peacekeepers”. These Georgian children, equally with regarding the national heritage and traditions, have chosen the western values of democracy and freedom. They are ready and they will defend independence and the integrity of their country. They desire to live in a common European home, not in a Russian camp. This is their choice, and we ask the world to respect it.

We, the academic community of one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe, which began its history in 1615, denounce any military resolution of conflict and Russian intervention in the internal affairs of Georgia, as well as of any other country.

NaUKMA appeals to U.N.O. and to the world academic community and asks them to condemn the Russian military intervention into the internal affairs of Georgia, to call things by their proper names, to unite against the aggressive stance of Russian government and to support the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

If the world keeps silent or hesitates in holding Russia responsible, this may abet further aggression and embed the feeling of impunity in the cynical politics of this agonizing empire."



Address of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University to the European and US Universities:

"The Georgian state is facing a major threat today. As you all know, Russia purposefully continues aggressive military campaign against Georgia and is openly trying to completely annex our country. Western values, which have been nurtured and protected by Georgia for years, is now being sacrificed to the imperial plans of Russian Federation.

This conflict provoked by separatists and Russian military units is a precondition to draw Georgia to a full-scale war. Despite the fact that Georgian authorities made a decision to immediately cease fire in South Ossetia, the breakaway region, regular army of Russian Federation continues military intervention into Georgia. The aggressors are trying to bring down Georgian sovereignty by demonstrating and practicing its military power over Georgians. Russia is bombing the whole territory of Georgia and its civilian population.

The camps of Georgian reservist army, which among others include our students, are being constantly attacked. Russia acts as an inhuman state which does not care for the losses among peaceful population.

Thousands of children, youngsters, women and the elderly are being killed as a consequence of Russian military raids. By broadcasting forged information, Russian mass media is trying to mislead the international community. Georgian government is taking every effort to protect its population from the aggressors.

In the 21st century, when the whole world is fighting against international terrorism and seeks peaceful relations between the states, Russia is openly ignoring the civilized laws of world order.

In this unfair battle today Georgia is in need of support from world community to protect sovereign rights and liberties. Though number of statements in support of Georgia has already been made by numerous states and international organizations, Russia does not change its plan. More active involvement of world community is required to stop this barbarian act.

Therefore, we urge you to express your protest against Russian military intervention which endangers not only Georgia but also international peace and security. We consider it the duty of Tbilisi State University to mobilize intellectual power for protecting Georgian state interests against Russian aggression.

In this decisive moment of fight for independence and freedom we hope that the world university community will protest against Russia’s wide-scale military campaign aiming at the annihilation of Georgian state."


Human Rights And Ethnic Cleansing Watch In Tempore Belli: The Uncovering Of Evidence Of Terrible Human Rights Abuses

The 12th anniversary of ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia which was held in Tbilisi in 2005. One of the visitors of the gallery recognized her dead son on the photograph.


"On August 7, Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, announced a unilateral ceasefire in South Ossetia, after days of skirmishes between Georgian and Ossetian villagers. He blamed the Ossetians for firing on Georgian villages but said: “I want to say with full responsibility and admit that a few hours ago I took a very difficult decision – not to reply with fire.”

Hours later, the Georgian army launched a mass artillery assault on Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia, and followed it up with ground troops the next morning. It is hard to assess the level of civilian casualties that resulted. The Russian authorities’ claim of 2,000 dead has not been independently verified. Human Rights Watch is urging caution, saying it has seen only dozens of wounded in hospitals in North Ossetia.

But we do know that many civilians died – and if more did not it was thanks to the thick cellars of Tskhinvali, not Georgian restraint. Ossetians talk of a continuous bombardment for 14 hours of both the city and the road north.

Ossetians also allege atrocities, such as the Georgians throwing grenades into cellars where civilians were sheltering.

The Russians will press two arguments on South Ossetia. The first is that the Georgians unilaterally violated the peacekeeping framework under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and can no longer be allowed a presence in the region.

The second is that there must be a tribunal for war crimes committed there.

Georgia is a party to the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, which means that a prosecutor from the court can unilaterally investigate alleged abuses committed on Georgian territory – both by Georgians and Russians. The Russians are not party to the statute but have said they might file complaints. Potentially, the court could prove an arena where the facts of this conflict are properly investigated – but only if both sides co-operate with an inquiry that might uncover evidence of terrible human rights abuses."

Thomas de Waal "Moral outrage is cover for strategic agenda" Financial Times, August 13, 2008


"Human Rights Watch researchers in South Ossetia on August 12, 2008, saw ethnic Georgian villages still burning from fires set by South Ossetian militias, witnessed looting by the militias, and learned firsthand of the plight of ethnic Ossetian villagers who had fled Georgian soldiers during the Georgian-Russian conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

In South Ossetia, Human Rights Watch researchers traveling on the evening of August 12 on the road from the town of Java to Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, witnessed terrifying scenes of destruction in four villages that used to be populated exclusively by ethnic Georgians. According to the few remaining local residents, South Ossetian militias that were moving along the road looted the Georgian villages and set them on fire. Human Rights Watch saw numerous vehicles carrying South Ossetian militia members, as well as Russian military transports moving in the direction of Tskhinvali."

"Georgian Villages in South Ossetia Burnt, Looted" Human Rights Watch, August 13, 2008


Amnesty International: 'Georgia and Russia Must Protect Civilians In South Ossetia'


Photo credit: (c) Timur Chirikba. 2005. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shhh ... Nuclear-Armed NATO Bloc And Nuclear-Armed Russian Federation Negotiating Status Quo Ante Bellem

Balanced outrage?

An Ossetian father, son, and husband killed by the Georgian pre-Olympic seige of Tskhinvali, Autonomous Region of South Ossetia; and a Georgian mother killed by the Russian Federation's massive reprisal attacks of the following days in Ruisi, Republic of Georgia.

Photo credits: (c) Associated Press; and Sergei Grits and the New York Times. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

A Tale Of Two Future Europes: Coming Of Age In The Twenty-First Century Future European Union

Summer graduation exercise at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union; and summer recess interrupted by Russian Federation terror tactics [claimed by Russian Federation, Future European Union, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to be equivalent to the terror tactics effected by NATO bombing of Belgrade, Republic of Serbia, Future European Union, in the 1990s] in Gori, Republic of Georgia, Future European Union.

European University Association, representing universities in the 46 nations of the Future European Union.

International Council of Museums


Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status: Kyiv, its capital, and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

The country is home to 46.4 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Belarusians, Poles, Crimean Tatars, Hungarians, and Romanians. The dominant religion in the country in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature, and music. Before the Second World War, Ukraine had a sizable Jewish minority. Since 1991, Ukraine has attracted an increasingly significant number of new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Asia and Africa.

-- adapted from Wikipedia


Photo credits: (c) Yulia M. in Kyiv, Ukraine; and Joao Silva and New York Times. Copyright controlled. With thanks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

'It's A Big World Afterall': Mismanagement Of NATO/HATO Expansion Leading To Major U.S. Foreign Policy Setback On Georgia, Ossetia, Russia Borderland

A dead Georgian soldier covered by an Ossetian fabric is shown on Russian Federation television.

Ill-considered NATO [HATO in Cyrillic script] expansion policy leads to thousands of civilian deaths on Georgian, Ossetian, Russian Federation mountainous borderland, and tens of thousands of relatively poor and insecure refugee families fleeing their homes. The U.S. has now airlifted "nearly all" of the 2,000 Georgian soldiers serving in Iraq back to Georgia. At this time of warfare, the Georgian military is receiving training and weaponry from the U.S. and Israel.

Another decade-long, high-tech war for oil?

Approximately one half of last week's population of South Ossetia, 70,000, now displaced. While the Russian Federation is now pouring hundreds of millions of dollars of its oil wealth into development of its Southern-tier region, the U.S.,to date, has preferred military expansion to its own matching "Marshall Plan" for the non-Russian Federation Black Sea, Caucasus, and West Central Asian regions.


Update: Mikhail Gorbachev "A Path to Peace in the Caucasus" Washington Post August 12, 2008


Photo credit: (c) Agence France Presse.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Best And Brightest From The World Of Olympic Sport: August 1936 And August 2008

Jesse Owens in Berlin in front of the 1936 Olympic Stadium; and Joey Cheek in Washington, D.C. in front of the [old, pre-I.M. Pei-designed new Embassy building] 2008 People's Republic of China Embassy building -- an Embassy of a single party dictatorship.


Save Darfur. An alliance of over 180 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. The Coalition’s member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Darfur, Africa.

Free Tibet. Free Tibet stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. It campaigns for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected. Founded in 1987, Free Tibet generates active support through public education about the situation in Tibet.

Amnesty International. Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Its supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so they work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. The organization has more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions.

CARE. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

Photo credits: Wikipedia Commons and With thanks.

Guns of August

Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told United States President George W. Bush, who is also in Beijing, People's Republic of China that "war has started today in South Ossetia."

At the Pentagon, a senior defense official said Friday that Georgian authorities have asked the United States for help getting their troops out of Iraq.

Georgia has about 2,000 troops serving with the coalition forces in Iraq, making it the third-largest contributor after the United States and Britain.

Source: Washington Post

Life On Earth: In Shadow Of Beijing Party-Time & Georgian-Russian Warfare, International Red Cross/Crescent Appeals For Moldovan/Ukrainian Flood Aid

Ukraine and Moldova: emergency appeal launched to assist victims of worst floods in 200 years

August 6, 2008

"With more than 30 people killed, dozens missing, 30,000 displaced and damages reaching over one billion Euros, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal to bring immediate assistance to victims of the worst floods in 200 years in Ukraine and Moldova.

The appeal for 1.2 million Swiss francs (€ 765,000 / US$ 1.2 million), will support operations by the Ukrainian and Moldova Red Cross Societies to bring emergency help to 60,000 particularly vulnerable people (in particular the elderly, and multi-child households) over the next eight months. Funds will be used to supply food, clean water, hygiene articles, household items, bedding, repair work on homes and psychological support.

“These are the worst floods in two centuries. The ground cannot absorb any more water, and more rains could trigger mudslides. People are in desperate straits, food is urgently needed as well as clean water. Many people have lost crops, gardens, livestock, poultry as well as their food reserves,” said Joe Lowry, Federation Representative for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, speaking from the disaster zone. “Moldova is still recovering from a succession of serious droughts, for which the Red Cross provided food aid. This is the worst possible irony for Europe's poorest country, where a quarter of the population has emigrated to find work and where many elderly survive on less than one Euro [$1.50] a day.”

In Western Ukraine, the six most affected regions are Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernvitsy, Zakarpattya, Lviv, Ternopil and Vinitsia, where some 40,000 houses in 655 settlements, more than 30,000 hectares of croplands and nearly 700 kilometres of roads have been severely damaged by flooding."

Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

A flood destroyed kitchen in Kosovanka, West Ukraine; performance art in Beijing, People's Republic of China; and monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict in Tskhinvali, South-Ossetian Autonomous Region, Georgia, Future European Union; if not necessarily future NATO. On August 8, 2008, it was reported in the Washington Post that the hospital in Tshkinvali had been destroyed by warfare, and the university was on fire.

West Ukraine, Moldova, the Crimean Autonomous Republic of Ukraine, Ossetia, and parts of the Republic of Georgia are among the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the New Europe. Incomes remain often substantially below $100 a month, according to the World Bank, Washington, D.C.

The southern tier of the Russian Federation, Future European Union, is presently benefiting from the Russian Federation's "Marshall Plan" for its multi-ethnic South, which is made possible by the Russian Federation's vast oil wealth and lack of hugely expensive overseas wars.

Photo credits: (c) Joe Lowry and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Jonathan Newton and the Washington Post; and Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.



Scene from Kaija Saariaho and Amin Maalouf's new opera Adriana Mater at the Santa Fe Opera, 2008.

Photo credit: © Ken Howard. With thanks.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Was Paris Hilton Right?: Old Cold Warrior Partners Russian Federation And United States Rattle Sabres Over Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, And Cuba

"Russia may consider deploying strategic bombers or station tactical missiles in its close ally Belarus as a counter-measure to a planned U.S. missile shield in Europe, Moscow's envoy to Minsk said on Wednesday.

The United States have unnerved Moscow by its plans to install elements of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, a measure Washington believes is needed to avert possible missile strikes from Iran.

Moscow says U.S. plans pose a threat to Russia's national security.

"Once Poland has signed an agreement with the American side on deployment of elements of the missile defense there, we will be able to discuss some additional aspects of our military and technical cooperation with Belarus," Russia's ambassador in Belarus, Alexander Surikov, told a news conference. ...

All communist-era nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Belarus [and Ukraine] after the collapse of the Soviet Union....

Military experts in Moscow have also said Russian strategic bombers would not even have to cross the borders of Russia or Belarus to successfully launch cruise missiles and reduce the planned missile defense in Eastern Europe to rubble."

Reuters "Russia mulls arms in Belarus to counter U.S. shield" Washington Post August 6, 2008


"Russia's seemingly newfound interest in resuming its positions in Cuba has appeared at a time when Moscow is growing increasingly apprehensive about the proposed U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe, analysts say.

"We need to reestablish positions on Cuba and in other countries," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said earlier this week after hearing a report from Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who had just ended a three-day visit to the Caribbean state, along with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Andrei Klimov seemed more unequivocal about the topic. "Russia should take advantage of all its capabilities to protect its national interests, including the interests in the field of security," he said after the talks in Cuba between Russian and Cuban officials.
Russia should "own its supporting points" in different regions in the world, Klimov said, noting that "Cuba's location has geopolitical importance" and that a presence in both economic and military affairs must be built in America." ...

Xinhua News Agency "News Analysis: Russia seeks military presence in Cuba in response to U.S. missile shield" August 7, 2008

Ceiling detail of the Great Choral Synagogue of Grodno, Belarus.

Long-delayed restoration work began last month on the Great Choral Synagogue of Grodno, Belarus, Future European Union.

Photo credits: Wikipedia Commons [U.S. nuclear test of October 31, 1952] and (c) Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS. 2008. [Grodno Great Choral Synagogue]

Nations Capital Conservative Cultural Scene Barely Finds Space For Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Copland, Poulenc, Prokofiev And John Ward Of Hull

I felt that I was finally being treated as an adult last night by Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, as I listened to delayed broadcast performances by the National Symphony Orchestra of Edward Elgar's 'Enigma Variations', Ralph Vaughan Williams's 'shell-shocked' 'Symphony #6 in E minor' [1946-47], and Benjamin Britten's war-time 'Sinfonia da Requiem' (which was commissioned by the Japanese government). The performances and recordings were exceptionally fine, and the evening was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear three consecutive supreme 20th century musical masterpieces on presently non-curated, commercially-driven, conservative Classical WETA-FM, under Ms. Rockefeller's absentee leadership.


I see that this Sunday at 3 PM at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Kathryn Master (flute) and Rebecca Wilt (piano) will grace the Nation's Capital's downtown 'mini-renaissance' by offering a free recital of twentieth-century compositions for flute and piano, including works by Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc, and Sergei Prokofiev. All three of these works are currently banned from Classical WETA-FM's reactionary WGMS-legacy, 'listener'-tested playlists.

I hope that under an Obama Presidency Classical-WETA -- and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for that matter -- might become as seriously and intelligently administered as is the National Gallery of Art, in the Nation's Capital (of which Sharon Percy Rockefeller is one of a handful of members of the Board of Governors).

John Ward of Hull, The Northern Whale Fishery: the "Swan" and "Isabella", c. 1840, The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, 2007.114.1

[Click on image for enlargement.]


"The Northern Whale Fishery: The "Swan" and "Isabella" was unknown to modern scholarship on Ward until its appearance at auction in September 2006. Several other similar paintings of the Swan and the Isabella are extant, each with variations in the placement of the ships, the details of human activity, and the variety of marine animals shown. The Gallery's newly acquired picture is among the most beautifully painted of all of Ward's creations. The two principal ships are painstakingly rendered to capture exact details of rigging and overall form, while other vessels are depicted in the distance. Ice floes drift on the sea, and icebergs loom in the background. The scene is filled with activities associated with whaling: strips of whale flesh are loaded on the Swan at the left; a long boat tows a dead whale in the middle distance; and a boat pursues a sounding whale near the Isabella at the right. Most remarkable is the array of wildlife present, including three seals and pairs of polar bears, walruses, and narwhales; seagulls skim the water and ice, searching for, and in some cases finding, morsels of blubber.

The Gallery's collection has only a few marine pictures by British artists and none depicting an Arctic scene...."


Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Summer Assignment: Visit the newly acquired John Ward of Hull masterpiece at the National Gallery of Art (the National Gallery is always free) and find the narwhales in the painting. Write a tone poem, for instumentation of your choice, based upon this, or any other, painting in the collections of the National Gallery of Art.

Image and caption credit: (c) National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 2008. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

'One World, One Dream, Free Tibet'

Amnesty International

Photo credits: (c) PA and Google/Earth. With thanks.

Midsummer Wishes To My Faithful Readers ...


"In 1020, Yaroslav of Novgorod, another son of Volodymyr the Great, invaded Kyiv and drove out Svyatopolk, who died in flight to Poland. Yaroslav of Novgorod translated the bodies of his brothers Boris and Gleb (d. 1015), reputedly incorrupt, to the church of St. Basil at Vyshgorod, north of Kyiv along the river; miracles were reported and pilgrimages began. The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Kyiv hesitated to canonize them: they were neither ascetics nor teachers, neither bishops nor martyrs in the sense of being killed for the faith. They were seen, however, as ‘passion-bearers’, innocent men who had renounced violence and accepted death as a sacrifice in the unresisting spirit of Christ. They were accordingly canonized and Pope Benedict XIII approved their cult as martyrs in 1724."

Church of the Slavonic Orthodox Saints Boris and Gleb, Grodno, Belarus, Future European Union, 1180 C.E.

This church is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the walls. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Annoyed By 'Western' Public Television, Pan Cogito Dusts Off Hard-back Copies Of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 'The First Circle' And 'The Cancer Ward'

In January 2006, a RTR TV television serial based on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1968 novel The First Circle, about the moral dilemma of political prisoners who were also scientists working for the Stalinist state, attracted an audience of 15 million in the Russian Federation. Solzhenitsyn helped adapt the novel for the screen and narrated the film, which was directed by Gleb Panfilov.

Thirty-three years earlier, in 1973, the Polish director Aleksander Ford made an English-language film based on the novel. It was a Danish-Swedish co-production. While it hewed closely to Solzhenitsyn's plot, the film was a critical and commercial failure.

Fifteen years earlier, the 1991 Canadian TV miniseries based on the novel, The First Circle, won Canada's Gemini Award for Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series, awarded to Ron Orieux. Directed by Larry Sheldon, it received nominations for best dramatic miniseries, best actor, best actress, and best writing in the category. It starred Victor Garber, Christopher Plummer, Robert Powell and Dominic Raacke; and F. Murray Abraham as Stalin. It was later released on DVD.

Source: Wikipedia. Viewship statistic in opening paragraph from The Financial Times, August 5, 2008.


Characters in The First Circle

• Victor Semyonovich Abakumov: Minister of State Security.

• Grigory Borisovich Adamson: A zek engineer, serving his second term.

• Bobynin: Zek boss of Laboratory Number Seven at Marfino.

• Vladimir Erastovich Chelnov: Professor of Mathematics, a "transient zek," serving his eighteenth year of imprisonment.

• Rostislav (Ruska) Vadimich Doronin: A zek mechanic, 23.

• Ivan Selivanovich Dyrsin: A zek engineer.

• Larisa Nikolayevna Emina: A free employee in the Design Office at Marfino.

• Dinera Galakhov: Daughter of the prosecutor Makarygin, wife of Nikolai Galakhov.

• Nikolai (Kolya) Arkadevich Galakhov: A popular writer.

• Illarion Pavlovich Gerasimovich: A zek physicist specializing in optics, a relative newcomer to Marfino.

• Natalya Pavlovna Gerasimovich: His wife.

• Isaak Moiseyevich Kagan: The zek "director of the battery room."

• Ilya Terentevich Khorobrov: A zek radio engineer, imprisoned for defacing his election ballot.

• Lieutenant Colonel Ilya Terentevich Klimentiev: Head of the Marfino Special Prison.

• Gleb Vikentyevich Nerzhin: A zek mathematician, age 31. An autobiographical character.

• Nadya Nerzhin: Gleb's wife.

• Lev Grigoryevich Rubin: A zek philologist and teacher, 36, a Communist from youth. Rubin is based on Solzhenitsyn's friend Lev Kopelev.

• Dmitri Aleksandrovich Sologdin: A zek designer, 36, a survivor of the northern camps now serving his second term. Sologdin is based on Solzhenitsyn's friend Dimitrii Mikhailovich Panin, who later wrote a book entitled The Notebooks of Sologdin.

• Serafima Vitalyevna (Simochka): A prison guard.

• Innokentii Artemyevich Volodin: A Ministry official whose phone call at the beginning of the book functions as a catalyst for much of the later action in the sharashka.

Photo credit: (c) Goin Photography. 2006. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via, the Independent Student Newspaper at the University of Oregon, and With thanks.

'When Josquin Met Tenney' ... Collegium Vocale Of Gent, Europe To Celebrate Vocal Music Of American Composers Tenney, Reich And Glass (In Europe Only)

Einstein on the beach, Maison de la Culture, Tournai, Belgium, Present European Union, September 30, 2008

James TENNEY (1934-2006)
A Rose is a Rose is a Round

Steve REICH (°1936)

James TENNEY (1934-2006)
A Rose is a Rose is a Round


Philip GLASS (°1937)
Einstein on the beach (selections)

About the programme

Collegium Vocale Gent
Champ d'Action
James Wood


In October 2008, the Collegium Vocale Gent performs "A Haydn Songbook" at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and in Cambridge/Boston.

Full Season 2008-09 of the medieval to contemporary classical music ensemble Collegium Vocale Gent.


Josquin Des Prez


Photo credits: Tournai, Belgium, Present European Union is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo by ansu via Wikipedia Commons. Black Rock City is the temporary city created each year to house the revelers at the 8 day Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, United States. Photo by GoogleMaps/Earth via Bricoleurbanism. With thanks.

Monday, August 04, 2008

As U.S. Prepares For 2008 Election And 21st Century Classical Music Culture, WETA Radio & Television Look To Great Britain & To The MET Operatic Past

Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 9 p.m.
Classical WETA-FM Hosts NSO Showcase: British Compositions

Classical WETA 90.9 FM's monthly performance series NSO Showcase in August presents "An American in Britain" -- Leonard Slatkin Conducts Elgar and Britten [sic]. The broadcast on August 6 at 9 p.m. features maestro Leonard Slatkin leading the National Symphony Orchestra in performances of Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem; Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 6 in E minor; Britten's Violin Concerto, with Frank Peter Zimmermann; and Elgar's Enigma Variations.


Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2008 at 8:00 pm
WETA TV 26 Reprises Great Moments at the MET: Viewer's Choice

Great Moments at the MET: Viewers Choice

"Here are the 15 performances that voters chose as their favorites.

1. "O patria mia" from "Aida"
Performer: Leontyne Price
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Broadcast Date: 1985

2. "Che gelida manina" from "La Bohème"
Performer: Luciano Pavarotti
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Broadcast Date: 1977

3. Act III trio from "Der Rosenkavalier"
Performers: Tatiana Troyanos, Kiri Te Kanawa, Judith Blegen
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Richard Strauss
Broadcast Date: 1982

4. "Spargi d'amaro pianto" from "Lucia di Lammermoor"
Performer: Joan Sutherland
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Broadcast Date: 1982

5. "Una furtiva lagrima" from "L'Elisir d'Amore"
Performer: Luciano Pavarotti
Conductor: Nicola Rescigno
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Broadcast Date: 1981

6. Final scene from "Eugene Onegin"
Performers: Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Broadcast Date: 2007

7. "Nessun dorma" from "Turandot"
Performer: Plácido Domingo
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Broadcast Date: 1987

8. "E lucevan le stelle" from "Tosca"
Performer: Plácido Domingo
Conductor: Giuseppe Sinopoli
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Broadcast Date: 1985

9. "Dove sono" from "Le Nozze di Figaro"
Performer: Renée Fleming
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Broadcast Date: 1998

10. "Quel guardo il cavaliere" from "Don Pasquale"
Performer: Beverly Sills
Conductor: Nicola Rescigno
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Broadcast Date: 1979

11. "La donna è mobile" from "Rigoletto"
Performer: Luciano Pavarotti
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Broadcast Date: 1981

12. "Voi che sapete" from "Le Nozze di Figaro"
Performer: Frederica von Stade
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Broadcast Date: 1985

13. "O soave fanciulla" from "La Bohème"
Performers: Teresa Stratas, José Carreras
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Broadcast Date: 1982

14. "Cruda sorte" from "L'Italiana in Algeri"
Performer: Marilyn Horne
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Gioacchino Rossini
Broadcast Date: 1986

15. "Allein! Weh, ganz allein" from "Elektra"
Performer: Birgit Nilsson
Conductor: James Levine
Composer: Richard Strauss
Broadcast Date: 1980"

Unlike virtually American classical music-less Classical WETA-FM in the Nation's Capital, the above two ensembles -- the Collegium Vocale Gent from the European Union and the Fireworks Ensemble from the United States -- have embraced 21st century classical musical culture.

Both ensembles will be featured in free concerts at the Library of Congress during the 2008-09 Season. [Regrettably, Classical WETA-FM no longer records and broadcasts classical music from the Library of Congress.]

Photo credits: (c) Collegium Vocale Gent and (c) Fireworks Ensemble via their websites. With thanks.

Life On Earth And In Words: A Moment In The Development Of Anti-Totalitarianism, Anti-Globalism, And Anti-Consumerism, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1974

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1974, a year that changed many things in the cultural, social, and political world (but not the U.S. automobile industry).



Nobel Prize Lecture in Literature 1970 English

Nobel Prize Lecture in Literature 1970 Russian


Photo credit: (c) Bernard Frye/Associated Press. With thanks.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Assignment On Western & World Opera Composition: Choose Three Operas For Reading, Listening, And Viewing

Over the next six weeks read, listen to, view, and study the scores to at least three Western operas: an earlier Western opera from the 17th or 18th century; a nineteenth century Western opera; and a Western opera from the 20th or 21st century. The operas are to be of your own choosing.

Here are three suggestions from works to be broadcast on Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, on Saturday afternoons at 1 PM:

August 2, 2008
Opera Garnier, Paris
Christoph Willibald Gluck: Iphigenie en Tauride
Ivor Bolton, conductor

CAST: Mireille Delunsch (Iphigenie); Stephane Degout (Orestes); Yann Beuron (Pylades); Franck Ferrari (Thoas); Salome Haller (Diana)

'Gluck's 18th-century "reform operas" were an entirely new breed of musical drama -- compact and straightforward, with every note intended to precisely express the intense emotions of the characters. Premiered in Paris, in 1779, Iphigenie en Tauride is one of his finest.'


August 9, 2008
Welsh National Opera
Giuseppe Verdi: Falstaff
Carlo Rizzi, conductor

CAST: Bryn Terfel (Falstaff); Janice Watson (Alice Ford); Imelda Drumm (Meg Page); Anne-Marie Owens (Mistress Quickly); Anthony Mee (Dr. Caius); Neil Jenkins (Bardolph); Claire Ormshaw (Nanetta); Rhys Merion (Fenton); Christopher Purves (Ford)

'Adapting Shakespeare successfully for the opera house proved an impossible task for countless composers. But it didn't phase Verdi. He wrote three, hit Shakespeare operas: Macbeth, Otello, and this week's opera, Falstaff, which ranks among the most brilliant of all Verdi's masterpieces. Shakespeare's outwardly comic play tells reams about the human condition, and Verdi took the deceptively profound tale and made it still richer, and more rewarding.'


September 6, 2008
Glimmerglass Opera
Benjamin Britten: Death in Venice
Stewart Robertson, conductor

CAST: William Burden (Aschenbach); David Pittsinger (The Traveller/Fop/Manager/Barber/Leader of the Players/Dionysus); Bruce Reed (Hotel Porter); Craig Phillips (Clerk); John Gaston (Apollo); Nicola Bowie (Lady of the Pearls)

'Few if any 20th-century composers mastered opera as thoroughly as Benjamin Britten, and this Glimmerglass production brings us one of his finest efforts -- a bleak, beautiful and extraordinarily moving work based on the short novel by Thomas Mann.'

Source: Classical WETA-FM Opera House

Heidi Melton (left) portrays Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, and Kendall Gladen plays Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, in the world premiere of Philip Glass's opera Appomattox, staged at the San Francisco Opera in October 2007. Despite its promise to the United States Congress to produce one American opera each and every season, the Washington National Opera has yet to announce the American opera it plans to produce in its 2008-09 season.

In its 2008-09 season, the San Francisco Opera will be producing two American operas (both world premieres).


Photo credit: (c) Heidi Schumann - The New York Times/Redux. 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.