Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perestroika At The Washington National Opera? … Will Jane Lipton Cafritz And Kenneth Feinberg Put The National (And The Local) Back In The WNO?

Tomorrow is an important day culturally for opera in the Nation’s Capital, as Jane Lipton Cafritz assumes the Chairmanship of the Washington National Opera. She will work with WNO President Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation, mediation, and alternate dispute-resolution expert, and others, on trying to figure out whether the concept of a Washington National Opera is possible today in the Nation’s Capital.

The company has struggled artistically over the past generation as it has quickly tried to evolve from the Opera Society of Washington to the Washington Opera and now to the renamed -- with Congressional approval --Washington National Opera. Over the past several years, even before the deep global recession, the company has not been able to fulfill its promise to Congress, and to the American people, to produce one American opera every season.

From the June 10, 2009 announcement in Opera News Online, published by the MET Opera Guild:

"Washington National Opera has announced that Jane Lipton Cafritz, who has served on the company's board of trustees since 2002, will succeed John J. Pohanka as the board's chairman, effective July 1, 2009.

In addition, Washington National Opera's president, Kenneth Feinberg, was appointed today by treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner to an unpaid position at the Treasury Department, where he will have the purview of overseeing and setting the salary and compensation limits for 175 executives at seven of the companies — including Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors, Chrysler and AIG — that have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance amidst the economic downturn. As salary czar, Feinberg will also develop a compensation structure for eighty smaller institutions that have been the beneficiaries of federal assistance. He will also reportedly have the discretion to determine whether the federal government should legally pursue the return of funds given to executives at companies that received assistance." ...

Photo credit: (c) Russ Hirshon 2009. For Opera News. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.


Washington Post Culture Critic Philip Kennicott on The Education of an [Opera] Audience in Opera News.


Is it the last six days of American classical music on Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital?


While the Washington National Opera undergoes reorganization, American world premieres continue this summer at the leading Santa Fe Opera:

"Special delivery from composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout. A hard-boiled dame cooks up her own little Singapore fling. Her double-crossing lover gets a lethal dose of lead as a lovely parting gift. Her sap of a husband helps her get away with murder. Almost… Opera’s classic ingredients—lust, adultery, and revenge—are dished up noir style in this world premiere production. The Letter will be conducted by Patrick Summers and staged by Jonathan Kent, with scenery by Hildegard Bechtler and costumes by Tom Ford. Patricia Racette stars as the venomous Leslie Crosbie, Anthony Michaels-Moore plays her husband and James Maddalena is their ethically challenged lawyer."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Aide Memoire: Pan Cogito Announces The Washington National Opera's American Opera Line-up For 2010 To 2020

Hindemith: Mathis the Painter/Mathis der Maler
Barber and Menotti: Antony and Cleopatra
Adams and Sellars: The Flowering Tree
Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally: Dead Man Walking
John Harbison: The Great Gatsby
William Grant Still, Langston Hughes and Verna Arvey: Troubled Island
Tobias Picker and Gene Scheer: An American Tragedy
Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison: Margaret Garner
Hugo Weisgall and Denis Johnston: Nine Rivers from Jordan
Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan: The Bonesetter's Daughter


Washington National Opera


Norman Lebrecht "Resignations, ENO Model, Might Save City Opera" Bloomberg.com June 25, 2009


Header credit: Szene aus "Mathis der Maler" (mit Scott MacAllister als Kardinal Albrecht): Kleines Kompendium europäischer Musikgeschichte. (c) DPA. Via www.spiegel.de/kultur. Copyright controlled.

Recommended Listening: George Benjamin's "Into The Little Hill" (With Libretto By Martin Crimp)

Two years back, at the beginning of times of trouble regarding my wife's legal residency in the United States (and the 'real' beginning of the recession), I missed the opportunity to go to New York City for the Lincoln Center Festival and the American premiere of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp's excellent new one act opera, 'Into the Little Hill'.

I have now heard it on Nimbus recording, and I highly recommend it.

I recall that 23 years ago, the clerks at Tower Records in Washington, D.C. were surprised when I told them that I was purchasing a CD of George Benjamin's orchestral music (including 'Ringed by the Flat Horizon') and I did not even yet own a CD player. They apparently thought that one's first CD should be something more symbolic and conservative -- such as a recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations or a rare Beethoven Symphony set.

But no, my first and most recent CDs have been of contemporary classical music.


And last night, on Classical WETA FM, they broadcast Gunther Schuller conducting the Saint Louis Symphony and Chorus in John Knowles Paine's Mass in D, recorded about 30 years ago. The announcer commented that it was an American work that one was not to be ashamed of, or something to that effect.

Sadly, this may be the last week to hear American classical music in the Nation's Capital for the next eleven months unless you write to Sharon Percy Rockefeller.

This week at 9 PM, starting Wednesday, are the final American classical 'prime-time' offerings:

July 1: Glass: Symphony #3
July 2: Bernstien [sic]: Serenade for Violin, Strings and Percussion
July 3: Copland: Billy the Kid
July 4: Copland: A Lincoln Portrait
July 5: Thompson: The Testament of Freedom(Choral Showcase)


June 29 10:23 pm: George Templeton Strong: Symphony #2 in G Minor,Op. 50 "Sintram"


Header credit: Largest lake in Iran from space: Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Call To Friday [And Saturday] Prayers ... Or Maybe Not, Given Iran's And Israel's Inhumane, Theocratic Behavior


Amnesty International

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press 2009. Copyright controlled.

Some American Grandfathers And Great-Grandfathers (Including My Own)

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: Standard Steel workmen in Burnham, Pa., welding red-hot metal into a train wheel for Baldwin Locomotive, 1939. (c) Carl T. Johnston. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via Fortune magazine Kodachrome Photo Gallery.


GE to Build Michigan Manufacturing Research Center

Counter Terror With Music And Justice

Amnesty International

June 26 is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Photo credits: Wikipedia and (c) Copyright controlled 2009.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Interesting Upcoming Orchestral Program, Which, Sadly, Is Now Hard To Get To By Public Transportation (The Preferred Mode Of Renaissance Research)

Eastern State Penitentiary

National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic
JAMES ROSS, conductor

Saturday, June 27, 2009
8 pm
University of Maryland at College Park

Hear the acclaimed NOI Philharmonic, comprising top young players from across the country, in the last of three exceptional orchestra concerts. Conducted by James Ross, Associate Professor and Artistic Director of the National Orchestral Institute.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, op. 74, "Pathétique"

Thomas Adès: Asyla

Leos Janácek: Sinfonietta

(Free open rehearsal Friday, June 26, 9:30AM - NOON, Dekelboum Concert Hall.)

Image credit: (c) Eastern State Penitentiary. Copyright controlled.


Contemporary Art Installations at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

As Iranian Dictator Demands Apology From U.S. President Obama, World Community Demands Resignation Of Ahmadinejad

I guess Pan Cogito will not be invited on any cultural junkets to Persepolis, Iran (a UNESCO World Heritage site to which the repressive Shah of Iran invited several Western avant-garde composers in the 1970s.)

Photo credit: (c) Arash Khamoushi/ISNA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 2009. Copyright controlled.

Iran Matters: Why Is This Police State Leader Smiling? ... Because His Regime Has Just Arrested 70 University Professors

Security agents have continued to fan out across the country, detaining former government officials, journalists, activists, young people and old, anyone seen as siding with those who reject the conclusion that Mr. Ahmadinejad won a landslide against Mr. Moussavi.

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran


Photo credit: (c) Getty Images 2009. Copyright controlled.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iranian Civil Society And Full-Democracy Protestors Demand Free Speech At Numerous Small Demonstrations Near Changing Tehran Metro Sites

[Click on image for enlargement.]

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Robert Mackey: The New York Times News blog.



Image credit: (c) Dan Weissmann from www.subways.net. Copyright controlled.

End The Repressive, Theocratic Police State In Iran! ... End The Repressive, Illegal, Theocratic Israeli Occupation Of The Future State Of Palestine!

Photo credits: (c) AFP/Getty Images 2009. All images copyright controlled. Map credits: Via Wikipedia.

National Symphony Orchestra Forces Pan Cogito To Postpone His Virtual-Musical Trip To The Bavarian/Austrian Alps This Week

N. and I have been receiving many evening calls kindly pleading that we subscribe to various opera, theater, orchestral, and performing arts series for the coming season. These organizations see from their records that we attend many programs (as well as make some donations), without actually subscribing. We generally inform the younger callers that each of us are out of the country or the city for periods of each performing season, and that the subscription model does not serve us well.

Yesterday, I was given another reason that we cannot pre-commit months in advance.

Last summer, I noticed the following highly promising program for the National Symphony Orchestra for the current week:

Einojuhani Rautavaara Manhattan Trilogy (the Finnish composer studied at the Juilliard School in New York City in the early 1950s.)

R. Strauss Three Hymns with the great Soprano Karita Mattila


R. Strauss Alpine Symphony Op. 64


The recently revised again program, setting aside the issue of a replacement conductor, is:

Delius "The Walk to the Paradise Garden" from A Village Romeo and Juliet (which I remember performing with the Montgomery County Youth Orchestra)

R. Strauss Four Last Songs with the great Soprano Karita Mattila


R. Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

The opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra may be popular, but the work is not the extended masterpiece of late Western European Romanticism that the much more rarely performed Alpine Symphony is. Also, Einojuhani Rautavaara is one of the most notable Finnish composers after Jean Sibelius. Hence, the replacements are a net loss for the cultural life of our city.

Photo credit: (c) Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via the Kennedy Center web-site.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music And Justice ... And The Right Side Of History

"“They know me,” he said. “They know where I am. They can come and get me whenever they want. My time has gone. We have to think about the young people.”

Neda, he said, was smart and loving. She had a mischievous streak, gently teasing her friends and causing them to laugh. She was passionate about life and meant no one any harm. In the election unrest, friends found in her an unexpected daring, a willingness to take risks for her beliefs.

“She couldn’t stand the injustice of it all,” Panahi said. “All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted. “For pursuing her goals, she didn’t use rocks or clubs,” he said. “She wanted to show with her presence that ‘I’m here. I also voted. And my vote wasn’t counted.’ It was a very peaceful act of protest, without any violence.”"

Iranian musician and music teacher Hamid Panahi speaking to Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2009

Photo credits: (c) Harold Stern 2008. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No More Martyrs!!! No More Memorials!!! ... The Iranian Guardian Council Must Find New, Responsible, And Non-Belligerent Leadership Now!!!

Jan Palach -- Jan Zajíc - Neda Soltan

Photo credits: Copyright controlled.

Iran's Guardian Council Finds Fraud In 50 Voting Districts: For Sake Of Human Life, Isn’t It Time For Grand Coalition To Replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

29 dead in Iran's ancient cities ... or is it more?

Photo credit: (c) ALI SAFARI/AFP/Getty Images 2009. Copyright controlled.


Largest lake in Iran from space: Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Satyagraha ... What Is To Be Conducted When Managed Democracy Threatens Human Dignity And Threatens Another [Not Blameless] Nation With Extermination?


The West Bank of the Future State of Palestine has been under illegal occupation by Israel since 1967.

Photo credits: (c) Associated Press 2009 [check]. Via Washington Post. Largest lake in Iran from space): Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Garden Of Memory -- Ten Prostrations To The Farallones

Garden of Memory

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary


For my father.


Photo credit: Photo of composer and musician Karen Stackpole in the Garden of Memory. Copyright controlled.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nessun dorma -- This is how the wind shifts

This is how the wind shifts:
Like the thoughts of an old human
Who still thinks eagerly
And despairingly.
The wind shifts like this:
Like a human without illusions,
Who still feels irrational things within her.
The wind shifts like this:
Like humans approaching proudly,
Like humans approaching angrily.
This is how the wind shifts:
Like a human, heavy and heavy,
Who does not care.


Top photo credit (Largest lake in Iran from space) : Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Bottom photo credit (Tiananmen Square memorial in Wroclaw, Poland, European Union): Via Wikipedia. With thanks.

Wallace Stevens credit: From The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, copyright © 1923, 1931, 1935, 1937, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Copyright renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Published by Vintage Books.

Reminder: Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, In The Nation's Capital, To Broadcast Charles Ives's Great Symphony #4 Tonight At Nine

There remain only few true paths to transcendence. There are no shortcuts.

Charles Ives

American Transcendentalism

Classical WETA-FM

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press 2009. Copyright controlled.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Opera On The Verge Of Bankruptcy … If The New York City Opera Goes Bankrupt, Will Washington National Opera Take Over Its Plans For Weisgall's Esther?

The story this far (I certainly hope that the NYCO company survives and flourishes and that George Steel is able to realize his plan to increase annual productions to 10 operas a season. Ten productions a season also seems a reasonable goal for the Washington National Opera.) ...

New York City Opera Season 2009-2010 (the last I checked)

Handel’s Partenope

Mozart Don Giovanni

Chabrier’s L’Etoile

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

Hugo Weisgall’s Esther


Washington National Opera Season 2009-2010 (the last I checked)

Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro

Rossini's The Barber of Seville

Wagner's Gotterdammerung - The Concert

Thomas's Hamlet

Verdi's Falstaff

R. Strauss's Ariadne Auf Naxos

Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

'We Are Citizens Of Iran And We Oppose The Corruption Of Democratic Processes -- Can We Talk Before You Start Pounding Us With Your Tanks & Weaponry?'

Photo credit: (c) New York Times 2009. Copyright controlled.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iranian Opposition Leader Mousavi Continues To Call For “A New Presidential Election That Will Not Repeat The Fraud From The Previous Election"

The largest lake in Iran [known internationally as Persia until 1935] as seen from space.

Tehran- Iran's largest city.

Isfahan-Iran's second largest city.

Tabriz-Iran's fourth largest city.

Shiraz-Iran's sixth largest city.

Photo credit: Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Orchestral, Social, And Sonic Envelopes: Two Free Concerts Celebrate Classical Music In Time Of Multiculturalism And Audience-Friendly Conservatism


The University of Maryland School of Music National Orchestral Institute is offering a free concert on Thursday June 25, and the opposing National Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with Classical WETA-FM, is offering a free audience-choice preview to their new season on Tuesday, June 30, at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. (Do not try to write in Gustav Mahler or Guillaume Connesson or your vote will not be counted.)

Here is the intro provided by the National Orchestra Institute for the NOI "New Lights" Inaugural Concert:

"How can contemporary music come alive in a concert setting? New Lights celebrates the universe of possibilities in an event inspired by the young musicians of NOI themselves, who shared their ideas with NOI Artistic Director James Ross as well as composer and expert consultant on the future of classical music [sic], Greg Sandow. As the program flows from the Gildenhorn Concert Hall to the Grand Pavilion, the sights, sounds and immediacy of the live concert experience will converge in unexpected ways, offering new visual and acoustic perspectives.

The evening opens with John Adams’s Chamber Symphony (1992), which Adams said was partially inspired by the frenetic energy shared by both the Schoenberg Chamber Symphony and Hanna Barbera cartoon music. A collage of ‘50s cartoons projected on LCD screens on both sides of the stage will provide a visual counterpoint to Adams’s music. Leon Kirchner’s String Quartet #4 (2006) will follow, briefly prefaced by a video chronicling the challenges and joys of preparing this piece with the New Lights players.

Audiences will then find a place in the Grand Pavilion to experience Christopher Rouse’s 1976 work Ogoun Badagris. Inspired by Haitian drumming patterns, the work sets five percussionists loose to navigate through propulsive, explosive grooves on their way to the shouted climax. In the performance that follows, Elliott Carter’s Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwind quartet (1949) will be interwoven with pop songs by artists like Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel and others, in an arrangement created by NOI participants. The evening will conclude with a collaborative improvisation drawing inspiration from musical and verbal excerpts suggested by NOI audiences, mixing words, musical gestures and the rhythm of language."


New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini on Feeding Those Young and Curious Listeners


Header credit: The National Symphony Orchestra will perform music by young French composer Guillaume Connesson next season, but it won't let you sample it this month.

(c) Marion Kalter 2009. Via musique nouvelle en liberté. Merci.

Happy Birthday, Igor

Header photo: Музей І.Стравінського (I. Stravinski's muzeum, Ustilug, Ukraine, Future European Union.)

The Stravinsky family summer home was in Ustilug, West Ukraine, near the borders with Poland and Belarus. It was at this summer home that Stravinsky heard much of the Slavic and Jewish folk music -- and saw much of the Slavic and Jewish folk lore -- that helped inspire his great early vocal, orchestral, and stage masterpieces.

© Copyright controlled. All rights reserved by danilovd 2007. Via Panoramio.com. With many thanks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eight Or More Dead In Iran ... Time For Grand Coalition Or Grand Illusion?

Grand Coalition

Grand Illusion

Photo credit: Vahid Salemi and Associated Press 2009. Copyright controlled. Via New York Times.

Recall Now That Just This Month - After Years - Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA Discovered The Existence Of The American Classical Symphony

June 3: Still: Afro-American Symphony
June 6: Harris: Symphony #3
June 9: Diamond: Symphony #4
June 12: Hovhannes: Mount St. Helen's Symphony
June 16: Bernstein: The Age of Anxiety (Symphony #2)
June 19: Ives: Symphony #4
June 24: Schuman: Symphony #4
June 26: Copland: Symphony #3
June 27: Rorem: Symphony #3
July 1: Glass: Symphony #3

Will Classical WETA's programming of American classical music cease, as threatened, on July 5, 2009?

Photo credits: (c) Peer Classical Music. Copyright controlled. (c) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Copyright controlled.

Are Changes Really Afoot At The Washington National Opera? – Response To Grammy-Award Winning American Classical Conductor John McLaughlin Williams

Well John, I did in fact just receive an excited email from the Washington National Opera headlined "Changes Afoot for the 2009-10 Season"!!!!

What other changes could they be referring to other than that the company had decided to honor it commitment to Congress and to the American people to produce one American opera each and every season in exchange for being allowed to call itself the Washington NATIONAL Opera?

(I imagine even Congress is now getting exasperated with the Washington National Opera repeatedly mounting British operas by Benjamin Britten and Nicholas Maw and calling them American operas. And how many Congresspersons do you imagine are truly excited about the WNO Porgy and Bess reprise next season -- or about the WNO releasing a tape of Puccini's La Rondine later this month?)

Photo credits: Harriet Tubman from Wikipedia Commons. Grammy Award winning American classical conductor John McLaughlin Williams © Eliesha Nelson 2009.

The Largest Lake In Iran As Seen From Space

Photo credit: Copyright © 2008-2009 Chelys srl | Earth Snapshot: A Daily View Of The Planet. Copyright controlled.

Renaissance Research "Conservatory Project" Open Web Quiz: Name A New Chamber Opera And A New Large-Scale Opera Which Feature The Cimbalom


Photo credit: (c) The Opera Group 2009.


[Hint: Two such operas received their world premieres last year and earlier this year. Both are already available on commercial recordings.]

Free Performance Of Mexicayotl Renaissance Music, Narrative, Dance, And Performance Tomorrow At 6 PM At The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts

"The mission of Ollin Yolitzli Calmecac is to investigate, understand and raise awareness of the Mexicayotl culture which flourished in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492. The group also aims to provide new cultural outlets and opportunities for the Pennsylvania Mexican community, as well as those of other places to which the group travels to present their mission of encouraging others to be a part of the preservation of many aspects of Aztec culture.

Aztec Dance has its origins in the cultures of ancient Mesoamerica, such as those of the Olmecs and the Chichimecs. These cultures have not been widely known since the virtual destruction of all the native cultures of the American continent since the arrival of the Europeans. In the Nahuatl language, Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac means School of Blood Moving in the Heart."

Photo credit: (c) Ollin Yolitzli Calmecac via the Kennedy Center website.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"God Is Great" ... OK, But Real Democracy Is Difficult And Painstaking (New Calls For Nonviolence As One Person Is Reported Killed In Iranian Clashes)

ايران Iran

Photo credit: (c) Associated Press 2009. Via New York Times.


"A group of demonstrators with fuel canisters attempted to set fire to the compound of a volunteer militia linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard as the crowd dispersed from Azadi, or Freedom, Square after dark. As some attempted to storm the building, people inside could be seen firing directly at the demonstrators at the northern edge of the square, away from the heart of the demonstration."

Associated Press June 15, 2009; 2:13 PM

Musical Culture In Nation's Capital Slowly Healing Itself ... National Gallery Of Art Music Program Remembers László Weiner (1916 – 1944)

Composer and conductor László Weiner (1916 – 1944) was deported by the Nazis to a forced labour camp in Slovakia and murdered there despite the efforts of composer Zoltán Kodály and Weiner's wife Vera Rózsa (who had assumed the false identity as a Christian).

Weiner's Duo for Violin and Viola was performed last night at the National Gallery of Art. Weiner’s four-movement Duo is dedicated to his good friends Viktor Ajtay (who later became the concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and to Pál Lukács.

Last month, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, under conductor Leon Botstein and with viola soloist Amos Boasson, premiered László Weiner's recently rediscovered Viola Concerto.

Following Vera Rózsa's medically truncated career as an opera singer due to her Holocaust hiding experience, she went on to teach, in London, Sarah Walker, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ileana Cotrubas, Agathe Martel, Karita Mattila (who will sing Richard Strauss's Drei Hymnen with the National Symphony Orchestra under Mikko Franck next week ***), Dorothea Röschmann, Tom Krause, Martina Bovet, Anne Sofie von Otter, Anne Howells, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Marie-Adele McArthur, Ildikó Komlósi and many others.

Header credit:

Jaromír Funke
Spiral (Spirala), 1924
Patrons' Permanent Fund

Copyright © 2009 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

*** The promotion code for half-price $29.50 prime orchestra level seats is 42322.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And, Finally, If You Thought That You Had Problems

Barmak Akram's "Kabuli Kid" is a fictional, seriocomic portrait of an Afghan cab driver in Kabul whose last passenger deliberately abandons her baby son in his vehicle.

Photo credit: (c) Human Rights Watch International Film Festival


Human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate. [She was the first ever Iranian to have received the prize.]


A look at Iran's electorate

SIZE: There are 46.2 million eligible voters in a population of about 70 million. About a third of the voters are under 30 -- born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. About 60 percent of the voters are in cities.

WHO VOTES: Voting age is 18, raised from 16 in 2007. Iranians abroad can vote in diplomatic compounds and other polling sites.

PRESIDENTIAL PROCESS: The Guardian Council, controlled by the ruling clerics, vets all candidates for high office. In this election, more than 470 names were submitted and four allowed to run. Simple majority -- 50 percent plus 1 of votes cast -- needed for victory. Otherwise, a two-person runoff will be held June 19. The winner will take office in late August.

Source: Associated Press.


"A top election official predicted turnout could surpass the nearly 80 percent in the election 12 years ago that brought President Mohammad Khatami to power and began the pro-reform movement." (AP)

"I Have A Sneaky Suspicion That We Aren't Being Told The Whole Truth" (There Are No Shortcuts To Transcendence)

"Former President George H.W. Bush leapt from a plane and parachuted safely to a spot near his oceanfront home."

Caption to washingtonpost.com front page picture of June 12, 2009

Photo credit: Associated Press.

Endangered Species

Image credits: (c) Metropolitan Museum of Art and (c) Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Washington National Opera Announces New Chair, Jane Lipton Cafritz; Company Reaffirms Commitment To American Opera And To The City Of Washington, D.C.

"On June 9, Washington National Opera's Board of Trustees voted to make Jane Lipton Cafritz the company's Chairman, effective July 1, 2009. An attorney with plentiful experience in government and in private practice, Mrs. Cafritz is a long-time and ardent supporter of arts and culture in the city of Washington. She has served as a WNO trustee since 2002. In her new leadership role, Mrs. Cafritz will work closely with WNO President Kenneth Feinberg, Executive Committee Chair Jacqueline Badger Mars, General Director Plácido Domingo and Executive Director Mark Weinstein to set the company's agenda and creating [sic] a vision for the future."

Photo credit: (c) Washington National Opera 2009. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Harriet Tubman photo via Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.