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Schiller Institute NYC Chorus Memorializes LaRouche in Bronx Concert

On Sunday May 5th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus performed the Mozart Solemn Vespers, African-American Spirituals, and Verdi at a concert dedicated to the memory of Lyndon LaRouche in Little Italy of the Bronx. The chorus was joined by five professional soloists and orchestra, and everything, except the Bach organ prelude was performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.

250-300 people turned out in the pouring rain to hear this wonderful program, which opened with the church organist playing a Bach organ prelude, and ended with Italian Opera arias sung by the soloists. Although there were several young children in the crowd, there was not a sound, except applause, which erupted after the first amen in the Vespers. One person commented that the Vespers was performed in such a transparent way that the genius of Mozart leapt out at him—the orchestra playing counterpoint to the chorus, as another voice, and not a unison.

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Having everyone’s best loved Italian Opera arias sung by African-American, Chinese, and Greek soloists definitely demonstrated the universal quality of great music, and thrilled the Italian-Americans in the audience, and several were heard to be singing along by the end.

Also in attendance was the Ambassador from Sri Lanka to the UN, who was recognized by the priest and by Dennis Speed in his welcoming remarks, who expressed a dedication to the memory of those who had perished in the Easter massacres in Sri Lanka, killing over 300 people, including children in Sunday School. In dedicating the concert to Lyndon LaRouche, Dennis quoted from LaRouche’s review of the Mozart opera La Clemenza di Tito, and spoke of Lyndon’s critical insights and support for the choral process in Manhattan.

“All Classical art speaks directly to you, as an individual personality; it addresses the question each of us must ask ourselves at some point in our lives, or perhaps even repeatedly,
‘Who am I, and what are we? Since we are all born, and shall die, what is the meaning of that individual existence we occupy between birth and death? What is the continuation of that life, even after we are dead?’ Thus, great Classical art touches the same issues as Christianity and the themes of Judaism treated by the great Moses Mendelssohn.

“So, Mozart speaks to you personally, through La Clemenza di Tito, from the operatic stage. “Mozart does not preach; he evokes the experience of the discovery of the principle of agapë within the cognitive experience of the individual member of the audience, by means of the unfolding, ironical development within the drama as a whole. In the history of Christianity, for example, it has been the similar re-experiencing of the Passion of Christ from Gethsemane through and beyond the Crucifixion, which has been the artistic quality of reliving that impassioned experience upon which the strength of Christianity has depended. There is perhaps no more conclusive demonstration of that, than is supplied by J.S. Bach’s
St. Matthew Passion.

“…At the time of his death, and earlier, Mozart was essentially a leading Christian of his time, as his Ave Verum Corpus expresses this principle of Classical artistic composition with wonderful succinctness.” 

Lyndon LaRouche

The chorus, now in its 5th year, has 80 members from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and northern NJ, and the singers range in age from 27 to 89, and include college students, young professionals and retired people, a Chinese concert pianist, and a Bishop from a Church in Harlem, who also speaks German. They have all developed over the years, to the point that new members often flee, intimidated by the quality of the Manhattan rehearsal, and we have to call them back and assure them that many of the people they think sound so good, also couldn’t read music when they joined. (And many still can’t.)

The audience was largely from the neighborhood of the church, which is a very well-known Italian area, and has Italian shops, restaurants and bakeries which have been in the same families for over a century, in several cases. Italian-Americans from all over Westchester County, NJ and Connecticut come here to get their favorite Italian foods. These shop owners have been regular patrons of the chorus, buying ads in our programs for the last 3 years, and always asking us, “When are you going to hold a concert in the Bronx???” They were thrilled that we finally were at their church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The associate priest, who is from Ghana, loved every minute of the concert and asked us to come back. When we said, “Yes, maybe next year.” He said, “I wish you could be here every day!”

Video coming soon!

To find out more about the NYC Schiller Institute Chorus, visit sinycchorus.com.


At the Dawn of a Musical Revolution:

Mozart’s Solemn Vespers

The following was written by Schiller Institute music director, John Sigerson, who conducted the May 5 performance in New York City.

By the time he composed the Vesperae solennes de confessore in 1780, the 24-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was already a vastly accomplished composer who had produced 14 masses and hundreds of other works. Yet in this work, a setting of one of the most ancient offices of the Catholic Church, we experience vigorous new buds of a musical and scientific revolution—a revolution that today is making it possible to raise all humanity “out of the dust, and lift the needy out of the dunghill” (Psalm 113, “Laudate pueri”).

For today, we can celebrate the fact that the nation of Italy, cradle of the high Florentine Renaissance and of the Church, has reached out to officially join with history’s greatest movement to eliminate poverty worldwide, China’s “New Silk Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative, a policy grounded in Confucian principles which resonate with those of the best of the Western Christian humanist tradition.

“But wait a minute!” you might be saying to yourself. “How could a revolution in music possibly launch an economic plan to eliminate poverty worldwide?” The answer is both simple and complex: We are all human, and unlike other animals and inanimate things, our ability to make breakthroughs in our spiritual grasp of universal principles governing the created universe, enables us physically to devise new technologies, and also new forms of culture, to harness those principles for the betterment of all mankind. Every truly great physical scientist, from Nicholas of Cusa and Kepler to Einstein and Vernadsky, every great physical economist from Gottfried Leibniz and Alexander Hamilton to Lyndon LaRouche, and every great Classical composer from J.S. Bach to Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, well knew that connection.

The nature of what is best termed the Mozart-Haydn Revolution in Music, in fact occurred about two years after Mozart composed the Vespers, i.e. in 1781-82, when Mozart, who had just moved his family to Vienna, participated in discussions with Josef Haydn and others at the salon of Baron van Swieten, who from Berlin had brought back manuscripts of the virtually suppressed works of Johann Sebastian Bach. For both Mozart and Haydn, the explosive impact of Bach’s works such as The Musical Offering and The Art of the Fugue unleashed “a new way of composing” (in Haydn’s words), based not on melodic forms, but rather on more fundamental elements underlying those forms. This new method has been described by Norbert Brainin, the late first violinist of the legendary Amadeus Quartet, as Motivführung, or motivic thorough-composition; it frees all the voices in a composition to generate new forms in such a way, that it is not the sounds of the music—however pleasant they may be—but rather the underlying, soundless musical/poetic ideas which govern the development.

Returning to Mozart’s 1780 Vespers, in hindsight we see here the buds that bore that rich fruit, in relation both to J.S. Bach, but also to Mozart’s older friend Josef Haydn.

Take, for example, the second piece in the series, “Confitebor,” a setting of Psalm 111. Anyone who has heard J.S. Bach’s famous cantata “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” will immediately hear this echoed in the opening bars of the “Confitebor,” which also happens to be in the same key of E-flat Major. Had Mozart seen or heard that cantata? Probably not in performance. The original Lutheran hymn with that melody was first published in 1599 by Philipp Nicolai, and stood in many Lutheran hymnals. But more likely, is that it was suggested to Mozart directly, via a member of Bach’s large family which extended throughout Europe.

Consider this: In April 1778, J.S. Bach’s fourth son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, traveled along with his own son Wilhelm to London, where he met up with his brother, Johann Christian Bach. Two years later, in 1780, J.C.F. Bach composed his own cantata “Wachet auf” as a tribute to his father, further developing its theme. We can only speculate that when he met his brother in London two years earlier, his plans to compose it were already ripening, and that it formed part of their discussions.

Now pursue the trail further: Five months later, in August 1778, Johann Christian Bach traveled to France, where he met 22-year-old Mozart at the estate of Louis, Maréchal de Noailles. (France had recognized the new American republic in April 1778; de Noailles was a backer of the American war against the British Empire, and his granddaughter’s husband had joined with Lafayette in George Washington’s army.) J.C. Bach, then 42, was a long-time mentor and friend of Mozart, having first met him in 1764 when Mozart’s father took the eight-year-old prodigy to London. Much later, Mozart’s sister Nannerl recollected that

“Herr Johann Christian Bach, music master of the queen, took Wolfgang between his knees. He would play a few measures; then Wolfgang would continue. In this manner they played entire sonatas. Unless you saw it with your own eyes, you would swear that just one person was playing.”

Could J.C. Bach have suggested the “Wachet auf” theme that his brother was working on, to his younger friend? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the facts alone already give an idea of the rich interpenetration of ideas among Europe’s greatest musical minds. The Vesperae solennes, far from being a “solemn” work which its title might suggest, is bubbling with optimism and kernels of ideas which he developed in his later works, especially his operas. In fact, these little idea-lets fly by so quickly, that one scarcely has time to take one in, before yet another cascades in.

In part, this lack of time to develop ideas was an evil from which Mozart was already plotting to escape, namely from the Bishop of Salzburg’s strict edict that no work of sacred music last longer than 30 minutes! Fortunately, we today do not have to adhere to the Bishop’s arbitrary rule, and so we shall take a bit longer than that, in the hope that you may manage to take in as many snatches as possible of these great ideas.


Lift Every Voice: Towards a Renaissance of Classical Culture

On Friday, January 25, the Schiller Institute Houston Community Chorus invited members of the community to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at an event in southwest Houston.

Texas Schiller Institute spokesman Brian Lantz opened the event highlighting the shifts occurring globally towards greater cooperation, and that Dr. King knew the only way to create a durable peace was through the reconciliation of differences and non-violent cooperation, even if some attempt to stifle it. He described how King saw cooperation through the idea of agapic, unconditional love for humanity, as expressed in the first Corinthians. Dr. King was an avid lover of classical music and opera, as was his wife, Coretta Scott King, a trained pianist and classical singer.

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Texas Schiller Institute head Brian Lantz’s opening remarks on Dr. King.

The chorus opened the concert with a four part polyphony of the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, followed by a collage of short audio speeches by Dr. King. The program continued with four selections from the Mozart Vespers, Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus”, a traditional Chinese folk song, “Jasmine flower” (Mo Li Hua), and a number of spiritual selections, one of which was led by tenor Brian Lantz.  Among the highlights of the evening were the solo spiritual performances of  “Go Down Moses” sung by Maestro Dorceal Duckens, and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sung by Kesha Rogers.

Maestro Dorceal Duckens singing 'Go Down Moses'.

Maestro Dorceal Duckens singing ‘Go Down Moses’.

The audience was truly transformed by the power of the music and the selection of clips from Dr. King intertwined. At the end of the event the audience was asked to stand and cross arms and join in in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus.

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus.

Newer members to the chorus expressed how happy they were to sing with the chorus.  Everyone was overjoyed by the experience and you had a sense that the concert had a transforming quality on everyone. It was not just entertainment, and no one left the room as the same person they were when they entered.


Schiller Institute Participates in Alexandrov Choir Commemoration

On January 3rd, 2019, for the third year in a row, a memorial was held in Bayonne, New Jersey for the victims of the December 25th, 2016 plane crash which took the lives of the many members of Russia’s famous Alexandrov Ensemble, journalists, philanthropist Elizaveta Glinka, and others.  This memorial, organized by the Schiller Institute, took place at the foot of the “Tear Drop Memorial,” a 100-foot statue gifted to the United States by the Russian Federation in 2005 in honor of the victims of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Members of the Schiller Institute and the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, led by Diane Sare, Founder and Co-Director, were joined by the Bayonne Fire Department Honor Guard, Captain Haiber and Chief Weaver of the Bayonne Fire Department, Dmitry Chumakov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, Dr. Louay Falouh, Minister Counselor of the Syrian UN Mission, Father John Fencik of Saint Mary’s Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, and others in the ceremony. In opening the ceremony, the Chorus sang both the Russian national anthem (in Russian) and the US national anthem.  The Bayonne Fire Department Honor Guard stood at attention throughout the forty five minute ceremony.

These performances were followed by comments from Deputy Permanent Representative Chumakov, who paid tribute to the victims of the 2016 tragedy and spoke to the continuation of the efforts of both the reconstituted Alexandrov Ensemble and the Charity Foundation of Elizaveta Glinka. He concluded with significant statement of Russian policy in Syria: “Considerable progress has been made on Syria in 2018. Now we need to step up joint efforts to launch the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, that would enjoy support of the Syrian parties, in accordance with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Syria’s future must be determined by the Syrians themselves in a political process they conduct and control with international mediation. Such an approach would contribute to settling and overcoming the consequences of the war; re-establishing the country’s full sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Mr. Chumakov’s full statement is available on the Russian Federation UN Mission’s website.

Then spoke Dr. Louay Falouh, Minister Counselor of the Syrian UN Mission, who thanked the government of the Russian Federation for their work to support Syria, and expressed his deep condolences for the losses of December 25th, 2016.  Chief Weaver and Captain Haiber of the Bayonne Fire Department separately gave profound remarks expressing their condolences, as well as their thanks to Russia for the comfort they personally felt when visiting the Tear Drop Memorial. Bayonne first responders received enormous numbers of people fleeing by boat from Manhattan on 9/11. Captain Haiber told the audience, “At times like this, we are neither Russian nor American—we are human.” He also spoke in Russian, expressing his wishes for peace and friendship.

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Father Fencik, whose close relative had been the translator at the famous meeting on the Elbe River between Soviet and American forces, gave an invocation saying that these dead will never be forgotten, and then gave a sung prayer in Russian.

At the conclusion, Diane Sare, Founder and Co-Director of the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, spoke on behalf of the Schiller Institute and the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, and read aloud the written message from Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche.

Two years after the tragic death of 64 members of the Alexandrov Choir Ensemble on their way to Syria on December 25th, 2016, that country is now almost entirely freed from the terror of ISIS due to the determined intervention of Russia in collaboration with the Syrian army. This liberation demonstrates what human beings can do when they unite with a good plan and for a just cause, and that, as Friedrich Schiller would say, even the most tyrannical foe can be subdued. As now there will be a more hopeful period in the history of Syria, with the economic reconstruction and the return of millions of refugees, the memory of the Alexandrov Choir Ensemble will be written into the history of Syria and should be celebrated every year with beautiful concerts in many cities, celebrating the Russian-Syrian friendship and the immortality of great art and the artists, who devote their lives to the ennoblement of mankind.

— Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Founder, Schiller Institute

Diane concluded her remarks by saying that this moment called to mind to words that Handel had immortalized the his Messiah “Death is Swallowed up in Victory.”

Each of the speakers made a special point of thanking the Schiller Institute for organizing the event. Russian news service TASS, as well as TV stations Russia 1 and RT were present.

Participation in this event had a profound effect on our activists and choir members who joined in.  Patrick from Connecticut said, “I was so glad to be there and be a part of this. As I looked around and saw who was gathered here, I felt like we were on a kind of different planet from the rest of the population – and how important is that we do this.”

View more pictures from the event.


“A Dialogue of Cultures along the New Silk Road” held in Dresden, Germany

On April 21st, the Schiller Institute organized a cultural event in Dresden under the title “A Dialogue of Cultures along the New Silk Road,” with 150 attendees.

Lasting peace, stability and shared well-being should, of course, be at the heart of international relations. But this does not start at the negotiating table of politicians, but in all our hearts. And what could not unite the souls and hearts of our peoples better than the idea of truth, freedom and beauty. Cultural contributions, Music and poetry from different countries and cultures established a new standard of optimism among the audience

This event was a proof, that a qualitatively new world order {is} possible; that we, by seeing our own true self reflected in the beauty of other cultures, find that higher “placement,” from which that persisting nightmare of geopolitics can be overcome, once and forever!

This is the greeting from the Chinese Ambassador to Germany which was read to the audience:

Greetings from his Excellency, the Ambassador Shi of China, to the Schiller Institutes’ “Dialogue of Cultures along the New Silk Road”:
I am really pleased with the fact, that the Schiller Institute conducts a cultural dialogue centered around the implications of the New Silk Road. When the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, presented the historical initiative of the “One Belt, One Road,” it was met with broad approval and support by the international community. During the past several years, the New Silk Road attracted a vast attention globally as an economic and infrastructure program. Yet, it is not only an economic corridor, but a road of a cultural exchange as well.

From a historical viewpoint, the New Silk Road began as a commodities trade route, but its significance reaches far beyond trade and became a major corridor for the communication of the
different cultures of the world. Via the Silk Road, the cultural centers of mankind were able to interact with each other through large distances, and by doing so, the great civilizations like
China, India, Arabia, and Europe learned from one another and respected each other. None of these civilizations at the time lost their independence or space for their own development because of the connectivity through the Silk Road, quite the opposite. The mutual learning enabled the countries to absorb additional knowledge and to gain new potency within their own peculiarities.

In the course of worldwide globalization and digitalization, a transcultural and supra-regional exchange and cooperation became ever more important. China wants to deliberate, build, and
profit from the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in a shared manner with all the countries alongside the New Silk Road. Thus, not only the economies of the countries along the road ought to be developed, but also the cultural exchange between China and the other nations. Until the end of 2017, China already signed more than 300 agreements for cultural exchanges with the governments of the countries along the New Silk Road, and implemented plans to that effect. Multilateral cultural cooperation mechanisms within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as among China and countries of eastern Europe, of Arabic nations, and of the ASEAN states, have already been established. This certainly contributed to the aim of bringing the people alongside the New Silk Road closer together.

It is my hope that the participating experts and artists are able to openly and profoundly exchange their views and thoughts within this dialogue, and I wish you all success.


Schiller Institute Celebrates Dialogue of Cultures in Düsseldorf

On March 7, 2015, the Schiller Institute and friends organized a beautiful German-Russian ‘Kulturfest’ in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, with approximately 70 people participating.

The evening was opened by Kasia Kruczkowski, who identified the necessity of dealing with the current international strategic situation from the highest standpoint, in the context of a cultural dialogue.  Especially today, when the Russians are blamed for being megalomaniacal, the Chinese are blamed for being imperialistic, and the Germans have almost no idea of their own Classical culture,

Kasia Kruczkowski

Kasia Kruczkowski

such a Dialogue of Cultures is even more urgently needed. Only such a dialogue can make people once again associate Germany with the nation of Cusa, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Schiller, Schumann, Beethoven, and so many more; and when they talk about Russia, it is Pushkin, Turgenev, Gogol, and Goncharov who would come to mind. Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche has repeatedly made the point that if everyone could look at the cultural history of another nation, in the same loving way as a patriot looks at his own nation, then there would be no longer be any wars!

This was the thread woven throughout all the contributions during the day, which both made the event joyful, and also made all the attendees more conscious of the wealth of beautiful works of art that the German and Russian cultures created.

Elena Bär

Elke Fimmen

Benjamin Lyllof

Karsten Werner

Stephan Hochstein

We heard a pianist and singer, both of Russian background, who presented pieces from Tchaikovsky and Russian folks songs. There were several other German Lieder performed as well as recitations from the poetry of the German poet Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805) and the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837).

In one presentation the congeniality of the poets of Freedom — Schiller and Pushkin — was expressed with quotes from both, and their influence on the united effort in the fight for freedom against Napoleon was highlighted.

After a short break with very stimulated and excited discussions, the poetic-musical dialogue continued with more perfomances of piano compositions, poetry, and Lieder.

There was a presentation on Schiller’s influence in Germany, especially on Wilhelm von Humboldt, and in Russia, especially on Schukowski, which emphasized the appreciation of Schiller by Russia. At this point an older German woman from the audience stood up and backed it up by telling a true story from 1945, when the Battle of Königsberg between German and Russian soldiers took place.

Right before the battle started, the Russians put a sign on the statue of Schiller in the city, saying in Russian: “Do Not Destroy — A German poet: Friedrich Schiller.” This monument is still standing there in today’s Kaliningrad, safely.

This evening proved to everyone that beautiful works of art are universal, and can enrich and strengthen us all, to meet the challenges of our time. All the participants expressed their deep gratitude, took a lot of material with them to organize others, helped with donations, and were very eager to attend and organize for upcoming events.

They felt human again. Let us continue!