On Wednesday, January 1, 2020, the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus and friends, hosted their largest ever New Year’s Concert featuring timeless choral pieces from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, and Dvorak.
Our concerts are becoming a growing institution in the area, not just for audience members, but for local musicians who like performing with us. A talented violinist, who is a regular on the “classical music scene” in DC/Northern Virginia, remarked that he always appreciates the openness of our audiences, seeing “normal” people genuinely appreciating the beauty of the pieces, as opposed to the “professional audiences” he so often performs for, who are more concerned with “being seen” at such events, than letting the music move them.
The audience was full and diverse. Choral directors from churches across the area came to hear the concert, political contacts of the Schiller Institute attended, including an Ambassador and his family from a Southeast Asian country, music students, and others who ventured out to find something different than watch football on New Year’s Day!
The program of the event is below. Audience members were given the text and translations for each of the pieces to follow along.
Beethoven, Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur Haydn, Die Himmel Erzälen, from The Creation Brahms, Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, from German Requiem Bach, Quia Respexit, Omnes generationes Handel, Ombra mai fu, tenor, Reginald Bouknight Puccini, Recondita armonia, from Tosca, tenor, Reginald Bouknight Mozart, In uomini, in soldati, from Così fan tutte, mezzo, Pamela Butler Beethoven, Harp String Quartet, op. 74 (1809), I. Poco adagio – Allegro
Mendelssohn, Neujarhslied Beethoven, Serenade, op. 25 (1796), VI. Adagio – Allegro vivace e disinvolta Kreisler, Praeludium and Allegro (1905) Mozart, Laudate Pueri, from Solemn Vespers Verdi, Va Pensiero, from Nabucco Dvorak/Fisher, Goin’ Home Hall Johnson, Lord, I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired Handel, Worth is the Lamb, Amen, from The Messiah Joy to the World, Everyone sing!
The fact that these were seemingly “ordinary” people from the community performing these masterful pieces in a local church was not lost on the audience. In fact, it seemed to enrich the event for people, many who then asked themselves, “well, maybe I could sing?”
The other remarkable part of the this and other concerts the Schiller Institute hosts, was articulated best by our director, Mike Billington in remarks he made on a LaRouchePAC Fireside Chat broadcast,
“It was a concert of Beethoven, Brahms, and other great Classical choruses, with some wonderful professionals, who volunteer their time to come and play with us, because they love to work with us because of our commitment to the idea of the aesthetic education of the population. The fact that this many people from all walks of life showed up in Leesburg, Virginia to watch a Schiller Institute Community Chorus concert, I think in itself reflects the transformation that’s taken place in the United States; and the potential of the LaRouche message — the slanders and the attacks that characterized the treatment of LaRouche over these years, including his incarceration, is no longer believed.”
On December 28, 2019 the Schiller Institute participated in the third annual memorial in honor of the Alexandrov Ensemble, at the Tear Drop Memorial in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 2016, 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, along with 24 others, perished when their plane crashed into the Black Sea en route to Syria. What follows is a transcript of the memorial including remarks from Capt. Donald Haiber, Father John Fencik, Chief Keith Weaver, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Mission to the United Nations Mr. Dmitry Chumakov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic Mission Dr. Louay Falouh, Schiller Institute Founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and Co-Director of the Schiller Institute New York City Chorus, Diane Sare, and Mr. Kevin Maynor.
Transcript of ceremony:
Capt. Donald Haiber, Bayonne, N.J. Fire Department: First I want to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas. Secondly, for those of you that have been with us for the last few years, it looks like we lucked out with some balmy weather. I know it’s been cold and snowing in the past, but today looks like a beautiful day, and it’s a nice way for a remembrance.
Some of the people who are here today, we have our Office of Emergency Management Director Mr. Ferantay [ph], the chief of the department Keith Weaver; we also have the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Mr. Dmitry Chumakov; and also, I’d like to recognize the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Fallouh. And also a very special thank to Mr. Kevin Maynor, who’s behind me. I also want to recognize Father Fencik: He’s been here every year with us, braving the cold. And the last person I want to thank is the Co-Director of the Schiller Institute New York Chorus Diane Sare, who, without her, none of this happens.
On behalf of the Bayonne Fire Department and the City of Bayonne, we welcome you all to today’s ceremony. Father Fencik, would you please do the invocation?
Father John Fencik: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. O Heavenly King, the Comforter, O Spirit of Truth, Who everywhere present through all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come into all within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious Lord.
This is the prayer that is traditionally said at the beginning of any type of function that involves the Russian people. We pray that we who are gathered here today, in memory of those departed members of the Alexandrov Choirs, those who departed with them this life in December of 2016. We pray that God give them eternal rest in His heavenly mansion. We pray that this ceremony retains their memory, and brings them all to life everlasting. Amen.
Color Guard posts colors. Chorus presents the Russian Federation National Anthem and United States of America National Anthem.
Captain Haiber: Thank you all very much. That was beautiful. I’m going to introduce Chief Weaver who wants to say a few words as well. Professionally, he is my chief, he’s my boss, but I’m honored, personally, to say that he is my friend — Chief Weaver.
Chief Keith Weaver: Good morning to everyone in attendance today. I’m grateful for this opportunity to say a few words in honor of the lives lost on Christmas Day 2016. Today, we pause to remember and honor the tragic loss of Alexandrov Ensemble. The loss of this extremely talented group was a loss for the entire globe. I’m honored to be speaking at this fitting site, as this Tear Drop Memorial was donated to our city from our world neighbors in Russia. The gift is a reminder that although we may be separated by nationality, we are united in humanity. As brothers and sisters, we share in your grief, and also share in your hope for a brighter future for all mankind. May the lives lost on that tragic day, three years ago, rest in peace. Thank you.
Captain Haiber: Thank you, Chief. Mr. Chumakov will have a few words to say.
Dmitry Chumakov: Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends: We are very pleased to welcome all those of you who have joined us today in the memory of the Alexandrov Ensemble, and the victims of the plane crash that happened on the 26th December 2016, just a couple of days from today, three years ago. It was a legendary ensemble, media workers from Russian TV channels, and the famous philanthropist Elizaveta Glinka: They were bringing to Syria, the Christmas mood, they were bringing into a war-torn country, and it was a big tragedy and loss.
The Russian Mission is grateful to the Schiller Institute, to the Fire Department of the City of Bayonne: without you, this event would not be possible. It’s becoming a tradition. We are getting together for the third time now, and this is a great honor for us to share these human feelings and share with you the losses and compassion. This memorial event is a great example [inaudible] honor and solidarity between our countries. The Alexandrov Ensemble has been reinstated, and I just want you to know that the new performers [inaudible] we also want you to know that that humanitarian projects started by Elizaveta Glinka are implemented by her followers. And it’s also important to say that we’re still making a lot of efforts to bring peace to Syria, and to help Syria, and to help the political settlement in this country. So, it is only with political settlement that the problems can be solved.
We once again must give tribute to these brave and merciful people who are our modern-day heroes. They are symbols of patriotism and humanity are given to us today: May their souls rest in peace. And thank you very much for joining us today.
Captain Haiber: Thank you Mr. Chumakov. We are here once again to give our condolences and sympathy to the families of the Alexandrov Ensemble and to the people of Russia. Everyone here proves, I believe, that this small remembrance shows our humanity towards one another — and God knows, we could use more of that.
Once again, it’s fitting that we’re here at the Tear Drop, because the creator of this structure was the Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. In the darkness after 9/11, this monument helped to bring peace and the light of hope to the many people [inaudible] here. We now wish to pay that forward, back to the Russian people and the families of the Alexandrov Ensemble.
May the serenity and hope that I feel when I am here be conveyed back to the people of Russia. Music has meaning, and this quote from Billy Joel conveys that better than anything I could ever say: “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by, no matter where we are from, everyone loves music.” It is times like this that we are neither Americans nor Russians, nor Syrians, but we are just human beings who genuinely wish peace and happiness to one another.
Once again, I will try to convey my thoughts in Russian. I’ve been practicing and hopefully this gets it through: [Russian remark].
It is now my honor to introduce Mr. Kevin Maynor. He has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and many others. Mr. Maynor was the first apprentice artist from the West to study at the Bolshoi in Moscow, where he studied and sang. He will now also share a few words with you.
Kevin Maynor: Thank you. [Sings Russian folk song “Still One Star”] I don’t think anybody can talk about the Alexandrov Ensemble, the great Russian Army Chorus, and not think of the great [inaudible] that was meant to encourage, sung by the Volga boatmen. I think of the Volga boatmen and the Volga River, which I had the pleasure of seeing in the year 2000-2001 upon my return to Russia. My first experience of 1979-1980, and the Russian people embraced me with a certain kind of love that I will never, ever forget. I love them dearly, from the bottom of my heart. There’s no bass in the world — no bass in the world — no singing bass, that does not admire the training and the beauty of the great Russian basses and the great Russian singers. I think these people and the contributions they have made to the world, regardless of the confusions and the politics that might be involved between countries, one thing for sure, music, it is true, it is the healing source. It is the language that we all speak and understand. And when we don’t understand one another, we learn to appreciate, which is the key, actually, to bringing people closer together, appreciation for one another.
I want to take the time to sing for you a spiritual, one that was sung by the great Paul Robeson, who was a great singer, one that many admire — certainly the Russian people admire. He sang this song amongst them, and I want to sing it for you all: It’s called There Is a Balm in Gilead.
God bless the Alexandrov Ensemble. God bless their mission. God bless all of you who are gathered here, today.
Captain Haiber: Thank you Mr. Maynor. I do have to say, that is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. Thank you.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I extend my greetings to all of you gathered today to commemorate the lives of the 92 passengers and crew, who died when the Russian TU 154 crashed into the Black Sea on December 25th, 2016. Sixty-four singers of the Alexandrov Ensemble, plus the crew of the plane, members of the Russian military, Russian journalists and the beloved relief worker Dr. Elizaveta Glinka all perished that winter night, while flying to give Christmas comfort and cheer to soldiers who were battling to liberate Syria from the terrorist scourge of ISIS.
Each of the people on that plane was like the Good Samaritan that Schiller writes about in his Kallias essays On the Beautiful. In Schiller’s story, several people stopped by the side of the road to help the injured man, but some asked for money, some wanted recognition, and to put down others who didn’t stop; but only one person stopped, and very naturally and happily put down his own load, to carry the injured man without a second thought for himself.
In 2020, the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazi terror in May of 1945. At that time, people vowed, “Never Again!” And now, 75 years later, mankind again is threatened with the danger of cultural decadence and even potentially a great war. As Schiller said, it is only through aesthetic education through great classical art that the ennoblement of man can occur. It is time that mankind grew into a new paradigm where, as Shelley and Schiller proposed, the poets and artists become the natural leaders of the age.
Diane Sare: Good morning, now speaking on behalf of the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, I would like to say that a chorus is a very special thing. It is a group of diverse individuals, who discover through the art of a great composer that their diversity becomes their strength.
Our chorus had existed for just two years when I received the news on Christmas Day 2016 of the crash of the Red Army Chorus, and it was like getting punched in the stomach. Some of us quickly enlisted the help of a Russian-American chorus member to pronounce the words to the Russian National Anthem, and we went to the Consulate and sang it outside on the sidewalk.
I learned that the NYPD Ceremonial Unit had been deeply moved by the Ensemble at the Military Bands Tattoo in Quebec City in 2011, which had happened to fall on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A wonderful baritone, Grigory Osipov sang God Bless America, which they performed as a gift to the NYPD Ceremonial Unit, and a young boy came and presented the director, Lt. Tony Giorgio, with a single white rose. You will see Osipov’s name on the list of those who perished in that terrible crash.
The United States, Russia, and Syria have all suffered the devastating effects of terrorism, but I am optimistic that perhaps the warm weather here this year may be a sign of the warmth of the friendship that our nations and peoples may share in our musical dialogue.
Father Fencik: The Church teaches us that as long as we keep a person’s memory alive, they are still with us. It is traditional at the end of any memorial service that the hymn Eternal Memory is sung, and the Russian hymn. So we will conclude this memorial service with the prayer for the departed and the singing of the memorial hymn.
O God of spirits and all flesh, who has conquered Satan and vanquished death, and granted life to your world, Lord give rest to the souls of your faithfully departed servants. in a peaceful, serene place, from which all pain and sorrow and sighing are absent. As the good and gracious God Who loves mankind, forgive all transgressions committed by them in word or in thought, voluntarily as a human frailty. There is no man living who does not sin. You alone are without sin. Your truth is truth for eternity, your word alone reality. For you are the Resurrection, the Life and the Repose for your departed servants, Oh Christ, our God. We rend You glory together, Eternal Father, holy gracious and life-creating Spirit, always now and ever, and forever. Amen.
In blessed repose grant eternal rest, Oh Lord, to the souls of Your departed servants. Make eternal their memories, Vechnaya pamyat! [Eternal memory!]
You are invited to the 4th annual New Year’s Day Concert of the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus and friends. Join us for timeless choral pieces from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and more. All are welcome, free admission, donations appreciated, reception to follow. Come ring in the New Year with us!
When: Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Where: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 605 W. Market St. Leesburg, VA
Who: All are welcome! Reception to follow.
Interested in singing in a chorus? We are a non-audition chorus made up of singers of a variety of backgrounds and experience. Come join us for the 2020 Spring/Summer season!
On Sunday July 28th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus gave a concert at the Church of St Anselm and St Roch in the South Bronx. The chorus of about 60, performed four Negro Spirituals (one was an encore) a couple of Spanish hymns (including a popular setting of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Ninth Symphony), two movements from Schubert’s Mass in G, the Sicut Locutus Est from Bach’s Magnificat, and Gradual by Afro-Brazilian composer Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia. This concert was unique because it came together as a result of a real collaboration between the chorus and the church, which serves a largely Spanish-speaking population from the nearby neighborhood, as well as English-speaking immigrants from various European nations.
The approximately 100 people in attendance rose to their feet in a standing ovation after the chorus performed the William Dawson arrangement of “Soon Ah Will be Done” as an encore. The fact that we included music of an Afro-Brazilian Classical composer in the program, was of particular interest to the priest, who stressed that in his Sunday announcements. The church also prepared an amazing reception. Many members of the church expressed interest in joining the chorus, but hesitation because of difficulty speaking English.
Founder and Co-Director of the Schiller Institute Chorus, Diane Sare.
We look forward to future endeavors in collaboration with this historic church. Here is a story about the church, which, unlike many city churches, is packed with hundreds of people at its 11 am Spanish-language mass. It has an earlier mass in English which is attended by 70-100 people as well. It is related by design to a Byzantine church in Turkey, and has been home to many immigrants for over a century.
A Concert Celebration of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Leesburg, Virginia
Close to 100 guests joined the Virginia Schiller Institute Community Chorus for a concert in Leesburg, Virginia on July 21st, to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The event was not just a commemoration of that momentous achievement so many decades ago, but a celebration of and commitment to the next 50 years of human progress.
The chorus opened the concert with an arrangement of Beethoven’s “Die Himmel rühmen des Ewigen Ehre,” (“The Heavens Praise the Glory of Eternity”), after which conductor Megan Beets welcomed the audience, and emphasized that what we celebrate is an event of universal importance—mankind’s first step onto another planetary body, and its establishment as an extraterrestrial species. Humanity’s upcoming return to the Moon with Project Artemis must be the beginning of a new era of our exploration and development of the solar system; one of optimism about our limitless potential for progress. In that context, she referenced NASA’s recently retired Kepler Telescope, which in its 10 years of service surveyed 530,506 stars, and found 2,662 exoplanets, all within our galaxy. Think of the practically infinite potential for humanity’s development given that there are 2 trillion galaxies in our universe! She concluded by telling those gathered that such progress in science must be accompanied by a return to a culture of beauty, which celebrates and advances the creative spark inherent in every individual.
Bass Aaron Leathers.
The first half of the concert began with a poem written and recited by Paul Gallagher, “The Sensitive Plant on the Moon,” followed by a number of solo offerings, including songs aboutthe moon and the heavens: “Song to the Moon” by Dvořák, “Mondnacht” (Moonlit Night) by Robert Schumann, “My Lord, What a Mornin’” arr. by H.T. Burleigh; a movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, known as the “Moonlight Sonata”; other offerings included “Da, chas nastal” by Tsaikovsky with text by Schiller, and a number of songs which have a relationship to mankind’s exploration of space: “Goin’ Home” the melody of which is from Dvořák’s “New World Symphony,” which Neil Armstrong took to the Moon; the famous “Queen of the Night” aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute,” which has traveled 3.6 billion miles from Earth on the Voyager 1 and 2 Golden Records; and the first and fourth movements of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major (“Dissonance”) which opened Lyndon LaRouche’s famous 1988 presidential campaign broadcast, “The Woman on Mars.”
The second half of the concert featured the chorus and a small string ensemble performing Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers,” K.339.
The audience was composed of a wide variety of people from all over the region—from singers and musicians to community members looking for a way mark the Apollo 11 anniversary, to friends and family of chorus members. As a whole, the audience was clearly moved by both chorus and soloists. Two children, probably 7 and 9 years old, seemed bored and restless when they first arrived, however, much to their mother’s amazement, as soon as the Queen of the Night aria began they sat up straight and were mesmerized by the performance. Many commented on the high level of the chorus, surprised that it is a community chorus, and expressed interest in joining. A local music teacher declared that she wants to recommend the chorus to her students. A regular member of the orchestra said that he was honored to play in the event.
Our three soprano soloists, Gabriela Ramirez-Carr, Stephanie Nelson, and Susan Bowen.
Humanity’s return to human exploration and development of space means that we are embarking on a truly new era of civilization. If we want this to be successful, and to shed the anti-human characteristics of the geopolitical, colonial system, we absolutely must have a renaissance of beautiful and profound works of art. It is the mission of the Schiller Institute, and the Schiller Institute Community Choruses, to give as many people as possible access to such works of art as audiences, and even more so, as participants, by joining the chorus.
On June 27, 2019, the Schiller Institute was invited to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to honor the life of the great American Statesman Lyndon LaRouche, and to celebrate the common aims of both nations and cultures.
Everyone who attended the Open House in Honor ofthe Schiller Institute—as each of the three large screens proudlydeclared as you walked into the hall—now know the power andimportance of exonerating Lyndon LaRouche. It was on the faces ofeveryone: a sense of joy, of optimism, of urgency, and a sense ofresponsibility towards the future because such a man, such anAmerica, such a view of the world and of humanity, and such anorganization exist, and at a moment when without a true America,without such a world view, mankind might not survive.
The idea of an event was first initiated with the passing of LaRouchethis past February 12. The consulate was informed soon after,and a meeting between SI reps and the Consul General was held thefollowing week. After an hour plus long discussion with the CGand the Deputy CG ranging from LaRouche’s life and ideas to thestrategic situation, the idea of an event between the SI and theConsulate was proposed.
So, on the very eve of the G20 summit (Putin and Trump wouldbe meeting at 10 pm PT this same night), the SchillerInstitute brought nearly 70 guests to an event hosted by theChina Consulate. To reciprocate thegenerosity of the Consulate, the Schiller Institute broughtBeethoven’s Op. 69 for a universal demonstration on the potentialcollaborative relationship between the U.S. and China with pianoand cello, played at the lower tuning. Including speeches by CGWang and SI rep Mr. Steger, the event set a new standard forcollaboration around the power of LaRouche’s ideas.
The event started with the Deputy Consul General introducingthe Consul General Ambassador Wang Donghua, Schiller Instituterep. Michael Steger, and acknowledging special guests the DCG anda Consul from Vietnam, a member of the Indonesian Consulate, amember of the East-West Accord, and the President of the RussianAmerican Congress, as well as two local Republican leaders.
The Consul General then gave a very hard hitting speechexpressing China’s frustrations on the current trade talks beforetouching on the importance of the BRI. Given the CGs overtpolitical tones, Mike was free to address the broader strategicaspects of the global dynamic, beginning with the introduction ofthe BRI by Xi, in consultation with Putin, during the chaoticcoup in Ukraine, which only indicates the role of the BRI to endthe risk of nuclear war today.
In summary, the importance of the G20, and the BRI asexemplary of a new global system, was on the minds of everyone onthe eve of this critical summit. It is also the 35th anniversaryof the SI, and the 40th anniversary of China-US diplomaticrelations, and the LaRouche view of the next 40 years has neverbeen more important. There is a long history of the U.S. andChina, from Columbus’ voyage of the Italian Renaissance (nb:Columbus is honored with massive stone statue on Telegraph Hillin S.F. looking east across the GG bridge to China), to BenFranklin printing sections of Confucius Analects in the Gazette,to Lincoln’s appointment of Ambassador Burlingame to China, toGrant’s tour of China, and his identification then of China’scoming dominance of the global economy, to FDRs insistence thatno foreign ships would enter Chinese ports after the defeat ofJapan, and this true history of the U.S. and China makes thepoint that this is the real America, the LaRouche America, and itwas this that the American people are calling for today, howeverdarkly through the mirror.
China’s development is a modern miracle and the BRI is aprecious contribution to the world that must be grasped now. FDRwanted to extend U.S. production to develop the world, but hislegacy was nearly destroyed. It was Lyndon LaRouche who picked upthis fight for global development after WWII, and today, it isChina who is making this offer, this precious gift for a newsystem of collaboration, of sovereignty, of space exploration. Asa Russian scientist once said, space exploration makes most clearthe nature of economy, that money is worthless. Energy, water,infrastructure, science and culture are paramount for a newglobal system, on Earth and on the Moon. This is the BRI, it is agreat gift to the world that must be adopted by the U.S., and itis the very essence of the true U.S. legacy of Lincoln andLaRouche.
It’s our job to organize the American people toinsist that it is adopted, otherwise the corruption in Washington willcrush any potential for a breakthrough. It is not only up to theleaders, but up to us to create a new culture of development.
There was strong applause for both speeches and the DCGwishfully referred to Mike as the representative of the Americanpeople, before introducing the music.
Before the music began, we quickly asked for collaboratorson the music of China, and in the course of the evening we met amusic teacher, one of the very first students of piano after thecultural revolution, who wants to work on Chinese music for fourhands with My-Hoa! We also met a violinst/violist who plays forthe SF Ballet, a friend of one of the Consuls, so we areconspiring for future collaborations, and intend to make moreclassical Chinese pieces available in western notation.
My-Hoa and Andres then played Mo Li Hua or Jasmine Flower onkeyboard and cello, in honor of our guests,before a lively rendition (without repeats) of Op. 69. Uncertain,the audience gave a standing ovation after the first movement,but once aware, were absolutely silent after the second, allowingthe adagio cantabile of the opening of the third movement tostrike the harmonious chord of collaboration that Beethovenintended.
It was now a festive celebration, with food, discussion, andhumorous delight often brought by the DCG, our leading contact.The SI brought a cross section of people, from our more eccentriccontacts to a range of young people, blue collar Americans, manyFacebook contacts within the Chinese community in S.F., a leadingretired Pakistani journalist, and all, young and old, leftbeaming.
The Consul General, and his staff of twenty or so, mingledand talked with all of the guests for over an hour. There was along discussion with the Indonesian representative on thepolitical culture of the U.S. going back to the culturalrevolution and the importance of classical culture, where nationsadopt a profound mission. Both she and the Vietnamese DCG wereinterested in holding future events with the SI. The Russianassociated contacts who came were struck by the optimism, becamemuch more educated on who we are, and one is planning to sign forexoneration.
At the end, the Consul General said good-bye and said he was very touched. Wehad brought LaRouche’s America to the representatives of China, andthey were profoundly overwhelmed with joy. When asked by his DCGif we should do this once every two years, he said, “Once a year,at least!”
To those of us in the SI, it comes as no surprise that Lyndon’s personality and vision have such an overwhelming effect, but wealso know that it is not always so easy to convey. In this case,we feel triumphant in our attempt at such a historic moment, andintend to carry that spirit into our work, outreach, andfollow-up in the critical days and weeks ahead.
The Schiller Boston Community Chorus, based in Quincy, MA, joined by guests from New York, Detroit, and San Francisco, just completed a weekend of performances in concerts in Providence, RI and Quincy, MA featuring songs from the New World and classical African American Spirituals.
Friday: Songs of Freedom
Baritone Frank Mathis.
On Friday, June 14, 2019, the SI Boston Community Chorus teamed up with Stages of Freedom, who hosted the event, for an evening of history through music. Stages of Freedom is an organization dedicated to providing young African-Americans access to swimming programs, cultural programming, and to educate inner-city youth by providing access to museums and live performance. Historians and Stages of Freedom founders, Robb Dimmick and Ray Rickman planned this concert at Manning Chapel (Brown University) specifically because of the role the Brown family played as the second largest slave-owner family in Rhode Island’s history.
By the time the concert began, on Friday, June 14th at 5:30pm, there was a sold-out audience of over 200 people.
Mr. Rickman opened the event by challenging the audience to not think of this event as “entertainment, but to improve your soul and spirit.” This, preceded by a stirring rendition of “I’ve been buked” by Hall Johnson, performed by the chorus a capella, set the tone for the entire event.
The concert featured the Schiller Boston Community chorus and soloists singing Spirituals and was carefully and dramatically orchestrated to portray the horrors of the Rhode Island slave trade, through readings taken from The Notorious Triangle by Jay Coughtry. The unique and necessary participation of the chorus dramatic performances of five Spirituals and a Mozart choral piece and also of soprano, Michelle Erin performance of Hall Johnson’s “Give me Jesus,” baritone, Frank Mathis, “Goin’ Home” and excerpts from Roland Hayes “Life of Christ,” and soprano, Annicia Smith’s moving rendition of “Deep River” was punctuated by the remarks of invited guest, Northeast coordinator of the Schiller Institute, Dennis Speed. All pieces were skillfully and beautifully accompanied by pianist, My-Hoa Steger. At the conclusion of the 90-minute concert, the chorus led the audience in singing “Lift every voice and sing,” and led the audience outside the beautiful chapel to a receiving line.
Schiller Institute Boston Community Chorus and friends.
Many in the audience had never heard Spirituals sung in such an honest and dramatic way. Some people were visibly shocked when Dennis Speed said in his speech, that African-American Spirituals are Classical music. While this event was intended to shock people and create discomfort in facing the history of slavery, the role of the uplifting and never-enraged Spirituals played the crucial role in carrying out the mission of Friedrich Schiller and the Schiller Institute; it provoked the audience to be better people and to respond in an impassioned way. There is tremendous potential coming out of this concert, including a professional recording which will be sent out to thousands of people and future collaboration.
Saturday: Songs from the New World
On Saturday, June 15th, the Schiller Boston Chorus hosted a concert entitled “Songs of a New World,” to educate people on the collaboration between Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák and African-American baritone and composer, Harry Burleigh. This history is necessary to understand if Americans are going to make the break from geopolitics and divisiveness of the old paradigm and move into a new paradigm of win-win cooperation between the best of all cultures. This concert program was well composed with many solo and choral African-American Spirituals, Lieder by Brahms, and some lesser-known but beautiful and well-received songs by, Antonín Dvořák including two Moravian duets, a song in Czech, and the well-loved Songs my Mother Taught Me, sung by soprano, Michelle Fuchs and accompanied by My-Hoa Steger. Also, a very special rendition of the Chinese folk song, “Jasmine Flower (Moli-hua)” sung by Donna Liao, and accompanied by treble voices and piano, brought the beauty of Chinese culture to a largely American audience. At certain points in the program, quotes by Dvořák, Burleigh, and Frederick Douglass, were read, to help the audience gain further insight into the beginnings of this American Renaissance and also why it was deliberately derailed into Jazz and the Roaring 20s culture, etc. For more on this history, see The African-American Spiritual and the Resurrection of Classical Art: Not Force, But Beauty, Will Change America.
Soprano Annicia Smith singing “Deep River.”
There were a few incredible responses from the audience which characterize a more general hunger for beautiful culture that our choruses are finding around the country, particularly right now. This audience, made up entirely of the local community, including family and friends of chorus members, local business owners, and some children, gained their concentration and settled down during the opening piece, the beautiful prayer-like “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s Solemn Vespers.
At the conclusion of the concert, there were many responses by audience members and chorus members alike. Many people could not believe that we are a community chorus and that we do not hold auditions. This led to many good discussions about the important role of the Verdi tuning and bel canto vocal training to train amateur voices. One chorus member noticed that during one particular dramatically soft and beautiful choral phrase in a spiritual, many members of the audience simultaneously sat back in their seats and closed their eyes, as if to be relieved by the music. Many expressed how important it is to have this beauty here in this community and how every single arrangement was beautiful.
Another important note was the affect of the historical excerpts and quotes, as a few members of the audience wanted to discuss the role of slavery in the United States and more of the history of Burleigh and Dvorak. Following the concert, there was a wonderful food reception attended by audience and performers alike.
This full weekend of two beautiful concerts reinforced our firm commitment to bringing high-level culture to all peoples and that if we can avoid the dangers of war, the United States can be ready to join the new paradigm.
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.
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.”
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.
The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus, with Maestro Dorceal Duckens, our great pianist Joshua, and newly added string players, made beautiful music unto Heaven during our May 5th concert at the Riverside United Methodist Church, 3rd Ward, Houston. Ironically, the lights in the church sanctuary were not working the day of the concert; thus, creating a dramatic setting as the sun set through the church’s gorgeous stained glass windows. With wonderful acoustics in the church, and the evening sun filling the sanctuary, the concert made a big impact on the audience. The “Mozart Effect” on the 50+ attendees in audience was palpable.
While the church was not full, those in attendance reflected a broad outreach of our organizing around the city. We had a number of pastors, several members of the Ebony Opera Guild, members of our director’s church, Chinese contacts of the Schiller Institute, and a few members of the Riverside Church. Many attending knew Maestro Duckens only as a great singer and were amazed to discover he is also a great conductor! Also in attendance was the vocal coach from another local opera company, as well as the Choir Master from a local church. A couple drove over an hour after they had seen the concert advertised on an online blog. Before the concert, while speaking to a member of the chorus, the couple was very curious about the connection between Schiller the poet, economics, politics, and music but as they were leaving, they shook the member’s hand and promised they were going to look up Schiller when they got home. One of the directors from a homeless center was amazed. He had never heard Mozart performed before and had no idea about his role in the American Revolution. Another woman, employed by the church, told a member of the chorus she used to be a singer until she developed nodes on her vocal chords and could no longer sing the high soprano notes. Imagine her fascination when she learned we sing at the C=256 pitch to preserve the human voice and instruments! During the performance she was observed singing softly with every Spiritual. Another attendee, who has followed the work of the Schiller Institute and chorus member Kesha Rogers’ campaigns for congress, told a member afterwards that this concert had “healed him” since he had just suffered the loss of a child two weeks ago.
Worth noting is the impact the Mozart Solemn Vespers on this audience, many of whom knew the Spirituals well. One of the “church ladies” remarked to a chorus member, “you guys were full of the Spirit—even the Mozart was like that!” In observing the ladies during the concert, he noted how they looked at each other in amazement during the intense contrapuntal sections. One turned to two others and mouthed, “I want to clap” after the Laudate Dominum, but held herself back, as did the rest of the audience, until we had completed the entire work. Following the event, we had a small reception where several of the attendees joined us for discussion; people were just beaming with joy.
Several people inquired about joining our chorus. This was certainly on a higher level than anything that we have done before. We truly unified and brought the community together from all walks of life around beautiful bel-canto music that moved the mind and soul. We were so happy to be joining our friends there in NY as both choruses sang in harmony together in different space times.
For more information about the Schiller Community Chorus or how to join, visit our Houston Chorus page.