Ellis, Unchained

Ellis, Unchained

Marxism, Multiculturalism, and Free Speech, by Frank Ellis,
Washington, D.C. : Council for Social and Economic Studies, 2006, 
paperback, price/availability: enquire at socecon@aol.com, 107 pp.
ISBN 0-930690-60-5, reviewed by Mark Wegierski

This book is published with a plain beige paper cover. The publisher, Roger Pearson, located in the U.S capital, is generally considered controversial. Nevertheless, one should surely suspend judgment as to the appearance and provenance of the book, as it could not have appeared under the auspices of a “main stream media” publisher.

Frank Ellis, a former Lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies at Leeds University, himself became embroiled in a “political correctness” scandal of the type which he discusses in this book. When his off-campus statements in opposition to unrestricted Third World immigration into Britain became widely circulated at his university, he was placed in an untenable situation, and was ultimately forced to negotiate an early retirement settlement. Continue reading

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The Aldeburgh Festival 2018


John Wilson Orchestra

The Aldeburgh Festival 2018

Tony Cooper previews the programme

Founded by Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Eric Crozier in 1948, the Aldeburgh Festival goes from strength to strength and this year runs from Friday 8th to Sunday 24th June. The luminous line-up features such notable artists as Anne-Sophie von Otter and Sir Bryn Terfel and eminent ensembles like Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen and the John Wilson Orchestra. As always, there is a wealth of new music, including premières by Emily Howard, Harrison Birtwistle, Michael Hersch and Simon Holt.

A key programme strand is ‘Britten and America’, to coincide with the centenary of the inspirational composer, conductor and educator, Leonard Bernstein. His connections with and parallels to Britten are fascinating. And marking 70 years since the festival was founded, ‘The Spirit of 1948’ will reflect on a remarkable post-war period when so much of what we now regard to be the backbone of our cultural life was established.

The festival has engaged three artists-in-residence who are connected by their curatorial flair and open-minded approach to music making: John Wilson, the British conductor, arranger and musicologist; Claire Chase, the pioneering American flautist, curator and educator; and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the outstanding Moldovan violinist.

John Wilson not only conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra but also his own orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, an established favourite at the Snape Proms in August. They will be making their Aldeburgh Festival début. Claire Chase explores the radical edge of American music ranging from Edgard Varèse, French born but who lived most of his life in America, to Morton Feldman, a major figure in 20th-century American music and a new generation of composers whom she has committed to commissioning for the next twenty years through her ‘Density 2036’ project, the centenary of Edgard Varèse’s iconic piece ‘Density 21.5’ for solo flute.

The outstanding French period-instrument ensemble, Le Concert Spirituel, will give three concerts (12th, 13th and 14th June), including a performance of the spectacular baroque mass by the 17th-century, Franco-Italian composer, Orazio Benevolo, scored for eight separate choirs and ensembles, each with their own conductor. This concert marks the festival’s return to the gothic splendour of Ely Cathedral for the first time in fifty years.

The world première of Emily Howard’s new sci-fi-inspired opera, an Aldeburgh Festival commission, entitled ‘To See the Invisible’ (8th, 10th and 11th June) promises to be a highlight of this year’s festival. Ms Howard developed the work over the course of a Snape residency with her collaborators, Dan Ayling (director) and Selma Dimitrijevic (librettist). Her music is known for its connection with science (she studied mathematics and computer science) and her latest work is based on a short story by the renowned American sci-fi writer, Robert Silverberg.

John Wilson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will undertake two concerts comprising works by Britten, Bernstein and Copland (8th and 9th June) while the John Wilson Orchestra (10th June) will deliver a programme of Bernstein’s popular and less well-known Broadway hits including excerpts from West Side Story, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Candide, Peter Pan, Trouble in Tahiti and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Claire Chase is an inspirational trailblazer for new music of all styles and in 2013 embarked on an epic commissioning and performance adventure entitled ‘Density 2036’. She will be performing a brand-new solo programme each year until 2036. A programme entitled ‘Density 2036’ will be featured on 14th June followed by ‘Feldman at Sunrise’ on 16th June. Here, Chase and her collaborators will present a performance of American composer Morton Feldman’s marathon five-hour piece ‘For Philip Guston’, starting at sunrise with the audience lying on mattresses and cushions. The music critic of The New Yorker, Alex Ross, wrote: ‘To sit through a performance of ‘For Philip Guston’ is to enter into a new consciousness.’

Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s staged concert with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, ‘Bye-Bye Beethoven’ (22nd June) offers a voyage through the revolutionary voices that shaped and redefined music from Bach to the present day. With the remarkable violinist Kopatchinskaja at the helm, the concert will doubtless steer a fascinating and unorthodox course. Featuring orchestral performances and collaborations with video and sound designers, the audience can expect a gripping portrait of one of today’s leading performers. The following day, she returns to explore her native Moldovan roots with her violin- and cimbalom-playing parents. ‘Classical music is like a ship,’ she says, ‘and everyone’s standing at the stern and looking at how nice it was where we came from. But no one dares to go on to the bow to see what’s coming.’

A typically ambitious Aldeburgh Festival event on 18th June features the Knussen and Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble performing a host of new music including the world première (an Aldeburgh Festival commission) of Harrison Birtwistle’s ‘Keyboard Engine, Construction for Two Pianos’, performed by Tamara Stefanovich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. And one of the world’s best-loved opera-singers, Sir Bryn Terfel, makes his first Aldeburgh Festival appearance (24th June) accompanied by Malcolm Martineau in a programme comprising English and American folk-song arrangements by Britten and Copland as well as classical songs by Brahms and Schubert.

This year’s exhibitions include ‘Suffolk Voices’ by British-Australian artist Samantha Heriz. She grew up in Suffolk and is fascinated by the transformation and dilution of the county’s accent. Following her residency at Snape Maltings last year, Ms Heriz will present her immersive sound installation at the Pond Gallery created from recordings of today’s Suffolk voices, showing the increasing diversity in accent. The voices speak the words of a bygone Suffolk fisherman’s song, creating a modern soundscape that tells of migration, globalisation and the transitory patterns of our region.

Other exhibitions include a programme of exhibitions and events at The Red House focusing on Britten in America; Tom Hammick’s ‘Lunar Voyage’, a narrative cycle of 17 woodcut prints conjuring a metaphorical escape from Earth in pursuit of freedom and isolation on another planet; Dennis Creffield’s drawings of East Anglian cathedrals and a new installation alongside other work by East Anglian-born sculptor, Kate MccGwire. Enjoy…

Snape Maltings

For the complete programme visit:

TONY COOPER is QR’s Opera Critic

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The Colliery Guardian at War

Loading coal on HMS Bellerophon, picture from Pinterest

 The Colliery Guardian at War

Bill Hartley mines an invaluable source of social history 

An historian once said that by 1914 Europe had become an armed camp. Even so there was a view at the time that war was unlikely given the close ties of trade and commerce between the nations. Well, we know what happened to that theory. Even so, those ties did exist and following the outbreak of war were a cause of concern to the Colliery Guardian. The paper did however try to be upbeat suggesting that British manufacturers would benefit from gaining access to markets denied to the enemy, since it would be difficult for German goods to travel along routes now guarded by the Royal Navy. At home and in the face of anti German hysteria, one editorial in late 1914 took a surprisingly liberal view on the question of enemy aliens working in Britain. The Guardian felt that providing these people did nothing to aid Britain’s enemies then they should be allowed to continue in business. How long some managed to do so was somewhat surprising. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, March 2018

Vlatava, in Prague

ENDNOTES, March 2018

In this edition: Smetana from Prague; the music of Marcus Paus; Rubbra conducts Rubbra

As a tribute to the great Czech maestro Jiří Bělohlávek, who died last year (after succumbing to cancer at 71), Decca has issued his 2014 recording of Smetana’s
Vlast – “My country”. British audiences took Mr. Bělohlávek to their hearts: he became the Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in addition to his advocacy of music of his native Bohemia, took up with relish the cause of British music. He conducted Elgar’s (rarely-heard) The Spirit of England at the Last Night of the Proms, expressed his great approval of this institution – joining in with full enthusiasm, and even proudly wearing the CBE which he was awarded in recognition of his huge contribution to the arts in Britain. Other Proms triumphs included a performance of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony which seemed to achieve in full, not just the gargantuan, granite relentlessness of the second movement, but the transcendental triumph of what Bruckner left as the final completed movement – the composer having dedicated the work “to God”. Continue reading

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Jerusalem the Golden


Jerusalem the Golden

by Ilana Mercer

Pope Francis protested, albeit enigmatically, when President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the eternal Capital of Israel. The United Nations, naturally, disapproved too. By 2019’s end, the Trump administration plans to open the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

There’s a reason Muslims living in Israel proper—1.5 million of them—don’t migrate to the adjacent Palestinian Authority. They’re better off in Israel. Should Jerusalem, East and West, be recognized formally as the capital of Israel only, under Jewish control alone, Christianity’s holiest sites will be better off. Judaism’s holy sites will be safer. And so will Islam’s.

Jerusalem is no settlement to be haggled over; it’s the capital of the Jewish State. King David conquered it 1000 years Before Christ. The city’s “Muslim Period” began only in the year 638 of the Common Era. “Yerushalaim,” and not Al Quds, is the name of the city that was sacred to Jews for nearly two thousand years before Muhammad. Continue reading

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The Darkest Hour

Winston Churchill at Coventry Cathedral

The Darkest Hour

Main Cast:

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill
Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill
Ben Mendelsohn as George VI
Lily James as Elizabeth Layton
Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain
Stephen Dillane as Edward Wood, 3rd Viscount Halifax
Nicholas Jones as John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon
Samuel West as Anthony Eden
David Schofield as Clement Attlee

Director: Joe Wright

Film reviewed by Robert Henderson

This is a deeply unsatisfactory film. It is very watchable but also blemished with ahistorical nonsense. In addition, although it gives a more positive picture overall of Churchill’s personality than does the other recent film portrayal of the man, there is still much which does not readily tally with what we know of Churchill from contemporary newsreel, his writings and the decisions that he made. It also intrudes into the film a piece of political correctness so crude and clumsy that it takes one’s breath away.

The film covers the period from just before Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister in 1940 and the weeks immediately following his promotion to that office. Hitler is sweeping through Europe. Most of the British Army is trapped in Dunkirk and in danger of capture.   Although better equipped militarily than in 1938, Britain is still short of planes and warships. For appeasing politicians like Halifax and the most senior military officers faced with this dire situation, there are persuasive reasons to seek terms with Hitler, not least because it looks as though most of the British Army will be lost at Dunkirk. Continue reading

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Class Act

Evelyn Waugh

Class Act

EVELYN WAUGH: A Life Revisited, Philip Eade, 2017, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £10.99, reviewed by STODDARD MARTIN

Middle class folk beyond a certain age in Britain and its cultural tributaries may recall a social order so cleverly depicted by Evelyn Waugh that one might be tempted to argue that he invented it. Now it is vanished so utterly that to read of its inspirations in Waugh’s career seems akin to rehearsing liaisons of the ancien régime in pre-Revolutionary France. That said, I was shocked to be told by a literary editor of contemporary repute that ‘Brideshead is what we all want.’ She went on to posit that such nostalgia is what impelled Brexit. Since our discussion was occurring in a club founded by Waugh’s son Auberon, I decided to shut up. Musing on the tube later, I noted that my multi-ethnic fellow travellers were all riveted to their IPhones. Not a book in sight. Continue reading

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The Revision, Revised Again

Samuel Prideaux Tregelles

The Revision, Revised Again

THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, eds., D. Jongkind, P. J. Williams et al., produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge; published by Crossway and Cambridge University Press (2017), Pp. 526

Every critical Greek New Testament must satisfy two classes of inquiries. First of all, the text should show no editorial reverence toward time-honored MSS: in other words, the text should be formed according to the editor’s judgments, even if such verdicts are not in conformity to views held by the individual’s academic peers. Or, it is essential, at least, that a diplomatic text is presented with the appropriate critical symbols indicating an editor’s appraisals of specific readings. Secondly, a handy critical apparatus should be assembled because it is a necessary accompaniment toward transforming uninformed readers into learned, judicious students of text-critical matters: i.e., of how transmitted texts were altered or ratified at various times and by various people in church history.

Failing in either of these two aspects, an editor (or editors) comes up short in comparison to the initial efforts of Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), who published Novum Instrumentum Omne (1516), which, depending on your regard for the Complutensian Polyglot Bible (completed by 1514, but not published until 1520), may be considered the first truly critical Greek-Latin New Testament made available for public inspection. Continue reading

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A Donald, for the Educated Reader

Jordan B Peterson

A Donald, for the Educated Reader

Jordan B. Peterson (2018), 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Allen Lane, 409pp. hardback, £20, reviewed by Dr Ed Dutton  

The Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson exploded onto the mainstream in the UK in January this year when a hostile interview by Channel 4 News’ Cathy Newman went viral. In 12 Rules for Life, Peterson, a former Harvard lecturer, provides us with one rule per chapter. The ninth rule is ‘Assume that the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t.’ In this chapter, Peterson discusses different kinds of conversation and dissects ‘the conversation where one participant is trying to attain victory for his point of view.’ In such a conversation, Peterson notes, the speaker will ‘denigrate and ridicule the other point of view,’ use selective evidence, and basically try to impress the listeners with his or her wit. It is a ‘dominance-hierarchy’ conversation in which the aggressor will desperately defend ‘the hierarchy within which he has achieved success’ (p.249). Continue reading

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Praying Mantis

Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, in Tosca

 Praying Mantis

Tosca, melodrama in three acts, music composed by Giacomo Puccini, libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, conducted by Placido Domingo, tenth revival of director Jonathan Kent’s 2006 production, sets by the late Paul Brown, Royal Opera, 19th February 2018

The plot of Tosca turns on the fateful encounter of two powerful personalities, the singer Floria Tosca, played in this performance by soprano Martina Serafin, and the demonic Chief of the Roman Police, Baron Scarpia (Marco Vratogna), who lusts after her. Both of these characters are psychologically complex and fascinating. The former is pious, emotionally labile and prone to self-pity, witness her famous aria Vissi d’arte. Scarpia is a nihilist and sadist who plays upon his victim’s weaknesses, notably Tosca’s jealousy but also her love for the painter Mario Cavaradossi (Riccardo Massi). As Scarpia pithily remarks, “To bring down a man Iago used a hanker chief – I have a fan” (that of Marchessa Attavanti, the sister of the former Consul of the Roman republic, Cesare Angelotti (Simon Shibambu) who is on the run). Puccini gives both of these central characters their own musical leitmotif. The devil, as George Whitefield remarked, has all the best tunes and baritone Marco Vratogna gave the stand out performance, looking and sounding suitably sinister. “Tosca, you make me forget God!”, he proclaims. Continue reading

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