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Archive for May, 2008

St Petersburg Chamber Choir

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St Petersburg Chamber Choir
‘We Praise Thee’ (from the Russian Liturgy)
Music by Pavel G. Chesnokov (1877-1944)
Nikolai Korniev, conductor

ne of Russia ‘s leading choirs, the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir is actively involved in continuing the rich traditions of Russian and European vocal music. Founded in 1977, the choir is made up of professional musicians who have completed their studies at Russia ‘s top musical institutions. Besides receiving numerous national awards, it has excelled in the international arena, winning prizes in Hungary in 1986 and in Germany and Italy in 1989. In 1994 the choir was awarded a Grammy for the best Choral Performance of the Vespers by Sergei Rachmaninov. On the back of these successes the choir has launched an extensive international touring career, and has received widespread critical acclaim in the United States, the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

The choir’s broad repertoire includes Renaissance music, Bach’s sacred compositions, nineteenth-century music and contemporary works, many of which were composed for the choir. In this way the choir has attracted the attention of many well-known conductors and soloists. Over the years such conductors as Gennady Roshdestvensky, Yury Simonov, Semyon Bychkov, Valery Gergiev, Mikhail Pletnev and Sir Georg Solti have worked with the ensemble. In 2000 the choir performed the world première of St John’s Passion by Sofia Gubaidulina. The choir participates in all the significant musical festivals in St. Petersburg . Valery Gergiev invited the choir to perform at the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1994 for the first time.

Lost Maya cities in Palenque

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he ancient city of Palenque is both grand and mysterious. Some of the most fascinating ancient ruins of Mexico can be found here. Palenque Chiapas showcases one of the most famous sites in the Mayan civilization. Stone temples look out over the jungle from atop a ridge that hangs above surrounding mountains and travelers who spend time in Palenque will not forget the experience.

Transportation to Palenque can be tricky, but for any history enthusiasts, these ancient ruins of Mexico are well worth viewing. If you plan to rent a car, the drive from San Cristobal, the nearest city, to Palenque will take about five hours. Watch for potholes and other road obstructions as you drive, as some of the highways will not be paved. Also, be sure to keep your passport and other travel documents with you, as there are military roadblocks set up along the highway frequently and your car may be searched.

Travel to these ancient ruins of Mexico by bus will also take about five hours from San Cristobal. Palenque Mexico has two bus stations, both offering first class service to and from nearby cities. Bus service is also the best way to travel from downtown Palenque Mexico to the Palenque ruin site. White VW buses make trips from the city to the Palenque ruin site about once every ten minutes between 6am and 6pm. Cost is around $1 per person and buses may be flagged down at any point along their route.

Tourists making a trip to the Palenque ruin site will want to bring rain gear. Even on the warmest days, the jungle environment is wet and can even become chilly. During the rainy season, Palenque Mexico is incredibly humid and a good rain jacket will provide protection from the soaking precipitation.

Once you arrive at the Palenque ruins, you’ll see why historians and archeologists have studied these ancient ruins of Mexico for decades. The Palenque Maya civilizations were complicated and the temples that remain to this day are just one example. The architecture of the temples is inventive with a particular building style that allowed light and air into the temples. The interiors feature stone sculptures and representations of rulers and gods of the Palenque Maya people.

Perhaps the most famous of these rulers was Pacal of Palenque, also known as Pacal the Great. The name Pacal means “shield” in the Palenque Maya language and Pacal of Palenque commissioned much of the building projects that resulted in the intricate temples we see today. After his death, Pacal of Palenque was worshiped as a god and laid to rest in an elaborate pyramid tomb.

Iraq conspiracy

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imon reeves looks into the reasons behind the war in Iraq, from oil to the petrodollar to US supremacy and finishes with the Iranian Oil Bourse to trade oil in Euro, set to go online in March 2006, and how that mgiht be the cause for a war with Iran.
Simon Reeve was born and raised in west London. For those interested, Simon went to a local comprehensive, where he was an unspectacular student. He did not get a scholarship to Oxford University, or even Uxbridge College, and at the end of his schooling he was thrown out onto the cobbled streets of the great metropolis and left to forage for work and food.

After a series of terrible jobs, including working in a supermarket, a jewellery shop, and a charity shop, Simon started researching and writing in his spare time while working as a postboy at a national newspaper. He conducted investigations into subjects such as arms-dealing, nuclear smuggling, terrorism and organised crime before he began studying the 1993 World Trade Center attack just days after the bombing.

While investigating the background and origins of those responsible for the 1993 terrorist strike, Simon discovered more terror attacks were being planned by a disparate group of militants connected to the bombers – a group now commonly called al Qaeda.

While investigating this group over the next few years, Simon traced and interviewed ‘Afghan Arabs’ and close friends and supporters of Osama bin Laden, along with senior FBI, CIA, and Asian intelligence officials. Simon had clandestine meetings with spies and militants in tea houses, car parks and burger bars, was followed by secret agents from at least two countries, and worked undercover in disguise while searching for a former Lebanese arms smuggler. Traveling across three continents, Simon obtained classified documents and evidence detailing the existence, development and aims of the most dangerous terrorist organisation in modern history.

Meet the Stans – Uzbekistan

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eard of the Stans? Possibly not, but Simon Reeve’s tour of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan should enlighten you. Reeve’s skill is in mixing the mundane with the serious, the shocking with the sublime, while an easy personality and various ‘fixers’ facilitate his travels and his discoveries” In an excellent travelogue, the writer Simon Reeve explores four central Asian countries he calls ‘the Stans’. He is in the middle of nowhere, and so is the Beatles tribute band when he stops off in a small town after his truck suffers another puncture. Surreal images such as this abound, from camels grazing by rusting ships in a dried-up seabed, to white-coated women taking anthrax phials out of an unguarded fridge near an Islamic power base. It may look like another world, but, chillingly, it isn’t.”

Auschwitz

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uschwitz-Birkenau (Konzentrationslager Auschwitz ) was the largest of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. Located in German-occupied southern Poland, it took its name from the nearby town of O?wi?cim (Auschwitz in German), situated about 50 kilometers west of Kraków and 286 kilometers from Warsaw. Following the German occupation of Poland in September 1939, O?wi?cim was incorporated into Germany as part of the Katowice District (Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz), or unofficially East Upper Silesia (Ost-Oberschlesien), and renamed Auschwitz. The word Birkenau means ‘Birch tree’ of which there are many surrounding the Birkenau area of the complex.

The complex consisted of three main camps: Auschwitz I, the administrative center; Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp or Vernichtungslager; and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), a work camp. There were also around 40 satellite camps, some of them tens of kilometers from the main camps, with prisoner populations ranging from several dozen to several thousand.

The camp commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that up to 2.5 million people had died at Auschwitz. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum revised this figure in 1990, and new calculations now place the figure at 1.1–1.6 million, about 90 percent of whom were Jews from almost every country in Europe. Most victims were killed in gas chambers using Zyklon B; other deaths were caused by systematic starvation, forced labor, lack of disease control, individual executions, and so-called medical experiments.

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