Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

The truth about those Russian kids’ camps

April 3, 2023

[Update 04/05/2023]. It seems that some children are being evacuated from the Ukrainian war zone indefinitely and placed in Russian foster homes.  Some of them are orphans.  There is no evidence that this is being done against the will of parents.

Russia says ready to return children if parents ask for them by the South China Morning Post.

  • The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children to a network of camps inside Russia. The warrant was based on a report by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab center, which is funded by the U.S.  State Department.
  • U.S. journalist Jeremy Loffredo visited one of Russian government-sponsored camps in question.  At the Donbas Express, located just outside of Moscow, Loffredo met youth from war-torn regions who were flourishing thanks to free music instruction, and grateful to be in a secure environment.  
  • A Grayzone review of the Yale HRL report found the paper’s content contradicted many claims contained in the ICC warrant.  It also undercut incendiary statements its director, Nathaniel Raymond, issued during media appearances.
  • In an interview with Loffredo, Yale HRL’s Raymond further contradicted allegations he made in a CNN interview about a massive “hostage situation” underway in Russia, acknowledging that most of the camps he researched were “teddy bear”-like cultural programs.  He also disclosed his collaboration with U.S. intelligence.

ICC’s Putin arrest warrant based on State Dept. funded report that debunked itself by Jeffrey Loffredo and Max Blumenthal for The Grayzone.


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, commissioner of children’s rights, have been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of kidnaping thousands of Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia to be Russianized.

An investigation by the Grayzone has shown this to be the opposite of the truth.  The children are from families in Ukraine who consider themselves Russian.  

They are fighting to prevent their children from being forcibly Ukrainianized – that is, forbidden to speak the Russian language, attend the Russian Orthodox Church and learn about Russian culture.

The children went to Russia temporarily, with their parents’ consent, to enjoy musical education and to be temporarily safe from life in a war zone.

Jeremy Loffredo, a journalist, was in Russia in November, 2022, and happened to visit one of these camps, the Donbass Expresss, not knowing it was to be the subject on an international criminal case.   He saw happy children, singing and learning to play musical instruments.  True, they sang Russian songs

Loffredo then checked the Yale HRL report, on which the charges are based.  The writers of the report never visited the youth camps, never attempted to contact parents and did all their research online.

Yet the report does not deny the basic truth of what Loffredo said – that at least many of the children went to the camps with their parents’ consent, took part in harmless “teddy bear”-like programs and returned home.

The real threat to the children is war – not just the 2022 Russian invasion, but the civil war that started in 2014 with Ukraine’s anti-Russia coup.  The way to protect the children is to end the war.   The indictment makes that harder to do.

Russia doesn’t recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.  Neither does the USA.

[Update 04/25/2023.  Another view.  I don’t regard Foreign Policy magazine as an impartial source, but the facts seem more ambiguous than I had assumed.

Rescue Efforts Underway for Ukrainian Children Taken to Russia by Liz Cookman for Foreign Policy.]

Does this sound familiar?

February 25, 2023

Time for something a little lighter.  Have you heard this before?

Here’s where you probably heard it.


Serenading the cows

December 10, 2022

Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s Space Oddity song

April 30, 2022

For background, click on Chris Hadfield

Feynman’s ode to the wonder of life

April 24, 2022

The following words are from an address to the National Academy of Sciences in 1955.  Get details from The Marginalian.

by Richard Feynman

I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think. There are the rushing waves… mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business… trillions apart… yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages… before any eyes could see… year after year… thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what?… on a dead planet, with no life to entertain.

Never at rest… tortured by energy… wasted prodigiously by the sun… poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves… and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity… living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein… dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle onto the dry land… here it is standing… atoms with consciousness… matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea… wonders at wondering… I… a universe of atoms… an atom in the universe.

The music of Peter Tchaikovsky is universal

March 20, 2022

From a letter by Peter Tchaikovsky to a friend:

We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.  If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it halfway, we easily become indolent and apathetic.  We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.  

A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration.  Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness.  But my patience and faith did not fail me, and today I felt the inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write today will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it.

I was indignant all the cancellations of performances of works by Russian composers, and demands that Russian musicians and singers denounce Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.

I think my own government is wrong in a lot of ways, but, if I were abroad and people demanded I broadcast a denunciation of, say, Donald Trump, I would not do it.

Forced loyalty oaths are bad enough, because they do not signify loyalty, only that you are willing to bow to pressure.  Forced denunciations of one’s own government are even worse for the same reason.

But then it occurred to me that Tchaikovsky could not be canceled.  All his works were available online to me, and to anybody else with a computer.  I in fact could have listened to great music by great composers, including Russians, every night of my life, and I never took advantage of it.

I spent yesterday evening listening to a YouTube collection of short sections of Peter Tchaikovsky’s works.  I am not a great concert-goer or music-lover, and I was surprised at how familiar so much of this music sounded to me.  His music is part of world culture, including U.S. culture.  It will be remembered when Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky are forgotten.


Putin’s Russia vs. Pushkin’s Russia by Gary Saul Morson for Quillette.

The Cancelation of Russian Culture by Gary Saul Morson for First Things.

Classical Music Cancels Russians by Heather MacDonald for City Journal.

Not everyone in the Western music world has lost courage and humanistic values by Gilbert Doctorow.

A Chinese pianist performs Beethoven

February 5, 2022

My musical knowledge and appreciation is below average and I never heard Beethoven’s beautiful Für Elise before I came across this performance by Lang Lang a week or so ago.  It’s wonderful!

It’s interesting that so many Chinese musicians are superb performers of music in the classical European tradition, and also that there is interest in China in the Greek and Latin classics, especially when so many in the West are losing interest in the classics.

The Jerusalema dance challenge

January 30, 2022

Watching this cheered me up.

Jerusalema is a gospel-influenced song in the Zulu language produced by South African producer master KG and performed by the vocalist Nomcebo in 2019.

In February, 2020, Frndómenos do Semla, a dance group in Angola, recorded themselves dancing to the song while eating and not dropping their plates.

Since then the Jerusalema dance has gone viral.  People all over the world are doing it.  (But I only learned of it day before yesterday.)


Easy listening music of the season by Mozart

December 22, 2021

Source: Collins Classics.

‘Come thou fount of every blessing’

December 12, 2021

Hat tip to Julian Abagond.

Bohemian Catsody: a Rhapsody parody

October 9, 2021

Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.

Even though I’ve never been a cat owner, I think this is pretty funny.

Complaints choirs: Life is tough all over

October 2, 2021

Evidently complaints choirs were a big thing 15 years or so years ago, but I only heard of them last week.  They’re a fad that may have come and gone, but, to me, they are timelessly funny.


A new stanza for Solidarity Forever

June 21, 2021

My old friend, Gene Zitver, told me there is a new stanza for the old labor song, Solidarity Forever.  It’s a fitting capstone for my posts on wokeness, critical race theory and white supremacy culture.

They divide us by our color, they divide us by our tongue.

They divide us men and women, they divide us old and young.

But they’ll tremble at our voices, when they hear these verses sung.

For the union makes us strong!

William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast”

May 16, 2021

Musical Interlude: “On the Path of Decent Groove” | Belshazzar’s Feast by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.  Click on this link for the lyrics.


May 9, 2021

The 1975 anthem to the American trucker

April 28, 2021

The video below gives the story of “Convoy,” the 1975 country music anthem to the American trucker.  It tells how the song came to be written, and how country music historically has spoken to American working men.

I’m old enough to have enjoyed “Convoy” when it first came out, and was glad to come across the video giving the background.  If you’re of my generation (or not), maybe you will, too.


C.W. McCall – Convoy Lyrics.  The written lyrics.

CONVOY 01 CW McCall – Convoy Original Version – YouTube.  I wasn’t able to embed this YouTube video, so you’ll have to click on the link if you want to hear it.

Convoy by C.W. McCall – Songfacts.  The lyrics decoded.

It’s time for a little Serbian accordian music

April 17, 2021

I needed a little bluegrass to cheer myself up

April 11, 2021

Church organ music on a Commodore 64

April 3, 2021


Linus Akesson web page.

The sixtyforgan by Linus Akesson.

Simulating Church Organ Music on a Commodore 64 by Jason Kottke for

Four cellists on just one cello

March 27, 2021

Click on Weiner Celloensemble 5 +1 to reach their web site.

Glenn Miller and the Chattanooga Choo Choo

March 7, 2021

Time for for some music

The Democracy! Suite with Wynton Marsalis

February 13, 2021

It’s time for something soothing

January 24, 2021

‘Every little thing gonna be all right’

January 2, 2021

I thank my friend Beth Ares for this video of Three Little Birds by the late, great Bob Marley.

Once in Royal David’s City

December 25, 2020

This selection is lifted from Lambert Strether’s Christmas Eve 2020 message on Naked Capitalism.

I enjoyed the whole message and the comment thread that followed.