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Vivaldi, veiling and revelation…

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — some glorious music, Venice, Kandahar ]

I was listening to Pergolesi‘s Stabat Mater the other day, and talk came around to the question of whether women would have sung the two solo parts – whether they were written for soprano and contralto, in other words, or for treble and counter-tenor – all of which reminded me that the “red priest” Vivaldi was, for over thirty years, maestro of the Ospedale della Pietà orphanage in Venice.

The Ospedale’s all-woman choir performed many of his sacred choral works in church, hidden from view if not speculation in a high balcony behind an iron grille…

The BBC has an hour-long documentary on the subject of Vivaldi’s Women, which features the Ospedale but also the contemporary choir and orchestra, Vivaldi’s Women, more properly known as the Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi.

The (lower) image of the present-day women’s choir singing behind one of those grilles – accompanied by a voice-over reading from a fashionable “grand tour” diary of the day which reports that the “grilles conceal the angels of loveliness” (the writer was perhaps aware, perhaps not, that many of the orphans in Vivaldi’s day would have been scarred or deformed by the pox or their parents’ syphilis) reminded me of another contested icon of “women behind a grille” – this time, the traditional Afghan chadari (upper image)…


I have exchanged greetings through a grille with Carmelite nuns in California, and they clearly appreciated the sanctuary that their enclosure offered them…

My point is not to argue the superiority of bikini over burqa or vice versa: it is to offer you a chance to hear some Vivaldi or Pergolesi, and to consider the issue of veiling and revealing — intimacy’s equivalent of secrecy and transparency — from what was for me at least an unexpected and fresh angle.

One quick illustrated quote from Secretary Clinton

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — sometimes i post things so obvious they might actually be useful ]

One quick annotated quote from Sec. Clinton‘s speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace China Conference, March 7th:

Now when I say “we,” I do not mean only our governments, as important as they are. Every day, across both of our countries, executives and entrepreneurs, scientists and scholars, artists and athletes, students and teachers, family members and citizens of all kinds shape and pull and add to this relationship. Together, they represent a vast range of priorities, concerns, and points of view. And they are all stakeholders in how we build toward a shared future.

It’s really that list I’m after…

There are seven billion individuals bouncing up and down on our trampoline, some of them holding hands, some of them in gangs that want to trip up rival gangs, or make a clearing for themselves and themselves alone, some too weak to bounce much at all…

and each time each one of us lands, we impact the trampoline from a different angle, stretch it a different way – tugging it to the will of the artist, the entrepreneur, the child, the retiree, the curious, the aggressive, the meek…

As we know, the earth is round, which is to say three-dimensional – but the tugs on it, the tensions, are more complicated than that, in fact they’re complex, n-dimensional – and constantly shifting.

Hilary Clinton wants to wake up in the morning, have coffee – and model that! – along with, and in balance with, her counterpart in another huge mass of population, half a globe and at least six philosophies away…

The coffee’s good, but it’s not enough — what we all could use is a new mode of thinking.


Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission

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