Saturday, September 23, 2006

Documentary on WWII Aleut internment

Posted to the blog for future reference, a link to the website for The Aleut Story, a documentary on the evacuation and internment of Alaska Natives from the Aleutian Islands during World War II. The website offers a variety of reviews and other resources.

A capsule from the website:
In 1942, as World War II invaded Alaska, Aleut Americans were taken from their homes and removed to abysmal government camps 1,500 miles away. Death was ever-present in the camps. An estimated 10 percent of the men, women and children sent to the camps would die there—a death rate comparable to that suffered by Americans in foreign prisoner of war camps. As the Aleuts prayed for deliverance, "friendly forces" looted their homes and churches in the Aleutian and Pribilof islands.

Those who survived would fight for their rights—in the nation's courts and on Capitol Hill. In a historic action—one that continues to influence our lives and our nation's ideals—Aleuts joined Japanese Americans in seeking wartime reparations from the federal government.

Aleut Americans ultimately prevailed.
Says Marla Williams, screenwriter for the film, quoting from the 1990s-vintage U.S. government commission that authorized reparations to the Aleuts and Japanese-Americans:
"Removal from their homeland permanently changed nearly every aspect of Aleut life," the special Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded in a report to Congress. "The many who died in the camps were a huge loss to both family and community which also endangers the future of the Aleut as a distinct people. Evacuation meant irreversible cultural erosion ... America, proud of its cultural diversity, thereby lost a distinctive part of itself."

Only through the telling of the Aleuts' story will America ever truly regain that part of itself which was lost. As filmmakers, it is our hope this documentary will contribute to a more accurate understanding of our civil rights history and a renewed appreciation for the diversity of our nation.

Friday, September 22, 2006

'Starring' in Alaska -- MP3 radio show

Here's a link to a two-minute radio show on Russian Christmas in Alaska. It's narrated by James Metzger, executive producer of the Pulse of the Planet radio show, and it's titled "Starring: Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas." Playing in the background for ambience, according to the credits, is a Slavic carol.

Metzger quotes Father Benjamin Peterson, dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage:
"Starring is one of those ways in which these very remote communities that are very often isolated from each other, especially in the dark and cold of winter, how they manage to kind of keep together. It's kind of a social glue that keeps these communities together. Some of them are only, have seven hundred people. Some of them have less - 300 people. So starring becomes a way that people connect with each other, and in the giving of gifts, you know, kind of open themselves to each other. Its kind of a way of renewing communities. So it even sends out a sense of belonging to people who are away from home - and, and keeps these communities together."
Fr. Benjamin says as the carolers go around, "each home becomes an extension of the church, in a sense a kind of little church."

According to the show's website, Pulse of the Planet is broadcast over 309 public and commercial stations around the world and on the Voice of America and the Armed Forces Radio Network, reaching more than 1 million listeners daily. The series is presented by the National Science Foundation.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Music survey -- Humanities 223 class

Results from an informal survey I took this morning of the 25 students in my ethnic music class. It was beyond informal: I asked them to journal for a page or so on the role that music plays in their daily life. Some of their answers below, aggregated, anonymous and slightly edited ... with spelling and obvious grammatical errors silently corrected.

A couple of generalizations: Several HUM 223 students took piano lessons or played trombone, flute or other instruments in school, and a few still play guitar or piano for their own enjoyment. One practices daily. Says another, "I sing all the time, anywhere, @ restaurants, fesitvals, etc." Others say if they sing, they do it in the car. "The only time I ever sing is in the car by myself or in a large group of people who sound just as bad as I do," says one. "I used to sing in church choir and in school," acknowledges another. "Now I only sing in the car, which is for the best."

But music is part of the daily texture of their lives. "I absolutely refuse to drive anywhere without music on," says one, who also plays the guitar. "When I am not listening to music, I am looking up or downloading new music." Others just keep it on. "I listen to music every day in my car, my home, in class, and before I go to bed. I also listen to music and work ... every time my families and I get together, we listen to music. When I go out to eat, I hear music."

With little variation reflecting ethnic heritage or family background, most students reported enjoying the same kinds of music ... and for the same reasons.

"Music sets people apart from one another, gives [a] topic to conversation, unites you with friends, sets a mood. .... calms or shows my emotions ... shows beliefs in church songs ... puts me to sleep every night, pumps me up for volleyball games, makes me think of a person or memory, reminds me of a lost loved one. ... Music relaxes me, can get me pumped up before a game, rejoicing and praising, or helping the time go by. ... Gospel inspires me or lifts me up, R&B keeps me happy and relating to the artists, and rap keeps me either thinking about reality or gets me crunk for an outing with my girls! Music keeps me well rounded. ... Music has a huge purpose in my life. It's probably the thing I am the most passionate about.

"I love music, I have to listen to music when I'm driving. Music is something that puts me in a good mood if I'm having a bad day. It's like my escape from everything. ... Most of the music that I hear is in the bar, family gatherings, parties, work, and in the car. The purpose of music in my life is to relax me or put myself in a better mood. ... My baseball teammates and I listen it it while we are in the clubhouse. We also just listen to it when we are just chilling. ... Every social gathering I attend, there is music playing and people dancing. ... The reason I like rap & hip-hop so much is because of the beats, rhythms and bass lines. I like to dance, so I like songs with rhythm. ... Most social gatherings in Springfield consist of listening to music while consuming one's beverage of choice. I would truly be a completely different person without music in my life."

"Well, I hear a lot of rap in my car, although I listen to a lot of country & rock. Every once in a while mother or grandpa will play a Frank Sinatra CD. ... I like to listen to music while I'm cleaning because it makes the job more fun and musical. ... If I am sad or in a bad mood, I will listen to music to either cheer me up or to show the way I feel that day. ... I do listen to specific genres of music depending on my mood. For example, if I'm wanting to get ready for a game I would want to hear a rock/rap song but not country. ... My main type of music genres are rap & hip-hop. I do like R&B and alternative rock. Some country is fine with me but not all the time. ... Most of my family can't stand my choice in music so we never listen to music together. ... I think the kind of music you listen to comes from how you grew up. Like I came from the country on a far, so I like to listen to country and bluegrass. But if you came from the city, you might like R&B or a little rap. If you grew up in the 70s, you probably like alternative rock."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"Many Years" -- PDF and MIDI files

At St. Raphel's Press, an Angelfire website on Russian Orthodox chant. According to the note at the top of the website," St. Raphael Press, named for St. Raphael of Brooklyn, produces Orthodox music from the Slavic Orthodox tradition." Music is in the public domain.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Music: '7 hogs on a windy day'

A wonderful quote in The Icon and the Axe, James H. Billington's cultural history of Russia, from the court of Tsar Alexei I Mikhailovich Romanov, who ruled in the 17th century when western polyphony was beginning to replace traditional Orthodox hymnody in and around Moscow. He writes
The overlapping of old and new sounds at the court of Alexis was linkened by his English doctor to "a flight of screech owls, a nest of Jackdaws, a pack of hungry Wolves, seven Hogs on a windy day and as many cats. ..." (147)
Billington's citation is to Samuel Collins, On the Present State of Russia (1671). Wikipedia has a brief biography of Collins, which I'm inclined to trust.