Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Happy birthday, Graham Attwell!

February 16th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

Today the fellow-bloggers on Pontydysgu site can congratulate Graham Attwell on his birthday. I hope there is no home-made rule that would prevent us from celebrating this day via his own website.  Cheers, Graham!

Years and more …

Historical anniversaries 2018 – Part Three: Remembering Mahatma Gandhi

January 30th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two recent posts I focused on historical anniversaries that coincided on the 27th of January – the very day to remember the victims of holocaust (liberated from Auschwitz) and the beginning of the Finnish civil war (1918). Having written these two posts I thought I would retreat to my usual themes on ‘working & learning’ – research and development in the field of vocational education and training. But when I woke up this morning, I understood that we had yet another historical anniversary that merits our attention – 70 years from the death of Mahatma Gandhi.

As I have heard very good contributions from the German radio channel Deutschlandfunk, I do not want to repeat their message but rather share them via my blog. Also, the German TV-Channel ARD has provided a good photo gallery of Gandhi’s life and life work. So, below I share the links and hope that the pictures and the texts speak for themselves.

The life and life work of Mahatma Gandhi as a gallery of photos (Bildergalerie)

This link takes you to a series of 14 photos from different phases of Mahatma Gandhi’s life.

Zum 70. Todestag von Mahatma Gandhi (Remembering Mahatma Gandhi’s death 70 years ago)

Radio commentaries on the life work and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi

This morning two special programs dealt with the life work and intellectual legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. The daily “Kalenderblatt” provided an overview on Gandhi’s life concluding the report with the tragic death.Mahatma Gandhi wird Opfer eines Attentats (Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated)

The religious program “Morgenandacht” early in the morning discussed a lesson that Gandhi gave on valuing the ‘least’ of us in the humankind.

Sei selbst die Veränderung, die du dir für die Welt wünschst (Be yourself an example of the change that you want your world to go through)

I think this is enough for the moment. I hope that the pictures and the texts (in original language or as translations) convey the message. To me these already presented a lot of the wisdom and courage in peaceful mind that was exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi.

More blogs to come …

Historical Anniversaries 2018 – Part Two: Remembering the Finnish Civil War in 1918

January 28th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post I started blogging on historical anniversaries related to the date 27th of January. My first blog focused on remembering the victims of holocaust. In Germany the date of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau (27.1.1945) is the Day of Remembering of the Victims of the Nazi Regime (Gedenkstag der Opfer des NS-Regimes). With this post I discussed the importance of such remembering in the present times when antisemitism, xenophobia and racism tend to creep forward in the social media and in the everyday language. In this respect I brought forward contributions of German media with emphasis on learning lessons from the dark times. In a similar way I would like to deal with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Finnish civil war (27.1.1918).

The Finnish civil war – what was it all about?

Last year and the year before I was pleased to blog on the special year in the Finnish history – the preparations for the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Independence Day – the day when the Finnish parliament approved the Independence Declaration. Shortly afterwards the independence was recognised by the revolutionary government of Russia, led by the Bolsheviks and V.I. Lenin. This was celebrated by all political groupings in Finland. BUT the political and social life was in turmoil and the conflicts escalated into a civil war.

Nowadays the studies in the Finnish history, complemented by investigative journalism, have provided much information on the developments that led to the national tragedy. Paradoxically, Finland had profited of the presence of Russian soldiers and navy during the World War I (whilst Finnish people were not recruited to the Russian army). The fortifying works and the supply of army had provided income and employment for Finnish people. When Russia collapsed in military and economic terms, this was a heavy blow to the Finnish economy – and suddenly the condition of working people became worse. At the same time the police forces (maintained by the Russian government) were abolished and this caused immense problems. As a consequence, both the bourgeois parties and the labour movement started to create their own guards – which then started to live a life of their own. Also, with the common goal – to gain independence – there were controversies between the political parties: Who is really promoting it and who is collaborating with the Russian elite?

In January 1918 the bourgeois-led Finnish government declared the ‘white guard’ as the government troops and ordered the disarmament of the remaining Russian troops and of the ‘red guard’. At the same time the government left Helsinki and reassembled in the city of Vaasa. The disarmament order  led to fighting and to the decision of the red guard of Helsinki to start an armed resistance. This was followed at different parts of the country – but soon it became clear that the red guards dominated mainly the southern (and more industrialised) parts of Finland whilst the white guards dominated the central and northern areas. In March and April the white guards with better military leadership and better resources got the upper hand. In the crucial battle of Tampere the military strength of the red guard collapsed. And the subsequent invasion of German troops to the Helsinki area strengthened the final offensives of the white guard.

As usual, transition from civil war to peace and to normality is not an easy process. And in Finland in the year 1918 this transition was far from peaceful. Already during the civil war there had been numerous atrocities in different parts of the country. Now, after the military victory, the revenge was merciless. Mass executions, catastrophic circumstances at prisoner camps and an atmosphere of mistrust and discrimination overshadowed the whole year. However, the fact that Germany lost the World War I, gave rise to changes in government and brought up more reconciliatory tendencies into government policies. Yet, the wounds were deep and it took long to heal them.

Coming into terms with the experiences of the civil war – how has that happened?

In the light of the above it is understandable that the political climate remained very polarised through decades. From 1939 to 1945 the involvement of Finland in the World War II put the defence of the independence and the survival struggle of the Finnish people on top of everything else. In the post-war reconstruction there were tendencies towards consensus and towards polarisation. However, the recovery of the damages and the resettlement of a large population evacuated from the areas that were lost to Soviet Union – all this had the priority.

Once the reconstruction got further, there was firstly a need to deal with the more recent experiences of the World War II. On the one hand this happened via ‘war stories’, in which the bravery of Finns was celebrated. But on the other hand another kind of reflective literature emerged – something similar to Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ or to Hemingway’s ‘To whom the bells toll‘. The leading author of this wave was Väinö Linna with his taboo-breaking novel “Tuntematon sotilas” (The unknown soldier), published in 1954. As Linna himself said, he wanted to value the Finnish soldiers and their survival struggle but not the war itself. And as a result, there was a highly controversial debate, whether he did justice to his country and the struggle. At the end, he gained huge popularity and the film, based on his novel, is nowadays part of the national identity of the post-war Finland.

After this experience the country was ready to deal with the older wounds. And again it was Väinö Linna, who opened the discussion with his novel trilogy “Täällä Pohjantähden alla” (Under the North Star) in the 1960s. In this trilogy he reconstructs the Finnish history before the independence, the critical years of the independence movement and of the civil war, the tensed period of the 1920s an 1930s, the years of World War II and of the post-war recovery. The venue is the rural village of Pentinkulma that serves as the focal point for presenting what happened and what the local people thought of it. Given the success of his previous novel, Linna  presented a new perspective to the civil war and to the years after. With the help of his trilogy – and the films based on it – the new generations learned to overcome the ‘white’ and the ‘red’ myths of the civil war. It became apparent that it was not a war between ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ but both sides had blood in their hands. And it became apparent that the years after the civil war kept the suspicion and tension alive. In the long run, the nation learned to leave the hatred behind – although not much was done to find the truth and to ease the reconciliation.

What has happened later on – until the current anniversary?

In the decades after the 1960s the Finnish economy became prosperous, the Finnish society was adopting a variant of a welfare state -policy and the political life was overcoming polarisations. Thus, the antagonisms of the 1918 were now longer lived as a part of the actual political culture. Yet, it was only in the 1990s and after the year 2000 when professional historians took major efforts to clarify in depth, what all happened in the year 1918. More detailed studies were published on different aspects of the civil war and a comprehensive database was gathered on the victims – included the ones killed in action, by atrocities, by executions, by starvation or diseases in the prison camps.

Moreover, this also brought into picture new kinds of novels that researched the fates of particular personalities or – in a bigger picture – the role of women during the national tragedy. And this gave rise to theatre pieces that presented these aspects in different parts of Finland. Finally, with the help of the Finnish broadcasting corporation YLE, a new campaign for collecting memories of the tragic years – either those of eye witnesses or those of their children – has led to a richer picture of the dark period.

On top of this, the 100th anniversary (of the beginning of the civil war) coincided with the presidential election in Finland. It was remarkable to see that the candidates of different parties could discuss the tragedy of the past in an open way – and it appeared that the relatives of the candidates had been on different sides. Yet, in the present date Finland this didn’t trigger attempts to replay the old antagonisms. Instead, the discussion took the course towards learning the lessons from the difficult past. The conflicts of interest and different world views should never bring the people to such a situation again.

I guess this is enough of these historical anniversaries. I will now return to my usual themes.

More blogs to come …

 

Historical Anniversaries 2018 – Part One: Remembering the Victims of Holocaust

January 28th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

Normally I am writing on this blog about my work as researcher in vocational education and training (VET) and on learning experiences while working with practitioners in VET. However, as we all know, researchers and educators are not working in a societal vacuum. Therefore, issues of social awareness and social responsibility are always there to be considered and discussed. And historical anniversaries trigger such discussions in the media and in public debate. Yesterday, two historical anniversaries were ‘celebrated’ with such discussions – one at the international level and another one in my home country Finland. I will start with the Day for Remembering the Victims of Holocaust and the Nazi Regimes.

What does the the Day for Remembering (Gedenktag) stand for?

As an expatriate Finn living in Germany I have got used to the German culture of remembering the atrocities of the Nazi regime and showing solidarity to the victims. Many TV-channels show documentary films that give insights into the dark history and into the role of different societal actors who were involved. One of the peak points has been the 27th of January – the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – the very place where the industrialisation of genocide and mass murders was brought to perfection.

Indeed, years and decades have passed from those dark days. Therefore, some people may think that one could leave that sad past behind. Some people may think that one could take a different view on the German military past – as if it were something separate from the genocide and mass murders of civilians of that time. And furthermore, migrants are coming to Germany from such areas in which the remembering of holocaust is not present.

This all has now been brought into discussion – once again – by the news updates and commentaries on the Day of Remembering. Below I have selected some examples that emphasise, how and why we need to keep the culture of remembering alive and ready to respond to whatever challenges.

The Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau as an advocate for the cause of the victims (also in the Internet)

My first example is the report of the leading German TV-channel ARD on the different activities of the Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Whilst the museum emphasises the importance making your own impressions there, on site, they also keep an eye on the discussions in the media and Internet. And, when they see something inappropriate (from the perspective of the victims), the intervene. Read more from the report:

Auschwitz-Museum in sozialen MedienAnwalt der Opfer im Netz

Insights into historical facts as means to challenge the present-date antisemitism

The reason why I emphasise the active engagement of the museum in Auschwitz is the worrying tendency in Germany and elsewhere towards antisemitic violence and hatred vis-à-vis Jewish people. To some extent this is connected to the right-wing populist movement in Germany but to some extent also to migration from the Middle East or from Eastern Europe. Here it is not my intention to make false generalisations. Instead, I want to emphasise the importance of a culture of remembering and solidarity for the victims. To me the following contributions of the radio channel Deutschlandfunk bring this to the point:

Letzte Briefe von NS-Opfern vor dem Tod (Last letters from the victims of Nazis)

This report informs of an exhibition of the last letters of holocaust-victims to their relatives. It makes transparent the human beings and human lives that suddenly became victims of a brutal terror regime.

“Hass bekämpft man durch Bildung” (We have to fight against hatred with means of education)

This is an interview with the leading Jewish rabbi in Paris. He reflects on newer tendencies towards antisemitism, xenophobia and racism in Europe. But he also emphasises the achievements of intercultural education in promoting solidarity and understanding between people with different cultural backgrounds.

I think this is enough of this historical anniversary. To me it is important that the message of remembering and understanding is passed forward. As the Prime Minister of the German Federal State Thüringen, Bodo Ramelow has formulated it: “Never again means never again!” The lessons from the history have to be learned.

More blogs to come …

 

 

 

Chamber Music Festival Kuhmo 2017 and follow-up – Part Three: My follow-up of videos with Sergey Malov

December 21st, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts I have reported on my/our cultural highlight of this year – the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, July 2017. This was a shared experience between my partner Johanna (who has been a regular visitor since the early days of the festival) and myself (a latterly joined ‘avec’ who has learned to appreciate the festival). In my first post I told of the background of the festival and provided insights into the highlights of the Kuhmo 2017 program. In my second post I told of the meeting point ‘Salakamari’ (Secret chamber) and of the early morning lectures by artists in this pop-up restaurant and conference room. Indeed, my Kuhmo experience this year changed me from a passive sympathiser to an enthusiastic follower. I needed to learn more of this great music played by this great artists – who pointed out to be very nice fellows in the Kuhmo neighbourhood. For various reasons my follow-up ‘project’ has mainly focused on the music and video performances of Sergey Malov – Meister Sergey, as I prefer to call him. Below I will present some main points what I have found of him in the internet and what I have learned of him.

Playing violin, viola and violoncello da spalla at the same time

As has been indicated in the previous posts, Meister Sergey plays three instruments – violin, viola and the baroc instrument violoncello da spalla at the same time. For many traditional representatives of classical music this is unusual, if not suspect. For Meister Sergey this is a challenge and enrichment, something similar to learning several languages. And thanks to modern film techniques, he has been able to make his point. Together with the film crew of the Louisiana Modern Art Museum in Humlebaek, Denmark, he has produced films in which he appears to be playing the three instruments parallel to two or more Sergeys – and the music is fully synchronised. Here we have a sample of such multiple presence while playing:

Crossing the boundaries between different cultures and genres – making the performance transparent

Another film production with the same Danish film crew from the Louisiana Modern Art Museum gave Meister Sergey and his French counterparts, the composer Guillaume Connesson and the pianist Jerome Ducrot, a chance to demonstrate, how cultural boundaries can be crossed. In the video interview Meister Sergey gives insights into the development of Connesson, his capability to combine French traditions and American influences. Sergey analyses the exemplary piece of music – The Songs of Atlantis by Connesson – to be played by him and Ducrot together. At the same time the film crew equips the musicians and their instruments with numerous cameras to detect their movements – their Handwerk – while playing. In this way, the theory of music, the aesthetic performance and the technical mastery have all been made transparent.

Playing Bach with violoncello da spalla in a very special ‘concert hall’ – Gashouder Amsterdam

One of the most fascinating video recordings with Meister Sergey was made by the project “All of Bach” of the Netherlands Bach Society. In this production Sergey has been invited to play the Cello Suite no. 6 in D major of Johann Sebastian Bach – but with violoncello da spalla. And the venue is quite special – an old gas depot that had been preserved and could be reused for a concert without audience. The production resulted in three videos. The first one is the complete performance of the Suite no. 6. In the second video Sergey analyses the piece of music and puts into discussion the hypothesis that it was in fact written for an instrument with five strings. He demonstrates in a lively way, how this makes more sense regarding the technique of playing it. Finally, in the third video he discusses his instrument, violoncello da spalla and its potentials. In these videos Sergey speaks his native Russian but the videos have either English or Dutch subtitles. Please follow the link to access this treasury: http://allofbach.com/en/bwv/bwv-1012/

The rediscovery of violoncello da spalla – and what you can do with it

The final video in this sample is the recording of an informal conversation between Meister Sergey and Dmitry Badiarov, the violin constructor who had built the violoncello da spalla for Sergey. At first they start jokingly discussing, what it means for a musician to be ‘tagged’ as a specialist of a rare instrument. But then, when getting to the subject matter, they bring into picture evidence that some baroc compositions were explicitly written either for ‘viola da gamba’ or ‘da spalla’. If these two instruments were considered as equal options at that time, the present date musicians should explore the treasury written for viola da gamba also with violoncello da spalla. And having agreed on this, the friends of old then give a demonstration by playing together. And clearly the motto was ‘happy together’. Follow the link below and enjoy it as well:

https://www.facebook.com/violoncellodaspalla/videos/1360640140711419/

– – –

I think this is enough of the learning journey that I have had after the  Kuhmo event. I notice that I have not mentioned the records of Meister Sergey or the video recordings of his concerts. More information is available on his website http://sergeymalov.com/ or on his professional facebook page. As far as I am concerned, I have learned a lot with this follow-up of the magnificent Kuhmo experience.

And with this blog post I wish you all a happy Christmas time and a good slide to the new year 2018!

More blogs to come (next year) …

Chamber Music Festival Kuhmo 2017 and follow-up – Part Two: The fascination of the “Salakamari”

December 21st, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous blog I started a series of posts looking back at the highlights of the year 2017 – and this time with a focus on the cultural highlights starting from the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival 2017. In my previous post I told of the background of this festival and how it became – against odds – a success story. I also told, how this particular festival in the year 2017 became a special event for us and what kind of highlights were performed on the stage. But, I also hinted that the concerts were not all that mattered in the Kuhmo experience. This brings us to the phenomenon ‘Salakamari’.

The meeting point Salakamari (Secret chamber) and its attraction

Indeed, a major ingredient in the Kuhmo atmosphere was the meeting point “Salakamari” – a pop-up restaurant built into an old barnhouse. In the evenings it served as the restaurant and it had an outdoor bar area with a open campfire. In the mornings Salakamari served as a pop-up conference facility. For each day there was a short opening lecture on the theme of the day by one of the artists. And this was accompanied by a short performance of music – eventually with guest artists. Below we have some pictures of these Salakamari sessions.

Kuhmo Salakamari 1  Kuhmo Salakamari 2

The Salakamari lecture 1: Information and impressions delivered by Sergey Malov

These early morning lectures at Salakamari turned out to be exciting sessions and the artists made their best as presenters and performers. My first experience was the lecture of Sergey Malov, who had already shown that he is a virtuoso as violinist (see my previous post). But in Salakamari he demonstrated that he is an accomplished music teacher who can reveal the secrets of music to beginners just as well as to students who want to become professionals. Sergey told about his own background and of his education in Russia, Austria and Germany – and how he refused to make an exclusive choice between violin and viola, then to add the baroc instrument violoncello da spalla to his instruments. He told us of the composers, whose music he is currently playing – and put them into group picture of predecesors, contemporaries and successors. In this way we got a feeling for continuity and development in a musical genre – not just insights into particular pieces of music. (This is also what he has delivered in his records – putting Paganini into context or even more: putting Ysaÿe into context.) Concerning the Kuhmo festival, he praised the opportunity for artists to come together, play together and try something different together. Also he emphasised the opportunity for younger artists to take more challenging roles. And indeed, he gave us an analysis on the next concert and a recommended us to join him and go to listen to it. As I said it, the great artist also proved to be a great educator and analyst – chapeau, Meister Sergey!

The video below was not exactly the music that Meister Sergey  played there, but it has probably been filmed in Kuhmo:

The Salakamari lecture 2: Daniel Rowland with guests and stories from the Netherlands and Argentina

My other great experience in Salakamari was with the English-Dutch violinist Daniel Rowland as the host. Indeed, he told something of himself and his background, growing up in a bilingual family in the Netherlands. And he had also a story, how he got attracted to Kuhmo and became fascinated. But he had also brought guests with him and with his guests he had special memories of playing together. The first guest was the Italian guitar player Alberto Mesirca and they played together Paganini. The story behind was that they had been playing in the Netherlands and a film crew insisted that they should play in the middle of a tulip field. And the artists obeyed, as we can see from the video below:

But then Alberto had to leave for the airport and gave way for the other guest, the Argentinian bandonion-player Marcelo Nisinman. And with Marcelo there had been a similar outdoor-performing session, again with a Dutch film crew but now in Kuhmo. The film crew wanted to have the musicians playing just before midnight, yet in daylight, at the lakeside. And again, the artists obeyed although they were surrounded by armies of Nordic mosquitoes. There were quite few also in Salakamari, when they played again, but not as many as you can see on the video below.

Well, we enjoyed the stories and the music. But Daniel topped it up by telling how Marcello got acquainted with the gran maestro Astor Piazzolla and invited Marcelo to tell more. So, the session became quite a learning journey delivering us influences and inspirations from here and there and everywhere. We gladly accepted Daniel’s characterisation of the festival as the “Planet Kuhmo” with its own atmosphere as a special place for encounters. Hartelijk bedankt, Meester Daniel!

– – –

I guess this is already enough of the encounters in Kuhmo and in the Salakamari sessions. It was quite an inspiration and I started my personal follow-up, tracing websites and communicating on Facebook. But that is already another story to be covered by my next post.

More blogs to come …

 

Chamber Music Festival Kuhmo 2017 and follow-up – Part One: Highlights of the Kuhmo program

December 20th, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

This year I managed to start my holiday break early enough and with a firm decision to leave the work-related issues to the year 2018. Yet, little by little, the feeling creeps into your mind that you should say something about the highlights of the year 2017 that is soon coming to an end. And this time, it is clear, I need to report on a special cultural experience – our visit at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival 2017 – and how I turned into a passionate fan of classical music and of certain artists. And suddenly I find myself having a new priority area when writing updates on Facebook. But let’s start with Kuhmo and the festival and what it is all about.

Kuhmo … ? And Chamber Music Festival in Kuhmo …?

Once upon a time – over 40 years ago – a Finnish top musician Seppo Kimanen, who had already become an international celebrity, had a crazy dream. He thought of setting up a chamber music festival in such a remote place that the artists will come for a week or two without having a temptation to rush away after one or two performances. He looked at the map of Finland and found an ideal place – the municipality of Kuhmo in the Central North-East part of the country. Indeed, Kuhmo was remote from the ‘metropols’ of Southern Finland and of the relatively big cities of Northern Finland. It was remote from everything else except the Russian border, the wild woods and the nice lakeside landscapes near the centre of the municipality.

Kimanen managed to get the festival up and running and – after the difficult and ascetic beginning years it became a success story. Several years ago Kimanen handed over the responsibility to his successor, Vladimir Mendelssohn, an international musician, who is active in Finland. And in the course of the years faithful fans and committed artists have returned year by year and seen a marvellous concert hall being built to accommodate the main concerts, whilst part of the concerts are still going on in a school building, in the church and elsewhere in the region. Also, the Kuhmo experience has become a special concept, as the expression ‘the Kuhmo Planet’ indicates.

(This year the Dutch TV Channel produced a special program on Kuhmo in the series “Klasiek viert de zomer” following a Dutch couple and their ‘Kuhmo adventure’ . This program gives a lot of visual and musical insights into the life of festival tourists – and a lot of discussion in Dutch – have a look:

https://www.npo.nl/klassiek-viert-de-zomer/18-08-2017/VPWON_1274541)

For us – my partner Johanna and myself – Kuhmo has become a ‘must’ already long ago. Johanna, who comes originally from that region, has been a faithful fan of the first moments on. I have joined her later as an ‘avec’, who has gradually learned to enjoy the music. However, our participation had so far been based on commuting from the neighbouring Sotkamo and attending some selected concerts during one week. This has given some insights and impressions, but not much more. But this year we decided to take a ‘bigger package’. We took weekly tickets for both festival weeks and accommodation in the centre of Kuhmo. This enabled participation in a wider range of concerts and into other activities. And it provided us the possibility to follow the concerts with a focused approach.

Kuhmo 2017 – Highlights on the stage

For us, already one of the first concerts alerted us to something special that was coming up. The Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen (a renowned Beethoven-specialist) played together with the Russian violinist Sergey Malov (who was a new acquaintance to us) were playing Antonin Dvorak’s Sonatina in G. Op.100.  And it turned out to be an explosive show – two champions inspiring each other and getting the most and even more out of the masterpiece that they had chosen. But the ‘big bang’ was yet to come.

In a late evening concert shortly afterwards Sergey Malov was playing Caprices of Paganini – and how! He managed to stun us be his ‘entrée’ by having the stage darkened and only the front part of it lit with dim red lights that were gradually brightened. And then he appeared as ‘the man from the darkness’ and played the caprices in an unforgettable way.

To me (and to some friends of old who were also there) this brought into memory a scene in the Soviet-Moldavian film ‘Lautarii’ of the year 1972. In that scene a lautar (‘gypsy’) street-musician Toma Alistar has been smuggled to the house of a nobleman who is giving a concert on his premises and is clad like the professional musicians. The musicians start to play – in a routine-like way and the nobleman follows it with gestures of ‘dejà écoutée’. Then, the lights fall off and after a moment of chaos, Toma Alistar steps in from the darkness and plays the same music like a virtuoso. The lights reappear and the professional musicians join their new soloist. So much of the scene in the film. I managed to tell Sergey of this memory and then I found from Youtube the whole film as a Moldavian language version. At the same time Sergey had found it as a Russian language version – and seen the scene to which I referred. So, we had a common topic to discuss when we met every now and then. I got more interested of Sergey and he helped to find his CDs that were at sale and signed them for me. That was the start.

(This video was definitely not filmed in Kuhmo but it gives an impression of Sergey entering the stage and the sound of Paganini is exactly the same:

Another highlight on the great stage was the joint performance of the German-Turkish violinist Önder Baloglu and the Finnish pianist Marko Hilpo, who played a very challenging piece of music in a later concert – Darius Milhaud’s Cinéma-fantasie , Op. 58b “Le boeuf sur le toit” – with great success. A British music teacher next to us said that this was the first time he heard that piece played by only two musicians – and successfully. He characterised that as a high risk effort – if not suicidial. Later on Önder told that that was exactly how they had felt it – and the joy of success was great.

At a later phase, now in the church, there was a concert with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. One of the fascinations of that performance was that there were four female violinists as soloists for one of the seasons. Minna Pensola started with Spring in her explosive way, then Elina Vähälä continued with Summer in a more calm tempo to be followed by the similarly calm Autumn soloist Alissa Margulis and then by the explosive Winter soloist Priya Mitchell (who was filmed by the above mentioned Dutch film crew).

At the final phase we were deeply moved by the concert in which Daniel Rowland and his colleagues Hugo Ticciati, Gareth Lubbe and Julian Arp – the O/Modernt String Quartet – played Schubert’s “Der Tod und das Mädchen”. We had just received a very sad news and this quartet managed to do all in their powers to ease our sorrow.

– – –

To be sure, there were many more great performances. But these were  some of the striking moments that contributed to the very special Kuhmo experience. But it was not all about the concerts and on the performances of the artists on the stage. There is much more in the Kuhmo experience. I will try to illustrate some aspects in my next post.

More blogs to come …

 

Remembering Emma and her life-work

November 2nd, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

This week we got the sad news that our former colleague and Bremen-based friend Emma had passed away. She was never a person for great publicity or to make a great show of herself. On the contrary – she wanted to stay at the backstage without making fuss of herself, but always ready to help the others. Therefore, I just call her by her first name – to respect her privacy also now after she is gone. (The ones who knew her, are aware of whom I am writing – others will get a picture of a respectable person, even if they didn’t learn to know her.)

I firstly learned to know Emma when she joined ITB to support the Europrof project in the mid-1990s. The project was an ambitious transnational project that sought to reform the training of VET professionals with emphasis on ‘social shaping’ of work, technology and work environment. In this context the partners sought points of intervention and supporting ideas, how to bring innovations into move. Then, after this project Emma worked for the Forum network to bring together different thematic sub-nets (on changing institutions, changing labour markets, changing organisations, changing vocational identities etc.) to common work processes. Later on, she was also supporting some other ITB projects of which I have less information.

Emma had a degree from her home country but having entered Germany as an expatriate she was very modest about it. So, she preferred to work as an administrative assistant rather than looking for a a more visible role. Yet, her presence as a colleague was sensed when she was involved – and missed when she was not there.

Later on Emma chose to take another perspective for her life and withdraw from the work in our projects. This was a very private matter and therefore I will not go further with this topic. All I need to say is that in the new role that Emma opted for herself she was 100% present and even more.

Every now and then we managed to meet with friends of old from the European projects and it was always a pleasure to me and to others. Sometimes we also had the chance to experience, what kind of great cook she was.

Recently, when great numbers of refugees came to Germany – and also to Bremen – Emma engaged herself in teaching German language to refugees. As an expatriate who had learned the language fluently, she was in a good position to assess what kind of difficulties the newcomers were facing.

Emma was still young and active when she was hit by the disease that took her life. We all feel sorry for the loss of such a person and express our condolences to her beloved ones. I hope that the musical greetings of the grande mama Mercedes Sosa and her fellow artists (see the links below) pass a message to them! (And I hope that the videos are not littered by inappropriate commercials.)

Mercedes Sosa – Razón De Vivir

Mercedes Sosa – O Que Será

Mercedes Sosa – Jamás Te Olvidaré

Remembering David Raffe and his life-work – a special issue of Journal of Education and Work

November 2nd, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

In February 2015 we received the sad news that professor David Raffe, a prominent educational sociologist and key actor in European vocational education and training (VET) research had passed away. At that time I wrote a blog in which I remembered his contribution to European projects and to the VETNET network of the European Educational Research Association (EERA). Shortly afterwards David’s closest colleagues contacted my with the idea to prepare a special issue of a journal to highlight David’s work and the legacy he has left.

Now, after some time has passed since that communication, our work has been completed and the results have been published as

 Journal of Education and Work, 2017 VOL . 30, NO . 7

The special issue provides insights into David’s fields of work and into his contributions to the research communities as well as to dialogue between researchers and policy makers. And the very special way in which David engaged himself in these activities is reflected in the headings of the articles, such as the following:

Bridging divides – social science, educational policy and the improvement of education and training systems: an appreciation the contribution of David Raffe (1950–2015) by Cathy Howieson, Ken Spours and Michael Young

To know ourselves? Research, data and policy-making in the Scottish education system by Cathy Howieson and Linda Croxford

English exceptionalism re-visited: divergent skill strategies across England and Scotland by Ewart Keep

What does it mean to conduct research into qualifications frameworks? by Stephanie Allais

This was not a complete table of contents but a sample of articles with headings that remind me of David’s way to tackle issues and problems very deeply – not accepting simple interpretations and seemingly obvious solutions.

My contribution to this special issue had the following title

Learning from Europe and for Europe with David Raffe – insights into early years of European cooperation in vocational education and training research

I hope that this heading speaks for the content and for the memories of David as a fellow colleague and a fellow European in the exercise of learning from each other and contributing to knowledge development at the European level.

I am pleased to see that this piece of work is now available and that we have managed to give insights into David as a person, into his work and into the legacy he has left.

More blogs to come …

Reformationstag (500th anniversary) – Reformation quergedacht (radio program of DLF)

October 31st, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

Today the whole Germany (all Länder – the Federal States) celebrate “Reformationstag” the 500th anniversary of the date when Martin Luther published his 95 theses against selling of indulgences (Ablasshandel). And, as we know, this episode that was supposed to be a starting point for a dialogue within the Roman catholic church, then led to the divide between the catholic and protestant churches. Recently – in particular in Germany – we have seen that the relations between the two churches that were once bitter enemies have become friendly neighbourhood relations. This has become manifest in several events, joint campaigns and at the level of everyday life. This much of the general background.

What strikes me now with this anniversary, is how it has been taken up in the German media. In particular I have been fascinated by the radio channel “Deutschlandfunk (DLF)” and its special program “Reformation quergedacht”. With this program the journalists of DLF have visited their regular programs with special inputs on the Lutheran reformation – in the past and in the present day life. Below I want to share insights into some episodes of this cross-cutting special program.

Episode 1: Interview with Bodo Ramelow – left-wing politician and practicing Christian

The first episode that I picked of this program was the interview with the prime minister of the Federal State of Thüringen, Bodo Ramelow. This electrified me, since Ramelow is the first )and so far the only) head of a regional government from the left-wing party Die Linke. His political biography is also interesting, since he is originally a West-German trade union official who moved to East-Germany after the reunification to help to set up the trade union structures. Politically he represented the breakaway left-wing alliance (WASG) of Oskar Lafontaine, who left the social democratic party (SPD). Later on WASG merged with the East-German party PDS (the successor of the old communist party). In this process Ramelow was one of the facilitators. Later on he became a very popular prime minister in his Federal State Thüringen. In this program he tells how his life and work as politician has been charcterised by the fact that he is an active member of the Lutheran church. Below you find the link to the full text of the recorded interview:

Bodo Ramelow: “Der Glaube ist prägend für mein Leben”

Episode 2: Insights into the past and present of the Evangelic Church in Transylvania (Romania)

A very special story is presented in the episode that reports of the traditional Evangelic-Lutheran church in Transylvania, the area that has been for centuries inhabited (among others) by a German population  – the so-called “Siebenbürger Sachcsen”. As this episode tells, they joined the reformation quite early and it became dominant in their communities. Due to the conquest of that area (at that time part of Hungary) and the long rule by Turkey, these communities could maintain their cultural traditions, their language and their faith. There was no pressure to convert them to islam nor to catholicism. After the 1st World War this area became part of Romania and after the 2nd World War it was under the Communist rule. The program gives insights into these turns of history as well as into the life in post-revolution era in Romania. Below you find the link to this fascinating story – based on field visits and talks with German-speaking key actors of the local parishes:

Der Islam beflügelte die Reformation

Episode 3: And where are the women in the picture of the Lutheran reformation?

Und wo bleiben die Frauen?

Episode 4: The twofold Katharina

Die doppelte Katharina

The two last mentioned episodes are linked together since they focus on a common issue – the marginalisation of women in the traditional history of reformation. In order to give a better insight into the role of women in the reformation movement the Bonner Frauenmuseum (the special museum for highlighting women’s contribution to history) has set up a special exhibition to fill some gaps. Firstly the journalists discuss the general picture with a representative of the museum and with a female theologian (Episode 3) and then they continue with the special section on Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther (Episode 4). With these two episodes we get a lot of corrective information on the role of active women of that time.

– – –

I guess this is enough of this special day (Reformationstag) and on the very special radio program (Reformation quergedacht). I felt that these inputs were the appropriate way for me to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation. I don’t think that my blog would be the best place to explore the religious disputes around this anniversary. Nor did I want to explore the impact of reformation on my home country Finland and its Scandinavian neighbours. This time I wanted to share the interesting insights provided by the program “Reformation quergedacht”.

More blogs to come …

 

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    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

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    5. Udacity – 4 million

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