Those Who Cannot Learn from History are Doomed to Repeat it

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Sonja Vrščaj, Auschwitz survivor:”The Slovenes in Auschwitz suffered so that the young today would have a homeland and be proud Slovenes.”

The above meaningful quote was a guiding thought for ten students of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and some others from different Slovene high schools (from Maribor, Celje and Brežice), who joined the excursion to Krakow and Auschwitz on 25th and 26th October 2017. They were accompanied by the Auschwitz survivor Sonja Vrščaj along with a history teacher and director of The Maribor Synagogue Boris Hajdinjak, who both authentically presented the WWII atrocities committed in the concentration camp Auschwitz. Out of 63.000 Slovene prisoners in Auschwitz, 1.350 never made it back home. A television crew from Radio-Television Slovenia made a programme to mark the occasion, for which students showed a strong interest.

Here are a few impressions by our students, which speak louder than any reports. Luka was disturbed by the discrepancy between the atmosphere in lively Krakow and then deadly Auschwitz and extremely thankful that he can live in peace. Marjeta was touched by Ms Vrščaj’s testimony, which shed an entirely different light on the Auschwitz experience. “For me it is totally incomprehensible what the motive of chief executors was? What role did conscious manipulation play? These questions leave me feeling empty; however, what is of top priority today is that such a mistake will never be repeated again.” Nika appreciated the fact that the students had the opportunity to listen to striking testimonies given by Ms Vrščaj and Hitler’s stolen children already on the way to Poland. The stories vivdly depicted the time of cruel reality. “Although we were prepared to what we were going to see, I could not get rid of the shocking feeling, when entering gas chambers or seeing a pile of cut hair… This is one of the things everyone should see in their lifetime.” Nina was affected in particular by Ms Vrščaj words that the Slovenes in Auschwitz suffered also so that the young today would have a homeland and be proud Slovenes. “This is one of the visits every young Slovene should make in order to understand the price that was paid for freedom we enjoy.” Tjaž had hard times understanding human evil on one hand and on the other human drive to survive. Kristjan found it unimaginable that he was standing on the very same place where some many prisoners died. He was shocked at ghastly circumstances prisoners had to face, the sight of prisoners’ personal items, crematorium and the starvation cell. “When I returned home I realised that the world was not the same any more. At least not for me:”

All the students were also critical of the impact words may have on triggering such monstrosities through improper use of social network services. An echoing snowball effect may be created, and heavy casualties are inflicted on both sides – the aggressor’s and victims’. War has never solved any problem.

The person in charge of the Auschwitz excursion at The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium is Daša Oberč Deželak, teacher of French and Spanish. She has organized it impeccably and with much committment for the second time in a row. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

20 years of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir

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St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of St. Stanislav Gilrs’ Choir of the diocesan Classical Gymnasium we have the pleasure of inviting you to the concert given on 26 October 2017 at 7.30 pm in Slovenian Philcharmonic, Ljubljana.

This will be a lovely occassion to celebrate the utmost artistic year, when the choir performed at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona – as the first Slovene Choir ever to participate in such an event. This is also the occasion of the choir’s release of their new CD entitled Jerusalem, which contains Slovene folk songs, commissioned novelties written on the occasion of the above mentioned world symposium and some other pieces. We will be honoured by your presence. It will be all about sharing our true selves, so you need to be there.

Tickets are available at St. Stanislav’s Institution call ++386 1 58 22 245.

Visit to Wellington School in Ayr, Scotland

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Mr. Simon Johnson and Mr. Simon Feštanj with Mrs. Lily Schweiger Kotar at Wellington School

The headmaster of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium Simon Feštanj paid his first visit with Alenka Battelino and Lily Schweiger Kotar to Wellington School in Ayr. We were very kindly taken care of by all the staff, especially Wellington headmaster Mr Simon Johnson and international coordinator Mrs Susan Coontz. A two-day visit (5th and 6th October 2017) was fruitful in terms of getting to know the Scottish education system better and learning a lot about what Wellington school is all about. Wellington is the only independent school in Ayrshire that provides an excellent all-round education for the young aged 3 to 18. It consists of the Nurseries, The Junior and The Senior School, which include about 600 students all together. We were happy to witness at every step what excellent and supportive environment for learning the school offers. Small classes, motivated students and teachers, a wide range of academic subjects and opportunities for extracurricular activities all contribute to fruitful results in academic field and life in general. One of the most interesting aspects of the visit was definitely lesson observation of which outdoor experiments in physics were absolutely demonstrative and informative. The unarguable highlight of the visit was a school show Les Miserables, which was performed by students from S1 – S6 (aged 12-17) and was absolutely stunning in terms of singing, acting and general stage presence. What a wonderful theatrical evening and a great display of talents! Well done Wellington school!

It’s ten years since the exchanges between both schools started and we trust the fruitful cooperation will continue in the future. The first opportunity is the student Erasmus + mobility Eurostronomia in April 2018.  About 40 students from eight countries will join us at St. Stanislav’s Institution to break the ice.

The report cannot be concluded without mentioning the weather in Scotland –well, no dreich* weather this time. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

*Scottish – dreary; bleak

Finally Finland!

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The Finns kindly opened their homes for us

Finally we are in Finland! Our hosts are members of Luritus Choir and they kindly accepted us in their homes.

On Monday 25th September 2017 we had a concert at Nurmo High School where we first had a voice opening and rehearsal. Our programme consisted of three parts – firstly we sang some Slovene folk songs like Planinska, Vipavska, Dajte, dajte, Škrjanček poje, the second part was consecrated to sacral music for example Gloria tibi Domine, Down in the river to pray… And in the last one we sang popular English songs such as the Beatles’  Michelle. Although the acoustics wasn’t the best we did a great job. Later on we sang at Seinäjoki Lyseo with the same repertoire. We were also awarded with some free time in the city centre where we went and grabbed something to eat and headed our way to Squash & Bowling Center. We spent an hour bowling with our Finnish friends who took us back to their homes where we tried sauna and jacuzzi. We found it quite fascinating that every family has its own sauna. Some of them even two!

We had an early start on Tuesday, 26th September and met up with other choir singers. Finnish students prepared a quiz, which checked our knowledge of Finnish music. Did you know that the famous song Hollywood Hills was written by a Finnish group Sunrise Avenue? We also listened to many other catchy songs. We were kindly offered some Finnish sweets – Fazer’s milk chocolate, samijakki etc. The majority of us did not like the taste of sweets, but the chocolate was delicious!
At school we also had a concert for highschool students and later on we performed in a modern called Lakeuden Risti, designed by a famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Because of the acoustics it was the best performance so far, having sung mostly spiritual music. The concert was meant for older people, whose reaction really moved us, we even got standing ovations. We were very content because we brightened up their day. The organiser of the exchange Hanne Orrenmaa is a conductor, who travels around the world and teaches children to sing and love music. Her goal is a peaceful world and this is why she loves so much Imagine by John Lennon. The song speaks about equality, harmony, unity of all nations. She wanted to record us singing this song which she will use in her YouTube video. In the video there will be also records of children of other nations. Having successfully recorded the song, we headed to the forest with our hosts, where we ate traditional sausages and had a fun competition in pronouncing sentences in Finnish and Slovene. A day packed with activities passed quickly and eventually we felt exhausted, so after a short walk to the parking lot we went straight to our Finnish homes. We fell asleep immediately. /Barbara Kobal, Klara Pogačar, Marta Novak/

 

Estonia – here we come!

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Relaxed sightseeing is always a part of a tour

We arrived to Tallinn, on Saturday afternoon on 23rd September and went to the city centre straight away. We saw the main square with the town hall and an Eastern Ortodox church. After having lunch, we decided to sing in the streets of Tallinn. Many people stopped and ask  where we come from and who our conductor is. Been given a lot of motivation, we felt very proud. We were pleasantly surprised by people’s reaction to our singing. In the evening we arrived to our hotel and had a typical Estonian meal. They gave us fish soup and rice with chicken. A short practice in the hotel hall followed for the next day singing at mass in the city centre.

Sunday, 24th September, started with a 10 o’clock mass in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. While standing on the choir loft we saw that the mass was attended mostly by old people. That confirmed the fact we read on the internet that the percentage of young people in Estonia is decreasing. The ceremony was followed by a short concert where we presented most of our songs. Polish community invited us for a cup of coffee and biscuits. At the time we were already thinking about Finland which we reached 3 hours later when we disembarked in Helsinki. The ferry was very big and had a lot of shops, restaurants and even a sundeck with 360° view. Although the journey was quite long (two hours by ferry and five hours by bus), we had a great time by singing while mixed with the crowd of ferry’s passengers. We FINnISHed our journey in Seinäjoki and accommodated in our host families’ houses. The long anticipated adventure in Finland is here! /Barbara Kobal, Klara Pogačar, Marta Novak/

 

St. Stanislav Youth Choir sets off on a tour in Poland, Finland and Estonia

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St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium

It all started on Wednesday, 20th October 2017 when we had our last rehearsal before the departure. After going through the programme, we left for a small town Zgierz in Poland. The ride was very long, but the musical chosen by Mr Močnik was so great we did not even want to go to sleep. Some of us read books, listened to music or practiced songs for our first concert next day.
The concert took place at Zgierz Secondary School, but first we took a stroll down the streets which still give an impression of socialist regime.
At 11 o’clock we started with our performance and amazed the whole school. Even the singers themselves were pleasantly surprised by performing skills after a tiring ride of 1002 km! After the concert, we took the tram to Lodz and went sightseeing. In the evening we arrived to Warsaw where we had a short practice and got a really late delicious dinner.
The next day we started discovering the highlights of Warsaw and saw the palace on the water and a huge Polish “Tivoli Park”. We had some time off and spent it mostly wandering around the shops and eating traditional food.
Free time was followed by the concert in the Warsaw Cathedral. The concert was opened by a local men’s choir from Warsaw. Right after the concert we continued our trip to the next destination – Tallinn, Estonia. /Marta Novak, Klara Pogačar, Barbara Kobal, year 4/

10th European Day of Languages at St. Stanislav’s Institution

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26th September 2017 marks the 16th anniversary of the European Day of Languages. The aims of the event as declared by the Council of Europe are to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding, to encourage lifelong language learning and to promote Europe’s rich linguistic and cultural diversity. Thanks to cultural institutes such as the Goethe Institut, the Institut Français and the British Council, the European Day of languages is nowadays widely celebrated especially in schools.

St. Stanislav’s Institution is no exception. The event took place already for the tenth year in a row. Back then, it had all started with Diocesan Classical Gymnasium students presenting basic language skills to pupils of the Alojzij Šuštar Primary School in seven different languages taught at the DCG. This meant using English, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Latin and classical Greek. In the following years, teachers of foreign languages at the DCG devised riddles and other challenging tasks in the above mentioned languages through which students displayed their knowledge of the language as well as culture, history and geography of the respected country.

This year students had to define the origin of photographs presenting highlights from different European countries. Thus, we were trying to promote the practical aspect of this year’s motto at St. Stanislav’s Institution, which is Where are you going? Students with most correct answers received a practical award. We are still also looking forward to a short video clip by students presenting goings-on on the European Day of Languages at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Choral Souvenir from Barcelona

It’s not just about sharing our true selves … but also some new posts from Barcelona.

After outstanding performances of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Singing in Barcelona, you are kindly invited to listen to some new posts from their main concert in Pau Casals Hall. More than 2.000 conductors from all over the world listened to the concert and gave the girls a resounding standing ovation. The choir won together with the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič high praise for a fantastic choral event.

We congratulate Stanislav Girls’ Choir for the outstanding success and wish to thank them for an incredible promotion of Slovenia, The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and Slovene choral singing.

 

All Is Well That Ends Well!

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Music is everywhere!

The day before returning home the girls took a day off. This long-anticipated day culminated in delightful, carefree sightseeing, enjoying local cuisine, admiring Catalan history and art, exploring the Spanish way of life, swimming in the sea, writing postcards and (souvenir) shopping. A very special event was the VIP tour of Camp Nou Stadium, which definitely resulted in the increase of female FC Barça fans. Another moment set aside from the rest of the day was the sightseeing tour of the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, where the girls admired with awe Gaudi’s mastery in forms of shapes, colours and most incredible ideas he came up with. In the forest of Gaudi’s columns, as director Globokar poetically put it, the choir performed one last mini concert. The very last step of this incredible singing adventure in Barcelona was attending Mass and then boarding the bus and hitting the road towards Ljubljana. For the first ten hours there was silence in the air – the girls were sleeping. Afterwards, one could hear relaxed chatting. As the first Slovene choir to perform at any world choral symposium so far St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir felt grateful and at peace. The efforts have definitely paid off! /Kristina & Ana & Nuša, year 4/

Rounding Off 11th WSCM With Even More Music

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Time flies – the last concert in Barcelona

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir performed on 29th July 2017 at the last two enjoyable and successful concerts of 11th World Symposium of Coral Music in Barcelona.

The first concert took place in the most visited Catalan pilgrimage site in Montserrat. Prior to the concert the girls paid visit to Our Lady of Montserrat and thanked Her for all the blessings of the last week, especially for the performances given on the occasion of the world symposium. It was a joy to sing in front of such a large audience – the cathedral was packed with pilgrims from all over the world. Some were so enthusiastic that they even turned up at the final evening concert of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir, which was given in The Caixa Forum, Barcelona. The choir was quite relaxed on stage, showing their pride over what they had achieved. The incredible vigour was presented throughout the concert: thirty-nine singers, the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič and the pianist Primož Bratina were as one. Needless to say, they reached the appreciative audience who enthusiastically gave standing ovations. As after any other concert in Barcelona the girls talked with visitors from all over the world: Chile, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Croatia, Switzerland, Denmark, USA and Slovenia. Again, the girls did an excellent job! Well done ladies!