27th Annual Concert of the Choirs and Orchestras of St. Stanislav’s Institution

Choirs From St. Stanislav’s Institution – The Abundance of Music and Love in One Place

After a two-year break for Covid, we are bringing back the 27th annual concert with great joy and pride. It  will take place on Sunday, 8th May, 2022 at 6.00 p.m. in Gallus Hall in Cankarjev Dom (Ljubljana). Despite challenging circumstances in the last two years, the musicians from St. Stanislav’s Institution have not been silenced. Having embraced the reality, they have never been more determined to continue to bring the abundance of life and love through music making. In fact the key notion of this year’s concert is caritas abundant, which suggests that it is the abundance of love which brings about the creative force and offers the much needed boost to our everyday endeavours, opening our hearts for all the good abound us.

Nine choirs and two orchestras will perform a variety of compositions ranging from renaissance to modern genres. We are particularly pleased we are able to perform tonight together with some young Ukrainian musicians, who fled the atrocities of war in their homeland. Discovering the everlasting message of music with them has been simply priceless. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Easter Greetings 2022

Lojze Čemažar, Evening at Emmaus (The 14th Station of the Cross, 2010), Parish Church of St. Urh/Ulrich in Veliki Gaber, Slovenia)

“The right hand of the LORD

has struck with power;

the right hand of the LORD is exalted.

I shall not die, but live,

and declare the works of the LORD.”

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

By the LORD has this been done;

it is wonderful in our eyes. (Ps 118:16-17, 22-23)

May the celebration of Easter open our eyes to the light of the Risen, so that our lives may reflect the hope that he bestows upon us! Felix Alleluia!

Anton Česen, M.A., Director

Margaret &Thomas Luzar visited St. Stanislav’s Institution

Margaret&Thomas Luzar with students from 1.b class

Margaret &Thomas Luzar, who have been actively involved with St. Stanislav’s Institution ever since its reopening in 1993, visited our school on 1st March 2022. This was the first visit from abroad, after a long break of more than 2 years.  Margaret &Thomas Luzar are Americans with Slovene roots and true friends of our school community. During summer holidays they have been hosting students of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium for more than 20 years. This enables the students to have a first-hand experience of life in the USA, in particular when it comes to the community of American Slovenes and their descendants.

Margaret &Thomas Luzar met the director of St. Stanislav’s Institution Anton Česen, M.A., as well as the headmaster of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium Simon Feštanj, B.A. and some teachers in charge of the exchange. The highlight seemed to be an English lesson with students in class 1.b, where some stereotypes about Americans were discussed.

We are pleased to announce that international life is being gradually reintroduced after a long covid break. /Alenka Balletino, teacher of English/

Award for a Haiku in Germain by a Student of DCG

The winning haiku – written and illustrated by Rubin Bervar

We are happy to announce that Rubin Bervar, year 3, was awarded a prize for her haiku in Germain.

It runs as follows:

Verschwundener Schnee

Duft der blühenden Rosen …

Das Hertz aber immer fault.

Rubin has also illustrated her haiku. Congrats also to her mentor Irena Bolta, B.A., teacher of Germain at the DCG. The school has had a long tradition of winning haiku awards especially in Spanish, French and German language. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Erasmus + Strong Cultures Small Countries -teacher mobility in St. Sranislav’s Institution

Small Countires Strong Cultures in action again

After a long break of two years the time came for small countries and strong cultures to meet again. The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium hosted the teacher mobility from 16th–20th March 2022 joining two teachers from Wellington School Ayr (Scotland), three teachers from Sint-Josefsinstituut Torhout (Belgium) and four Slovene ones (Battelino, Lah Peternel, Pišljar Suhadolc, Schweiger Kotar)  from the DCG.

On Thursday a comprehensive tour of Ljubljana took place and on this occasion the Secession guide, devised during one of the Erasmus projects Art Noveau – Art Renoveau, was used again successfully. The schedule for future student mobilities was planned down for autumn 2022. On Friday we listened to two interesting presentations of the subjects which stand the test of time and which all three schools teach in their curricula. These are arts and classical languages and the values they enhance. Our colleague from Scotland presented the concept of Model United Nations (MUN) and we actually carried out a mock security council committee session. In the evening we listened to the concert where Damijan Močnik’s Passio Anno Domini MMXXI, a shocking musical story of the Passion of Christ was told. Saturday was dedicated to getting to know Slovene cultural and national heritage in the Slovene Littoral, namely the Sečovlje salt- pans, where salt is still produced traditionally, with classical salt-pan methods and tools, which is the reason why salt has retained exceptional characteristics. Scotland and Belgium also keep their own ways of producing salt which we will get to know on the next visit. The day was perfectly rounded off by a cup of coffee in sunny Piran.

We are looking forward to new ways of learning from each other and enjoying each other’s company! The student mobilities in August and September to Scotland and Belgium are eagerly anticipated. /Valerija Lah Peternel, school project coordinator/

War and Peace – Statement on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

These are the words by Valerija Lah Peternel, a teacher of Russian language and literature at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium that reflect also the attitude of St. Stanislav’s educational community on the Russian Ukrainian war.

“Two weeks ago, I was shocked by the news from Eastern Europe: Russia attacked Ukraine under the pretext of defending and protecting its citizens and sovereignty. Without taking a full advantage of diplomatic endeavours, the Russian president decided to invade Ukraine, which has so far claimed thousands of victims and millions of people living in fear. They have decided to run to safety, away from their homeland. I stare in the screen powerlessly and think of the unthinkable – there are images of aggression, havoc, desperation and terror. I wonder how it is possible that in the 21st century we still are such bad students of history – uneducated, undisciplined, crude – unworthy of their teacher.

On the other hand, Russian culture is a rich treasury of humanistic thought, rebelling against any autocratic power and supporting the freedom of people and nations. If we want peace, it seems we still need to deliberate again and again over the past wars. We may as well start with Tolstoy, who wrote in this diary in 1853:  »Война такое несправедливое и дурное дело, что те, которые воюют, стараются заглушить в себе голос совести.« /War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves./ Ten years later he started writing his great work, which bears in its title the word war, but conveys above all the message of peace. The mankind has not comprehended it yet. Svetlana Aleksijevič, a Belarusian Nobel Prize winner, provides us in her long novel War’s Unwomanly Face with a shocking account of untold (women) stories about being caught in the atrocities of war. She cannot possibly put a human face onto any war – in fact she considers war as a monster, which devours life itself; only our memories and unconditional pledge to peace can repel it.

As a Russian teacher I have been trying for years to boost enthusiasm in my classes about Russian culture – through language, literature, fine arts, film, music, architecture, cuisine and folklore. Russian politics and its irrational behaviour are a massive slap in the face for any teachers’ efforts to cross borders, listen and understand each other and enter the dialogue by teaching a foreign language. There have been different reactions to the news from the east, and it may as well be true that fewer students will wish to learn Russian. Nevertheless, now it is the time to build bridges and absorb the message from Russian humanists. There a lot of them and they did not keep silent”. /Valerija Lah Peternel, B.A., teacher of Russian/

Christmas Greetings 2021

The Holy Family, 2021, Klara Prešeren, Student at The Diocasan Classical Gymnasium

At this moment in history /…/ it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters. God has made this fraternal unity possible, by giving us his Son Jesus. The fraternity he offers us has nothing to do with fine words, abstract ideals or vague sentiments. It is a fraternity grounded in genuine love, making it possible for me to encounter others different from myself, feeling compassion for their sufferings, drawing near to them and caring for them even though they do not belong to my family, my ethnic group or my religion. For all their differences, they are still my brothers and sisters. The same thing is true of relationships between peoples and nations: brothers and sisters all! At Christmas we celebrate the light of Christ who comes into the world; he comes for everyone, not just for some. (Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi, Christmas 2020)

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year 2022.

Anton Česen, M.A. director of St. Stanislav’s Institution

Three Seas Iniciative and the Trip to Poland

Monument to St. John Paul II in Rzeszow

The purpose of this report is to present the Three Seas Initiative, also known as Trimarium, of which the final international exchange took place in Poland from 6th-12th December 2021. In this set the competition brought together representatives from twelve EU countries boarding the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea. I was one of the three representatives from team Slovenia at the conclusion of the project.

The purpose of the competition and the initiative

The purpose of the competition, which was organized by Jagiellonian Foundation, was similar to the goal of the political and economic union with the same name. The aim is to connect young people and their cultures and learn about each other through different activities and above all through conversations. The competition between the different national teams took place in three sets, of which each team had to win two sets to qualify for the next round. There were questions of multiple choice, open type and the big strategy game in which you tried to defeat opponents with the chosen country. After winning the quarterfinals and losing the semi-finals, the Slovene team won the final third place after a successful win in the game for the third place.

Sightseeing

The guides from the Foundation arranged visits to many cultural sight. Thus, we had the opportunity to see the interior of Krakow Castle, with all props that once belonged to the Polish kings and the salt mine in Wielizka, where we descended more than a hundred meters underground. A day later, in Rzeszow, we visited the Museum of eastern Polish history and saw exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. In Przemysl, which was our last visit of city landmarks, we visited the gallery and some abandoned castle dungeons.

Free time

During the free time, we played cards and chess with each other and talked about history and culture. In Rzeszow, we spent two evenings in a bar, where we experienced some of the most beautiful moments of our trip, for example we played videogame console and enjoyed socializing with some locals of our age. In Przemysl we could also swim in the pool and enjoyed the jacuzzi. With the exception of breakfast and dinner upon arrival in Krakow, we paid for and bought food and drinks ourselves. At first, all guests had quite a few problems with this, as restaurants and shops refused to accept euros and demanded payment in cash in zlotys. Having exchanged some money, there were no problems with this anymore and due to rather low prices we could afford more than we had planned at the beginning. In the restaurants where we had most of our lunch, we were served delicious Polish meat dishes and soups, and for snack we usually bought buns and Polish pretzels called krakowski obvarzanek at local bakeries. We also drank a glass of traditional Polish beer. As to accommodation, we first stayed at the Hotel Qubus in Krakow by the Vistula River. The room was fine, however, there was one thing that bothered me and that was the poor view from the room, which was certainly not a problem at our next location, the Rzescow Hotel. There we were accommodated on the seventh floor and had an exceptional view of the city streets and the square. The room was nicely decorated and spacious. At our last location, in Przemysl, we stayed in the Hostel Olivia, which was surprisingly well equipped, with a jacuzzi and swimming pool.

Conclusion

I was positively surprised by the quality and professional approach of everybody involved in the project, which makes me even more fascinated by the history and geography of this part of Europe. But I am even happier that I have established new contacts with so many wonderful and nice people in Poland, both the Poles and people from other countries. So, at least for me, the competition and the project have achieved their purpose as it has not only strengthened my knowledge but also created new friendships that are important for the future of our countries. I will definitely visit again these places in south-eastern Poland in the near future and enjoy its beauty with my friends. /Jošt Polc, year 4/

 

Afirme Project, Erasmus+: Exchange in Graz

Afirme Project Erasmus+-exchange in Graz, Austria

Like all the activities in the past two years, the Graz exchange program was affected by coronavirus. Sadly, this was the case even on the long-expected meeting day, this time in person (and not in Teams), in Ljubljana with our fellow Italian students from Sicily. Due to infection in our class, both Marko and I were obliged to keep safety distance and could not therefore greet the Italian students properly. Still, we were better off than three of our classmates who had to stay at home. The event took place from 17-24 October 2021 in Graz, Austria and in different locations in Slovenia.

The week ahead of us started in a bumpy way, but apart from a nervous morning the following day on 18th October, while waiting for the covid test results, nothing could spoil the days in Graz. At nine o’clock on Monday we were all present in the great hall of Bischöfliches Gymnasium, including students from Sicily, Graz and Ljubljana. We were then greeted by Mr Rifel and Ms Renate Höck, the coordinators of the exchange programme. With that the Afirme project was officially open. The five days spent at “Bischgym”, as the students from Graz like to call their school, consisted of morning warm-up lectures, team workshops and afternoon activities, all of them carefully designed by students from Graz. It is more than fair to say that we enjoyed every minute of it. We learned a lot about active citizenship and environmental friendly economy through morning lectures. The workshops were great for students to get to know each other and they addressed all sorts of issues such as sustainability and the world of disabled people. The afternoon activities were primarily designed for students to hang out during sport activities or enjoy free time in Graz. Our schedules were packed till late in the evening when we finished our day at with a joint dinner at the “Cool Raum?”.

I can’t deny the fact that I was at times exhausted from all the activities of previous days, however, that was not considered as an excuse to come late to the morning lectures. At Bischgym punctuality was of great importance, otherwise Frau Renate Höck was rightfully expected to feel displeased. This, however, was not the only aspect marking Bischgym, which was perhaps unusual for some. I was astonished at the sight of how many bicycles were parked in front of the school’s main entrance. In fact, there is very little traffic in the center of Graz, except for trams, buses and of course bicycles – a proof that every individual can contribute to reducing carbon footprint.

On Thursday, before heading to Slovenia on Friday, we went out for some sightseeing. The original plan was to see the glacier but the weather was off, so we went to the nearby castle Riegersburg and afterwards to the Zotter chocolate factory. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to visit it yet, the Zotter chocolate factory is famous for its “you can taste everything” concept. A visitor can taste every stage of chocolate making – from roasted cocoa seeds to the end product. No wonder everyone was bursting with joy, when in reality we were stepping in an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet!

The last days of the exchange program were spent in Slovenia, where we focused on entrepreneurship and the process of finding interesting ideas and putting them out on the market. We also guided the students from Sicily and Graz through Ljubljana city center and even got the chance to go for a hiking trip up a mountain “Tromeja”/Triple Border, the point where all three participating countries in the programme share borders.

In total the Graz exchange programme was a great success, yet this does not end the Afirme programme. In spring we are hopefully visiting Sicily and I think we are all anxiously waiting for that day to come. /Amber Bervar, year 4/

Composer Damijan Močnik – a 2022 Prešeren Fund Award Winner

Damijan Močnik in action

St. Stanislav’s Institution is proud to announce that composer, conductor and music teacher Damijan Močnik won Prešeren Fund Award 2022 for his creative opus in the field of vocal and vocal-instrumental music that have been presented to the public in the last three years.

Prešeren Awards and Prešeren Fund Awards are the highest recognition in the Republic of Slovenia for achievements in the field of artistic creation. The awards are named after France Prešeren, the greatest Slovene poet. They are presented at a ceremony to mark Prešeren Day, the Slovenian national cultural holiday.

Damijan Močnik is known to the community of St. Stanisalv’s Insitution as the music pedagogue and enthusiast who has devoted much attention to the systematic training of choral singers at The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium since its re-opening in 1993. He believes that music importantly and decisively underpins the school curriculum. Almost half of 600 singing students, who sing in 5 choirs, are a living proof of it. The choirs vary according to the age of their singers and the level of their repertoire and form a choral pyramid. Due to its large scope, the number of participating students and quality, this choral programme is quite unique among Slovene schools as well as within the European school context.

A section of the justification for awarding runs as follows: »Damijan Močnik has established himself as one of the most prominent Slovene choral and vocal-instrumental composers. His works, which are worldwide regularly interpreted at the most prestigious festivals by some of the best professional choirs, have earned him international recognition. Among his most outstanding works are the opera I like you for six soloists, youth choir and chamber orchestra; a composition Pasche for solo soprano, male quartet, Medieval instruments and percussion; and another composition entitled Peregrinatio for three mixed choirs. The most recent one worth mentioning is a long cantata An die Freude (Ode To Joy), which was commissioned by The Music Academy in Baden-Württemberg to celebrate the anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.« However, in St. Stanislav’s Institution Močnik’s most widely performed pieces are The Canticle of the Sun for soloists, two choirs, organ and orchestra, which he composed on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the reopening of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium; and the composition Jerusalem, which was written for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir to be performed at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in July 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.

Thanks to Damijan Močnik and other dedicated musicians in St. Stanislav’s Institution choral singing has become something of value, joy and a lifelong personal fulfilment for many students. Heartfelt congratulations to you, Damijan! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/