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/

Archbishop Zore: “Unlike knowledge, wisdom is smooth, gentle and sensitive.”

St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium

Each year the entire school community of St. Stanislav’s Institution celebrates St. Stanislav’s Day to mark the feast of the Institution’s patron. It took place on 11th November 2021, and its aim above all to celebrate the many talents and success of the pupils of Alojzij Šuštar Primary School and the students of Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and The Music School of St. Stanislav’s Institution. The event offered a flashback of the academic year that was mostly spent online due to the pandemic. This year’s festivities were held under the title of The Focus of Harmony, which adequately points at the 25th anniversary of the establishment of The Music School of St. Stanislav’s Institution, which is observed this academic year. That is why all the headmasters, past and present, of the Music School were at the event. The mass and the celebration were followed on line, special guests were able to join in person. This year’s event was in hands of Marta Močnik Pirc and Barbara Tišler of The Music School. The programme was a happy feast of music, words, dancing and visual arts intertwining four elements of matter, namely Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.

In St. Stanislav’s Chapel with the Archbishop Msgr. Stanislav Zore

Never stop listening with your heart

Holy mass was celebrated in the school chapel by the Archbishop of Ljubljana Msgr. Stanislav Zore, along with the current and former director, and school chaplains. The Archbishop spoke of the fact that feeling grateful is unmistakably a sign of being loved. It is in the human nature to be reluctantly grateful for hardships, however, only this actively shapes our lives. He reflected also on this year Institution’s motto: Do we read each other? He pointed out that we live in the era of images, most of the events unfold before our very eyes, but we do not sense people through eyes, but through ears. He stressed:“Never stop listening with your heart, sift what you hear. In desire to search for solutions, we could lose Christ from our sight, which never enables meeting with Him.”

“It is the sound that stimulates human development, not brains.”

With these words Florjan Ivanc, M.A., a Slovene composer and professor at the Academy of Music (University of Ljubljana), reflected upon the important facts that combine music and human development into a harmonious focus. “The cochlea, this tiny instrument in human ears, is the first organ to be fully developed in the human body.” In this sense the cochlea, not the brains, defines various aspects of student formation, upon which prof. Ivanc speculated that it is not a coincidence that The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium is attended by excellent students and singers, who decidedly underpin the mission of St. Stanislav’s Institution. He continued that, historically speaking, there are three types of music, namely the music of the universe, the music of man and thirdly the instrumental music. The first two cannot be heard, and it is only the sound of instrumental music that makes them hearable.

High Achievers in The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in school year 2020/21

On the occasion of its silver jubilee the Music School of St. Stanislav’s Institution recognised high achievers in the field of music. These are the students who have been fostering harmony for the last 25 years playing different musical instruments, namely the piano, violin, viola, flute, recorder, accordion, horn, trumpet, guitar, organ, zither, voice and jazz singing.

At the very end of the solemn celebration the guests in the hall and online were encouraged to detect in themselves the disharmonies of all kinds and turn them into balanced concord, as only those who live in harmony with themselves, can create harmony in others. Definitely a yearlong, if not lifelong, homework to be done thoroughly. Why? In order to be able to read each other. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Listen to the mass: https://tiny.cc/masa2021

Listen to the solemn celebration: https://tiny.cc/akademija2021

St. Stanislav’s Day 2021 – The Focus of Harmony

Rok Pogačar, counsellor in The Jeglič Student Home: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, (Debeli Rtič, Slovenia), watercolour

Each year the entire school community celebrates St. Stanislav’s Day to mark the feast of the Institution’s patron. This year it is under the title of The Focus of Harmony, which adequately points at the 25th anniversary of the establishment of The Music School of St. Stanislav’s Institution.

This year as well all celebrations have been restricted to virtual mediums only. Therefore, we have the pleasure of inviting you to follow us online. The occasion will be marked with holy mass and a solemn celebration on Thursday 11th November 2021. Holy mass will be celebrated at 3.00 p.m. by the Archbishop of Ljubljana Msgr. Stanislav Zore in St. Stanislav’s Chapel. https://tiny.cc/masa2021

The solemn celebration will take place at 5 p. m.. Ivan Florjanc, M.A., a Slovene composer, will hold the official speech. The performance will be given by the students of all schools in St. Stanislav’s Institution. https://tiny.cc/akademija2021

We are looking forward to meeting you online.

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

 

Ode to Young Singers and Conductors

The Magic Moment Between the Conductor and Singer -St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir

So much has been going on – on different stages and even more behind them – at The Europa Cantat Festival that it is not an easy task to recap the event. Nevertheless, one thing is clear. The protagonists are the singers and conductors. After this mostly pandemic academic year, they have shown us so much that as an average music lover I cannot but enjoy the abundance of messages conveyed to the audience in this fabulous week of choral music. The Europa Cantat Festival took place from 16th-25th July 2021, bringing together music-related enthusiasts and professionals from all over the world, among who also St. Stanislav Youth Mixed, St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir and Megaron Chamber Choir. The students and alumni from St. Stanislav’s Institution, more precisely from The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, sing in these choirs. All three choirs are led by Helena Fojkar Zupančič and Damijan Močnik, whose personal charisma and leadership add so much to a young person formation in terms of personality and music making.

What are singers’ drives? Live singing, keeping together and top conductors

It is surprising what passion, determination and joy the singers demonstrated while taking part in different ateliers, workshops and especially on the stage during concerts. What or who can be held responsible for this, in particular after the morbid year of social distancing, uncertainties and anxieties? Well, to start with there was a factor of change in the air, the singers and the audience simply wanted to sing live and express themselves after such a long period of silence. Arts offers numberless ways of expression and choral music is definitely one of the most eloquent, combing the mind, body and soul. The focus, hard working attitude and artistic expression of the young singers were widely admired. Panda van Proosdij, Dutch prominent conductor, praised the sound of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir, its colour and strength. “For the first time I have heard a spiritual interpreted by European singers that sounded authentic and not like some imitation.”, she said. She added that “the lemniscate walk into endlessness symbolises the incredible strength of the girls.”

Secondly, the singers loved being together. Already in ancient Greece Pherekydes of Patrae, known as the ‘Giver of Rhythm’, was described in a report from 709 BC as somebody leading a group of several hundred musicians by beating a golden staff “up and down in equal movements” so that the musicians began “at the same time” and “all might keep together”. So “the keeping together” was huge at the EC, too.

Last but not least, the singers were in the good hands of top conductors, who translated their visions into glorious sounds – and the young followed. For me this is a matter of trust. This is why the adults should never ever betray the trust the young have in us. What exactly does a single person on the podium (i.e. the conductor), making almost no noise at all, do? Conductors not only beat time and offer interpretation, but most importantly, they listen and lead. From what I have heard from the singers talking off the record on the EC, listening is the crucial one. Both the singer and conductor can together become something bigger, at the same time feeling fully realised as individuals. We have witnessed this phenomenon on both full evening concert given by both, St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir and Megaron Chamber Choir.

 All the above are the points that make the student singers of St. Stanislav shine on the stage, grow into great young adults, thus contributing a priceless share for the embetterment of the society we live in. Heroes pugnates (Heroes, fight), if I use Galuss’ words that echoed at one of the EC concerts. For the young heroes, determined, yet emphatic, there will be a lot to struggle for in the future. However, boosted by their outstanding performance and mentors in the field of arts, sports or science, they will be unbeatable, irreplaceable and indispensable. Using the words of Panda van Proosdij we may say that “the young are the loving preachers of the future”. Or in Damijan Močnik’s words: “What would conductors do without their beloved singers?”  /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Two Choirs Under the Conductorship of Damijan Močnik to Feature at Europa Cantat

St. Stanislav Youth Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium

Damijan Močnik, Slovene composer, conductor and a long serving music teacher is the deputy chairman of the Europa Cantat Music Commission and the chief music advisor for the music image of the opening ceremony and concerts representing Slovene choral music to international audience. Unfortunately, the intended programme will be materialised only partly due to pandemic restrictions. Damijan Močnik is the conductor of both Megaron Chamber Choir and St. Stanislav Youth Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium.

Megaron Chamber Choir will perform at the concert on Thursday, 22nd July 2021 at 5 p.m. in Cultural and Congress Centre Cankarjev dom in Gallus Hall. In the section Listen to Slovenia Slovene sacral music by Jacobus Gallus will be presented; the programme will also include pieces from the flourishing period of the 19th century Slovene music to timelessness of choral works by contemporary Slovene composers including Mav, Klemenčič, Ipavec, Dev, Lebič, Vulc, Makor, Mlakar and Sojar Voglar. For more detailed information please follow: https://europacantat.jskd.si/programme/special-projects/sing-to-slovenia/ and https://europacantat.jskd.si/programme/concerts/listen-to-slovenia-concerts/

St. Stanislav Youth Choir is the festival choir of the residence and is to perform in Open Singing section and Discovery Ateliers. Open Singing is a daily open-air event where everybody is welcome to join in for the sake of pure joy of singing. An intensive musical experience is guaranteed. Open Singing is led by Jan Schumacher, German professor of conducting and conductor of award winning ensembles. Discovery Ateliers are designed for those who love diversity in terms of style, singing techniques and genres of choral music. Workshops are to take place from 17th-20th July, 2021. For more details follow: https://europacantat.jskd.si/programme/workshops/discovery-ateliers/

Both Megaron Chamber Choir and St. Stanislav Youth Choir will perform at the concert Sing to Slovenia in Slovenian Philharmonic on Sunday, 18th July, 2021 in the morning (9.30-12.00 a.m.) and evening session (6.p.m-8.30 p.m.). This event celebrates the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence.

At St. Stanislav’s Institution we strongly believe singing is an important part of education of every young person. Students of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and alumni take advantage of probably the best musical education available in Slovenia. Singing brings with it also the benefits of skills that will last a lifetime and singers gain a natural self-confidence, as well as the appreciation of good time-keeping and the rewards that result from hard work. Warmly welcome to any of the above mentioned events. The more, the merrier! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/