Founded 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, OgreOgress Productions is an independent label specializing in "previously unrecorded or unavailable works by well-known and emerging composers in addition to projects benefiting Tibetans in exile." This is the label's third release dedicated to American composer Alan Hovhaness. In a century dominated by Americanists and serialists who sought to craft a response to European romanticism, Hovhaness joined Cage and Cowell in blazing a third path that embraced Eastern music as the logical solution in a world that, owing to faster travel and technology, was becoming increasingly smaller.
Born to an Armenian chemistry professor in the wealthy Boston suburb of Somerville, Hovhaness pursued composition from an early age, always confident in his vision, but not in his technique. He greatly admired the stark, powerful symphonies of Sibelius, but in the early 1930s at the New England Conservatory he concentrated on developing his skill at counterpoint. Soon after graduation he began to absorb Eastern influences; he turned to Armenian and Kurdish singers, and in 1936 in Boston he attended a performance of Indian classic music -- a rare event in the West at that time.
In 1940 Hovhaness joined the Saint James Armenian Church in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he delved into the monody and modality of the Armenian liturgy; and in 1942, after being ridiculed at Tanglewood by Copland and Bernstein, he retreated to friends in Boston who urged him to pursue his true calling --- a blend of Eastern language and Western performance practice that strove to move beyond superficial compositional trickery and make profound human statements.
Hovhaness's contacts in the Armenian community and at Columbia Records helped him in his visibility, and in the 1950s and 1960s he enjoyed several commissions, recording projects, and trips to Asia, where he fell in love with Oriental music. In the early 1970s he moved to Seattle, where he established his own record label and turned to a more Western neo-romantic idiom. He continued to write into the late 1990s, completing over 400 opus numbers, including almost 70 symphonies. His prolific career perhaps put him in danger of writing the same piece more than once, but even Bernstein came around to appreciate him, later commenting that Hovhaness's music was "very, very good."
As expected, not everything in Hovhaness's oeuvre has been recorded, and here, on a single audio DVD, OgreOgress presents over two hours of his chamber music, stretching from his contrapuntal student days of the 1930s to his culminating life work of the early 1990s, including 13 premieres. The program proceeds chronologically, allowing the listener to trace his evolution as composer: the Piano Trio, Op. 3 (1935); Sonata Ricercare for Piano, Op. 23 (1935); Artinis Urarduan Sun God for piano, Op. 39 (1945); Suite for oboe and bassoon, Op. 23 (1949); Poseidon Sonata for piano, Op. 191 (1957); Bardo Sonata for piano, Op. 192 (1959); Sonatina for piano, Op 120 (1962); String Trio, Op. 201 (1962); Three Haikus for piano, Op. 113 (1965); Night of a White Cat for clarinet and piano, Op. 263 (1973); Two-Bassoon Sonata, Op.266 (1973); Two-Clarinet Sonata, )p 297 (1977); Oboe and Bassoon Sonata, Op. 302 (1977); and Solo Viola Sonata, Op. 423 (1992).
The liner notes are generous with information on every piece, but the performers and the recording location are a complete mystery. This is unfortunate, for except some slightly unrefined oboe playing, the entire production is professionally done and artistically convincing. Chamber enthusiasts will discover a treasure trove of well-written and captivating music that transcends dogmatic stylistic philosophies and touches the soul. For more information on the label visit www.ogreogress.com
How is it that so many otherwise learned U.S. professionals -- lawyers, journalists, etc. -- can be so oblivious to the differences between translating and interpreting as to call interpreters "translators"? They can be outright defiant in their ignorance, thumbing their noses at English literature and contemporary institutional usage. Their counterparts, or indeed even less-educated people in Iquique, Nanjo-machi or Dakar are unlikely to make the same error.
The easiest answer: ignorance of the name of the profession is the chief symptom of "English-speaking country syndrome," an indifference to the difficulties of cross-cultural communication brought on by the ascendancy of English. Its sufferers have either never given much thought to the practical details of working with multiple languages, or imagined that they were not so hard to overcome as to require trained specialists.
Answer No. 2: they have had little access to professional interpreters since many situations are handled well enough by people who just happen to speak two languages. The discourse to be interpreted may not be very technical, or there may not be much of a premium placed on accuracy or speed. A reporter or lawyer might rephrase his question multiple times before getting the answer he might have gotten immediately through a professional interpreter.
Another factor is the tiny size of the profession: a mere estimated 8000 professional interpreters worldwide. Also, though interpreting has a long history, the modern organized profession only emerged in the 1950s.
Some may wish to blame the ambiguity of the verb "translate," which if modified with "oral" is a fair description of what interpreters do. Yet the qualifications and training needed to do "oral translation" are so different from those for written translation that distinct titles are useful to differentiate members of the two respective professions.
This is precisely what academic institutions, government agencies, international organizations and professional associations have done. Translators translate text into text--the written word. Interpreters interpret live speech into speech for a live audience--the spoken word. Or to paraphrase Professor Donald Saari, translators are locked up with books in libraries until their version of a book is ready; interpreters are locked up with people all day in conference rooms until the meeting is done.
Pretending the distinction does not matter is sloppy.
A transcript of a press conference labeled "As translated" should be understood as a carefully researched version prepared by a skilled writer--a translator--based on a pre-existing transcript in a different language. "As interpreted" would mean it was merely a transcript of an interpreter's on-the-spot spoken rendering.
An interpreter may not work at his own pace, consulting experts and books as he studies a text, mulling over the phrasing of his rendition at leisure, but must rather keep pace with the speaker and instantly produce a rendition for an impatient audience, drawing only on his own mental resources. His input does not calmly await him, laid out in black and white on paper, but is rather a rushing stream of variously accented, idiosyncratic speech. He must in a sense "become" the speaker, seeking as an actor to faithfully portray tone and emotion. For an interpreter, having a good ear for languages and being orally communicative are not optional.
The Old Testament And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
The New Testament If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Second Lord: ...speak what terrible
language you will: though you understand it not
yourselves, no matter; for we must not seem to
understand him, unless some one among us whom we
must produce for an interpreter.
First Soldier: Good captain, let me be the interpreter.
Second Lord: Oscorbidulchos volivorco.
First Soldier: The general is content to spare thee yet
They sente out their shalop with 10 men, and Squanto for their guid and interpreter, to discover and veiw that bay, and trade with ye natives.
You...express an earnest desire of seeing me in France...I am unacquainted with your language...to converse through the medium of an interpreter...
...when I was alone with Mr Gorbachev..the need to talk through an interpreter...
Helen, if I'd been able to get that kind of grade from you in French I wouldn't have needed an interpreter last summer in Paris.
George W. Bush
A look of shock washed over Putin's face as Peter, the interpreter, delivered
the line in Russian.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
They seemed astonished to see so many Americans in their little village but
graciously allowed Chelsea and me to hold their babies and ask them questions
through an interpreter.
The professional association of interpreters "The work of a conference interpreter is an oral intellectual exercise which is quite distinct from written translation and requires different training and qualifications."
The University of Paris (Sorbonne Nouvelle) grants separate professional degrees in both conference interpreting and translation. Each section has its own coursework and faculty; students enrolled in one section take no classes in the other.
United States Department of State "Assignment of interpreters to official visits and high-level meetings."
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics "Although some people do both, interpreting and translation are different professions. Interpreters deal with spoken words, translators with written words. Each task requires a distinct set of skills and aptitudes, and most people are better suited for one or the other."
Sascha Udagawa interviewing this blogger
It is a common belief that translation and interpretation are basically the same type of work, but they are actually two very different professions. Interpreters deal with spoken words, translators with written words. Each task requires a distinct set of skills, and most people are better suited to one or the other. On the difference between translation and interpretation, Hersey says, "It's mainly a difference of speed, but it's also a difference of medium. Either you're speaking or you're writing - those are really two quite different exercises. Is it possible to do both? I suppose, but I think the qualifications and the abilities to do both well aren't usually found in the same person.
I must have heard this in 1984 while riding in a car with other teenagers from Waipahu into Honolulu and remember being carried away by the sentimentality of the tune while looking out over the city. The chorus stayed with me all these years, impelling me to do an Internet search for the song.
While passing through Pennsylvania in the spring of 2009, I visited a Mennonite meeting that was not at all affected by the fads described in the article linked below. A twenty-something woman got out a pitch pipe, and before I knew it I was enveloped in lusty unaccompanied four-part singing.
The slow death of congregational singing