Friday, August 8, 2014

Mongolia Brief August 7, 2014 Part IV

B.Oyu: I wish to play amazing pieces by Mongolian composers who haven’t been recognized in Asia
August 7 (UB Post) A pianist’s profession is a complex one  that requires high skills. Not everyone with musical talents are able to become a professional pianist.

The following is an interview with rising pianist B.Oyungerel, also known as B.Oyu, about the music industry and other relevant issues.
Why did you change your name to Oyu?
My parents gave me the name Oyungerel, but there were many cases of mispronunciation at foreign and domestic competitions and events.  I switched to Oyu in order to make it easier to pronounce as well as to pursue the standards set for artists to have a stage name.
Thousands of people are aspiring and making various works for the ever-difficult classical arts. The number of Mongolian pianists entering foreign music circles is considerably low. In general, how developed is piano music in Mongolian?
Mongolia is able to teach the basics incredibly well. All of my instructors studied in Russia. There’s an academy for only classical arts in Russia. It’s a major success that Mongolia was able to learn from Russia’s experience and establish the academy in Mongolia.
Although the basics are taught well, musicians aren’t able to train. Training to become a full-fledged musician isn’t solely dependent on instructors. Abundant intellect and funds are required. It also depends on many other aspects other than these contributions.
I hope the ministry and other relevant organizations unite someday and face one another head-on and accept their shortcomings.
Truthfully, young artists aren’t acknowledged. Their accomplished works aren’t recognized as it should. When they criticize the reality, they receive immense countercharge and get accused of disrespecting their elders. Even though Mongolians claim that we’re talented and skilled, we’re unable to qualify for the second round of A [high] level competitions. This is a fact. The competitions we enter aren’t of B level but of C level that are organized for amateurs.
When I took several children with me to Italy to participate in a competition, children who trained at the Music and Dance College of Mongolia, a vocational school, they won 100 Euros in prize or a certificate from competing against children who learned at home. When they returned to Mongolia, they got 14 million MNT from the state. This isn’t development, but destruction. Instructors and children aren’t entering competitions for improving skills. Why can’t that 14 million MNT reward be used for musical education? We should spend it on training children who are trying to take part in A level competitions. For instance, [the government] can become responsible for food, rent, and all other needs of children taking part in A level competitions.
I made three appointments to discuss this issue with the minister but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet her. Glooming over it will not solve anything. We need to search for other means and opportunities to resolve the issue.
In Europe, people focus on educating children through classical arts. It’s the same in Mongolia. There are tons of people who are interested in learning piano as an adult. Is it very different to learn piano at a young age than learning it when you’re older?
People at any age can learn to play the piano. The significance of learning to play at a young age is that it’s not only a matter of learning music. It becomes their upbringing and education and helps them mature. Many people are discussing education as it’s become a standard. It’s classified depending on whether it’s an education for the brain, spirituality, or upbringing. If it’s taught at early ages, it becomes a comprehensive education for these aspects.
A 30-year-old can learn to play instruments. However, it will not affect their mentality since they’ve already matured and developed their individual views of the world. The most appropriate age to teach instruments is when children are four or five. It’s the time when they start growing, understand ethics and morals, and start developing different emotions. Europeans realized this 300 to 400 years ago, and executed it in their daily lives. I’m grateful to know that this is being introduced to Mongolia and increasing the awareness of the people.
People often criticize the society for inclining towards one that is more frustrating, crude, and crueler. The key to this is arts and cultural policy. Especially classical arts education should be given to children from an early age. We should make opportunities for children to start enjoying drawing, painting, sculpting, and doing ballet and encourage parents to support their children to set foot in the amazing world of learning about oneself, feeling other’s love and respect.
How did arts contribute in your life and upbringing?
I didn’t notice it while learning. It may be because I hadn’t completely finished learning. When a woman turns 30, a new door opens. Some even explain this as another transition period. This door is starting to open for me and I’m beginning to know myself more. From the top, I’m realizing what sorts of upbringing and personality I got from the teachings of my instructors and music. A few days ago, even with my constant fault pin-pointing during a lesson, my student repeated the same mistake three times. At the moment, I started pondering on the fact that music may have taught me that we should learn from our mistakes. I don’t assess myself, but others do. There’s no such thing as a perfect man who doesn’t make any mistakes. A person’s wisdom is shown on how often you repeat mistakes, learn from it and develop good habits. I try not to make or repeat mistakes and try to realize when making mistakes. I was able to cultivate many positive characteristics such as having patience at any circumstance. For instance, I got a special award at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition which was organized in February. I was the oldest participant but I was proud of myself. Continuing this line of work is a very challenging thing to do in the music industry. Only few continue to work. I tossed everything to the side and trained for ten hours for a whole month to partake in the competition. It may sound easy but it’s difficult to actually do it. Rehearsing every day for a month, while overcoming laziness and turning my back to other important matters, requires a lot of patience.  I make an effort to bring up this patience whenever I come across an issue or an obstacle.
What’s the foremost important thing the arts and culture sector should do to expand and grow?
Mongolia doesn’t have a sector for musicians. This sector isn’t developed at all. There isn’t a job position for solo pianists. The arts and culture sector should work to establish these job positions. Currently, half of the graduates of the Music and Dance College are working in their profession, and half have tossed it away. This is correspondent to the low salary. Policies and markets should be considered for increasing salaries. We should bring together people who are interested. Just like choral songs, music is able to bring people together. We should do something interesting and attract people in a similar way.  By grabbing an audience and forming a market, a certain amount of money will be able to circulate. This’ll enable ambitions to flare up and motivate new graduates. At the moment, all of them are depressed thinking about where and what kind of work they should do. There are many talented and skilled graduates who are as valuable as “gold”. Monetary issue is the main reason why musicians and artists aren’t debuting. Also, we’re unable to neither work cooperatively nor support one another.
What is your future goal and how will you contribute in attaining recognition for Mongolian pianists internationally?
Classical art originated from Europe. We should get recognition by playing European compositions. In terms of cultural heritage and intellectual education, Mongolians are ranked comparatively high. My objective is to introduce music of Mongolian composers to Europe, if not, then at least to Asia. Mongolian musicians can’t surpass works of European composers as they are already well-known and played by everybody. Chinese famous pianist Lang Lang and other talented musicians of Korea and Japan have been acknowledged from Asia. It’ll take at least 100 years to surpass them. This is how outdated Mongolian music is. I wish to play amazing pieces of Mongolian composers who haven’t been recognized in Asia in order to lessen the distance.
In Mongolia, there aren’t any composers who were able to attain fame through compositions like that of Beethoven and Mozart. The simple fact of Mongolia having composers of this caliber may become a huge advantage for getting world recognition. Currently, Mongolia doesn’t know which aspect it should use to get world recognition. Although mining made uproar for a period, investors are now running away from Mongolia. Foreign trade is out of the question as it’s facing a crisis. Mongolia must find a gateway for getting recognition. Classical art itself has become the world’s measure for intellectualism. It’s the most valuable cultural asset. Mongolia has a potential to get recognition through classical arts.
I hope a lot of people support and cooperate to make this work successful. I will draft a project, work and make efforts for it. My primary aspiration is to contribute in stamping a better image and name for Mongolia and help get recognition from the world, even if it’s a small contribution.

Women’s wrestling team seizes seven medals at Poland Open
August 7 (UB Post) The Mongolian women’s wrestling team won seven medals at Poland Open on August 2 and 3, which took place in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland.
The team won three gold, one silver and three bronze medals at the tournament.
Mongolian gold medalists include, S.Byambatseren in 55 kg, S.Tserenchimed in 60 kg and State Merit athlete S.Battsetseg in the 63 kg weight class. International Master E.Sumiya won a silver medal in the women’s 53 kg.
Bronze medals were won by International Master E.Davaachimeg in the 53 kg division, P.Orkhon in 60 kg and State Merit Athlete O.Burmaa in 75 kg.
Mostly European wrestlers took part in the Poland Open, which provided a chance for Mongolian wrestlers to see the preparation of international athletes that will take part in the upcoming 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

Canadian band to perform at Noise Metal Fest-2014
August 7 (UB Post) Noise Metal Fest-2014 international live music festival will be held on August 23 at UB Palace.
Over 13 Mongolian bands stated that they will attend the festival, as well as artists of Canada and Inner Mongolia.
Mongol band from Devon town of Alberta State, Canada announced that they will attend the event.
The band is famous for their music in different genres and songs about the history and culture of the Mongol Empire.
The members of the band share the names of Chinggis Khaan’s infamous nine generals, Tev Tengri, Zelme, Zev, Sorkhon Shar, Boorchi, and Shikhi.
Mongol released their first album “The Altan Urug ” in 2009. This year, the band released an album named “Chosen by Tengri”.
We used to dream about coming to Mongolia and we are glad that it is coming true, the band said on their blog.

‘Steed of the Sky’ tethered at Blue Moon Art Gallery
August 7 (UB Post) Member Artist of Blue Moon Art Gallery, Union of Mongolian Artists prize winner and renowned painter S.Enkh-Amgalan’s sixth solo exhibition, Khan Khurmastiin Khuleg (Steed of the Sky) opened at Blue Moon Art Gallery on Wednesday.
The artist presents 50 of his best paintings from the last five years in this exhibition. Paying tribute to the Year of Horse, he named his exhibition ‘Steed of the Sky.’
S.Enkh-Amgalan has spent 26 years working in the field of art. His last two exhibitions, Medremj-1 (Sense-1) and Medremj-2 (Sense-2), were presented as a series in 2005 and 2008. His latest work at Blue Moon Art Gallery is on view through August 19.

S.Ganbaatar: We need to create national debt management
August 7 (UB Post) Each Mongolian taxpayer will carry 7 million MNT in debt, if the debt ceiling rises to 70 percent of gross domestic product. Parliament Member S.Ganbaatar comments on national debt. 
There is a report that the debt ceiling has exceeded 70 percent of GDP. What is your opinion on the debt ceiling increase?
I hope that the debt ceiling does not exceed 40 percent. If the debt of organizations and companies are assumed as national debt, then it has exceeded 40 percent. Government and the Central Bank’s debt should be considered separately. I talked about it at the Standing Committee on State Budget’s meeting. The most important thing is to analyze consumption and the effects of 1.5 billion USD in debt.
The debt is a risk and a hazard at the same time. We can’t control the risk, but we can minimize the risk. Government needs to make a strong decisions on how to spend debt.
What is the off-budget debt?
Development Bank and big foundations have large debt.  This means we need to create national debt management.
According to the law, debts of Government and state-owned enterprises are considered national debt. Experts and economists say that some parts of the references have been deducted?
I agree with those people. We argued about it in the State Budget Standing Committee’s meeting, but haven’t dealt with it yet. It’s wrong to deduct some references.
Is there any repayment risk if the debt ceiling rises to 70 percent?
It is risky for sure. To minimize the risk, pre-feasibility studies must be done.
If the Law on Debt is changed, the Fiscal Stability Law needs to be changed too, as foreign countries have advised that the law needs to be stable for a minimum of three years.
I have one idea. Forty percent is a valid recapitulation. The debt isn’t a small amount, if we use it for effective and beneficial projects. The reason for taking on debt is to bring about economic growth. Before any debt, pre-feasibility studies and market research must be done, which determines whether or not debt should be taken on. But we didn’t do this at all, so it needs to be legislated.
What should we do to make good industry?
Every country needs to concentrate a large amount of money on big refineries to make progress. Secondly, to bring in beneficial currency from foreign markets, qualified domestic products need to be produced. That’s all we want. Mongolia has been affected by the repression of market cycles of raw material prices. The only way out of this situation is industrialization.
Does this mean the debt ceiling isn’t important?
Yes. It doesn’t matter If it’s 40 percent or 70 percent. The most important thing is to invest in effective, beneficial projects where pre-feasibility studies are developed. But 40 percent is a valid recapitulation and I support it.

Selbe River response
August 7 (UB Post) I recently read your article on the completion of the first phase of the Selbe River “Restoration” project, a goal of which is to restore the flow of the Selbe River. In my opinion, this project has not restored the river and will make no contribution to increasing water flow; it is merely an expensive, hard landscaping project that has destroyed any remaining natural ecological characteristics of the Selbe River in this location, and which will, in fact, decrease the water quality downstream. I don’t mean to criticize the implementers of the project, as to my knowledge this was a well intentioned project, but I do believe that their frame of reference, design concept and understanding of the problem has been mistaken.
First, let’s look at the problem; there are concerns that the Selbe River, which once had steady flows and even reportedly once supported grayling [a species of salmon], is drying up and, in recent years, experiences very low flows at times in summer. The natural environment of the stream bed and riverside habitat has been degraded by the accumulation of rubbish, grazing by livestock, and even from being used as a winter road through the ger districts. Still, the Selbe River channel provides something of a green ribbon through the city. Lets also note that the Selbe River can experience serious floods, and that the channel has been constrained by concrete banks and levees to protect the city from flooding; its primary purpose now is to convey flood waters safely downstream.
Now, let’s look at the solution that has been implemented: a section of the river channel has been bulldozed and completely concreted over, within this channel a waterproof liner has been laid to retain water, and a series of small dams or weirs have been constructed to hold the water back. The retaining walls of the flood channel have been re-built, and within the channel, landscaped paths, terraces and steps have been built, a few small areas have been sown with grass and a few shrubs have been planted (but nothing resembling native Mongolian river habitat). The natural river channel has been completely destroyed. The work has not increased the flow in any way. Water flowing in to the restored section from upstream equals the water flowing out downstream, no new water has miraculously appeared. The water flow has been slowed and held back by the weirs to create something resembling a canal, not a river. Now, during periods of low flow in the Selbe, water trickles in and trickles out at the other end, leaving a large volume of stagnant water behind the weirs, which heats up and turns green due to algal growth. The quality of this water is now much worse than that flowing in, and the warmer water flowing out has a negative effect on (what is left of) the in-stream ecology downstream. We can see that the river has not been restored, it has been transformed into a landscaped canal with little or no ecological value, and the flow has not increased.
How could this be done better? Both in-stream works and upstream work throughout the Selbe catchment are required. If we consider the problem of low flow, what is the cause? It’s easy to blame climate change and changes in weather patterns, perhaps also de-forestation has been blamed, or over extraction of groundwater too. But the forests in the Selbe headwaters are actually quite well protected and a healthy catchment should have some resilience to climate change. The major problem in the Selbe catchment is almost certainly urbanization. Over the last ten to fifteen years, much of the Selbe catchment has been gobbled up by expanding ger districts and the dacha districts beyond that.
The process of urbanization has destroyed much of the natural vegetation in these areas: even the land that has not been built upon has been damaged by roads, tracks, trampling, heavy grazing, compaction and soil erosion. In a natural catchment, when rain falls the vegetation slows run off and allows infiltration to replenish ground water. Now, when it rains there is rapid surface run off leading to flash floods; all the water runs off quickly and there is less infiltration to recharge the groundwater that feeds the river. So in order to restore the flow of the Selbe River, there needs to be catchment wide work to decrease storm runoff and to increase retention and infiltration of rainfall within the catchment. Fortunately, there are numerous sustainable urban design and ecological restoration techniques to enable this. This is a challenge that needs to be incorporated into the plans and projects underway to upgrade or re-develop the ger districts. UN-Habitat’s work with the Unur ger district community on flood control and gully restoration is a good example of some efforts already under way in the city.
In-stream works, meaning in the river channel flowing through the city, should focus on more sustainable and ecologically sensitive restoration efforts without bulldozing and concreting the entire channel, and it is likely that a much greater length of river could be restored for the same budget when compared to the bulldozer and concrete approach. I mentioned that the frame of reference or precedent for this project was one reason why the designers of this project took this course; as I understand the idea was to copy what had been done on the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul (a tributary of the Han River). There, the stream had been completely buried under a highway and was entirely reconstructed, which is not necessary in the case of the Selbe. The result is a very nice urban park, and landscaped canal, but not a natural river and functioning ecosystem. A better reference would be to look at the restoration of the Los Angeles River in the USA, or the Kallang River in Singapore.
I hope that the next stage of the Selbe River restoration project can learn from the work already completed, and use more sustainable and ecological methods in the next stage, allowing more river to be restored within the allocated budget while still meeting the multiple objectives of providing a flood channel, improving flow and in-stream ecology, and offering green space within the city.
Andy Parkinson, Vietnam
Andy Parkinson is an environmental consultant with expertise in ecological restoration and sustainable design.
Follow him on Twitter @ando_parkinson.
Link to article

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