Archive for the “Blog Entry” Category

I’m new to Inkscape and have been trying a small handful of tutorials I’ve found online. In the middle of a compass-making tutorial, while trying to use “Path to Pattern Effect”, I ran into the following wall:

The fantastic lxml wrapper for libxml2 is required by and therefore this extension. Please download and install the latest version from, or install it through your package manager by a command like: sudo apt-get install python-lxml

Confession: I missed the Open Source boat, more or less. I have no taste for code. I consider myself fluent on my Mac, but Java, Python, Terminal, it’s all, well, not exactly Greek to me, but it is rather foreign. At the same time, I see that more and more people are obtaining a certain fluency in these languages, and I also understand that there’s considerable overlap from one to another, so that what one learns of a particular code language is like a dialect of another. One advantage of being an American expat in this regard is that I’ve become adept at listening to a conversation in a foreign language (in my case, Latvian) and picking up the gist of it even though I may lose the details.

As I said, I’m new to Inkscape. I’m working on a multi-movement, electroacoustic multimedia piece, and have decided that for one of the movements one of the things I want to try is use Inkscape and Processing to create an animated graphic score to be projected before the audience that the musicians will also read.

I spent most of the day working on fixing this problem. And there were plenty of forum posts about this issue, but the only one I found that seems to have resolved it suggested an upgrade to the development version of Inkscape (0.47), but that alone did not do the trick for me. So here’s the sum total of everything I did that DID work for me, plus how I would do it now, knowing what I do know.

Inkscape. First of all, looking at the contents of the Inkscape application (Control-Click on Package Contents/Contents/Resources), I could see that the extensions Inkscape was looking for were not present. I upgraded to Inkscape development ver. 0.47. The necessary extensions were not there either. Strike one.

Python. Maybe since the extension is related to Python (or at least that what I thought), I need to upgrade Python? Upgraded to Python 3.1. No change. Clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing.

X11. At some point, somewhere, I read that I should upgrade X11 (necessary for Inkscape to run on a Mac) to X-Quartz 2.4.0. No change. Sigh. Hit the desk.

Macports. Somewhere along the line, I stumble upon Macports. “The MacPorts Project is an open-source community initiative to design an easy-to-use system for compiling, installing, and upgrading either command-line, X11 or Aqua based open-source software on the Mac OS X operating system. To that end we provide the command-line driven MacPorts software package under a BSD License, and through it easy access to thousands of ports that greatly simplify the task of compiling and installing open-source software on your Mac.” Sounds good to me! I install version 1.8, and follow the guide for the first three chapters. I poke around, am able to look at ports, find Python lxml and libxml2 ports but am getting an error (I forget now what it was, but I googled it at the time and didn’t feel particularly enlightened) when I try to install. Back to the guide. By Chapter 4 I feel lost.

Porticus. Again, somewhere along the line I discover Porticus, “a Cocoa GUI (Graphical User Interface) for the MacPorts package manager. MacPorts provides ready to build open-source software packages modified to compile and run on Mac OS X. The MacPorts project provides a TCL command line tool to manage installation, update and activation of the port packages. Porticus provides a GUI front-end to this tool.” Now we’re talking! No code! I try it, find the find Python lxml and libxml2 ports but am still getting an error. For some reason, because I was given the error not in Terminal but in Porticus, I don’t feel so stupid.

Back to, this time to the FAQ page, because I can’t believe what they’re calling a guide over there is guiding anyone. There, I read: “You need to install Xcode. Ensure you include both X11SDK and Unix Development. Some ports need newer versions of Xcode than that which ships with the OS, and will fail to install due to that requirement. Xcode is not updated via Software Update, you have to download it manually. To do so, go to and log in with your ADC information (the free online account is enough to get access to Xcode). Once you log in, go to Downloads, then select Developer Tools on the right section under Downloads. You can then search for Xcode (there are quite a few versions available, make sure to get the latest for your OS version).”

Sure enough, I do a search on my Mac, and don’t find X11SDK. I head over to Apple Development and download and install Xcode 3.1. If you do the basic install, you get the Unix Development package automatically. I manually installed X11SDK, which is part of the same .dmg file.

I go back to Porticus and try installing the ports again. Voilà! 12 ports show up (the necessary ports and their dependencies). I fire up Inkscape again, and finally, FINALLY! No error message! It worked!

So, if I had to do it again, I would start by going directly to the ADC site and get Xcode. Download Macports if you don’t have it. I realized after the fact that if I had followed the instructions here, I would not have needed Porticus.

This all may become quite moot if you upgrade to Snow Leopard. I don’t know yet. My Snow Leopard disc is in the mail. But if you do, Xcode 3.2 is already at the ADC site for Snow Leopard. In any case, enjoy the stupid compass.

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I haven’t written a proper blog entry in quite some time, for several reasons.

I changed my website to a blog format back in 2005/6 so I could relate my experiences as an American expat living in Latvia, and for about a year or so I was able to write about my experiences here with a kind of virtual (pun intended) anonymity, partially shielded by my writing in English and partially shielded by my outsider status here in Latvia. I wasn’t a known commodity, and was thus below many local radars. My audience (such as it is) was American. Or at least in my mind it was. But over time, I realized that sure enough, people here in Latvia were reading my commentaries. And those that discovered it and could read English were of course willing to translate for others if it seemed appropriate. I said nothing particularly scathing (well, maybe a little, but never personal), but I was still trying to write honestly. As time passed and I’d had good professional experiences as well as bad ones, I began to feel constrained against writing about the warts.

Here’s an SAT style analogy for you: The New Music community in New York is to archipelago as The New Music community in Latvia is to Melrose Place.

Reason number two: Since I moved here, I got remarried and had two kids. Nothing takes time away from things that feel even a little bit peripheral than that.

Anyway, I say all that to say this: I have a big project involving lots of tech stuff in the works, where I’d like to open up the process a little bit and also benefit from the experience of others who may care to share their advice or guidance. I’ll leave the actual beginning of that topic to the the next entry. Until then.

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ugis.jpegPianist UÄ£is KriÅ¡jānis reprises his recent performance of my Vernacular Dances at RÄ«gas LatvieÅ¡u biedrÄ«bas nama Zelta zālÄ“ (Riga’s Society House, Golden Hall) on March 27 at 8PM.

UÄ£is KriÅ¡jānis is joined by musicians Jānis Rinkulis (cello), Kristaps PÄ“tersons (electric guitar), Dzintars VÄ«ksna (drums) on this concert called “NEPIERADINÄ€TS” (UNTAMED), including works by Gundega Å mite, Volfgangs Dārziņš, Gundaris Pone, Imants Zemzaris, LÄ«ga Celma, UÄ£is KriÅ¡jānis and Kristaps PÄ“tersons. Tickets cost 2 Ls/1 Ls (Seniors, students).

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GastesiBezerraDuo The Piano Duo Gastesi-Bezerra will perform four movements from my suite of pieces for piano four-hands From the Faraway Nearby, inspired by paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe on March 13 at 7:30 PM at the New Music Festival at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Vera Lea Rinker School of Music in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The duo will also perform music by Terry Winter Owens, Dennis Kam, Marlene Woodward-Cooper, Spanish-Basque composer Ramon Lazkano and Italian composer Danielle Corsi.

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Pianist Uģis Krišjānis will give the Latvian premiere of my Vernacular Dances on March 12 at the Liepāja Symphony Concert Hall (Graudu iela) at 7PM as part of the eight day XVI International Piano Stars Festival. The festival brings classical and jazz pianists this year from Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Latvia, Spain and Russia to perform concerti, chamber music and solo concerts. The solo concert of Uģis Krišjānis will also include works by Gundega Šmite, Volfgangs Dārziņš and Gundaris Pone.

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The piano duo Antra and Normunds Viksne will perform three movements from my suite for piano four-hands inspired by paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, From the Faraway Nearby, at RÄ«gas LatvieÅ¡u biedrÄ«bas nama Zelta zālÄ“ (Riga’s Society House, Golden Hall) on February 8 at 7PM. This concert of chamber music will also include works by Latvian composers Kalniņš, Kalsons, Ä€bols, Jermaks, and Riekstiņš.
Flutist Liene Denisjuka will perform my Fragmentary Rondo for unaccompanied solo flute on a concert of electroacoustic and chamber music at the Jaunais Rīgas Teātris Kamerzālē in Rīga on February 18 at 7PM. Other composers on this program include Ēriks Ešenvalds, Rolands Kronlaks, Solveiga Selga, and Anita Mieze.

These concerts are just two of eleven concerts that will take place throughout Riga in February.

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GastesiBezerraDuo The Piano Duo Gastesi-Bezerra will perform four movements from my suite of pieces for piano four-hands From the Faraway Nearby, inspired by paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe on December 28 – 8PM at the Studentski Kulturni Centar in Belgrade, Serbia and on December 29 – 7 PM at Novi Sad’s City Hall in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Both programs will include twelve premieres in Serbia. Among them, works by Dimitri Cervo, Carme Fernández-Vidal, Charles Griffin, Piotr Lachert, Terry Winter Owens, Justin Rubin, Rodolfo Coelho de Souza, Ricardo Tacuchian, Tim Thompson , and Marlene Woodward-Cooper. They will also be playing works by distinguished Serbian composer Vladimir Tosic.

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The Chamber Choir Intis, directed by Ilze Valce, will perform my Aijā, ŽūŽū at Liepājas Latviešu Biedrības Nama, Lielajā zāle at Rožu laukumā 5/6 (The Great Hall of the Latvian Society House) on December 15 at 4PM, as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration concert. This will be the first public performance of the piece, and the composer will accompany the choir at the piano.

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Rumor de ParamoPianist Ana Cervantes will perform selections from Rumor de Páramo, a 2-disc recording and commissioning project celebrating the work of Mexican author Juan Rulfo in Morelia (in the state of Michoacán), Mexico on Saturday, December 8 at 8PM, at el Museo de Arte Colonial; and on December 12 at 7PM at la Capilla Tolsá del Instituto Cultural Cabañas in Guadalajara (in the state of Jalisco), Mexico.

The concerts will include my Murmuring in Comala, as well as works by Laurie Altman (US, 1946); Paul Barker (RU, 1956); Silvia Berg (Brasil-Dinamarca, 1958); Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras (México, 1927); Federico Ibarra (México, 1946); Anne LeBaron (EUA, 1953); Arturo Márquez (México, 1950); Ramón Montes de Oca (México, 1953-2006); Alex Shapiro (US, 1962); and Horacio Uribe (México, 1970).

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index.JPGThe Germany-based piano duo Francis Gailus and Sana VilleruÅ¡a will take the Sky Above Clouds movement from my suite for piano 4-hands, From the Faraway Nearby, to the Valberg 2ème Concours International du Mercantour/Piano à quatre mains in Nice, France, on December 7. The competition will take place at L’École Départementale de Musique des Alpes-Maritimes, Cité des Moulins, 38 Rue de la Santoline in Nice. Bon voyage et bonne chance.

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