Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2009 to everyone, whenever it arrives in your timezone.

OK, so not for another 7.5 hours here, but I have to get ready to go out and I'm looking a bit drained, so that could be a lengthy task....

Someone at Church is having fireworks, cool.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Evening Devotions

does it again for Christmas.

Carol Singing

I had clocked that Fr Tim had put up the info about Carol Singing for the Good Counsel Network in London Tube Stations, been overtaken by events at work and then someone mentioned the last one to me and then texted me all the details on the morning, so no mistaking! By then I was on holiday, so off I went.

Top stuff at Bond Street Station. They had sheets with all the proper carols you'd like to sing and as is always the case with such things everyone was great. Two instrumentalists turned up playing the violin and flute and wove some lovely harmonies around the melodies and a comedy moment was provided by a passer by carrying a moose head! And the organiser even got us refreshments. I'll definitely do it next year.

Madrid

The Times says several hundred thousand, so we know that means over a million people, during the holiday season in dodgy weather...

Post Party

Yesterday, I had a Christmas/ Birthday (for Leutgeb was a Christmas Baby,)/House-warming Party. Thanks to a huge imput from my parents and other members of the family, plus a goodly turnout of very friendlysome guests, some bearing magnificent Christmas creations - not often I am visited by a homemade illuminated gingerbread house - a fun time was had.

My Mum is still marvelling at the delightful child guests and fortunately people came and went such that there was always enough space for everyone.

I may do it again....and now to the left overs....

Monday, 22 December 2008


Happy Christmas everyone!
Busy doing stuff now.
Off to my parents for Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Woolies

I thought I'd have a nostalgic rummage in the Pick 'n' Mix today, but didn't in the end.

I picked up a few things I needed and was served by a lady who was politeness itself.

O

O Radix today....

Thursday, 18 December 2008

James MacMillan - top man

From this week's Catholic Herald.

Rediscover real Church music
Composer James MacMillan says that authentic Advent and Christmas music can help drive out the dreary rubbish imposed on Catholics in recent decades

19 December 2008

Every Christmas I think to myself: Why I have not written much Christmas music? I have written loads of stuff relating to Lent, Holy Week and Easter. A lot of my instrumental music is inspired by this period, and I have recently set the St John Passion, as well as the Seven Last Words from the Cross. I have also composed motets for Pentecost, the Ascension, Christ the King and Advent. But my Christmas music is rather meagre - one of the new King's College Cambridge commissions for the Nine Lessons and Carols, and a Communion motet for Midnight Mass, and that's it. On one hand, Christmas is so full of music that the modern composer can hardly get a look in - all those famous carols, sung lustily all over the place by believers and non-believers alike. On the other hand, Christmas has been so effectively colonised by secularism that Christians can sometimes feel dispossessed of their festival entirely. That hasn't happened with Easter or the other feasts, and neither is it likely to happen.One of the pernicious influences of that secularism is that Christmas seems to be getting earlier and earlier every year. The great god Mammon, who has muscled in on our festivities, wants to get the consumer-fest under way in November, or even, so it seems nowadays, at the end of October. I should not have been too astonished to discover that this is having an effect on some of the faithful, too. A priest friend of mine is under annual pressure from some pushy parishioners to include Christmas music during Advent. "Empowerment of the laity", indeed.The Church needs to respond to this challenge by rediscovering the wealth of our Advent treasury. The great "O" Antiphons are largely lying dormant, and could be reinvigorated. I set "O Radiant Dawn" recently, and get my little schola in St Columba's, Maryhill, to sing it during the Sundays of Advent. The Introit and Communion Antiphons for Advent are rich and full of the theological preparation necessary for the faithful to make Christmas a genuinely holy time. But like most of the Church's rotating Propers, they are edged out by the obligatory hymns which make up the "bread" of the modern Church's dreary and unedifying four-hymn sandwiches. Parishes can go into autopilot when it comes to standard liturgical practice nowadays, and the fundamental stumbling block to genuine imagination and authenticity in our liturgy is the modern Catholic hymn book.It would be wrong to be pessimistic, though. Pope Benedict's liturgical reforms may take time to find their feet in Britain, but his encouragement to good practice is a breath of fresh air, and they will surely come. One glorious expression of Advent is the hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", which can still be heard in many Catholic churches today - a proud survivor of the decades of interference and "improvement" strategies of the now ageing and fast-fading hippy "liturgists" who moved in, opportunistically, to reshape the liturgy in their own image after the Council.I remember attending Mass in a Huddersfield church on the first Sunday of Advent in 1991 and hearing this glorious and rousing hymn. The experience inspired me to write my own Veni, Veni Emmanuel, a percussion concerto for fellow Scot Evelyn Glennie (pictured below), which has become my most performed work. I was in Rotterdam a few weeks ago performing the same piece (again on the first Sunday of Advent) with Colin Currie, another Scottish percussion virtuoso. (Why do we Scots like hitting things?) The concerto is a kind of journey which begins in Advent, with much anxiety, hope and expectation, but ultimately leads to the Resurrection. At the end of the piece all the orchestral players put down their instruments and pick up little bells and join the soloist in a joyous peal for the Risen Christ. The performance in Rotterdam's wonderful De Doelen concert hall reminded me that the coming of the Saviour, in the shape of a little child, is the start of a world-changing life, marked by the shadow of the Cross. Advent and Christmas may be overshadowed by the drama of Lent and Easter, and they may have been wrenched out of our hands by a new paganism, but they are essential periods of the Church's year in helping us understand the process of God's great narrative towards the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and his Rising from the dead.It might be time for me to think seriously about how I can address the lack of Christmas music in my catalogue. A musician friend of mine raised the question of a new Cantata for Christmas. That would be one way of doing it. But getting church choristers to sing new Christmas music is also important. Even more important than that is the re-energising of our Catholic congregations, not just to sing as well as our Protestant cousins, but to value the wonderful liturgical heritage of the Roman Church. Gregorian chant is our music. It is paradigmatically Catholic. We could discover the true depth of Christmas by trawling deep in this profound musical and liturgical reservoir. We need to remind ourselves in sound of what it feels like to be Catholic in our souls. In true Catholic fashion, that points to a balance of our ancient roots and our contemporary mission.There is a place for the living composer in the Church's 21st-century liturgy, but that composer needs to have a healthy respect and understanding of the continuum of Catholic history through the ages. There is a core essence to the "sound" of Catholic worship, and it has nothing to do with the sub-Joan Baez protest songs that have been imposed on us for the last few decades. The rediscovery of our Catholic souls can begin with music. But it can also begin with the counter-cultural reclaiming of Christmas as a truly prayerful and holy Christian festival. "The Holly and the Ivy", anyone?

Apologies for the lack of paragraphs.

Beware Mulled Cider

Having suffered a couple of hours of marking, for yes all that work I didn't get round to last week does actually have to be done, I decided to visit one of London's foodie districts. It being that time of year when things liquid get mulled, I thought I'd try mulled cider. 4 mouthfuls into my polystyrene cup and I went for a small one, it was time to seek a burger... powerful stuff.

For lovers of Dickens, there were braces of pheasant hanging, mince pies ... all with a back drop of railway arches and trains going overhead. That's London for you.

This isn't turning into a food/ allotment blog.

Today it's O Adonai...

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas Cake the second.

My cake a day habit continues as cake the second enjoys its two hours on Gas mark 2.

Cake the first was not keen to exit the tin and I was worried that I would have to perform open cake surgery on it, but I crow barred it out in the end.

One of today's jobs was to buy another roll of grease proof paper; the cake tin not being as non-stick as I had remembered.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

O

The 'O' Antiphons are about to start over here in GMT as Fr Tim points out.

Having a (very good) recording with the notation to follow,

now that's very handy.

Christmas Cake

A bit late, but it got baked this afternoon.

This is the first of two. One for my parents and one for me.

The second one will have 3 table spoons of brandy and 1 of calvados as the brandy is running low.

Mince pies and Xmas cake are matters of great importance to my Dad. Apparently, Grandma used to have mince pies warming on the hearth when he got home from school before Christmas.

Allotments

After six weeks of form filling, e mails and phone calls, I now have a half plot on the site behind my house.

I think I am going to get a gardener to clear it and then I have two months to dig in manure 'n' stuff before I can start planting. Five people have already turned it down, so the lady in charge was dead chuffed that I'm taking it and I am dead chuffed that it is on that site. I will be able to pop round on those light Summer evenings to tend my courgettes and pick strawberries....

It is just visible from the back bedroom which is nice.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A few of my favourite things

A tag from Mac.


In no particular order.

1 Music. Instrumental music generally. Orchestral music specifically. The horn, stringed instruments. The piano when played by Angela Hewitt. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Monteverdi, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schubert, Gregorian Chant, The Chieftans, Cerdd dant - a welsh type of music where a harpist plays a folk melody whilst two singers sing completely different music that fits. How many traditional musics are this contrapuntal? Singing of course with that exquisite Welsh clarity.

2 My family. Meeting cousins of my Mother from say, New Zealand and finding they react to things just like we do makes you fell less alone in the world and also have a different different details of family history. We could write one of those novels that keeps telling the same story from different perspectives.

3 Working with teenagers. It's great to be around people doing things for the first time. It's new to them if not to me and they do ask interesting questions or say new things, occasionally. Last Summer I had to teach a new orchestra how to play some music and how you accompany in a concerto. That's exciting. (You can tell I'm on holiday....)

4 Gardening. Being outside growing stuff is great. I like the fact that it happens slowly. I love flowers, trees, vegetables, can't wait for my blackcurrants and the jam I will make next July. There be farmers on both sides of my family. Growing food is what my Mum calls, 'reality.'

5 Wales I find it very exciting driving along the A5 to my parents mobile home. Wales was our second home in our childhood, or even the real home, but my parents couldn't get jobs there when they graduated. We used to get sent cuttings from the local paper from Grandma. The smell of coal smoke always sends me back. It's different from England and I like it lots.

6 The Church. Too much to say. I find I can walk into a room of Catholics and suddenly I react the same way as everyone else. Doesn't matter where in the world or whether I've ever met them before, mind reading is happening and people attain levels of kindness not found elsewhere. Everything suddenly makes sense and works. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass.



I tag



Maggie Clitherow

Roses and Jessamine

*

Antagonistic Pots and Pans

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tufty


When I saw this aged 2 after the final line I turned round with tears in my eyes to look at my Mummy.
Tough stuff.

I like the fact that the weasel gets knocked behind the ice cream van and the main thing you see is that his cornet is ice cream end down on the road. Sensitive.

I took this sort of thing to heart!


Ivor the Engine

Such a brilliant little series.

Here's episode 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDWk0BCeblQ

So true to life. Shopping expeditions to the local shops with my Grandmother were just like this.

Also, back in the mostly mono 70s, people played real instruments and you got to hear a bassoon lots. It must have made it easier to learn all the sounds.

I like the way they talk about the day being bright but it's actually pretty overcast. It's just not raining yet and the steam effects with cotton wool. Life was a lot simpler before CGI.

People really do have extra bits to their names in the top left hand corner of Wales. We were always hearing about Mrs Jones the Rectory, Mrs Jones Irish and Mrs Holy Jones and so it went on. I even had both Grandma's who wanted to be called Grandma hence Grandma-in-Wales and Grandma-in-Malden.

I must keep away from You Tube, for I risk watching all 40 episodes back to back.

One of my cousins bought the complete Bagpus for her kids and she said most of it was the title and end credits. One of my brothers has the complete Mr Ben. Fine stuff.

I must also check out the public information films that had improving stuff about castles and battles. Basically lots of still photos, with dates of battles and the odd sound effect of a fracas when they used to alter the camera angle on the pics. After general carnage, BBC composure would be restored and they always ended, 'That was a public information film.' Anyone else pre school in the early 70s watching five minute progs at lunch-time?

My main TV gripe as an infant was the Budget. Because, after a hard day reading 'Janet and John' (that's all the really boring words in English strung together into something that is repetitive and does not tell a story, but by jingo the,them then, there, why where, were etc were etched into your mind,)and learning the two times table mixed in with heavy doses of Catholicism for infants, followed by walking what felt like a very long way, I needed to sit down with what we called a 'drink and a biscuit' in 'the other room' for there were only two downstairs rooms. You were either in the kitchen or, 'the other room.' Time for a stiff Ribena in a plastic beaker and a swift Rich Tea biscuit, whilst settling down for Playschool with my idol Brian Cant, followed up by some series where I now know the theme music is by Faure, Stravinsky and other proper people. Anyway, the Budget was awful because the Children's Programmes were on BBC2 and they started later. Oh the waiting. Parliament was not televised of course, so there was that picture of Dennis Healy at the dispatch box droning on about tax and lots of 'here here.' Poor me. (not.)

Thus ends my childhood nostalgia trip.

Sunday, 7 December 2008



St Nicholas from NLM


Better late than never....


Monday, 1 December 2008

Monastic Prezzies



Following on from FrZ, I did what Grandma used to call, 'going upstairs pressing a few buttons and then somethng gets delivered.' ( Her description of one of my cousins getting a CD for her from Amazon. She decided that she wasn't going to get involved in technology beyond CD players, so never got into the internet.) I took a timely delivery of Mystic Monk Coffee on Saturday. Timely, because I was off to a 'do' at Church and wanted a little something to give to some people.

They sent a little sample, so I tried that and it's very good. Quite coarse ground compared to what I usually use, which is interesting and very tasty too.

Very good names - Midnight Vigil etc.

The community are saving up to build a monastery and have lots of good deals where they will send you a bag every month.

I have a friend who is a third order Carmelite (I think,) who is a big fan of all their Saints. She went to Rome for St Edith Stein's canonsation. (Big fan.) She's got to have some for Christmas.
Next up, honey from Farnboro' Abbey.
Anyone got any other places they get prezzies from?


Sunday, 30 November 2008

Letters to The Times

or as they say in Ireland, 'The London Times.'

These follow on from someone writing a letter along the lines of, 'the vast majority of Catholics want a new Archbishop of Westminster just like the one I want.' Well, she didn't ask me and no, I don't want one who is going to change the teaching of the Church and how could that be possible anyway. However, these were quite encouraging from yesterday.


Sir, I am sure the Pope already has clear ideas about who and what he wants for the Roman Catholic Church in England (letter, Nov 26). It is strange how his detractors invoke the subject of liturgy as the first objection, quickly followed by clerical celibacy and a series of subjects that have been a running sore, as they see it, since Vatican II.
I look forward to more of what the Pope has already delivered. Perhaps some are disappointed that the former inquisitor chose love and hope as his underpinning gospel rather than the iron conservatism that many imaged he would impose. He has a genuine and generous understanding of the real issues within the Church. The past 30 years have been far from easy and no one knows this better than he.
Forms of worship, which belong to all time, not just the present, may not please everyone. But there is a new mood of stability at last within the Church instead of the endless wrangling of malcontents who have caused such harm since the 1960s. Their day is done.
The new Archbishop of Wesminster, whoever he turns out to be, has to be a real leader for English (and Welsh) Catholics, and, by definition, a Pope’s man. The true “vast majority” of Catholics here will heartily welcome that.
Jeremy Boot
Nottingham

Sir, The present Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, is generally regarded as one of the architects of the reforms of Vatican II, so it is rather surprising that anyone, not to mention the “vast majority” of Roman Catholics, should not want any new Archbishop of Westminster to be in the same mould as Benedict XVI, when they are said to be supporters of the same reforms. Those in favour of an end to the celibacy of priests and women as priests, neither of which was advocated in Vatican II, could consider joining the Lutheran Church. To list the Christian virtues as in opposition to the “mould” of the present Pope shows a degree of confusion not consistent with any Christian church teaching.
Bernard Cooper
Didcot, Oxon
Sir, Dr Inman apparently wants the Catholic Church to become the Anglican Church. God preserve us from the problems experienced by the latter.
Jim Johnston
Belfast


I remain, Sir, your obedient servant....

I am, etc

Yours etc, Leutgeb.


The Choir

... a programme on BBC Radio 3 and presented by Aled Jones, ( who my Mum thinks looks like one of my brothers, but that's another story...) this week is all about music at the London and Birmingham Oratories.

Jackie will be happy. Fr Guy Nicholls has been interviewed and now the London Oratory are singing the 'Sancta Maria' movement from the end of the Monteverdi Vespers. My sort of vocal music. The only words are, 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis' lots of time in a cantus firmus kinda way with lots of instrumental twiddles.

Catch it on BBC iplayer for the next week.

Like Paulinus, I like to think that my licence fee pays for Radio 3, The Proms and 5 Orchestras spread across the UK and the BBC Singers. The BBC is the biggest employer of musicians in the UK. They are the only musicians who get sick pay, pensions etc rather than being paid per rehearsal, recording session and per concert on a free lance basis.

So not all bad.

Mind you that last episode of 'Apparitions' on Thurs was so explicit that I switched off. Ugh. That's apart from the usual plotting and spying that Caridinals with foreign, but unplacable accents were getting up to. Think Jesuits in Elizabethan England. Pity they didn't do a bit more plotting.

In the same episode, a nun listening in on someone in confession. Probability in real life? A big fat zero? Or am I just hopelessly naive?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Grrrr

Had a most frustrating rehearsal at lunch-time due to another department having some talk or other over run into lunch time. Thus 26/49 people didn't show, including all of the good people. What a waste of time. All par for the course. Concerts just happen after all. Not much point telling the dept in question, because non-musicians just do not have a clue about the knock on effect weeks later and don't usually care too much. They don't have to do bits of their job in front of audiences of 600 either. Grr

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Whither Weather?

Mike, the conductor, arrived fine and so we got through all the work needed for the concert on Friday. every time I looked out of the window the weather had changed so it was mean that we all left in a downpour.

Friday concerts are well, cheaper to put on mainly and have the strange effect of making you suddenly wonder how this bit goes. Lots of playing consists of remembering that there is a pull back or an accel at some point and not doing something stupid (ie audibly wrong.) That's not to say you don't make an effort to play it all well, but Vaughan Williams 5 starts with a string chord and then two horns (pastoral, English Countryside, cowpat music....), so we'd be stupid not to make sure we didn't split those notes. Despite the reputation of the horn, my experience is sheer bloodymindedness and 120% concentration with a sprinkling of practice usually mean that I don't mess up those bits. It's the entries you don't concentrate on properly that go by the way. Pros split notes, so I'm allowed a few now and then.

Then

Did my missing a train by 30 seconds trick and was left at a station that is usually shut on Sun (therefore no coffee, no bookshop to nosy through, nothing,) for half an hour waiting for the next one. Sigh. All those 30 minutes spent waiting for the next train. Days of my life.

Weather

Freezing, rain, sleet, snow stuff in the Midlands.

Bad news because the conductor of the orchestra I'm playing in in 3 hours time lives in Shropshire.

Hope he's safe.

8.34 Now it's actually snowing......and settling. Oh dear.

Christmas Presents

Fr Z has a very timely article about monastic presents.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Sacred Music

Just typed that as Scared Music, often the case for various reasons, a Freudian Slap, no less.

Anyway, someone has lent me some back issues and I thought I'd better get reading so I went for the Autumn 2007 one as it's the one after July 2007 and we all know what happened then.

Lots of interesting nuggets

On Cantors not using microphones - it's grating having one voice dominating. Also, totally unnatural. You are standing facing one way and your voice is coming out of speakers all round the place. How weird. Another strain on the poor congregation. Electronically amplified sound - yuck. I say leave people alone and let's have a bit of quiet. Everywhere else is so noisy. (Maybe the hearing aid system could pick up the sound, broadcast it to hearing aids and not send it through speakers round the Church. )

Very interesting article on 'The freedom to love our heritage' by Jeffrey Tucker, rather than going on about the bad old days and being smug about how clever we all are now. Basically, the Motu Proprio saying the 'olen days' was good and they are not to be blanked out as, 'back then.' A friend of mine once took issue with a speaker at a school INSET course, when he started along the lines of how simpleton people were in the past. My friend pointed out that he was talking about his parents, who were married for over 40 years and sacrificed much so that their local Church and Catholic School was built. Muppets clearly.

Interesting stuff on the Ward Method. Sounds great, when do I get to teach it? Never seen her compared to Orff and Kodaly. She's right up there. Kodaly is groovy, if you are into Hungarian Folk Songs, but in a Catholic set up plainsong would be the ideal.

Meantime, I notice on Fr Z's blog that someone else has ishoos with the tritone at the start of 'On Eagles Wings.' We must form a club.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

On mobile phones

Yesterday, one of the younger boys (11) told me that someone was calling his phone anonymously repeatedly (....bullying alarm bells ringing...what did you do????? Fingers of blame pointing in my direction. Yeh yeh, point away.)

Having asked him if this was going on much in his form and whether their form tutor knew,(Phew, not me this time and it would have to be serious before I bothered her. For teachers hate being dumped on particularly the, 'Did you know x is bullying y?' type situation.)

I had a brain wave.

'If he phones again, pass the thing to me and I'll answer it. He'll get the shock of his life and won't do it again.' We had a chuckle and that little crisis passed.

'Hello Miss Leutgeb speaking, press 1 for 200 lines, 2 for a detention and 3 for a one way ticket to the Second Master's Office.'

That's pretty tame as stuff goes, though not for our 11 year old friend at that moment.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Fr Z on pheasants

Personally, I find running them over the easiest method and one hit my car on the A5 with quite a bang in October. I hope it made it to someone's table.

Fr Z on a more American approach.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

An Award.


Mac has awarded me an award.

Not bad for someone who spends 99% of blogging time reading blogs and 1% writing on her blog.

A pretty award too.
As usual, lots of the blogs I like have been awarded the award too.
But there are still lots of good ones left so;
Maggie Clitherow of Don't know what I'm doing
Faccio la mamma at Antagonistic Pots and Pans
Madame E at * Be kind, she's having a tough time, just now.
Fr Z - I like the recent excursions into Advent customs and breakfast.
plus everyone else on my blog roll.

A musical week

This week we had the big concert at school. All passed off well.

The next night I went to a concert with a colleague and heard a whole pile of Mozart which was very good. Other people were taking the strain and I like that particular conductor a lot.

Spent the next two days very tired. Playing in concerts is one thing, conducting requires a great deal more concentration and energy. Either you are listening intently for any signs that the music is about to be derailed or you are listening intently because the sound is very good and you are trying to make sure that is stays that way. The next day I'm still as high as a kite on adrenalin and totally exhausted. A strange feeling.

Then on Friday I tried out Bach Brandenburg 3 on my Wunderkinderorchestrer and they did good. Bach is the best composer and it was a great start to the day and worth getting the 7.11am train for.

Tomorrow a day of rehearsing for an orchestra that I play in. Good stuff. We play have lunch in a pub, play some more and then finish. Can't complain.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Remembrance Requiem

Today being Remembrance Sunday we had a Requiem for those fallen in the two world wars.

The Choir, plus stalwart organist plus a few extras, did a fantastic job on the Chants of the Requiem Mass, as did the Altar Servers with all their duties. On a musical level only hearing the Dies Irae, that melody so often quoted by composers, is a great thrill. Then I read the translation of the words. We're not messing around here. But I find the very stark warnings comforting because there's no hedging about, no platitudes, no euphemisms. No denial of death.

Conversation over coffee afterwards concentrated on what exactly was under the black material covering the catafalque (sp?). A few of us ( and not just children) suggested that we would have taken a peak had it not been for the fact that we were in Church and all.

Earlier on in the week we Music Teachers plus Choir bulked up the singing at a local Remembrance event. A poignant moment occurred when two very elderly veterans, one of whom seemed only just able to walk unaided went to plant their crosses. The MC pointed out a step which they negotiated fine, but when one went to place his cross, his glasses fell off and neither were able to pick them up, so the MC had to rush over to save the day and escort them back to their places. It was touch and go whether either would fall and in front of around 300 people. As Grandma once said to me, 'Don't get old.'

Friday, 7 November 2008

Stats

With my select readership and statmeter, it's fun to see where people are. This week has been very cosmopolitan with my first visitor from Iceland. Hallo! Also Finland, two today from Holland as well as Argentina and Bulgaria.

Someone googled 'Martin Shaw as a Priest with a very iffy beard,' today in Russian and ended up here.

Apart bara brith, Stockhausen's Mother crops up quite a bit - the cure for post natal depression in Nazi Germany being euthanasia and you wonder why he wrote music for helicopters and said he came from the planet Sirius....

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Green pen at the ready

I lived in Tunbridge Wells for a few years, or should I say Royal Tunbridge Wells, so have a green pen and having seen the trailer for BBC's 'Apparitions' am set for some correspondence.

Mac and I do like the Church they use on the telly. So that's where all the historic furnishings and statues went. Martin Shaw as a Priest with a very iffy beard. Much better in 'The Professionals.' Where will the car chases be?

I caught then end of 'Silent Witness' just now and what a load of jumbled up nonsense with the usual uptight mad Christian types. Too tired to go through it all. To bed. Alistair Darling's eyebrows are staring out from the News.....

Events

Auntie Joanna has all about the Towards Advent event at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Sat 8th Nov. I went two years ago and it was excellent. I bought a book on plainchant from a Benedictine, some bees wax candles and an olive wood crib for my Mum made in Bethlehem. I spent a long time at that stall with several other people, because each crib was different and very beautiful, so there were just lots of people smiling and gazing at cribs really.

Then there was the CTS, Faith and various other stalls, plus the all important tea and buns area. I succeeded in missing all the talks then, but I'm sure they were very good as will be the ones on Sat.

No, I'm not one of those people who thinks everything exciting happens in London.

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life up in Glasgow have their Advent Bazaar on Dec 6th, also featuring tea and buns.... Too far alas to get to from down here.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Association of Catholics in Education

I received the following today and was asked to publicise it ......

Bernadette Lally of the Teresian Association and Fr Peter Edwards of St Joseph's Parish in New Malden have started an initiative - Association of Catholics in Education to support Catholic teachers, governors and all Catholics working in education whether in private, state schools or colleges - their last meeting was attended by Fr Luis Ruscillo who spoke on "Fit for Mission? Catholic Schools" Their next meeting is on 20th November 2008 at Pastoral Centre at St Joseph's, New Malden 7.30pm when Paul Stubbings, Deputy Headteacher of The Cardinal Vaughan School will be speaking on "Promoting Catholic Values in Education the talk will be followed by an open forum discussion with a panel of local educationalists the meeting is open in particular to staff and governors from Catholic schools as well as Catholics working in non Catholic schools.

This what Bernadette and Fr Peter say about their aims:

While there are well established and effective national associations for other Catholic professionals there is little available for Catholics in the education sector. The aims and objectives of the Guilds for Catholic Nurses, Doctors etc include: promoting their spiritual well-being of members, inspiring the whole practice of the profession within Catholic principles; providing Catholic ethical/moral guidance to members in an increasingly secular environment; drawing members together for mutual support, occasional lectures, networking, days of recollection, etc. We hope that this recently founded Association of Catholics in Education will cover all of that, and additionally provide a much-needed forum to share and develop ideas, encourage each other spiritually, and discuss current issues affecting Catholics whether involved in Church, state or private education.
"catholic schools and faith-based education benefit civilsociety by helping young people grow into responsible citizens." (Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent letter on education

Sunday, 2 November 2008

All Saints

To OLR for Mass, Vespers and Benediction, with a generous lunch break including homemade lasagne. Fr Z rightly highlights this important part of the day on Fr Tim's description. Yum.

Update. Drum roll, Maestro (Maestra?)
Mac's version ..... I thought that the 'nasty scare' might have been to do with the lettuce, but no.
The bar opened after all.

Monday, 27 October 2008


A masterstroke from Paulinus!
It's the 'probably' that gets me.

Away

Have spent half term in Wales - two days sunny walking, one day rainy shopping and reading. Snowdonia is ever beautiful. The waterfalls were looking good as I drove towards Capel Curig on Friday and much water was rushing across the road after the previous day's torrent. Lots of flood signs, that sort of thing. Winds gusting to 76mph according to Wales Today.

Then to the conference below.

In the meantime I have been added to two blog rolls. Thank you.

The Faith, The Family, The Future Conference

Widely advertised in the blogosphere, it was a great success and a fun time had by all. My only worry was keeping up with the pace!

An amazing array of speakers, including Fr Aidan Nichols OP, Fr Luiz Ruscillo from Lancaster, John Pontifex from ACN....who gave me one of their books.

More children called Anslem than is usual in these parts and general merriment all round.

The website is still up and running with good stuff on it too.

Bashing Secularism has a proper press release and a picture.

Lacrimarum Valle, also has a very informative write up.

Fr Tim, though not there in person, is of course the Parish Priest of the organisers, as well as a number of the participants.

Leutgeb, well she was in the organ loft with a Harrison & Harrison Organ from Durham (where else?) and a fine selection of former pupils and unsuspecting conference participants who were charmed by others more charming than I (Anna Marie) into offering their musical services.

From what I could hear over the din I was making, people were in very fine voice and we sang such hymns as Hail Queen of Heaven, Immaculate Mary, Praise to the Holiest, Faith of our Fathers. At Communion we sang Franck Panis Angelicus on Sat and Mozart Ave Verum on Sun, plus Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris Hostia and the Salve Regina at Benediction, and some movements from the Missa de angelis. There was quite a bit of silence too.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunny Sunday

Following on from sunny Saturday, a happy day of cooking and family plus Mass, coffee and chat.

After lunch, I went to a garden centre with my Dad hoping to get an apple tree and he some bulbs. We got the bulbs fine, but the apple trees didn't look great (and this in Kent - where's the pride?!) However, the blackcurrant bushes looked very healthy and as they are also on my wish list, I got two plus some onions sets. Paternal Grandmother always made blackcurrant jam and I am hoping to follow in her footsteps. She used to have a cupboard in her bedroom full of jars of jam (or so it seemed.)

Came home and got digging.

Dead chuffed that for tea I had four tiny homegrown tomatoes, 4 thinned out carrots= about one mouthful with homemade bread. Sometimes I think my efforts to grow and cook stuff is a bit manna in the desert. It's very much meal by meal and sometimes mouthful by mouthful.

In other important news it looks like having been promoted to 'maker of the family Christmas Cake,' I may be given the job of making the wedding cake for my brother. No pressure.... I shall use the Xmas cake as a practice and hopefully someone clever will ice it.

As 'Auntie Joanna' says on her blog the trees are looking very beautiful. I walked through St James's Park yesterday, enroute to the Rosary Crusade just to get in some Autumnal views. Good stuff.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Rosary Crusade

A beautiful sunny Autumn day for it. Lots of people, lots of pushchairs and marshals who say the rosary whilst marshaling.

How often do you get to sing Immaculate Mary whilst walking past Harrods? Not often, I bet.

Brompton Oratory stuffed full of people singing is pretty great too.

Let's hope that has an effect on the passing or not of the HFE Bill.

The only sour note was on the way home when some pupils from my old school shouted, 'There's Miss Leutgeb,' at me a number of times outside the station. I just carry on walking when this happens. London is so crowded and my name so common, who's to say it's me? Maybe other professions get shouted at in the street, but I've never heard of it. Paramedic brother has people shout,' Oi Greenie, who's dead?' now and then, but it's not directed at him personally. I did leave that school over three years ago too.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Crumble

Nigella 'How to Eat' p.46 says

120g self-raising flour (Nigella says plain's OK.)
90g butter, cold and diced into 1cm cubes
3 table spoons light muscavado sugar (I use the really dark brown stuff.)
3 table spoons vanilla sugar (that's way too posh for this kitchen, so I use caster sugar)

To which I add a handful of jumbo rolled oats. Nuts can be nice too. Sultanas ....

Crumble away. Do what you do with your fruity bits. Add a bit of sugar and water? That all depends on what it is and how tart the fruit is -very in the case of my Mum's windfall Bramleys just now.

Gas mark 5/ 190C for 25-35 mins.

Butter room temp or cold? I'm pretty relaxed on that, though never really soft.

My Mum just does the good ol' 3:2:1 method flour:sugar:butter and my Dad has been eating away merrily for forty years on her crumbles. No complints from that end of the table. She says it can be very crumbly or pleasingly shortbready depending on the whim of the cook. Very sweet or not so.

I like Nigella, but the grams thing and then tablespoons.... SI Units for cooking needed here methinks. Also, I have 3 different sizes of tablespoons and that doesn't seem to have messed up the crumble ever. The dark brown sugar is nice though.

So there we are. Anyone else have anything to say on this topic?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Grandma's Anniversary

Grandma died a year ago today. To mark the occasion, my cousin requested a Mass for her, which we all went to, then we had lunch and then we visited her grave which is also where Grandpa is buried, though he predeceased her by nearly 32 years.

Her details have been added to the grave stone, which in typical Irish fashion gives the place and county of birth of each of them, the dates when they died and how old they were - 66 and 90 respectively.

I managed not to notice at her burial that the grave is in the Catholic section of the cemetery, so she is surrounded by statues of Our Lady and Celtic Crosses.

Friday, 3 October 2008

And that's spelt

C major.
not Sea major or See major.

15 years and that's never happened, 'til this week.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Evening Devotions


Evening Devotions (see right) does it again.


This time on the Rosary.


Picture shamelessly borrowed from there.


The Barber Violin Concerto

...currently on R3 in some amateur thing, so good but iffy intonation here and there. (Moi, I'm always bang on the note. ;-) )

Not one that gets played too often, but a goody.

Well worth a listen.

The second movement has one of those great melodies like the Ravel Piano Concerto or the Rodriguez Guitar Conc.

Grandma RIP

Sunday is the first anniversary of Grandma's death.

Spoke to my Mum today who says that my Aunt is inviting us all over and that the 11am Mass in their Parish is for the repose of her soul which we will go to.

Grandma always had a Mass for Grandpa on or around his anniversary for the 32 years that she was a widow.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The hungry caterpillers

... are eating my rocket. OK so it's bolted but it's still food.

In other gardening news, I am enquiring after an allotment 125 sq m for £25 per annum and all the digging you like.

The tenancy includes a clause saying no uncultivated blackberries! You can imagine people saying, 'No that's not a weed I'm growing blackberries.'

If I can get one right behind my house then I'm going for it. All I need is a pair of wire cutters to get in!

You couldn't make this up

Last week at about 6.45am, the Today prog on R4 had a piece on Abortion and the US election.
That went along the usual lines, apart from the bit where they had people saying the Rosary and saying the Fatima prayer which went, ' O my Jesus, save us from the fires of Hell,' then they turned the volume down to nothing so we didn't get the rest of it. Interestingly selective, but no surprises.

The next item in the programme however started with the headline, 'How could a parent murder their own children?' Shock horror tone and then the awful story of the man who murdered his children and then committed suicide.

Pianos

Part of my master plan for new house is to turn one of the bedrooms into a music room. To this end the piano was moved upstairs yesterday. Always a ticky thing and a three man job, but it was accomplished with only one extra chip to the bannisters and the piano is now perched on a piece of hard board to spread the load on the century old floorboards.

I have heard the sound of a piano being dropped down stairs and it's not pretty. Then there was that piano that got dropped from a first or was it second floor window at the London College of Music when it was in Great Marlboro' St........ A Steinway I believe...

And what, pray tell, did Radio 3 choose to play to accompany this feat?
Why Beethoven's 'Tempest' Piano Sonata, of course.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Blognic

Just popped by for half an hour and had a very good time, having had one of those days (yes one of THOSE), so that was most welcome. (I'm that woman semi slumped in a chair holding a half of lemonade!)

Met someone who had been in Lourdes last week with the Pope. (Never sure whether people want their names etc broadcast on the interweb, but very happy to meet you and hear all about it. )Pretty amazing by all accounts. Had to leave all too soon.

To capture the atmosphere a bit. Walked through the door and someone I had never met before, jumped up to offer me his seat and someone I had met before kindly bought me a drink. Everyone very friendly.

Miserable commenters on FrZs blog; you have it all wrong. Pity you didn't come and join the party.

Thanks to FrZ for organising the 'do.' My only regret, that I couldn't stay.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A Confession

My Mum does the selling of Catholic Papers and Mass Cards etc after one of the Masses at her Church and the perk of this onerous job - sales of The Universe plummet every time she goes on holiday - is that she gets to take the left over papers the following week to read.

Thus I find myself skim reading that mag that dare not be mentioned and I mean skim reading because one does not wish to dwell there.

Anyway having read a review of 'The Boy with striped PJs' which says the author didn't like 'La vita e bella' ( I rest my case. JPII did and Roberto is a genius and I seem to remember clambered over chairs to receive an Oscar.) and describes Louis Malle's 'Au revoir les enfants' as a story, that would be an AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL story, I skimmed through a reader survey.

It was most amusing.

After the questions about,'I find the @*$%^ ...'

too high brow for me 'guv
sigh back to The Universe
Huh? and
Could you explain that in words of one syllable, please?

'Which religious paper do you buy?'
Universe
Catholic Times
Catholic Herald
Church Times (you're in the wrong place .)
Church of England Newspaper (ditto)


Then the best ever laugh out loud question 6a if I remember correctly.
'If you buy the Catholic Herald, do you'
prefer the %$£"%$ to the Catholic Herald a lot
little
'bout the same
prefer the Herald
only buy the ^%$£^% to stop other people being led astray.

(Paraphrasing only slightly.)

Then you get about 3" to explain your answer.

On the rare occasion I write something a bit, well risque, I get lots of wacky comments, which I don't publish.

I'm only being a bit jokey here and was a bit worried about the long list of every article the carry, where you could say whether you found it great or deadly boring, so some people may be about to be rubbed out. Imagine, 85% of respondents say they skip your column. Time to be sent on gardening leave, (sounds good to me!)

If you need some serious venting, time to get a blog.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

A Sunny Saturday

Good things that happened today
1 Went to Low Mass at Blackfen.
Some people would give their eye teeth to do that and I only have to drive 2 miles.
2 Mowed lawn.
3 Weeded, cut back, planted and generally tidied up garden.
4 Put washing out to dry. Isn't it so much nicer when clothes are dried outside?
5 Cooked food for the next 3 days.
6 Baked some cakes.
7 Picked some blackberries and froze them to make a crumble for next week - French friends - apparently 'le crumble' is the thing.
8 Noted that tomatoes are actually going red after weeks of lingering greeness. Will take them over to my parents for lunch tomorrow yum.
9 Received e mail from friend with exciting sounding job that requires work on Sat ( and therefore is really pretty grim) saying that two of her tomatoes have ripened. Yes, all over SE England tomatoes are cheering that the sun is shining and are turing red.
10 Note that the football pitches are now marked out on the playing fields behind new house. I like backing onto allotments and playing fields. Last weekend I spied a lady digging behind my garden. I hope she grows lots of nice stuff and also on Sat am little boys are being put through their paces in football training.
11 Ate tea in garden and looked at the sky (as well as my plate!) Then it got chilly so I went in to turn chicken carcass into stock - yum.

OK, so pretty heavy on gardening and cooking, but I have to get all the farming housewife stuff done at the weekend, especially now the night are drawing in. Can't do weeding in the dark too easily. I have been know to bake cakes late at night in readiness for a family party, but that's another story.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sibelius 5

No, not the software, the real thing.

Turned up for a repertoire day on this. Basically, we rehearse all morning have lunch and a chin wag and then play the thing and then go back to the pub.

This straightforward plan was changed slightly in that the conductor, who drive to Central London from Shropshire, got held up around King's X. He was 45 minutes late. In that time yours truly got to sight conduct two movements of the above Symphony. Since my preparation to perform the Horn 2 part did not extend beyond a bit of practice and did not see me rummage around for that 1980s CBSO cassette tape, which I could now only play in my car, that was interesting.

We read through it, as they say. I gained an appreciation of how good the front desk strings are. You just can't really hear them from the back and it was interesting to really hear who does what in the woodwind. Who watches, who doesn't, who is totally reliable, that sort of thing.

I couldn't do anything in any detail as I didn't know the music well enough, didn't know how long I had and it wasn't my shout anyway. Conductors are very territorial, so I scampered back to the back as soon as Mike materialised.

No complaints though.

Faith and Family Conference

All the details are here for 25th-26th October.

Great line up of speakers and so much care going in to organising it all.

A wonderful weekend in store.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

News Flash

Flag of the Holy See spotted in the Arena at the Last Night of the Proms.

Right behind Sir Roger Norrington too, being waved by a man in clerical dress!

Anyone's friend?

That was the week that was

On Tuesday, the Head of Physics laid on wine at lunch for the staff as it was to be the last before those particles got whizzing in Geneva. He then started to explain what they were up to, but I had a date with 'Dance of the Tumblers' and Orchestra, so didn't hear all of it.

My attempts last year to make the final note of a piece exciting by putting a crescendo on to it has obviously been adopted by the trombone section as something to be done in every piece, which was fun, if unexpected. We need baffles for the poor violas. We managed to get from one end of the piece to the other without stopping and without too much of me singing missing parts, giving indications of what's important where and calling out Rehearsal letters as we went by, so we should make a good job of it by the concert. They are still on a high after the concert last Summer, so will have to make sure that I keep supplying good music for them to play.

After school, over tea in the Common Room, (that's for any Anglophile readers dropping by,) one of the History teachers said that he wouldn't be doing any marking that night as the world was going to end, to which the reply was, 'No change there then, X.'

We have new software to play with and so are spending free lessons, testing out squillions of samples and loops. Sequencing has never been so much fun.

On Friday I did my favourite rehearsal of the week, which is a little String Orchestra of some dazzlingly good musicians. Like they listen, jump when they get out and can cope with playing in 6/8 and 3/4 simultaneously. A great pleasure and a great start to the day.

Ended the week doing Bach Chorales and working through the only worked example in the book, which does have that Maths Textbook moment. You know, hence.... Meanwhile, the pupil was having a 4-3 suspension week, which was funny, so we can tick those off. He's as geeky as I am and enjoyed a quick look at the Grove article on Inessential harmony notes. Genius.

The department has been given a copy of the 1941 edition of The Oxford Companion to Music, which has some interesting entries on Mass Settings and Catholic Music in England. Methinks the lady doth protest too much on Puritan Music - no evidence that they didn't approve of music, apparently. Very down on the Mass settings of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert loves the Beethoven Missa Solemnis and Bach Mass in Bm. Oh yes, a funny definition of the Folk Mass, that I'll put up here.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A meme from Roses and Jessamine

"Where were you and what were you doing at...?"

1. JFK's Assassination 22/11/1963

Well, my Mum should have had her U6th Parents' Evening that night, but it got cancelled and she ended up at Bangor, then University College North Wales, or Coleg Prifysgol Gogledd Cymru, reading French and Latin, where she met my Dad and where they are now at a 60s reunion on her birthday.

The rest as they say, is History, which is what my Dad was studying and already at Bangor.

4/7/1990

On holiday after my first year at University. Possibly about to go to France.

3. Margaret Thatcher's Resignation 22/11/1990

A student and since I never watched TV in College; 1 Tv for 220 people, it was a bit crowded, heard it all on R4 and remember the coverage going to LW as the 'Archers' started after the 7pm News.

The First Gulf War also happened entirely on Radio for me and that too was broken for the 'Archers.'

4. Princess Diana's Death 31/8/97

On holiday in Graz, Austria. The friend I was staying with came in and said that Diana was dead. I thought, 'Don't be ridiculous and get me some BBC News.' Listened to Blue Danube Radio which had bulletins in English, French and German each giving slightly different details.

Went to Mass in Graz Cathedral where my friend was in the Choir. The Priest was very stunned. Being close to the Slovenian border, they were very interested in her work to do with land mines.

Returned to the UK a few days later to see black edged pictures of her at Vienna Airport. Went out on the Sat afternoon of her funeral to buy the Times for Austrian friend with my Dad to totally empty streets.

5. Attack on Twin Towers 9/11/2001

Teaching. Someone said a plane had crashed. I thought ,'Tragic accident and didn't someone crash into the Empire State Building during WW2?' Then the second one and we knew it was not an accident. A couple of years later a pupil said she'd been in my room when the Headmaster had announced it over the tannoy.

6. Election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Papacy 19/4/2005

At a Parents' Evening (a Leitmotif, no?) A boy gave me a cup of tea and said that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected. Exchanged broad smiles with the HoY whose Parents' Evening it was. He wanted to stop the Parents' Evening for a prayer, but our superiors were less keen, so I went and wrote the fact onto the notice board in the entrance hall.

Went home and watched lots of news. Stayed up for Newsnight and saw that discussion with Paxman, Fr Burke and Christina Odone. That one! Noticed that Sky ( who called the Pope the Holy Father, when commentating on his visit to the US. Don't get that on the beeb,) and 1152 News Direct, a commercial London radio station, where so much warmer in their coverage. Like you, the listener might just be a Catholic.

Next morning, bought a paper to cut the picture out to pin on my white board. A family in Fr Tim's Parish had organised to say the Rosary every morining of the Conclave in the Church, so went to that. Had some breakfast that they had very kindly provided and then off to work.

Sent the Pope an e mail.

Only after his election did I read any of his books.

Monday, 1 September 2008

La Rentree

(How do you do accents on this thing?)

This work business, it's quite tiring. All morning listening to that stuff that has to be said at the start of every academic year.

The rest of the day staring at a computer screen learning to use a new sequencing package. Some laugh out loud samples, a rather lovely Celtic Harp, so I strummed a bit and pretended I was in Wales and a comedy moment when younger colleague froze my screen and wrote me a message - 'Leutgeb stop reading.' I was only looking at my timetable!

Subscribing

Every now and then, mostly when enjoying the luxury of a holiday, (ah the sweet memory,) I decide things. Usually very mundane things, go swimming more, eat apples, actually be a bit sociable, that sort of thing.

One of the things I do, along with the rest of the Catholic world is sign up to stuff. You know, visiting Missionary needs lots of people to sign up, raffle tickets, that sort of thing. Ie I just try and support the people in the firing line.

This Summer has not seen a massive signing up sess, but I did subscribe to the Transalpine folk's publication. Should be a goody. They need new readers, I need to read good stuff, bingo.

Five days ago I clicked a few buttons, via Musica Sacra and joined the CMAA and the Journal arrived today! Now that's what I call efficient! I mean the Atlantic is quite big. Catholic and Music in one place and it's not too heavy. Perfect for the train. Time to get educated and fill in lots of gaps.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

To work

Well, with the weather being so uncooperative, I thought I may as well ease myself back in before Monday. It's still there. Sorted my post, chatted to my HoD about exam results, number crunched a bit and then came home.

What I really wanted was the music I've ordered, but it hasn't arrived yet. First rehearsals not til the week after next so time to find something easier if need be.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Summer Fruits

This morning, noticing that rian was not yet imminent, but that the return to work is becoming so, I whizzed out into the garden for some cutting back od huge shrubs, and digging up of evil weed roots.

Then I noticed that one of the plums overhanging from nexts door's tree was looking mighty ripe and gave it a gentle twist and voila, a plum. Yum!

Later on the way back from the shops, I picked 1/2lb of blackberries and am hoping that the small amount of jam will infact set. I read on the internet that adding a few unripe ones increases the puny amount of pectin, so I popped out and picked a few that were again overhanging from next door. I couldn't bothered to go out again and buy a lemon.

I just wish Ruby's apple trees were on the other side of the garden. I'll have to have a chat. Maybe if I offer to make her some apple crumbles, we can do a deal....

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Fr E from Ghana

Spent the day with my parents and Fr E, who is staying in their parish for the Summer. After Mass, we went to Greenwich and took lots of photos of Fr E on the Meridian line and Leutgeb learned that Accra, capital city of Ghana, is also on it! Well 00' 04'', but as good as. We were delighted to find it in brass on the ground and took photos of that too.

Fr E is a Holy Ghost Father and having spent a number of years working in the North East corner of Nigeria, is the now the bursar of a Seminary - lots of seminarians.

Now, my idea of a bursar is a man in an office who pays bills and makes sure the books balance. I'm sure that Fr E does all of that, but he also makes sure that the seminary has enough food for the students and this involves much tilling of the land and looking after chickens and pigs. He said they only have five pigs at the moment and they have to wait til they have bred before any can be slaughtered. Each student also cultivates a strip of land and this serves as part of their training as they will have to grow their own food once they are ordained. Oh yes and they have 5 acres of palm oil, which once refined is used for cooking, fuel and to sell.

That and a whistle stop tour of the countries of west Africa courtesy of a globe in the Royal Observatory and we are a bit better informed than when the day started.

Monday, 18 August 2008

A Mac Meme


"If you should pass from our presence, what picture of you shall we use for your saint's card, should you be so elevated, and of what do you want to be patroness?"
Saint's card, me, are you joking?!!!
The only picture I have on my computer is above. The coffee cup might have to be cropped out, but you could leave Fr Ray and the stray packet of Marboro's in.
Patron Saint of insomniac Music teachers who worry needlessly - bit specific, you could ask for my intercession and I could direct my prayers for people who are awake for genuinely worrying reasons, illness, pain, dangers, in prison, that sort of thing. I'd work time zones across the world 2am -5am when everyone goes back to sleep and then wakes up really tired. Working on what my primary Headmaster said about praying for the Holy Souls that everyone has forgotten, now when I wake up worrying about whatever, I pray for other people who are awake in the night for the reasons above.
The thing is that when you read the live's of the Saints they do tend to have battled adversity and led a very devout life despite attacks and setbacks, often enduring very poor health and then in the case of martyrs made a final stand when everyone else thought they were nuts, so I do not fit the bill.
Anyone else who can add to the levity of the meme, off you go.
Leutgeb, Patron Saint of Split Notes - could be handy if you were doing Bruckner 4 or Schubert 9.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Dvorak

Apart from being a daily Mass goer, Dvorak is also sometimes credited with being the first great American composer.

Dvorak 8 definitely has some American moments in the Scherzo - riding across the prairie stuff and who could forget the rock 'n' roll bass line at the end of Dvorak 9?

R3 are presently broadcasting Dvorak 6 from the Proms, which has a stunning piece of syncopation in the first movement, almost as surprising as that bit in the Brahms German Requiem, y'know, that bit, which given Brahms propensity to take off in a JS Bachesque way is pretty amazing.

Anyway, Dvorak is one of my favourite composers on account of his ability to write great melodies and to orchestrate brilliantly.

Update, blimey an alarming accelerando at the end of the third movement, like serious possibility of a car crash. Not sure I liked that. Where's Mariss Jansons when you need him?

Sitemeter

Had a prob over the weekend along with lots of other people whereby it was impossible to get onto lots of blogs, even me on my own. Fearing a Stasi style crackdown in the blogland on anyone linking to various uber-blogs, I checked through all the blogs I normally read and tried to look for a pattern.

A reader to Fr Z's blog handily displayed how to get round sitemeter and the problem was sorted. I did consider deleting my blog, lest it fall into the wrong hands. Too much watching of 'The Lord of the Rings' at the end of term, methinks. Where's Gandalf when you need him?

Never Knowingly Undersold

My favourite shop in the whole world for sensible household purchases is John Lewis. Finding myself a lady with a linen cupboard and on holiday I get to organise things in a sensible and grown up way. Thus I have bought a new duvet (special purchase, duck down etc as advised in years gone by by Grandma,) to go on new spare bed. This all got a bit pressing as an Auntie is hopefully coming to stay the night later on in the week. If not then I'll just have to kidnap someone.

But back to John Lewis. I love the fact that everyone is an expert in their chosen field, be it how many feathers in each square of duvets or handbags or china, or lights or curtains. And I love the fact that the people working there are partners and get a share in the company's profits.

Not to be confused with Tudor Williams in New Malden - Never knowingly undersold in Surrey. How quaint. Why would you want to leave the confines of that county and go to Kent or Sussex, for example?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

By the Seaside

Have just returned from an action packed and fun filled weekend in Brighton.

By a series of happy turns, I sang at St Mary Magdalene's for their Feast Day, swelling the ranks of their choir with various other extra singers. All power to the maestra di capella and my host for the weekend.

Then, after a glass of wine, (how civilised) and a meeting with Fr Ray, PP and celebrity blogger extraordinaire, to the beach for cool music sung by the daughter of a parishoner, then a boat trip from the beach to Brighton Marina. (I'm not making this up, btw.) Oh yes and the boat trip included tea from fine bone china cups, no less. These people relax in style!

Thankyou to all for a fantastic time!

Monday, 14 July 2008

On the move

I'm moving house on Wednesday. That's my latest excuse for not writing anything on me blog. That and the fact that other people are up to lots more exciting things. Fr Ray (the lutenists)has his new lute, Fr Sean Finnegan is gadding around North America, The Pope is in Australia...I'm moving about three miles, to a slightly bigger house in a much greener area, three stations closer to London.

Me and the cardboard boxes are doing just fine.
I happened upon some board markers (c1998) this morning, so can now label the boxes and can tell the removal men where to put them.

The main removal man can round today to remove rubbish, which was great. Off went the desk I did my Alevel work on. If you took a 'brass rubbing' of it you'd probably get an interesting collage of algebra, harmony, organic chemistry and calculus, plus my Dad's comments on student's History essays.

My parents are doing all sorts of useful things like disconnecting washing machines and taking curtains to the dry cleaners. I think you can guess which is doing what.

Books, Music and CDs. Moving house must be easier without them, but life less exciting.

In other news I have two tickets to hear the Berlin Phil with Rattle at the Proms. Not alas the Brahms 3 and Shostakovich 10 programme which was already sold out last week- no surprise really. Not sure how they did that programme, just take two of your favourite symphonies and put them either side of the interval? Yes, I could go and queue, but contrary to what it says in the Proms Guide, it is very possible to turn up to hear a visiting foreign orch and not even to get into the Gallery. I know 'cos it has happened to me. I have queued all day before to hear Rattle and the CBSO doing Mahler 7 and was on the telly, but I was a student and sitting on pavements passing the day chatting was a way of life. Now I want comfort.

I'm going to the Wagner and Messiaen concert. From the back row of the circle, the Messiaen will sound interesting... in a different way to when I heard the same programme in Amsterdam in Feb. Then we sat in the Choir Stalls behind the cymbals and every other metal percussion instrument. Crash! Two Turangalilas in one year!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Evening Devotions

I keep meaning to put a link to this.

Don't know how anyone has time to do this, but it's really good.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Reading

It is about this time of year when my mind begins to be filled with wonder at the time which is - drum roll - the Summer Holidays..... The sooner the better. I can't afford a repeat performance leaving stuff on trains. It'll either get stolen or cause a major security alert.

It is during this time every year that I do anything needed doing to my house -DIY etc and me new contact lenses and the like.

Other seasonal activities include reading proper books. I had a chat once with some other teachers and we agreed that we can't read proper serious tomes during the year. Infact one suggested that she was so frazzled at the end of term that a week of reading trashy stuff was necessary before getting down to decent books. She offered to lend some to someone else.

I suffer delusions that I will read that book on Orchestration and that other one on Species Counterpoint because they would be improving and generally sharpen up my now flabby mind. This year...

What would you folks reccommend? I should say I have read all the 'easy' (that is chatty or written as sermons and tied together into a book) BXVI books.

Biographies are good.

Monday, 30 June 2008

You know those awful people who ...

...never update their blog roll despite all the people who kindly add them to theirs and wade through the the nonsense they write. Yes, THOSE PEOPLE.

Well thanks to a timely reminder from Jackie (see right! Mother of 10) a mere smattering of the blogs I feast on is now right.

I'll add the other squillion at a later date.....

A happy ending

I left my Viola on the train this morning.

Only realised about 10 minutes after getting off. A serious case of being frazzled in an end of the academic year kinda way. In the 25 precious minutes between then and taking a register, I went to the terminus, found that my train had left on an outward journey and went to Lost Property where a kindly cleaner had handed in said Viola. The man just picked it up and handed it over. No paperwork or anything. It was thus only out of my possession for a mere 30 minutes.

Train cleaners heros. A thank you note on the way to them tomorrow.

All set for my 9.10 am rehearsal and no need to put Plan B into operation = borrow another instrument, treck to Chappells to replace the music and contact Allianz Cornhill to claim on the insurance!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

googling

Someone googled 'tortoise sanctuary bath' this pm and ended up here.

Your tortoise may meet Speedy! Though I think Speedy's new home is more SE England. Who knows though it's a small world.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Flaming June

Had lunch in the garden with my sister-in-law to be, which was good because I tend not to do anything very social on Sat morning - too tired and it was good to catch up on what's up. That said I spent the afternoon asleep. The last few weeks have been way too hectic and sleep is the only remedy, not the enemy as one of my friends says. Strawberries and some leftover chocolate pudding from my Dad's birthday on Thurs, very civilised!

June is the best month for flowers, IMHO, Especially when that involves honeysuckle climbing up your garden chairs. A friend gave me a rose bush for Xmas which is now flowering vigorously and having litres of water poured on it daily.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Silence

...the new noise.

so important it's an element of music in the National Curriculum. Amazing when you consider that metre, rhythm, harmony, tonality and form aren't, but I digress.

Silence is great in Church because you can't annoy other people by being silent, unlike
  • playing hymns people don't like, (Me playing hymns that I don't like.)
  • giving unnecessary instructions, ('Please stand to great the Gospel. ' Don't we know we have to stand up then?)
  • twittering about and being petty.

It has occurred to me that all the twittering and fancy stuff just acts as a total distraction and is often frankly bewildering. I haven't seen any for a while now and it's great.

At the Candelmass Mass at Blackfen at the point where the Congregation were to approach the Altar to receive candles, the MC gestured with his sleave. The big sleave. Transcends language and spoke so much more eloquently than a long wordy explanation. You can after all just watch what other people do and copy them. Works a treat for me. New to the TLM? Not sure about when to kneel etc. Sit at the back and copy the pros.

Silence; the new noise. Shhh.

Fr Ray puts it so much better on his blog.

Monday, 16 June 2008

The blogging backwater discovered

I find myself linked to three mega blogs in one day.

Dazzled by visits, but with no time to write much of consequence, I wish I had tidied up a bit, done some dusting and baked a cake for everyone.

Still, we can all bask in the wonderfullness of Saturday's Mass and hope that this is taste of things to come.

It is very touching to hear from a Cardinal that he is there to convey just what the Pope wants you to know. All the way from Rome just to tell us in person.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

World Blogging exclusive

Westminster Mass packed with every sort of person, including lots of small people in buggies, (who were very quiet all things considered.)

Beautiful music sung by the Cathedral Choir including a motet by Elgar and the Byrd Ave Verum, nice to get some English music in around a Palestrina Mass setting.

An awesome occasion.

Met Fr Ray wow. Very kindly he is too as he is on his blog.

Mark of Rise and Pray with a Scottish posse.

Lots of other lovely people in the pub afterwards.

Other people will have more and photos. You know, the usual suspects.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Westminster Tomorrow

I'm going too.

Hope to meet some other bloggers.

I met some parishoners of Fr Ray about a year ago which was fun.

We shall see.

Update Mac's giving me a lift. Goodie.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A concert



I got to play at the Barbican briefly yesterday. Someone needed an extra horn, so I got to ask someone where the Artists' Entrance was for the Barbican, thus marking me out as one who had never played there before.

It was a concert of two halves, the first being an orchestra plus the choirs of various City firms. We ended with Land of Hope and Glory, which I last played as a 2nd Violin about 25 years ago (yikes!)

Anyway, we pretended the first horn was sitting in David Pyatt's chair, who is the Principal Horn of the LSO and then repaired to the Artists' Bar to discuss the relative merits of Paxman and Alexander Horns over, in my case, a can of Sprite.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Monteverdi

Have just listened to John Elliott Gardener saying that 'you Welsh' are to blame for big Handel performances to Aled Jones, who has spent an hour savouring rolling the r in MonteveRRRRdi.

MonteveRRRRdi Choir. MonteveRRRRdi Vespers of 1610 and so it went on, pretty fast as it goes.

We now move to 'Drama on 3.' Sigh.

Saturday, 7 June 2008



Time for some tootling tomorrow. The handy 'wrap' makes it easier to carry than the alphorns that we saw in Lourdes and the valves add in all those pesky notes not in the harmonic series.

The alphornists were very nifty, a top C (16th harmonic) being played in one of their 'sets' at 7am one morning. Respect.

Aside from an alphorn ensemble, I also saw a Dutch group leader with a clog on a stick. All national eccentricities on display in one place. Great.

Pink Pen and Gardeners' World

My RE Teacher at school recommended using coloured pens when making revision notes to brighten things up. I used them as a means of keeping myself working. Quick switch to black, now blue, now pink and you are still working. By University, it was an exercise book and biro or bits of manuscript paper when testing myself on Wagnerian Leitmotifs (Let's not go there.)

The coloured pen routine has persisted and I splashed out on a new pink roller ball on Thurs to get get me through 4 hours of invigilating and marking on Fri. Then I left it at home and had to mark in pencil. Sigh. And a more elderly colleague kindly shared with me how exam marking gets worse as you get older. Thanks. A chronic age related condition that hits you when you've been at it more than 20 years. Not too long to go then.

I had a vague plan to mark and watch Gardeners' World, but just watched the gardens and then went to bed. The item on plants suitable for drought conditions was one to put on the back burner, given the amount of rain we've had down here recently, but I did start to get wistful when I saw the man on his allotment. I want to grow stuff but need to hold back. Maybe I will have enough time for a few courgetttes later on in the season.

Pink pens and weeding. Bara brith immersed in the day to day!
Currently got the bread machine on for my brother and will bake some cakes for the family later and the washing machine is on. It's amazing how much housework you can do when avoiding the inevitable.

Back to the exams....

Describe the chords in bars 2 and 4.
Correct Answers E major and F# major
Answers have included high, bouncy, loud...

If someone else writes, 'No it isn't,' on the blank page at the front I shall be forced to reply...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Super Rocket

I haven't planted crops out this year, maybe later on in the season, for various reasons.

So aside from the herbs, the only edible thing outside is some rocket that has sprung up from the stuff that went to seed last year. It's mighty powerful. But I'm pleased to have it. It is great popping out for a few leaves. (OK strawberries too, but they are small and green at present.)

My eco friend lent me 'Not on the Label' by Felicity Lawrence. Once you've read what they (supermarkets) do to salad in bags, you want it in the garden. Also, if you live on your own, you have to eat a whole bag in two days or it turns to mush. Yuck.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

novussanguis

Found this link on Forest Murmurs.

Seems they only do research on adult stem cells and cord blood.

Things involving the Prof Lejeune name are usually tip top.

Are these the folks we should be going all out to support?

Herman the Lame

Herman the lame wrote the Salve Regina according to my Gregorian Missal (1990 Solesmes, must be true.)

According to Fr Benedict Groeschel, he suffered from spina bifida and had such a bad cleft palet that it was extremely hard to understand what he was saying.

Too early to be a Renaissance man, he just excelled at everything going in his century.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Please pray

for the repose of the soul of Jimmy Mizen RIP.

Lovely boy. Lovely family.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Funny

Stuff Catholics like on Lay people.

I don't like having to run the gauntlet of greeters and people who have to give you stuff when you arrive at Mass.

They can be dangerous. Grandma once turned, gave me a funny look and tripped on a chair when this happened to us. She was uninjured, luckily. See, my reaction, sanctioned by someone born during the Pontificate of Benedict XV.

Last time I was in a Cathedral, a woman with a loud voice was having to explain what you needed Missal and hymn sheet wise, to everyone arriving. Never been needed before. Were there swathes of visitors to London unsure what to do in a Catholic Cathedral at Mass? Nope cos it's the same everywhere.

I think there is a phrase in 'Spirit of the Liturgy' to describe these unnecessary jobs along with a defence of people who just want to go to Mass. I recommend conducting as an antidote. Loads of people scrutinising your every move and you are happy to disappear. Failing that teaching. Anonymity, ah.

Friday, 2 May 2008

A new chemical element

Podium

We have a new one at work. One of the Maths Dept suggested it's really a new element. I say one of those new ones they added on at the end with a very big atomic number. You could probably use it to produce electricity n suff.

It's very high up, so interesting for my Haydn mini orchestra. Had to put people quite far back otherwise they have to look straight up in the air.

We got it to prevent that nasty moment when the conductor steps backwards off the stage and gets quite a nasty injury. Never seen it happen, but have seriously considered the possibility.

Sunday, 20 April 2008




Tortoise Tales

In the mid 1970s, when we had droughts in the Summer, my parents got us a tortoise. (I remember my slightly older cousins telling me that we were not allowed to have a paddling pool because Mr Heath said so. Visions of the Prime Minister swooping teacher like on the pool if we filled it. Always was a little on the dramatic side.) It refused all the food it was given and ate weeds in the lawn and dahlias and other carefully tended plants.

About five years ago it made an escape attempt and disappeared to pastures new. Better weeds beckoned. My parents were not too sad, for My Dad had had to build little fences around all his flower beds. Otherwise he'd plant stuff and come out the next day to find little stumps where his flowers had been.

Now the mystery of the AWOL Tortoise is over. My parents have been in contact with the man who lives in the house behind and it seems that Speedy lived there for the last few years, but has now gone to live in a tortoise sanctuary belonging to the son of the owners of the pink house opposite them. ( Three houses away from a tortoise santuary, who would have thought we were so close....)

Anyway, Speedy now has other tortoise company after over 30 years of solitude and some female company, for he is a Mr Tortoise, we now discover.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Auntie Joanna on R4 Today Programme on Pope Benedict

She really packed in a lot in a short amount of time.

Impressive stuff! Good for her.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Parish Book of Chant


Musica sacra (see right for link) have brought out a new book, which seems pretty comprehensive and beautifully and carefully produced. Square notation etc. Might get one. About time it came in handy.

When I started teaching in 1993, I bought Hymns Old and New, thinking that working in a Catholic School I should have the then standard hymn book. It cost £30, I seem to remember and it arrived when I was off work with 'flu. I was quite excited at the time. This was big money for a probationary teacher. Buying music in that 'investing in standard repertoire' kinda way is always very exciting. Like buying the '48' or Mozart Horn Concertos.

The Hymn Book is a bit beaten up now. No particular complaints about the binding. Here I am Lord and Eagle's Wings have page turns in them, so it's not just what you sing and hear that is awkward, folks. The latter has the page turn in because each verse has a slightly different text underlay in addition to requiring the congregation to sing a C# against a G major chord. And you thought the augmented 4th was a no no. Thus you end up with a separate line for every verse printed above the piano (organ?) accompaniment. Sigh. Doubt and ambiguity sown into the very fabric of the music. These folks don't do strophic it seems. Let's play the 'does the next verse have an anacrusis' game. That explains the lack of a metrical index at the back.

Some of the numbers that were presumably written with just guitar chords have quite spectacularly bad keyboard accompaniments. The difference between the organ and piano are ignored and all notions of four part harmony cast off. In fact the harmonic vocab is amazingly restricted. Did modulations get banned, dissonance.....? All a mystery to me. Make me a channel of your peace goes off the bottom of a four octave organ manual. You fail orchestration exams for doing that sort of thing. You fail harmony exams for having forbidden doublings and consecutives. That hymn has ruined that prayer for me and put me off the Franciscans, because I hear it in my head whenever St Francis is mentioned. I wonder how many ugly pieces of music, art, language and architecture have had the same effect on people. Probably lots.

This comes to mind because yesterday I had the great great pleasure of rehearsing a Haydn Violin Concerto with a little Chamber Orch before school. The contrast is so great that I can't really quantify it and the Haydn is technically not that hard to play. The players are between 11 and 14. Getting them to play stylishly and to really listen and understand the importance of their part at any time in the movement will take some work, but I am very much looking forward to the performance. It's just fabulous music and they are a very musical bunch. I am very fortunate, I know.
(Haydn was a Catholic of course and said the Rosary daily apparently.)

As to the stuff at Mass I just shut up and play the stuff when required and change things so that they are a little more correct. Dumpy consecutive 5ths at the bottom of the bass clef are great in the Pink Panther, but odd when you teach Bach Chorales.

I belive that things are on the turn. I'd better stop or this will turn into one of my many unpublished posts on liturgical music. I'm saving you from some serious rants believe me. Just remember to be nice to organists and remember that it's often not their fault that they are playing that hymn you hate. They probably hate it too.

As to Marty H. Why do we play any music written by Protestants in Catholic Churches? Are we saying music doesn't really communicate at a very deep level? Better keep that rant to myself, but you get my drift. If you want a taste of Catholic Italy, listen to Monteverdi and feel the warmth. It's really there.

Anyway this book looks to be a very good thing.

Spring


One of my favourite colours is that light green you get when trees are coming into leaf.

I'm currently looking at apple trees online. Hoping to buy a couple in the Autumn.

This being Kent cox's orange pippin and Bramley are the hot favourites. We are the garden of England and all.

I love coxes and according to what I've read they store well. Yum.

My Father loves apple pies and crumbles, so if I could possible get a tree that has its bumper year when my parents have their off year, we will be onto a good thing. Apple sauce on porridge is nice for breakfast as is cold apple crumble of course. The culinary possibilities are endless. Apple blossom is very beautiful, very delicate.

Lots of April showers at the mo, so not great for gardening, but one can dream.

Every morning I look at the allotments from the train and lots of people have been very busy preparing their beds for all seeds that will go in. I'm hanging back for various reasons just now but will get planting some quick cropping stuff later on.

Gordy in the US

The Times' only mention of the Papal Visit to the US next week (lucky you folks) was to point out that Gordon Brown is going then too.

It would seem that attention will be elsewhere.

No plans for a meeting, which given Brown's anti Catholic legislation at the moment, is a shame.

Friday, 11 April 2008

New Research

Must be a quiet news day.


According to page 3 of today's Times there are serious gender probs in the world of instruments.


Girls play the flute and boys play the bass guitar.


Pupils get bullied for playing the 'wrong' instrument. The flute teacher at work said that boys at his all boys school used to make comments about his 'hand bag.' But he soldiered on and even plays the piccolo. What's that a purse, a clutch bag?


Anyway, towards the end of the article it stated that boys like instruments that you hit (we call them percussion instruments - too technical Huh?) and ones that require physical exertion.


This week I did a class performance thing on Gamelan and we added the orchestral gong in for a bit of authenticity. So a very good percussionist got to bong the gong. I like it because it gets louder after you've hit it. The class ended the lesson saying to the player,'Hit it as hard as you can.' I took the very heavy beater into protective custody at that point. (Clearly, my attempt to evoke the shimmering, meditative sounds of Indonesia, were OK up to a point, but we were now reverting to collective type and it was break time. Test things to their limit and in Music this means hard and loud.) Rank films are all very well, but the nasty metallic smack of a tam tam struck in anger is an experience I have no wish to visit on anyone. I could have cried when a pupil dropped some cymbals in front of me once. And people wonder why Music Teachers have nervous break downs? Not this one. Avoid percussion instruments, especially the metal ones.

Musical instruments are very different from each other. Men and women are different. I see lots of women and men playing all sorts of instruments in orchestras. No probs. It didn't say what level the players were at. Maybe if you excel, you aren't so bothered what other people think. You love your instrument and probably play in various groups where you are appreciated for the sound you make. Folks I know in orchestras, all we talk about is music. I don't know much else about them. We're happy.

Not many girls playing stuff at work. It's a boys school. Actually, often the only girl is the conductor. Me!