Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Happiness Complete

I have on loan a 1936 Liber Usualis and am now facebook friends with a certain famous chant musician. :-)


Good, honest music. Open strings and the rule of down bow. Life was simple in those days!

Can't quite find a version that does everything I want and gulp Roy Goodwin seems to have harpsichord continuo and I'm going to use an organ only- cos it says concerto da chiesa on my score and I have an organist in my form who I want to use. No archlute either. We will be at 440 too. This is well flat! That aside I like the tempi and phrasing. I like the proto Vivaldi sound without the angst and pyrotechnics.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The best news

The clocks go back tomorrow!

Obviously, the whole light failing during period 8 thing, along with going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark and only seeing me garden at the weekend is grim, but thinking entirely short term, I NEED a lie in!

Other people I know are even more sleep deprived and really need a lie in. Maybe GMT -1 would be a good idea.

The otherwise silent Church, this morning, was bathed in the mostly soothing sound of sleeping young people. (Don't you hate that term! Some teenagers, some younger children - hard to say, lots of bodies in sleeping bags anyway.) Occasionally, this was broken by some serious snoring, so at least one person was safely in the land of nod.

All this Catholic devotion stuff is fine but my diet has taken a definite turn in the direction of junk (yum) St T of L last week saw me having 3 fine breakfasts and yesterday's Mass and Adoration was followed by drinks in the club and chips. Fantastic! I'm on a roll (or maybe just rolling,) and have just been shopping and bought all the food for my friends. Five days of feasting will follow, after which a turn in a more puritanical direction will be needed if I am to fit into me posh frock for the week after next's posh work dinner.

See Fr Tim and Mac for erudition and photos.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Holidays are here again

Yes, a mere 35 working days after the Summer hols ended it's half term.

A friend and her 7 year old son are coming to stay tomorrow til Wed, so I'm off to make my house fit for guests and to make sure that the gravy doesn't touch the carrots and all those other important details. We have lots of museums to get through as Jo has decided London's the place to be and has compiled a list of things he'd like to do.

Heard this in the car on the way home.

Be patient with possibly one of the longest crescendos you've ever heard, if not the slowest to get going.

Marvel that the sound is mixed to make a harp gliss louder than the first horn solo and notice how horn 1 has a sizable dent just under his little finger hook. You have to drop an instrument to sustain a blow like that. (I know cos I've done it, but I took my horn to Paxman's where for about £20 they will bang it out for you! Not a nice sound.)

The Berlin Phil are an amazing orchestra. As people say, it's like hearing one person. I heard them do Turangalila at the Proms two years ago and weirdly they didn't actually take the roof off til the last chord. Since it's an 80 minute symphony, that's pretty restrained!

Bed making ....

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

40 Hours

Thurs to Sat.

Interesting times

Reading The Times front page today led to a game of mental bingo, crossing off the following.

CDF/ Holy Inquisition, previously headed by one Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger.

SSPX/Holocaust denying. I'd be heartily sick of that cheap link if I was a member of the SSPX.

[A threat] to wreck decades of ecumenical dialogue. Or perhaps bring it to true fruition? Like ordaining woman as 'priests' and soon probably 'bishops,' isn't.

Anglican orders being utterly null and void. (No inverted commas on this blog.)

Welcomes being too effusive. (Should they be begrudging then?)

Mention of tanks elsewhere, Panzer Kardinal anyone?

Also elsewhere in The Times a quote in defence of the CofE from the National Secular Society. Desperate?


Marvel at no mention of the aging GERMAN Pontiff, ex-member of the Hitler Youth (and no picture!) no naming of Bishop Williamson, such restraint! No mention of relics and indulgences either, but that was last week. They missed out Galileo and Pius XII too. Sigh. Come on Ruth, this is the front page get all the prejudices out there. No via media on the anti-Catholicism!

Now we've got all of that out of the way, this could all prove to be very good. Goodness knows England needs re-converting. The more the merrier and a return to merry England. It could make being British and Catholic almost normal. I might be able to see an historic Church and go to Mass there of a Sunday rather than feel totally alienated from our architectural and cultural heritage as I do now. It could be very good for music. What if the odd Oxbridge College decided that its Chapel was going to join up to this new venture? Catholic musicians could participate in an excellent training in Church music, for example. That would be good, because then more chant and polyphony could be used in all our churches.

SP has brought about great fruit in two years and the same could be true of this venture, if we support it and the people it pertains to. Yes, we could grumble about whether they are having it easy when so many people have been martyred and persecuted for being Catholic in Britain since the Reformation or in my case just had gratuitously, rude hostile things said to them. If the Roman Catholic Church and the Patriotic Church in China can try to patch things up, surely we can have a few ex-Anglicans on board?

It all makes next year's Papal Visit/ Beatification of John Cardinal Newman an even better prospect.

Tempting to add a little joke about getting our Churches and Cathedrals back, but some people don't find that sort of thing funny. I find it very sad that they are the way they are now, but I'm only a Catholic.

You are far better off reading this on FrZ or this from Fr Tim.

The British secular press; always a good laugh!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My least favourite musical job

Page turning!

I' prefer to play the notes most of the time.

Anyway, that most unpleasant of tasks passed off OK tonight. One of the pieces by Granados was in an unfamiliar Russian (what else?) edition, printed on paper that I'm not prepared to describe here, as I can only be crude about it and after the first turn I had to remain standing holding the pages so that the they did not fall back. None of the pieces had impossible, let's repeat the exposition turn backs or the immortal words, 'To Coda,' which happens in one of me orchestral pieces infact a DS and a 'to coda,' always a laugh. You don't really want to be looking down fumbling pages over with your left hand whilst supposedly preventing the cellos rushing and the wind spread across the width of the platform going in all directions.

Not as bad as a Lieder recital we went to a while back where the pianist was playing off A3 photocopied spreads, one of which slipped off the stand landing audience side and the turner had to walk round the back of him to pick it up. He just carried on playing, as it goes.


Vernacular words, in fact.

Before Berenike expends too much time finding excellent translations of the Good Book and commentaries all entirely sound and Catholic, I'd better quickly put my case.

Words, spoken language are great for conveying facts, intellectual discourse and humour for me, but don't really touch me that deeply. I enjoy writing, up to a point. I admire and enjoy the writing of others and language is good for marshalling certain types of thoughts, but they just don't do it for me in the end.

I could provide a very short list of novels that I have found overpowering, I could provide a very long list of music. Music touches me everyday, writing occasionally.

With the new opportunities to attend the Old Mass, I now realise why for the first twenty years of my adult life, I have been dutifully going to Mass and I have to say not being radically altered alas. I just presumed that it was a deficiency on my part. Try harder, Leutgeb! But now I know it is not so. That's why I will never be a Prod. It's not just the lack of Sacraments and Authority (which let's face it are deal breakers - No forgiveness, no Blessed Sacrament and who are you to define truth and which one of you anyway or do I have to work everything out myself?) I can't be doing with too many words. The NO is tipped very heavily in favour of words at the expense of music, gesture, the visually beautiful, incense, silence, routine and anything else that you think makes up the Liturgy.

The idea of Bach Chorales is beginning to annoy me too. That they pack in so much harmonically in so short a time and whilst holding in balance the four contrapuntal voices is an amazing exercise in musical suduko, but why the rush to get through the text so fast? Why so many words? Musically, vowels are where the beauty is and why the melismas of plainsong or polyphony weave their magic. I don't like syllabic text setting in this context. I was talking to a pupil the other day about the need of Lutherans (and indeed Anglicans) to provide a new musical repertoire for the new ideas and indeed metrical, vernacular psalms apparently were very attractive to some people, and he said,' So they did that to may the text easier to understand?' Subtext: Catholic bad, Protestant good. Miss Leutgeb subtext Catholic truth, Protestant heretic. But does making everything as plain as plain can be make it more understandable? More affecting? More likely to convert you? For me NO!

Interestingly, (to me and this is my blog!) just as I have never watched Star Wars all the way through, because I just get bored, I find the Bach B minor Mass boring and have never listened to it in one go. Heart not in the text? Interesting, because I love the Matthew Passion with a passion and when I first heard it, the first chord it caused a bolt of electricity to go through me. Just the first E minor Chord. Now that's genius. No written language has ever come even faintly close to that. Not even getting a static teading!

So Bible study at the mo. No thanks.

And so to work.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Locus iste

Today, being the Dedication of the Cathedral, the gradual was Locus iste, which Bruckner set so beautifully. Fairly singable for a church choir.

Not sure which Church this is. It's not Linz Cathedral which is neo Gothic and I thought the Alte Kirche where Bruckner was the organist was, well, old, though stupidly, I've never been in, despite it being on the Hauptplaz. Also the Monastery (Stift) St Florian, where he is buried beneath the organ, has the organ at the back not to the side of the sanctuary, I think, so name that church!

It's Linz, or somewhere in Upper Austria, it's pretty huge and has a very wet acoustic and I'm in the mood for some seriously washy sound, surely that is musically totally apt for the words? You want the sound to reach every crevice of the building. Apart from the rather bright first note of the sops, I think it's perfectly fine.

Saturday, 17 October 2009


I've been busy the past few Saturdays, so have not been to the supermarket to buy my favourite apples -Cox's. Would you believe that that the Tesco Metro by the station does not have any? (Do you care?) Well it does not and some of the apples have been imported from Kiwiland and therefore refrigerated, poor things.
So today I righted this wrong and bought two bags. This put me in the happy poisition of having toast (from own bread), some very tasty cheese, my own tomato chutney and an apple. A perfect Saturday lunch.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hundreds and Thousands

Thanks to Catholic Mom of 10 for these figures.

Total number of pilgrims who have visited the relics of St Thérèse in England and Wales:
Portsmouth 4,500
Plymouth 3,000
Taunton 1,800
Birmingham 11,000
Coleshill 3,000
Cardiff 4,400
Filton 6,000
Liverpool 17,000
Salford 30,000
Manchester University Catholic Chaplaincy 2,000
Preston Carmel 2,000
Lancaster 8,000
Newcastle 5,000
Darlington Carmel
York Minster 10,000
Middlesbrough 15,000
Leeds 14,000
Kirk Edge Carmel (Sheffield) 3,000
Nottingham 8,000
Walsingham 5,000
Oxford 6,200
Gerrards Cross 2,000
Aylesford 17,000
Kensington Carmelite Church 10,000
Notting Hill Carmel 3,500
Wormwood Scrubs 250
Westminster Cathedral 95,000

Grand Total 286,650 pilgrims

So that would explain the one column inch in the print edition of today's Times, which actually referes to Protestant England(!) and then says 300k venerated the relics. PARDON? Three Hundred Thousand People. Oh right, I guessed that from the reporting.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

St T of L at Westminster II

Being the saddo that I am, I check sitemeter now and then and see that I have a link from The Catholic Herald to the previous shockingly trivial, vague and generally vacuous post.

So I though that I'd better try and be a little more cogent, even in my enfeebled state.

Here goes. Over the past three days I have got up earlier and gone to Westminster Cathedral and thence to work. Why? Well lots of reasons. The er obvious one, St Therese of Lisieux of course, on whom I am by no means an expert, but she is a Saint and Doctor of the Church and that is enough for me. And for the reason lots of people love her that is that she didn't do anything externally very amazing in her short life, though joining the Carmelites at such a young age impresses me no end, but she lived a hidden life that was extraordinary. My reading extends little beyond the CTS Pamphlet, but that says all you need to know.

Another reason is that I like good old fashioned piety. I like Cathedrals full of people praying their own prayers and doing their own thing. I like lots of people lighting candles. I like the Altar covered in roses. I like the fact that woman and men who are written off by the world are held up as examples by the Church. I like the fact that we can all have our private intentions which we may never share with another soul, but yet all be united together in the Church. I like the family in front of me at Mass with their children in pyjamas. I like the slightly wacky lady next to me (who was probably thinking, 'I like that slightly wacky lady next to me.'). I like the Irish Nuns behind me, the people in posh suits and everyone else. There were oo lots of people at the 7am Mass this am. I don't know how many people half the nave holds, but it was pretty full. I want to be with other people who hold the same beliefs as me and are trying to live according to the same way of life. I don't care where they come from, what they look like or anything else about them as long as we share that.

I don't want to 'share' my intentions out loud with other people! Mind your own business! I hate meetings. I hate Committees. I don't want to discuss the teachings of the Church. I can listen to my PP or read the Catechism thanks. I don't want to change the Church. I want the Church to change me. I go to Church to say my prayers. I go to meetings at work.

So, emboldened by my visit to St T of L, I put my votive candle on the counter at Pret a Manger (impressive witness eh?) as I paid for today's brekkie and had a chat with the lady serving about when the relics were going and how big the queue was. I hope she got there later in a break. How often is visiting a Cathedral to venerate the relics of a Saint a perfectly normal piece of conversation when you pay for something in a shop in England?

If anyone reads this who has any power to do anything, please stop wasting time discussing stuff in meetings and just lay on lots of Masses and devotions. Don't ask people to 'share' anything. Don't have any liturgical chit chat, banal music, or novelty of any sort. Give us the real deal.

As Fr Z says - Say the Black and do the Red, then we can all get on with our prayers.
In fact just dust down your 1962 Missal and do what it says in there.

Then there might be more need to have 100 000 votive candles to hand in our Cathedrals and Churches.

PS Thank you to the organisers of the Tour and all the people who worked in whatever way.

I'm looking forward to a lie in tomorrow - get up at 6 - but it's been a very good week.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

St Therese of Lisieux at Westminster Cathedral

NB Please read the post above for Thursday 15th Oct. This is twaddle!
I succeeded yesterday in getting the 0545. I admit that I had to run part of the way to the station, but I made it.

Got to the Cathedral at 6.40am and went to the 7am Mass and as I was leaving saw a colleague from work, which was really good. Later in the day she popped into my lesson to ask if her form were involved in that night's recital and we shared a certain pleasure that they were not... I had to stay of course, but was just listening, so no ham fisted piano accompaniments. ( not on that occasion anyway.)

After Mass I walked round to the piazza to join the queue to venerate the relics and was able to stay a while. I've never been to that Mass before, so have no idea what it's usually like, but there were maybe 100 people and they had the relics of St Edward the Confessor on the Altar.

So I went back this morning too, though missed the Mass, but am aiming for an early night and a showing for St Teresa of Avila.

Since bara brith is the home of the trivial, you will be pleased to know that the piazza is sporting a burger refreshment type van. Not a vegetable in sight! I have had some very nice breakfasts these past two days and am wondering what fuel I need to get me to the end of the rehearsal after school tomorrow. Food can replace sleep! 1 bacon sandwich= 1 hour!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A zippy Missal cover

Car keys, Missals and handbags make an unstable mix and it's the Missal that's going to come off worst, so finding myself in the piazza outside Westminster Cathedral at lunch-time popped into the CTS Bookshop and hey presto! All zipped up and safe and before any great accident occurred.

Oh yes and the Rosary Crusade was great. Lovely weather too and lots of people even though squillions must have been at Aylesford. St T of L advertised out ide the Cathedral as 58 continuous hours, four Priests hearing confessions etc...

Friday, 9 October 2009

An interesting conversation

I had a funny (sort of ) conversation over lunch with one of the History Teachers which started off with him saying that the parents of a JApanese boy had asked him to teach Pearl HArbour objectively...

Then he said that the Stuart/Tudor Period was tricky because it was a diatribe against Catholicism (not when I was at school...)

So I said that we were used to that and that anyway we now have Eamonn Duffy and are very happy with our revisionist history of the period.

He then said that boys were wide eyed when transubstantiation and indulgences were mentioned. Continuing in my, jolly japes, mode I said that transubstantiation was still very much the thing and that folks were getting indulgences even now visiting the relics of St Therese of Lisieux, not to mention the Year of Priests, but we just don't pay for them anymore.... 'Year of Priests?' this was all beginning to get too much for him! Just to over egg the pudding a bit more I said I thought that the Missal of Pope Pius V was great.

We then had the usual twaddle about Henry VIII was really a Catholic, he just didn't want to follow the Pope. Oh yeah... I pointed out that the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the iconoclasm of the period were really quite something.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I've picked up a few new ones recently, including, dadwithnoisykids, whom I have long admired greatly.

Better start doing a bit more than sticking pics up and the odd Youtube link... oh so you'd noticed too!

Rosary Crusade

It's this Sat for anyone within striking distance of London who is not going to Aylesford.

All being equal, I'm going.

Then, having had a look through the itinery for St T of L at Westminster Cathedral, I'm planning a dawn raid. All the Evening Masses are ticketed and let's face it there will not be any spare room, even standing room.

I occasionally have to get into Town at silly times and by getting the 0545, I could get to the 7am Mass. I'd only have to get up an hour earlier than usual to do this and if I choose the day well, may not even loose it in front of a class ... Tell me folks won't be queuing round the block at 6.45!

We'll see.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Now that's what I call Horn Playing

The best orchestral solo, played by the best ever player.

Dennis Brain in 1944 on his piston valve Raoux, before he went over to the dark side and got an Alex, (see below.) Though being a high player, not for him the 103, but a single Bb with A/+ and a manual F extension, I believe. Because it's not only organists who have anoraks. He was probably in RAF uniform too having spent WWII in the RAF Central Band in Bedford, [popping down to London for concerts now and then.

Whilst we're on the subject of Tchaik.

4,5,or 6. Which is your favourite?

For me, it changes. Today 6 or maybe 4, without the pizzicato movement.


As Fr Tim says we get to celebrate it twice and I don't think I'm singing tonight, (well I hope not...) so that's another plus, for me and the congregation.

Need something to cheer me up on this otherwise cheerless day.

Time for some horn tootling, I think. My next concert draws on apace and with an overture and two symphonnies, quite a bit to play therefore and a certain amount of stamina to rebuild. Sorry next door...

Bach broke lots of rules

was all I needed to hear to know that the A Level Board has lost the plot.

That and the other half dozen morsels of nonsense and the florid lunchtime text from younger colleague to out boss.

Younger colleague was on the how to teach techniques and composition course, I'm doing the Set Works Listening/Performing today.

The fact that they seem uncomfortable with teachers wanting to know how to teach pupils so they get 100% is a problem because to get the new A* at A level you have to get 90% in the A2 modules. Oxford expect you to predict at least A*AA. So it matters quite a bit, because the boys actually have to get the grades too. I've written two UCAS References for boys in my form in the last few weeks.

On the plus side our three best AS candidates on a written paper with a maximum mark of 90 got 90, 90, 89.

The immediate question is, do I do as younger colleague and go for the Examiner, or shall I let someone else take that role? Apparently, there was lots of eye rolling yesterday. Something about the woman not identifying a note as a leading-note and then not following the 'leading-notes may fall at a cadence in an inner part to the fifth of chord I rule.' Why bother, maybe just slap some notes down that you feel sound nice.... Unless you are an organist of a certain disposition, you should not be the Chief Examiner dealing with Bach Chorales. It's just wrong.

Maybe it'll be a different woman....One can hope.

Update. Actually, it was good. The Performing guy was like Jools Holland and as an musician should be - strange shirt with clashy worn out tweed jacket and a wealth of useful and amusing anecdotes. Written Paper bloke Dumbledore, in a suit and a bit taller. We even got scripts and comments as to why candidates got vrious marks. Performing is always good because either it's excellent and well worth hearing or so bad that it's just funny. I shoudl say that I never laugh whilst pupils are doing their thing because that would be cruel, but remaining impassive in the face of somethings I have to listen to is challenging to say the least. Not becoming deeply depressed when listening to a string of indifferent Grade V Violinists playing to you in a freezing room in Jan during the Scholarship auditions is also a challenge. You can see they don't much like the instrument often, which just makes it worse. Sigh.

Must just be what passes for composition that no-one seems to know how to mark.

Also, their technique of asking random people to give a mark or comment on a piece of work, kept everyone awake. So definitely one of the better courses I've been on recently. Lunch was good, just a pity it was chucking it down on the way home and that Boro' Tube is on the City Branch of the N Line. Mustn't grumble.

Read some well written essays. Good to know someone knows something somewhere. Amazed that there is no dictation on the A2 Listening. Really amazed given what you had to do til last year. Random modulations and wacky chords in all sorts of inversions.... Frowny expressions from boys.... no longer.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Grandma RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my Grandmother, whose second anniversary is today.

Grandma; born 13th Novemeber 1916 on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, died 6th October 2007 in a suburban London hospital.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Mixed Tomato Chutney

There comes a point when you have to accept that the nights are drawing in and that sadly some of those tomatoes, on those plants, grown from seeds that you first plonked in an egg box in the airing cupboard in Feb, just aren't going to ripen.

This is where Nigel Slater's recipe in today's Observer Mag is going to work its magic, I hope. I have long suspected that any recipe starting, 'Green Tomato,' is getting a reading on the yuckymeter. After all, which Opal Fruits (Star Bursts for any readers of a certain age,) did you always leave til last? And Fruit Gums and Wine Gums... So, at last someone has come clean and that green tomato chutney can swing from 'the divine to disgusting.'

I think that I can muster 900g of toms of various varieties and shades and once I've got the rest of the ingredients I think it's time to fill the last of my jam jar collection with some chutney.

The big question then chutney artisans. What spicey seedy things do you add? Nige says 1 chilli and 2 tsp of yellow mustard seeds. Any thoughts?

Our Lady of the Rosary

pray for us.