Saturday 31 December 2011

Crossing the threshold

One of the things about being a Catholic that I take for granted, til interfered with, is that I can walk into any Catholic Church or Cathedral unhindered and get on with whatever it might be that I'm there for and that so can anyone else.  On the very rare occasion when someone feels they have to hand me a piece of paper or talk to me, I'm a bit surprised. My Grandmother was so surprised when this happened to her one time that she turned round to look at me whilst walking forwards and tripped on a chair.  See what happens when folks transgress? Bad stuff.

Anyway, one thing that seems to upset people about the Old Mass/EF/TLM is that in the bad old days people, especially those pesky elderly ladies who go to Mass every single day, used to say the rosary during Mass.  Now I have bad news for those complaining people, particulary the ones who like to taunt priests with letters of complaint, you know the sort, because I have seen pesky elderly ladies who are at Mass every time I'm there, with said beads in their hands at the OF.   Did no-one tell them that all stopped 40 years ago?  Evidently not.  What's even worse is that some people who are not well above retirement age  also have rosaries in their hands. Dear oh dear. (Some people like me have them in their coat pockets.  )

So though it will be hard to start with, I think some airport style security is needed to weed out potential trouble-making bead-tellers at the door.

I'm debating what the alarm should sound like.  Probably the tritone at the start of 'On eagles wings.'

Other problems on the shopping list, which occur in both forms of the Mass, but particularly the EF.
Priests celebrating Mass in either form with their back to the congregation. It's just so rude. That's why despite the fact it's been explained to me umpteen times I'm still saying it.
Big candle sticks on the Altar which block my view. (OF versus populum.)
Too much Latin - a handy Latinometer is needed.
No chatty bits to tell me what to do, because I find it impossible to watch other people and copy them when I'm unsure.
It's just too quiet.
They didn't do any of this in the Early Church, but I'm not going to define how early or where exactly geographically.  OK just after breakfast in the Near East.
I don't like the silence.
We never get my favourite hymns.
I don't like the organ.
I'm sure the next Pope will change everything and then you will see that I am right. The Tablet has an article about the next Pope this week......

Friday 30 December 2011

Traddie dining?

Saw this recently and thought there should be an outing...

Don't know if the food's any good, but still.

Thursday 29 December 2011

In a stew

Well no, because this is a very easy meal to make.  My family are all coming tonight and in the version by my mother (original and best, ) this is called, 'favourite dinner.'  Mine is a variation on a theme.

The seemingly huge quantity of braising steak that the lady in the butchers persuaded me to buy this morning now looks reasonable in the stock pot.  I may yet squirrel away a portion to freeze.

At least I wasn't distracted whilst paying by the sign they used to have which read, 'We no longer except Scottish bank notes.'

Tuesday 27 December 2011

The 12 hours of Christmas

I only did two Masses for Christmas, so can't claim the triple crown sported by the young lady in Brighton, and a couple of sturdy singers in Blackfen.

The choir arrived rentamob style at 11.20pm, which was fortunate because that's when the carols started. I've learned not to worry that no-one is coming, because they always do. No before and after photos of the benches, I'm afraid.  Being Christmas we had all our new books in use too.

Fortunately, in the morning someone helpfully turned pages and pointed at the English setting, because I default to Sanctus and Agnus Dei when tired.  An EF Freudian slap, methinks.

Then it was time to deposit the two sturdy singers at their house before returning  to Castle Leutgeb mansion a few miles away where Mr and Mrs Leutgeb senior had laid the table and got the dinner sorted out, as is their want.  It's just as well I have other things to do, beause the Christmas Dinner cooking thing is theirs.

Yes, there is a camel on the window sill behind my brother.  He (the camel, clearly, )has til a week on Friday to get to the lounge.

A glut of tipples

A kind parishoner gives the choir a bottle of sherry every Christmas. The trouble is that last year's bottle is still in the cupboard.  My fault. By my calculations a New Year's Resolution to offer it around a bit could mean we manage to make a dent in both bottles before next Christmas. 

Getting music into the cupboard without bringing a stack of stuff including tins of Quality Street onto you is hard enough.  Multiplying bottles of sherry are another hazard entirely.

In other festive news the Co-op at Sidcup Station has Cream Eggs on its shelves.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

and Nadolig Llawen.

Saturday 24 December 2011

A Christmas birthday

Christmas Day has slight add on for me because it is also my birthday.

It wasn't supposed to be so, I was due on Jan 14th, but I had the cord round my neck three times and went into a bit of foetal distress, they think, and there we are.  The cord thing led in the end to an emergency caesarian for my mother. This being a while ago she only found that out when she had my brother 3 years later. There were several unfortunate twists to the story involving tipsy doctors being cabbed in and the fact that it snowed heavily, but despite weighing a small 5lbs 13 oz, I was fine.

What you gain with a Christmas birthday is a uniquely cool feast day, a great day with the family and double presents, oh yes.  The double presents thing was great as a child. As an adult, a day with the family when really no-one does anything except sit around, talk, cook and eat and laugh is the thing.

What you learn pronto is that the world does not revolve around you, because of course your birthday is always totally eclipsed by the day that it is, as it should be.  There are lean times and quite a few, 'I forgot it was your birthday...' over the years and you know who you are, the people who write, 'and Happy Birthday,' on Christmas cards, but who is to say that other people's birthdays are always remembered anyway?

Thursday 22 December 2011

Christmas letters

It's always good to get news fom friends at Christmas.  Some go for the full essay approach, some are short and snappy and I just put a few choice details in depending on the recipient. Not everyone wants or needs to hear the same stuff.

There is good news in my family this year, which is obviously not always the case, so it's been a pleasure to put that in cards.

I opened two cards today with bad news.  One from a university friend whose mother has breast cancer and a poor prognosis and one from a friend I shared a house with about fifteen years ago whose father died this year.  Not the best year, as he said.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Until next year

We have been trundling through The Parish Book of Chant and since there is rather a large repertoire and lots of us who don't know too much we have gone for repetition.

Thus Advent saw four weeks of Rorate caeli and Veni veni Emmanuel.

I shall miss Rorate caeli.

So long til next year.

Tonight we turn from page 131 to page 136 and something Christmassy.

Quick Blogging

The lack of posting and reliance on you tubeof late (but that 'I will survive,' is a cracker...,)has not been solely because of a lack of time, but because my internet at home is playing up, so I'm emailing from my phone and not having a lot of fun.

Before either this computer decides to konk out completely or the rather suspect way in which the phone line enters my house declares itself to be the reason for a lack of interweb, I'd better write something.

In between quite a few concerts and things, we've been to the IOW again and had a look at the Propers for the Fourth Sunday of Advent as well as the neumatic break.  I think we do the neumatic break every time actually and leafing through my Triplex will in fact reveal the same notes in about three places.  My Triplex is looking busy; in addition to a Wightlink ferry timetable, I also sport lots of squiggles and my minute writing in pencil.  I like music that has a stuff on it.  Useful stuff.

Next time we are looking at the Latin word and its musical possibilities and Epiphany again. 

Other things of note

1 I won't be shopping at Tescos any time soon and will be taking my evil food shopping custom elsewhere.
2 My Christmas Cake is in the oven right now and I was given a lovely smelling one as a present on Sunday.  How good is that as a present?  Am hoping to subcontract the marzipan and icing out to someone creative...  As long as the time honoured polar bear and robin (not to scale) get put on it no-one in famille Leutgeb will mind.
3 Some of The Parish Book of Chant leaked into the School Carol Service.
4 Teachers get too many boxes of chocolates at Christmas, but who's complaining.
5 Conducting a choir of small people dressed variously as angels, shepherds and kings with a shepherd's crook waving randomly is funny, especially when they are taking it dreadfully seriously.
6 Why does this recipe say 2 hours when in a fan oven on 10 degrees C higher than it says in the book it is still not done after 120 minutes?

Friday 16 December 2011

Wednesday 14 December 2011

End of term fun

In between a concert, a carol service and one or two other 'events,' one of the sixth form suggested this...

Mozart Klezmer alla Turca is a culturally interesting idea too.

I did have to correct a concert programme from Antonin Corelli, his Czech cousin, to Arcangelo before it got printed yesterday... 

Thursday 8 December 2011

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Cappa magna altert

Went to see the ENO Production of Tosca last week and Act I ends like this.

Interestingly, despite it being ENO (or as I saw on a poster over the summer, Opera Genedlaethol Llogr, ) they only sang the Italian in English.

All the Latin bits were in Latin.

Settling a recent dispute

You say Pyjama  whilst wiki says pajama.....

May be a case of being divided by a common language etc.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

The Bones singing


Catholic satire; the only way to get through?

Following the bara brith mandate of
do stuff
give stuff publicity
support people.

I seem to have a different Catechism to the one some people have.

St Nicholas

Monday 5 December 2011

Rorate caeli

And in other news my father has bought the book he wants for Christmas from me from Amazon, ticked the gift wrap option and completed the gift tag himself.

Dear Daddy, Happy Christmas, Love from Leutgeb xx.

Oh dear. Neglected elders.

On the plus side I did have everyone round for lunch yesterday and made him his favourite apple crumble with apples from their garden, so not a total fail on the daughter front.

Friday 2 December 2011

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Compound quadruple time

When does a dotted minim have two beats?

When you are in 12/8 or some such, as my orchestra of very small people discovered early this am.

What was

We are playing the pastorale from Corelli's Christmas Concerto as ye do at this kinda time.

Coming in part way through bars was also interesting...

Funny it never struck me as being remotely problematic, so I just reminded them it was in 4 and got going and then wondered why I was having to explain how we divide the bar up. 

Learn something new every day.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Monday 21 November 2011

IOW on Sat

Still alive, just a little busy.

Concerts, stuff, friends, IOW, rehearsals, ping my phone goes off and now I'm replacing a treble in tonight's sung grace... already wacked through the Bartok Rumanian Dances before 9.10 this morning for the next gig on Thursday and so it goes...

Anyway, we did the propers for Epiphany on Saturday.  Very good and very useful.

And the weather was lovely again.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday

Here is Zephy's video of the Thiepval Memorial.

My great great uncle Lance Corporal Michael Higgins MM, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, is one of the names.

We saw it in the summer. 

We don't know if any family had been there since 15th September 1916 when he was killed.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Fame at last

The schola makes p.10 of the Herald.

Weirdo comments underneath.

Some people! Tsh.

PS The unseen people here are the Sisters at Ryde of course.  It was Sr Bernadette who schooled us in the propers, (slightly unclearly described, we did sing them all,) and who suggested Mass XV because the gloria is the one used as the melody for the gloria in the new translation.


Just in case you were wondering, I'm now entering that marathon 5 week stretch leading up to the end of term.  The aim of the game is to arrive without going down with an illness (had the 'flu jab, going to bed early and eating lots of healthy food,)and without messing anything up (not always entirely in your control.)  People frequently ask me if we are gearing up for a Christmas Concert and we are but there are 4 other performances I am involved in at work and numerous other things outside work. One concert would be fine to organise! In fact we've decided in the dept that doing the concert is OK it's everything else you have to do to make it happen that can be tricky and this is a very resonable, easy place to work.

Quite how I'll be able to do this when I'm 66, I'm not quite sure.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Sunday night music

Having a rummage for something else and found this.

 My favourite type of singing as it goes. 

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Tuesday 1 November 2011

All Saints

Monday 31 October 2011

Saturday 29 October 2011

News item order

Yesterday the BBC did something very interesting in their R4 Hourly bulletins.

The items went like this

Constitutional changes  - first born children will become heirs to the throne.
Members of the royal family can marry Catholics without having to give up their place in the line of succession.
Catholic social worker employed in child protection work for the church convicted of child p**n offences.

Just in case anyone thought Catholics were OK kinda people.

I heard that about three times.

Friday 28 October 2011

Lists Lists Lists

The last three days represented my main opportunity to get stuff done before the Christmas holidays.

I duly complied my list and set to.

Extra jobs that got added included posting two small dressing-gowns back to my small friends who were staying earlier in the week.  One of the great things about having a family to stay is that when they decamp your house looks quite tidy, without you having to do anything, though it's much more fun with them than without.  One chair was entirely taken over by soft toys, then there was the trumpet (great for a blues jamming session), the books, the games and the food for packed lunches (don't visit London without them,) and the dressing-gowns.  My friend said not to worry about posting them back quickly, but I knew it was this afternoon or the Christmas holidays, so that's the afternoon.  Clearly everyone now taxes their car online, because the end of the month queues were not there.

This half-term is when I write the addresses onto most of my Christmas cards, because the week I like to post them is the last week of term and inexplicably, I'm a bit tired.  Something to do with multiple concerts and Carol Services, reports, dark mornings....  I bought quite a few cards in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge last Jan.  Now that's getting ahead.

Before I forget, if you are visiting London and don't fancy spending a fortune, may I recommend the Museum of London, which is very interesting ( has some quite good Catholic bits, including that engraving of the Pope fanning the flames of the Great Fire - top stuff), free, not desperately crowded for half-term (if you want chaos, try The Natural History Museum) and you can eat your packed lunch in the school lunch bit which was very pleasant indeed, supplemented by a few bought coffees.  There are also some Roman walls near it. If you live in SE London and have travelcards you can get the Clipper to Greenwich for not very much money, certainly much less than any boat trip or go the other way if you live out west. Great for adults in need of a sit down. And if you are entertaining small people for whom red buses are exciting you can do stuff like go over London Bridge on the top deck for no extra cost, whilst singing, 'London Bridge is falling down.'

That protest near St Paul's?  Not terribly bothersome, but we did walk round the east end of the cathedral to avoid it and so we didn't have to answer any questions about the people in tents.

Not every job has been done yet. To force myself to make the Christmas cake, the fruit is soaking in brandy.  That will not wait til the Xmas holidays....

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Requiem Mass Introit

Clare has done all the hard work committing to paper what we were taught last Saturday.

I would add that what with the black vestments, a catafalque and unbleached candles, the emphasis Mode 6 places on fa and la; a major third came as a revelation.

I don't care if people in the past heard major thirds differently, I live now and I like major thirds.  What I'm looking at is horrifying enough, so music that is solid, simple and hopeful provides a welcome counterweight.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

A trip to the zoo

I have some friends staying with me at the moment who are doing London with their children.  Yesterday, on a beautiful, sunny day we walked through Regent's Park to the zoo. 

There are some very funny looking animals there people.  And some lovely pink anenames in the aquarium which would make like great brouches.

The gorillas sat with their backs to us and reminded me of...

Monday 24 October 2011

Dvorak - flavour of the month

I was reminded how I quite like Dvorak 9 when the Berlin Phil feed on facebook advertised the last mvt.

Here, with someone we like in the audience.

Friday 21 October 2011

Last Saturday, the video

The 3 Minute Mass - St Mary Magdalen Brighton from clare bowskill on Vimeo.

And so to bed.  The 07.01 train beckons.... 

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Oh dear

Over on planet leutgeb we have lots of experience of what Clare experienced yesterday.

We just don't talk about it. Usually.  Today, an exception.

 I once walked out of a meeting where I was publically castigated in front of visitors for the music I provided at school Masses.  Weird that doesn't happen to me where I work now.

But just to be clear, if you were to cast your mind across every single terrible Mass-setting and hymn written in the last 40 years, I have played and sung and taught every single one of them.

Every single one.

Every awful experience relating to liturgical music you can think of I have had.  Yes, even that one.  I've had a few extras added recently too.

Most brilliantly fortunately, I can now do something about it all.  So I am.  Because that is the only way to change things.

People have to get together and sing the proper stuff as far as they possibly can.  And people are and there is lots of stuff to help on the internet and people are getting together and it's changing.

That's why Clare and I and lots of other people get to church way before Mass starts to sort things out so you can sing Mass XI and Credo I and not something else.

Just when you thought the Clap Clap Gloria had been put away in a galaxy far far away...

Because liturgical music is not about fashion, it's about eternity.

Tuesday 18 October 2011


so I should really be looking for a decent Youtube rcording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto to replace the one the Sixth Form gave the thumbs down to this afternoon.  It didn't get off to a good start when there was so much reverb on the timps that it sounded like there were two notes instead of one. Disappointed.  May have to be Anne Sophie von Mutter looking like Wonder Woman.  Maybe sound only, this is a boys' school. What was she thinking?  Was she thinking?

Light relief.  My GCSE class liked this as an end of term treat.

Sunday 16 October 2011

What I was up to yesterday

down on the south coast.

I particularly enjoyed practising for vespers with two brothers from Farnborough, Br Anselm (yes, he is looking at an iPad,) and Br Michael, so thank you to them.  Can't beat the Benedictines if you want to chant psalms, they have been at it a while, after all.

Br Michael is from Slovakia and one of our schola is Czech and with a 'hello' from the visiting Polish priest, we had a moment of Slav connections.  We like to keep it international and our schola is Anglo-Welsh-Korean-American-Czech.

Great to see the Ordinariate in action too.

Next Sat it's back to St Cecilia's and, I hope, a timely session on the Requiem Mass.

The parish choir wacked thro' the Dies Irae this morning in our practice and so hopefully that will be on form for Nov 2nd.

Friday 14 October 2011

Why Music Teachers go mad

Very frequently when I say I am a Music teacher, once we've gone past the bit about which instrument do you teach -  I don't as such, but I do have to be able to tell sections of orchestras how to do things and know what is hard and why and audition people and mark stuff - they then tell me how their Music teacher burst into tears, couldn't control the class and then left.

Well this is my 19th year teaching, and I'm coping OK thanks.

Aside from the sheer bloody-mindedness necessary, the need to remain sensitive to music whilst listening to things that are wrong in every way possible and the need to be able to recognise greatness when you hear it and encourage it - some of my pupils really are that good, you just seem to spend your time making performances that could flounder work.

So the two ways you have to do music.

Teacher way
You know how it should go and you push it in the right direction, but do have to follow people if they cannot for any reason do it right.  This means adjusting all the time to someone ( or indeed an entire orchestra) who alters the tempo and phrasing of things for non-musical reasons (they can't do it right,) and therefore the changes are not predictable, logical or musical.  They are not consistent and it can be differently wrong every time.  The amount of wrongness can vary wildly between people and between performances by individuals.  This puts you on edge all the time to some degree and also requires a huge amount of concentration to avoid stuff being derailed.

Musician way
You spend all your concentration on getting it right and do not have to consider any sudden unforeseen unmusical incidents.  Where changes do occur, they make musical sense and intensify the musical experience in a good way.

Basically, Music teachers can get burnt out, because being permanently irratated at a fundemental and personal level by what you hear, whilst having to react continually to other people, always making it work for them, whilst they ignore you musically is hard.  It's by no means all bad - sometimes it's amazing if risky- and I love what I do, but it's done at some considerable cost.

A few years ago my good String Orchestra did an all Bach Recital.  We did the first movement of the Bach Double Violin Concert and in about bar 2 one viola player rushed a group of semiquavers, pulling the music slightly.  Every time something like that happens it's as if I have been stabbed with an epipen of addrenalin.  My heart rate goes up and I have to react to put the thing back on course, because a failure to intervene as a conductor will result in a problem.  Such a possibility happens in every bar of every piece I do, even if it is very rare for something to be quite that bad in a concert. I should also say that we did it the following year and to have the two brilliant soloists, one in each ear was I think one of the most pleasurable musical experiences of my life.  Gotta take the rough with the smooth.

The only time I get annoyed is when someone comes and tells me how I should have done it better, but then as they are never the musicans in the audience, I listen less and less.

Music Teachers; walking that tight rope in front of audiences of hundreds.

Thursday 13 October 2011


my HoD has been going quietly frantic trying to get some instrumental parts.  We have an annual big do involving us having to provide a quality morsel of music.  He got the choir parts easily enough and was told that the instrumental parts would take 3/4 weeks to come from America.  He lost patience yesterday and emailed the  composer. 

Result?  pdf of the parts arrived today.

A conductor's iPhone

I took a couple of boys on a trip today to hear a famous conductor-composer talking about his work.  Was mightliy pleased that he started life as a horn player, as have a few other conductors.

Anyway, during the course of the afternoon, he played the third movement of his violin concerto.  This commenced with him doing a pat down of all of his pockets til he found his iPhone and plugged it in.  Good piece.

Later on he played us a song he had written and after a big explanation of the poem, along came the song.

 Then there was a burst of Wagner as the phone part of his iPhone rang.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Sightings of The Tablet

yup is still on sale in Westminster Cathedral.  I saw it today and Fr Z saw it yesterday.

I scan the front as I walk past each time... and can't say I am bothered by it at all, because it inhabits a different planet to the one I live in. 

The Tablet and Blackfen.  That article was so off the wall it's filed in my mind along with Pius XII was a Nazi.  After all we've all seen that photo taken during the Weimar Republic when he was the papal nuncio and who was it who drafted Mit brennender Sorge...? oh yeah. Why was it written in German again? (Yes I know Pius XI was the Pope when it was written.. we did the papacy in the 20thC for O level History because we had a proper Catholic teacher.)

I live in one where people do weird things like sing at Missa Cantatas before repairing to the hall for a nosh up and chat. 

Where people are getting ready for the 40 hours.

Where random people meet up in pubs after Mass and have a great night.

Where I pop round to people's houses and we spend the evening eating pizza and practising for Mass and Vespers next Saturday in Brighton. ( NB, not at the same time.  No greasy stains on my Triplex, thanks.)

Where friends pop down here when they can to sing and I pop over to their parishes to do the same.

Where we all pop down to the Isle of Wight to have 90 minutes listening to Sr Bernadette.

Where I give lifts to boys who show me the little presents they have bought for elderly people in nursing homes.

Where more people read blogs than read The Tablet.

Anyway, on the front it mentions an article by that canon lawyer who is very litigious on why the difficulties facing divorced and remarried people receiving Holy Communion are not insummountable.

I wonder what else is not insummountable?

My favourite violin piece

Whittered on a bit about this yesterday, but my laptop at home is on it's last legs and crashed.  A precis about accompanying this on a traumatic day -  I fainted and bashed my horn in ( v ill in the U6, not fun,)  whilst my friend the violinist's sister was nearly tranferred from KCH to a psychiatric unit after being put on the wrong doasge of her epilepsy drugs; she started hallucinating and then threw a glass Ribena bottle against a wall.  Her  parents sorted that one out and then rushed back to Sidcup via public transport, couldn't get a cab and missed the concert.

Great piece and we gave it a rather more intense performance than Perlman does here, though you can't beat one of the world's greatest violinists.

Why am I going on about it now?  One cute 11 year old played it in a concert yesterday and made a very good job of it too. 

If we are into favourite violin concertos, it's Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Sibelius, Bach a minor, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Bruch( hate the slow mvt) in that order.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Birthdays and Anniversaries

One of the things that I have in common with my cousin Richard is that our first names are the same as Grandma's parents and so it seemed poignant that we got on with her very well.  We were also born months apart; he today and me on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day 1975, when I was five, after lunch, we all went to see Grandpa in hospital.  He had had a stroke and was sitting in a chair with a table in front of it wearing a hat from a cracker.  He couldn't speak - although he did say, Good morning, Father,' when the priest came to see him- and looked sad to me.  I also thought that he looked very undignified in what to me looked like an adult high chair and the party hat was totally out of keeping with the sombre atmosphere.  I had no idea how ill he was.  Being five, I bounced in and announced that it was my birthday and was sharply reprimanded that he knew.  He died on 29th December.

On Friday I went briefly to Richard's birthday drinkies and as it was the day after Grandma's anniversary, we were having a reminisce.  He was on a bus on the way home from the equivalent do when my Aunt phoned him.  Anyway, it turns out that he was indeed correct when he said that the official documents are wrong.  She died on 5th October.  I've just had lunch with my folks and checked.  Grandma died on a Friday night before midnight and when my Mother and Aunt went to the hospital on the Monday, the date had been recorded as the 6th.  They were in no state to argue, so said nothing.

Grandma 13th November 1916-5th October 2007.

And belated thanks to Fr Ray

So what seems like oodles of years ago - was my hair really that short?, but was probably only four, I went to a talk organised by Joanna Bogle and met someone called Clare, chatted, walked to the tube together and said good-bye.

The day of the Cardinal Hoyos Mass, Mac gave me a lift (and we saw the Papal Nuncio's car outside Westminster Cathedral, with one very cool number plate which I can't rememeber, but it was cool,) and we bumped into Fr Ray and had a coffee.  The cigarettes are nothing to do with me, btw.  Mac took a photo and put it on her blog and Clare, (who was by then running the Choir at St Mary Mags) saw it and recognised me.  I went to Brighton to sing the first time she did lots of music, like at the time three years ago when singing the Elgar Ave verum after Holy Communion seemed positively countercultural and then she persuaded me to go to Solesmes.

Whilst we were there, she had to phone up Fr Ray to check out if she could buy some of their Gregorian Missals which we could get at a very good discount.  He answered the phone, she started to speak and the monks started to ring the bell for vespers, which was ... loud.  'Oh so you are at Solesmes.'

The rest, as they say, is history. 
Back to Brighton next Sat. (Friday, actually.)

Back to Brighton

Next Saturday, our little schola are singing Mass and vespers for the ALL AGM at St Mary Mags and Mgr Andrew Burnham is giving a talk too Anglican Patrimony. Oh yes, very up to the minute on the Ordinariate. 

We have vesper practice tomorrow night, so now you know what I shall be doing on the train tomorrow morning, otherwise I would have gone to Fr Z's blognic.

This clashing thing has been a theme over the last few weeks.

Last Saturday was the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma do and the Blessed Sacrament Procession in London.

Yesterday we had an extra Missa Canata for a couple's Fiftieth Wedding Anniversay (congratulations) and it was the Rosary Crusade.

Next Saturday is the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford with THE MACHAUT MASS.  When did you ever think you'd hear that for real?  Start finding the M20 on Googlemaps immediately. And I'm, in Brighton.

Anyway, the fact that there is more than one thing that you could be at is definitely a good thing.

Oh yes and Sat 22nd Oct is the last Missa Cantata for The Forty Hours and we have one of our sessions with Sr Bernadette.

And so it goes on.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Being nuanced

How is this beneficial/helpful/good for people who have to make significant choices as to with whom they socialise and where they go out of an evening?

Maybe the people who allow and thereby actively encourage these things need to walk through certain parts of central London at night like I have to sometimes and get an idea of what it's really like.  And I'm mostly looking at the pavement

Being nuanced = allowing people to talk themselves around into doing things that are wrong.

Favourite Christmas Music


Friday 7 October 2011

Knock about fun

with other Music teachers yesterday on an INSET course. We've now switched entirely over to IGCSE, which amongst other things is a very small board for home entries, so they more or less know all the candidates, I think. Certainly, I've never had someone come up and give personal feed back for our candidates. Anyway, we also went through all the other current GCSE and A Level syllabuses in the breaks. Why is there a Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto on for AS this year? Well presumably because it allows them to ask you a question comparing woodwind writing in that and the Haydn, but as an example of Vivaldi, the baroque concerto, ritornello form or anything else I can think of, it's a bit pointless. I would have gone for Brandenburg 2 or 4 to do that, but I just teach the syllabus, I don't write it. Someone asked me if I had found our A Level Syllabus confusing in that half the set works changed last year and the other half didn't and um, no I did not do what she did and realise just before the Eatser holidays because I check that type of thing to an OCD level of checkiness and I think it is a big big mistake and I know teachers who have been sacked for that one. Admittedly, it did involve not finding out until the exam packet was opened minutes before the exam started. No tolerance would be shown where I work for such a mistake. A candidate could easily miss a university offer for that. The Chief Examiner was there and an authoritive lady in charge of multiple specs (syllabi) who seemed in the role of making sure it didn't all get out of hand. People can lay into INSET providers. I think she may have been a bit mystified as to exactly why everyone burst out laughing at various points in sample performances and compositions. It's not derision, it's more hysteria, because where Flossy's composition gets submitted in that form or that recording of a Mozart Piano Sonata where the candidate banged the last note of each phrase, someone has probably discarded a number of recordings far far worse. Shame they didn't play the brilliant candidates who exceed full marks... Off to check those set works again. For June 2012 examination...

Thursday 6 October 2011

Grandma RIP

Today is the 4th anniversary of Grandma's death. I used to go over and spend Sunday with her quite often and over the years it morphed into me taking her to Mass. She expressed opinions by putting them onto others and so it went, 'You like Latin, so let's go to the morning o'clock Mass at Church B, rather than the other one I normally get the bus to.' She would then exhibit a perfect knowledge of all the responses and the missa de angelus. Both my maternal Grandparents were essentially brought up in religious communities; my Grandmother with the FCJ's from the ages of 2-20 after her mother died of TB aged 27 leaving 5 children, and my Grandfather with the Christian Brothers at Prior Park College Bath - it's never been explained how the 2nd youngest child of 9 from a tiny cabin in rural Co Kerry ended up there (an English public school,) and then went to St Mary's Strawberry Hill, where he did an external degree from London University in 1930, taking a first, anyone else got a Grandfather who did that? - anyway their upbringing and deference to religious authority means that only very tiny expressions of opinion could give away what they really thought. That and my Grandfather's text book Red Letter Feasts for Catholic Schools, which shall we say is a bit low on chatty group work. More read the passage answer the closed questions in full sentences whilst looking at the black and white reproductions of pictures from the old masters, published by kind permission of The National Gallery London. It was published before Vatican II, so all his pie charts of the liturgical year went out of date.... for a while and are now right back in.

Monday 3 October 2011

Can't remember the last time

I was quite so obsessed with a piece of music. Yes still on the Dvorak Serenade. The second movement trio is my favourite.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Blessed Sacrament Procession in London

I would have gone to this, but you can't be in two places at once. I like processions.


Thank you for Richard, Linen on the Hedgerow for bringing us all cards with the Guild Prayer. Also, to Dylan, A Reluctant Sinner, for masterminding it. And to Fr Tim, for his talk, chairing the meeting and for the fact that we can have High Mass and Vespers in a regular church in the suburbs of London. Did I say the lunch was yummy? The lunch was yummy.

Bloggers to Blackfen

Photo by Mac. Great weather of course. You've seen the poster, so know the timetable. Can't beat High Mass and Vespers. A very pleasant day indeed. Lunch was yummy. The meeting was short - always a good thing in my book. Not often a meeting ends with the Chairman saying he'd better go because Vespers is about to start. Probably avoids all sorts in religious communities. Bong. Time for the next office. I thought everyone very calm, kind and cheery. Look forward to the next one. Did I post first, even having been to Tescos on the way home??

This looks really good.

A video in French on Gregorian chant via The Chant Cafe. Must watch it in full soon I love the Solesmes way of singing chant and most importantly what goes on behind it. So there. Sr Bernadette, the choir mistress at St Cecilia's Ryde is my heroine. That said, with so few people able to sing chant just now and with many people wanting to, I don't loose too much sleep over people who sing episemes longer than I would choose. Just don't mention the quilisma... :-)

Friday 30 September 2011

Balmy weather

Someone commented over lunch today how strange it is that it's so hot, but dark when you get up. Weird.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Living next door to a twiglet

My neighbour Ruby and her dog Skip, have a magnolia tree in their front garden which until yesterday was very big and was very beautiful when in flower and well, it's a tree and trees are good. It is now a twiglet, shorn of all small branches and anything resembling a leaf. The man who did it has additionally carved, 'Jon,' onto a branch. Jon charged her £500 for the vandalism. Ruby's daughter has had the cheque cancelled, fortunately. Jon also offered to weed her garden for £250. Ruby's daughter did it today for free.

Saturday 17 September 2011

I use mine for my swimming things

What happened to your pilgrim bag?

Friday 16 September 2011

This day last year

I was outside Westminster Abbey to see the Pope and then we went off down Victoria Street to re-claim the streets, via a pub and something to eat.

New year, new music

After doing concerts, my favourite work activity is planning concerts and learning scores. Got a venue and a date. Got an orchestra, just have to learn the music... Youtube is handy for getting some ideas about how things might be done, but I do most of my learning on the train on the way to work. My good string orchestra is learning the Dvorak String Serenade. We've done everything else I can think of and the Tchaikovsky Serenade and Elgar Introduction and Allegro will always be too hard, so it's as many movements as we can manage well, by the end of Nov when we have our big concert, plus the Bartok Rumanian Dances and a piano trio in the middle. Dvorak, btw was a daily Mass-goer.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

none vegetarian or fish on Friday

Been filling out the paperwork for a residential trip next February, where I have to give everyone's dietary requirements. I teach in a school where over a third of pupils come from a faith tradition which requires major dietary care. We will be taking lots of food with us. Really. Then you get the no dairy and nut allergy folks. (It's the nut ones that frighten me. Epipen in hand...) Then there's me. None, vegetaian or fish on Friday. I may just eat round the meat. I'm the group leader (how did I get talked into that...?) so what I eat will not be high up the agenda. My Mum has stories of removing ham and bacon from sandwiches in the 60s and one can live on bread and butter alone...

Out of the news

Obviously, I expect to react the opposite way to many news items and I have not been disappointed in that repect recently. What stuck in the thoat about the Dorries thing was the assertion that she wasn't trying to reduce the number of abortions. Even ignoring the destruction of 10% of the UK population since 1967 and that's a statistic worth repeating and if you include the detruction of human embryos in experiments, the % goes up a great deal more, it's strange the usual fiscal analysis doesn't kick in. I wonder how much income tax is being spent on killing people instead of... any number of beneficial things. The other one I found funny (grotesque, what else do they do to woman....?) the other day was the report saying that woman on the Pill remember things differently to those woman who live with the hormones naturally provided to them by their bodies. The press release (typically copied and pasted into the newspaper I read it in,) then contrasted such woman with ones not on the PIll like we are the odd ones out. Woman not taking weird artificial or do they come from pigs or something? hormones remember more detail, apparently. Thanks, I'll stick with my own, personal to me hormones and my own unadulterated memory. What was that again? Nothing like rational scientific research.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Next Friday

I'm looking forward to next Friday when eating fish turns from some weird thing I choose to do (and I know I'm not alone, except, I am usually actually) to something we all have to do. Lends a certain something to the whole thing.

Monday 5 September 2011

La Rentree

People endlessly ask about when I go back to work, so I did today, it being the first Monday in Sept. My good deed for the day? I flicked a wasp out of the hair of the lady sitting next to me on the train with my book. The bad news was that it landed on the man opposite, who then flicked it onto the floor. An olympic team in the making. London 2012. Just limbering up.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Back to St Cecilia's

Off I went last Sunday on what was planned to be a group of three of us learning with Sr Bernadette and at the last minute, alas, turned into just me. There was another person in the house, so I was not all alone and of course the sisters are extremely hospitable. Anyway, after Vespers and Compline on Sunday and fish and chips, and Terce and Mass on Monday, it was time for ...the lesson. I attempted to write everything I was told onto my Triplex, rendering the page a little busy, so I could photocopy it on my return and send it to my partners in crime. And I got to sing toute seule, me and Sr Bernadette. Mm. I'm still alive. So hard was I trying to sing exactly as she was - though realistically how could I possibly do that? - that I kept breathing at the same time as her and the more I listened, the more I could tell when she was going to breath and then, breathed with her. Oh dear. One thing that we two in the Garth decided was though we were only sharing the place for 24 hours, we felt like we'd been there for ages and also how quickly you get sucked into the monastery timetable. Bong, must dash.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Displacement Activities

My mother conveniently has her birthday right at the beginning of term, so I invite everyone to my house for Sunday lunch the day before I go back to work and then my main concerns become various food items and whether my house is clean and tidy enough and whether her birthday present is OK, not anything that could happen at work. Will the leg of lamb be cooked by the time I've finished torturing the parish with my brand of organ playing?

I'm not expecting any big things to happen at work, but maybe I should doublebluff and worry about what I don't know might happen. (very Donald Rumsfeld.)

When I don't want to clean, I blog. When I don't want to work, I clean.

You see there's a whole ecosystem of displacement activities, beginning with unloading the dishwasher and ending with cleaning the bathroom. In between is making apple crumble and mackerel pate, which I'm going to do now.

I often get up early on Sunday and cook, but tomorrow, there are other jobs.

PS My preparation for the much blogged about Guild Meeting on Oct 1st?

Some baking, methinks. I wonder what I shall make?...Mm

Meantime, to the kitchen.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Bookshop Blues

Thought I'd keep going with the letter B.

Anyway, was randomly looking round a bookshop on the way home from work (yes, it had to happen eventually even though it doesn't kick off til 9.15am next Monday,) vaguely thinking there might be a book my mother might like for her birthday and what do I find? So many books rambling vaguely about faith or rubbishing Christianity (Phillip Pullman).

There was thingie's book on the Popes. Skim read the 20thC, don't bother with that one. I could summarise Pius XII to the present better.

The final straw was a book something like Hitler's Henchman describing fleeing Nazis after the war. The cover had a (forged?) Red Cross pass set against a backdrop of St Peter's Square.

Reminds me of our car game. Put unlikely names with animals.

Boris the llama.
Augustine the kangaroo.
Felicity the hippo.
Gordon the peacock.

Now we must have a new game; books on historical events with unlikely dust jackets.

Monday 29 August 2011

Bloggers to Blackfen

All the details here.

Nice poster and a definition of people who use the new media, which by my calculations, includes anyone who has ever gone on-line. I'm sure we can show anyone else how by Oct 1st.

Of course mentioning the B word in certain company is always going to get a reation, as I unwittingly discovered here.

Having just arrived back from St Cecilia's, I'm pleased to go to something a little closer to home - beautiful and wonderful though the IOW certainly is.

Friday 26 August 2011

Laszlo Dobszay RIP

Clare and I heard him speak at The Oratory School about two years ago and very excellent he was too.

Thursday 25 August 2011

WYD 2011 on BBC Wales

1997 One of my brothers was in Paris and I phoned BBC News about their very rude item describing Blessed JPII visiting the grave of Prof Jerome Lejeune.

2000 I went to Rome and, on coming home, complained that BBC Radio News were pumping up a non-existent story about people wanting to have a meeting about child abuse with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. There were about 12 of them and he said, 'yes.' There were 6000 UK Pilgrims in Rome and we didn't get the same elevel of coverage. I pointed out that the Holy See broadcasts in English and perhaps they could borrow some commentary. I heard one passage of re-broadcast Vatican stuff when Pius XII was declared Venerable.

2011 WYD went..

It's hot.
It's raining.
It's costing lots.
There are protests.

Any Welsh pilgrims at all?

Thanks. I'll just read the sermons myself then.

Michael Voris in London

A Reluctant Sinner has done all the hard work here.

I was a little uncertain as to whether I'd make it and as to my views on him.

As it turned out he was a great deal more sympathetic and humorous in real life than I have seen him on his films. He explained the hard-hitting way in which he speaks as being a result of the fact that that was what got through to him in the end. I don't know too much about him, so can only write on the basis of what I heard last night.

To those who hesitate because he is a layman and this is the Catholic Church, I'm with you. Obviously, he is not speaking with the authority of the Church, but he has some interesting points to make and someone has to say something. Sometimes that comes easier from the laity, because in some ways we are freer to go places and express opinions than the clergy.

I wouldn't be about to make him some hero because I don't think that's what we are supposed to do, but as a means of, for example, attracting a large number of Catholics into one place for a meeting, he certainly did the job. Heavens, it's just good to be able to react the same as other people for a change.

I also think that he exhibits the phenomenon of the returned Catholic who is just a little bit annoyed that they didn't get the real deal when they were growing up and wants to put the situation right. A friend of mine once pointed out the damage that people do to themselves when they don't follow the teaching of the Church and how angry would you be if you discovered later on what you were not taught when you were growing up? (All of us stray to a greater or lesser extent, but at least inside the Church we have access to the remedies and hopefully manage to get back on track more easily and more quickly than those floundering outside.) I sometimes labour under the illusion that non-Catholics I meet are all having a great time. Surprise surprise they are not. Materially, the baubles may glitter, but as with a great meal, it's the company more than the food that make for the pleasure.

Every generation has its particular difficulties. For my parent's generation they went from schools populated by teaching orders and the old Mass to the collapse of those orders and the new Mass in about 20 years. (Maybe less.) How let down were they? My Grandfather's one soundbite on Vatican II was, 'John XXIII, a very silly man.' For people who never ever criticized the Church and he, the Headmaster of a Catholic primary school, that's quite a comment. Stashed on his bookcase, behind the arm chair I now have was a book of the documents of Vatican II, so we can deduce he was pretty interested.

In my case, always at the end of an era me, I got a very old fashioned primary school, which matched up entirely with the home and parish and then a secondary school where I cannot remember being taught anything in RE in the first 3 years and believe me I am very nerdy and remember lots. I won't mention the 12 years I spent teaching in Catholic schools, wondering why my reactions always seemed to be wrong.

Anyway, it was great to meet a few more bloggers - Paul Priest - at last for example - a large group of Catholics converging on a pub is always a good thing.

PS I should have said well done to young Mr Smeaton for the organisation.

We can muse on such a crowd of Catholics listening to a rousing a Salvation Army Hall.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

les biscuits know no modernism

Earlier with mulier fortis, whilst chatting over a cup of tea and a biscuit, purchased on my recent trip to Normandy, I noticed that the manufacturers had not gone for the borg church to decorate their buttery offerings.

Biscuit manufacturers know it.

In the wacky world of liturgical music, the stuff we want to consign quietly to oblivion is not actually modernist. Modernism in music means atonal or serial, devoid of the attributes one usually associates with melody - like keeping the interest in one line, using repetition, memorable short motifs of pitch and rhythm, keeping to a smallish number of pitches (7 seems like a popular number), avoiding angular leaps, periodic phrasing, or indeed phrasing at all, that sort of thing. Thus, even if Webern had not been shot dead by a nervy GI in August 1945, it's unlikely that he would have contributed to the oeuvre that is the folk mass, especially since he edited the complete works of Isaac. Not too much vocal music on that one boxed set of CDs that is the complete works of Webern. Shame really because I could imagine a pointillist orchestral version of Colours of Day. Instead recorders. Sigh.

Instead Israeli Mass, Geordie Mass...

A while back there was a great article about the so-called folk music that we have been lumbered with in church in Sacred Music. Its genesis is a very short space of time when people were strumming acoustically in the late 50s and early 60s. Ethnomusicologists would find it hard to pinpoint where the folk came from. The main points from the article were that it's rubbish, the people who wrote it seem to have a hold on the publishers and a large proportion of them are now lapsed. Yes, so they don't have to hear it or sing it and get paid royalties. Proof indeed that that we do not live in a just world. And then to cap it all bullying types try to make you sing it.

Monday 15 August 2011

Sunday 14 August 2011

Looking at the sky

One of my many part-time hobbies is looking at the sky. The clouds have just parted to reveal a nearly full-moon, inky blue sky and dark clouds with illuminated edges, right here in SE London. Better than my favourite Queen of the Night (no need to go all coloratura on me,) backdrop from The Magic Flute. Amazing.

Yesterday we had beautiful pink clouds at sunset which changed colour as the time went on.

WYD 2011

Protect the Pope has the usual rehashed story about what a drain WYD will be on the Spanish economy ... yawn.

Over here at bara brith we* are into small, direct actions.

My contribution to Spain's problems?

Yesterday, I gave someone going to WYD some Euros to spend on ice creams.

*That's leutgeb, queen of bara brith.

Saturday 13 August 2011

The seal of confession

Some useful info here from Fr Tim.

I'm not a great one for wanting to know all the strictures binding on priests but I'm happy to know that this stuff has all been worked out and exists for the safety of penitents. Also, should some smarty pants decide to lay into me, I'll have a few more answers. Joking aside however, if the seal of confession is being attacked we should know quite how serious this is for priests and what sort of obbligations they are under.

Leaving aside the fact that an attack on the seal of confession is wrong, the idea of the change in the law in Ireland sounded completely unworkable, unless convicted paedophiles were to subsequently accuse a priest of not denouncing them to the state. 'I would only have committed (n-3) offenses had Fr X informed you immediately after I went to confession.' Shift the blame, why don't you. After all, in secular terms we are talking about a conversation between two people with no other witnesses. You saw someone walk into a confessional who was later convicted of a crime? Who knows what was said and why were you looking anyway?

Still just because something is wrong and ill-thought out does not mean that we are protected from it becoming law. The 1967 Abortion Act got onto the statute books as a private members bill (that's debated on a Friday with a pretty empty House of Commons,) and more than 10% of the population of the UK is now missing. James Preece had a link to this article in The New York Times, which, well, just read the whole thing and you'll see.

Any attacks on the sacraments and the priesthood are going to have far-reaching awful consequences.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Seeing the battlefields

Not in London, but in France.

Around a trip to a Baptism in Normandy, my parents and I visited the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, Pegasus Bridge and some of the D-Day beaches.

We went to Thiepval because in an idle bit of googling for Grandma's relatives after she died I turned up some information on one of her uncles. It was not news as such; we knew one of her uncles was killed in WWI, but this confirmed it was Uncle Mick and not Uncle Tom (as argued by her sister or was it Grandma, I can't remember.) Anyway, in my ignorance, I thought we would find one of those crosses with his name on it. Thiepval, though, is for the 72 000 British soldiers, killed July-September 1916, who have no known grave. Thanks to the person who put up a list of names of men who enlisted in North Clare, we were able to find his name on the memorial and the fact that he was awarded the Military Medal.

At Pegasus Bridge, we walked across the new bridge, visited the museum and were served our drinks in the cafe - the first house liberated on D-Day, by Mme Gondree, herself. Incidentally, the sign with Pegasus on it was put up on 26th June 1944, the day my father was born.

We stayed in the town behind Juno Beach (lots of Canadian monuments,) went to Arramanches to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour and then to Omaha Beach where the Americans have their memorial and cemetary containing the graves of 9 000 of their personnel. It's very beautiful, overlooking the sea and the Americans have an excellent museum. It was packed with people.

40 000 Allied Troops and 60 000 Germans died in the liberation of Normandy in addition to French civilian losses.

In between times, paramedic brother sent us texts about what he was up to - being ordered to wear his stab vest.... different times.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Kafka would have approved...

One of my favourite aspects of Radio 3 are the news bulletins. Everything happening out there in the world is very distant and really a distraction from music in general and R3 in particular.

Oodles ago a friend and I joked that a Prime Ministerial assassination would be reported as, 'The Rt Hon John Major [yes that long ago], the Prime Minister has been assassinated... Later on Radio 3 we continue our series of broadcasts of concerts given at this year's Edinburgh International Festival....'

Today, at the end of an item on the winding up of a government quango charged with winding up government quangos because it wasn't winding up government quangos after all, the continuity announcer said, 'Kafka would have approved.' Then it was back to the music.

Still, it's not all bad a live late night Prom tonight; The Tallis Scholars in an all Victoria programme.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Loss and Gain

which when I read it 20 years ago as a student was by John Henry Newman and is now by Blessed John Henry Newman.

It's interesting second time round for its descriptions of the Catholic liturgy.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

David Norris out of Irish Presidential race


I'm surprised he's in the Irish Senate, but then, lots of things surprise me.


A celebratory video

My sink has been unblocked.

Back story. Lee the plumber unblocked it last Monday and last Sat, I got home at lunch-time to discover blue water all over the kitchen, because the washing-machine drains out via the sink.

Lee's friend came back today and it turns out it wasn't acres of coffee grinds as I had imagined, plus all those roasting tins of roast dinner fat *ahem*, but a blue plastic thing the man who installed the kitchen happened to introduce to the system.

Fortunately, Lee is a friend of my brother, so I'm on 'mates' rates.'

Time for a celebratory load of washing!

Doesn't take much to make me happy.

Monday 1 August 2011

On Holidays

Photo by Clare.

After a very enjoyable sing yesterday, it's holiday time til September.

Doing musical things is great, but it does take it out of you. One of the great things about the EF Mass is that because there is no chitchat or funny extra things that can happen, it is actually less distracting to play and sing at than many OF Masses I have been at, even though there is a lot more to do.

I am a very big fan of the fact that the texts to be sung are laid down and there's a book with all the music in. Skippy time. Happy as I am to select the music for my orchestras at work to play, I've never understood how random lay people can choose music for Mass. Why should you have to have my taste imposed on you? Weird. Add into the mix that I personally remember music primarily and not text and you see that I'm not the best person for the job. But then if you get someone who is very wordy to do it, I often find the music painful. Much better to have the music laid down and know that centuries of people before you have sung the same stuff. Clears the mind.

Anyway in another excellent development in the story of 'How Catholics reclaimed their musical tradition,' here is James MacMillan on the new Newman Institute of Liturgical Music. See the post on July 31st on the blog bit.

I have a spade...

Saturday 30 July 2011

Reading the book in the place described

A while back I was reading Robert Hugh Benson's 'Come rack, come rope!' in the Starbucks next to St Paul's Cathedral. At that point in the book the characters were in the Cathedral lamenting how all the side altars and statues had been removed. Arguably, we are in an even worse state since the old catherdal burnt down.

We still have Amen Corner, Ave Maria Lane and Pater Noster Square named after the area where rosaries were made, so I have been told.

The other day I was reading Robert Hugh Benson's, 'Lord of the world,' in a cafe down the road from Westminster Cathedral when the book, you guessed it, described said cathedral.

It's like thinking of a piece of music and then turing on the radio and there it is.

Reading the riot act or staring into the middle distance

Fr Ray has a post about meeting things in the public square, so to speak.

Round these parts you don't see in the street what what he describes, though blogwise I do not have far to look to find the equivalent.

What does happen to me is that various conversations arise in which I have the three options faced by teachers in the classroom continually.

Everything that happens in a classroom you either:-

condemn - by glaring, pointing, walking towards, raising voice a bit (OK A LOT), giving lines to, detentions to, sending out of the room...
condone - by doing nothing
or encourage, by praising, smiling, giving time to.....

And yes, by condoning you can encourage too. It's potentially the lazy one. In a good school one pupil doing something does nor cause an avalanche, elsewhere the whole place can blow in 30 seconds, or less. It's taken me years not to come down like a house of bricks on one boy who is stacking the contents of his pencil case up into some interesting creation at the end of an exam, on the basis that 25 others will be copying him in seconds, because by and large they aren't going to be. It's like having teaching PTSD. During what my Mum terms, les annees noires, my worst imaginings were exceeded on so many occasions that I'm a little oversensitised.

But this wasn't about work, as such, because the classroom is fine and I have my script for things that I'm not going to have, off pat. Anything immoral, generally comes under, 'Don't make personal comments,' and thankfully not much along those lines occurs, so it never gets to the point where further action has to be taken.

It was about the other times, when I have to be around and a conversation takes a wrong turn and there we are, everyone else is laughing and I'm not, again.

An example. Someone got married and was describing the day. Someone asked after the best man and the bride said, 'Ask X, she knows all about him.' Peels of laughter. X was sitting right there and had clearly spent the night with the best man. I didn't laugh and then it appeared that I was being judgemental, or disapproving, or something bad. Actually, X had recently split up with her fiance and I was thinking how sad she must have been and how awful you must feel to end up (undoubtedly getting very drunk,) and then doing that at a wedding, or indeed at all and for it to be treated so lightly in public. My silence did not go unnoticed and X made a sheepish comment and I mumbled something, whist wishing to be anywhere else.

And so it goes on.

The general culture is not slipping away, what I encounter, is gone.

I was chatting to a guy in an orchestra a while back and he started talking about the scientologists and I was about to make a flippant comment about aliens and spaceships when he said that he'd been into one of their bookshops and got chatting to the people there. He was just at a bit of a loss, really.

And my final anecdote on the, not believing something and believing anything line of thinking, is about the coloured water advert by my local station. Different bottles in different colours called Neuro this and that. Sounds so scientific and plausible and the bottles are a pleasing shape. Have they been blind tested, I wonder? OK have now read a review of them (reading reviews of soft drinks... saddo...,) and they appear to contain a lot of caffeine, apart, presumably, from the one that's supposed to make you go to sleep. I have an interest in coloured water because finding something nice, without being cloyingly sweet, to drink when driving is one of life's many little battles. The bottles look nice. If they were glass my sister-in-law would be saving them up as table decorations.

Anyway, back to the threeway choice. Number 3 is discounted because this is a situation where something bad is being said. This just leaves 1 and 2 as options. I think, contrary to Michael Voris, that 2 does have an effect. People always notice when you do not agree with them, but if you say nothing they will not get why. In Britain out and out contradiction does not go down well. That said, I find that in certain circles, conversations are so nuanced that I don't really know what's going on at all. I need Neuroclear.

Unfortunately, by putting on my invisibility coat and pretending I'm not there, as the conversation goes on around me, Catholicism can retreat a little further from the possibl range of responses and it becomes a little bit more acceptable to depart from Catholic moral teaching. Or maybe X thought better of it. She did look pretty sheepish.

Wednesday 27 July 2011


A most productive day.

Went to Mass, bumped into Annie Elizabeth who took me back to her place to show me a good time with her quartet of smaller people.

I had a lovely time and was suitably tooled up with an improving book to read and lots of apples and blackberries. I shall start the former later and the latter have been turned into a couple of crumbles and a whole pile of jam.

Blessed Titus Brandsma

A handy biography here.

His final act?

He gave his rosary to the doctor who killed him in Dachau.

If you thought you just saw this on that blog, you did. Three blogs on one dashboard is one too many. Next you'll be reading what I'm singing on Sunday. They keep changing the order in which they appear...

Monday 25 July 2011

Happy Feast of St James

The thurible in action here.

Sunday 24 July 2011

MacMillan Mass Review

here on The Chant Cafe.

You sang it in a field in the Midlands - unless you are Scottish, in which case you rightfully got in first.

They mention the publisher thing. Well he is James MacMillan and he is published by B&H. Stravinsky et al are not free. 6 weeks though. The CMAA Journal travels much faster.

During the course of the review, Randolph Nichols mentions my least favourite melodo-harmonic car crash (not that I'm a fan of car crashes, you understand,)of any piece ever, the C# at the beginning of On Eagle's Wings.

He describes it thus

"Kyrie" is the simplest movement and uses the same harmonic and melodic material as the "Agnus Dei". Being the most immediately accessible of the Mass movements, it would seem wise to introduce these two movements first. The opening harmony (a sustained A minor chord underlying a melody line beginning on f-sharp) is reminiscent of the first chord of "On Eagles’ Wings" with it’s non-chord c-sharp resolving to the subdominant chord tone b. In this case, however, the f-sharp resolves a half-step upward and the singer has the advantage of hearing it introduced by the organ. Thus there should be none of the painful intonation offenses that so frequently plague that OEW c-sharp. At the final “Lord have mercy” there is an engaging harmonic turn that momentarily establishes the subdominant “a” as the tonic ending; the organ steps in, however, to reaffirm "e" as the true tonal center.

An F# over an A min chord does not bring OEW to mind to me because that C# has to be plucked from nowhere and forms a tritone with the root of the chord. It is deeply offensive. A pungent dissonance. The guy who taught me fugue-writing would torture anyone writing non-invertible counterpoint by playing the offending bar over and over for everyone to tut over. What would he make of such a crime?

It's a shame also that the terms of reference have to be crummy hymns we avoid playing, though it is funny to read it set down on The Chant Cafe. I would be totally disparaging if my A Level pupils started comparing their set works with crummy contemporary pop stuff, so why do that with James MacMillan? Incidentally, he is an A Level set work composer for OCR... along with Vivaldi and Berlioz, but I'm teaching different ones, alas.

The Colours of Day tetrachord.

The OEW C#.

Naming and shaming.

A day at St Cecilia's

I knew Clare would do the biz with the photos.


What is not visible in the photos is the expressions on the sisters faces whilst Martina and Jenny were giving us all a little concert, quite amazing. You had to be there. You know the sort of thing.

We are very fortunate indeed to spend and hour with Sister Bernadette and to sing with her.

Singing loudly, singing softly

Yesterday, I sang extremely quietly, trying to match exactly what I was listening to.

Today, I sang extremely loudly to provide a steer as to how it should go, whilst playing at the same time.

Quite how you get some of the former into the latter, I have some ideas about, but not a quick fix.


Thursday 21 July 2011

Poor Banished Children - finished it

It's good. I don't usually find myself sitting on stations pleased that there is a bit of a wait, or quite so slow to move my bag out of people's way - can't you see I'm reading? - but this was a goody. Certainly, more gory that my usual choices fictionwise, but definitely a goody.

Travelling again

to Brighton tomorrow and the IOW on Sat.