Monday 30 January 2012

Worth reading

Vienna Valve Horns


The latest fashion in horn mouthpieces is to have a gold plated rim.  I'm sticking to my favourite nickel silver Paxman 4B.  I have two, one I got with my Christmas money when I was 13 and the end that goes into the horn has worn nearly square, which probably explains why it doesn't fit into my Alex (103). That and the fact that the tapers are different.

And you thought it was just organists who were all anoraky about such things.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Happy Birthday

to St Mary Magdalen's Choir in Brighton.  Four Today.

Clare, maestra di cappella, is a chant buddy in our schola and when not popping to the IOW for the next installment at St Cecilia's, we exchange texts on chant and stuff.

Clare is the first person I met who was able to produce a Liber from her handbag in a Central London pub.
Now that's magic!

Monday 23 January 2012

Playing the numbers game

According to twitter - see it does have its uses - there were 250k or 500k Pro-Lifers in Washington DC for The March for Life, but not much of a squeak from the MSM.

So the bara brith challenge, which Pro-Life or Catholic event have you been to which got little or no media attention or where the number of people present was mysteriously reduced by a factor of 10 or 100?

You know how it goes, 'Hundreds of people gathered to hear Urbi et Orbi in St Peter's Square...' you see the pics and know that the square is pretty full and that it can hold 100 000 people.  Are some of those people in fact cardboard cut outs or is CTV spending our Peter's Pence contributions on fancy CGI technology to copy and paste people all round the piazza.  I think we should be told.

Good day
10 Catholics =  1 person who goes along with the Zeitgeist.

Bad day
100 Catholics = 1 person who goes along with the Zeitgeist

I get to play first.

WYD 2000, 2.1 million people (I'm one of the Celts dodging sunstroke with factor 60 and a big hat, never mind non angli sed angeli, what about the sun burn?) and David Wiley, BBC Correspondent, was not in the Eternal City. 

BTW we need WYD in GB because no-one outside the Church will ever hear about it otherwise.

UPDATE No James, I don't think big events are a solution to problems either. ( I have no comment to make on the diocesan youth stuff in southwark because I'm not sure I've ever had much (any?) contact with them, so nothing to say.) Problems being things like endemic lapsation etc.  and I did hear some dodgy things on WYD, from an American Bishop, as it goes. But, having an invasion of Catholics from around the world would do the country good and be a good thing for parishes when they needed to come and stay.  I'll put a few people up.

The same thing is true with music.  These grand events where you get members of professional orchestras working in your school are very beneficial and exciting for pupils, but they have to go hand in hand with your instrumental lesson, daily practice and going to orchestral rehearsals.

Aurora Borealis

Always fancied seeing the northern lights.

Three years studying in the NE.

No northern lights.  sniff.

UPDATE Matthaeus has the link to our most northerly blogging friends on Papa Stronsay.
Bet they have little bother with light pollution.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Brahms Symphonies

I switched on my car radio this pm and was reminded that the oft neglected no 3 is my favourite by a country mile.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Barenboim, showing that elbows are not a prerequisite for conducting a 40 minute symphony - looks tiring to me.

3,4,2,1 in order of preference.

Actually, come to think of it, it is nearly a tie with 4.

Can't stand the opening of 1.  That banging timp does my head in. SHUT UP.

See what I mean.  If you play the horn, that can be right behind your head, smacking away.  To be fair it picks up considerably after that.

Horn players get their own back by overblowing the solo in the last movement employing a nasty thin brassy sound to strip the paint off the back wall of the concert hall.  Yuck, and Brahms wrote so well for the instrument. It's always the first note... About as good as it gets and an Alex 103.

Two always makes me think of youth orchestras and you have to memorise the solo in the 2nd movement because it's horn in H.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Friday 20 January 2012

Brandenburg 3

It's all about threes.

Three violins, three violas (although I had to play all three parts this am, cheers guys!), three VCs and a theme, the nugget of which, has three notes.

Mm, wonder what JSB was thinking about.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Having the lines


Me X!
X But I'm not doing anything.
Me Exactly.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Blogging, Twittering and Spatting

Over here on, 'the blog so inoffensive no-one reads it,' I choose not to get into public spats, (thus far.)

That maybe seems like indifference, but since there's no free pass on taking responsibility for how things are, I'm not, as it goes, indifferent.

Electronic media are dangerous, because what you may say when you are venting or ranting in private ( and I'm an expert on that,) are stored forever.  At work we are reminded about this with reference to data protection.  Any email in which a boy or parent is mentioned can be called up by the parents.

What is clear is that some people want a more amenable user friendly Catholicism, some want a no compromise do what it says on the tin Catholicism and some people follow one whilst thinking they are doing the other.  It makes people confused.  A week ago I had a conversation with a close relative where she had a go at an article in the Torygraph by Damian Thompson where she was so angry she was going to write to complain, on the basis that it was so rude and Catholics shouldn't wash their dirty linen in public.  Of course she doesn't read blogs so the context was non-existent and I didn't do too much to explain it all. This week she complained about a lack of leadership.  Power vacuum anyone?  And no I don't blame the Pope because he can't be everywhere dealing with everything.  There's one Pope and 1 billion Catholics in the Church Militant and he is 85.

Shepherds look after their flock and round people up etc and it sometimes feels like the sheep have to find their own way and end up at each others throats. That's before we get into any wolves in sheep's clothing, plain old wolves, shepherds who let sheep wander off and don't mend the fences and any other increasingly lame sounding bit of imagery that you can dream up.  I don't need shepherds to comment on the politics of the day because I live in the world, read the papers and vote, thanks.  That's easy.  I'm talking about the type of comments along the lines of public sector cuts hurt poor people, whilst certain other bits of legislation that strike at the heart of the family, for example, get Oked or nodded through on the basis of clear undertakings, consultation periods etc.  If it's not in writing, it's not there. That's the approach I take to HW.  If you don't give me the work, I don't believe it exists. We need shepherds who get down to the nitty gritty of the faith, which means going to Mass on Sunday, going to Confession and saying your prayers. 

Answers on a post card as to how we solve all this.  I'm going for the three above solutions, which fit every situation, plus supporting folks who are doing good stuff, but it's not exactly a quick whizz bang fix.  It's a bit like trying to improve music in the Church.  No point complaining, you have to get your ears dirty and do it.  Saying its rubbish won't fix anything.  And doing it doesn't fix it quickly either.  That's my micro offfering.

If the correct order of things is that there are shepherds, then it is never going to work right having the sheep taking that role.

Why exactly can't the shepherds speak on the telly?  What is wrong with their seminary education which my grandparent's were paying for in the collections of yesteryear?

Lay people, I thought, were supposed to do their jobs as Catholics in the world, whatever they might be.  That isn't getting easier.

Man up please.  I'd like to be proud of my shepherds.

To Prague

I'm off to Prague soon on a school trip so I thought I'd read a bit and bought Vaclav Havel's Memoirs.  Two days later he died, sadly. 

I can't say I begin to understand all the political parties etc in the post-Communist political landscape, but he is a very entertaining writer and the book mixes an interview, with memos to his staff and musings on a stay in Washington DC.

In there with deliberating about whether they join NATO or the EU first and continual instructions about when and how his advisers should give feed back on proposed speeches, is a cri de coeur concerning Olga the ironing lady.  Get her paid properly, from the gold reserves if necessary, but stop bothering him for no-one irons his shirts better.  The bit where they find a bomb-proof telext machine in a secret room in Prague Castle and get the code man to send a message to Gorby is good too.

Next up is Mendelssohn is on the Roof, a novel which starts with a German soldier being told to take down the statue of Felix from the roof of the Music conservatoire in Prague.  He goes for the one with the biggest nose, which turns out to be Wagner - good call.  The writer survived the occupation by faking his own suicide and then going into hiding.  I'm not expecting a cheery read.

Monday 16 January 2012

Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma Meeting

on Saturday 18th Feb at OLR Blackfen.

Starts at 10.30 am with Mass and then carries on with a talk, lunch etc.

We all had a very good day last time.

Can't make it myself because I am at a Chanting Day elsewhere - la, la, but hope everyone else has a good time.

Go on, don't be shy, just go.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Pick a time

any time.

Eager to cook the folks a Sunday meal before the term fills up with weekend rehearsals, I invited any of them who were free round today.

Since my parents were going out for a walk, I checked with my Mum what time she'd like to eat.

6 o'clock? ( Like some random, notional tea-time.)

She laughed because we always eat at 6 o'clock.

You can have breakfast any time.  But lunch is at 1 and tea is at 6.

And now I must attend to the veg.

Saturday 14 January 2012

The Iron Lady

Went for a trip to the flicks with my parents yesterday.

After the Irish film certification came up on the screen, which was, given the subject of the film, ironic, we were plunged into the life of Baroness Thatcher and our recent political history.

The fact that she has Alzheimers is central to the manner in which the story is told and I thought that it was very sympathetic to her and the condition in general and I'm not a Thatcher fan. As to whether it should have been made whilst she is still alive, well I wouldn't have wanted it if it were about a member of my family. I don't know what Carol Thatcher's take on it is.  All very moving, but this is her family right now. Fortunatley, my mother was not PM for 11 years.  (She would have made a better job of it. Goes without saying....)

Politically it went some way to explaining her confrontational style.  It doesn't make me want to read any biographies just yet,but it gave a different gloss to various events. 

Lots of good bits which I won't spoil for you.

Worth seeing. May put your blood pressure up if the Miners' Strike and mass unemployment in the 80s is a touchy subject for you.

Dennis was a sweety.  Just don't think about the investments in S Africa.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Mozart Requiem

I'll try that again.

I don't like the film Amadeus because it is not historically accurate and Mozart's music clearly shows that he wasn't a moron, but there are certain bits which I do like, including this passage.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions

A while back, via the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, I signed up to emails from the CCN.

All was very quiet until yesterday when I got two. Someone must have resolved to send more emails.

Anyway, one of them was entitled  and I paraphrase freely because I'm about to go to bed, 'Catholic parishes enriched by immigrant/migrant Catholics.'

Since we share the most important things with anyone from anywhere in the world who is a Catholic, even (especially?)the people who are most aggravating, by dint of the fact that they are trying to live by the same things as us and believe the same things as us, I believe, and I have many experiences that verify this, that I have more in common with people from, well think of somewhere very different from SE London... there, if they are Catholics.

You can see that in Candy's choir.  They recently added a French lady.  Martina's response... 'We don't have anyone French, yet.' 

The joke was that the last time I sang with them I had never been to Mass in the new English translation and despite being one of the very few native English speakers, I was the one reading very hard.  Everyone else? Totally there.

Me 'And also with your spirit.' Or something.
Et cum spiritu tuo.


Time to dust down the viola for a bit of Bach.

I also have the Cello Suites for horn, for which an aqualung is advised and you have to do fancy glissandi to catch all the notes of the quadruple stops, but they are still pretty playable.

A fave from Suite 2

You will be staggered I am sure to know that I don't play it that fast, mostly, even if it is a courante.  I never could run that fast.

A cut out and keep guide

to Fridays is what I need.

Having thought I would do something meaty for the schola on Friday, I bailed out in Morrisons and bought salmon instead  Can't be too careful.

So anyone got the definitive guide on what to eat on a Friday in 2012?

In the meantime I stick on the fish.

Monday 9 January 2012

Epiphany pics

The Gregorian Chant Club Epiphany Party at St James' Spanish Place just as it was kicking off. (They party well. They sing well.)

Full match report.

The wall next to my front door.

Friday 6 January 2012

Happy Epiphany

Thursday 5 January 2012

New Year's Day at St Cecilia's

After Mass on Sunday it was time for another trip to Ryde.

My young companion and I arrived in rain to find the heating snuggly on and some choccies awaiting us, artistically arranged with some fir twigs and pine cones. Unseen hands at work as ususal.

After Vespers, it was time to go to our favourite eatery for a roast dinner and then Compline.

As one who is always keen for an early night, but who on way too many occasions to count and for any number of reasons will wake up at between 2-4am for some serious hours of worrying,  Compline is the thing.   A whole office devoted to telling you to go to bed, go to sleep and not to chatter - probably especially internally.

You (singular, whoever you are,) will not be surprised to know that the crib in the church is particularly beautiful. There were lots of beautiful decorations and even the grill in the big parlour had fir branches and sparkly bits on it.

The next day it was time for Mass and then the lesson with Sr Bernadette. This time, where to put the accent in Latin words and why and how these work together in sentences and how you can see that the accent may have shifted over time by looking at the chant.

We also got to sing most of the Propers for Epiphany, which should prove useful later in the week, when the others join me in Blackfen.

As usual, the weather on Monday was perfect and quite the best you could hope for in early Jan, so as the light failed, we walked down the pier and marvelled at the colours in the sky.

The next day a big storm and Wightlink was suspended.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Der Freischutz - Horntastic

Now on R3, sung in ...French from the 2011 Proms.

One of this year's resolutions is to just buy those tickets the moment they can be applied for rather than read the Proms guide, note mentally the best concerts, do nothing and then listen on the radio...  Not always the case, but I have missed a few great nights.

Vacuums n all

Yes these days do provide a great opportunity for hoovering behind things, oiling the kitchen worktops ( having first given them the once over with my Dad's electric sander, ) and doing some gardening.

Also though the talk of chalk on Friday reminds me of the oft remarked factoid that nature abhors a vacuum and that when those things went out, in crept all sorts of nonsense.  I won't even begin to tell, you the tales of the things I have seen.

All I will say is that one of the first EF Masses that I happened on was Candlemas and that all was confirmed as the real deal when no instructions whatever were given regarding anything to do with candles and the MC wafted a sleeve to indicate to the congregation that it was indeed candle time.

The year of the lampshade

When I was in the Coop the other day, they were already on to the next party opportunity.  Not content with putting out the cream eggs on 27th, they were going on about Chinese New Year and the year of the.. can't remember, because I don't celebrate it and I don't even like most of the animals.

Anyway, after three and a half years of those paper lampshades you get when you are a student because they cost practically nothing and anyway you will only be in the house til the end of the academic year, all over my house,  I've decided that this will be the year that I dress my light bulbs in a more grown up way.

Sunday 1 January 2012