Monday 12 May 2014


As a counter to the mash up of nonsense apparently on the telly on Saturday night, the choir propose Eurochant.

We will sing Regina Caeli jubila.

The programme that the European Broadcasting Union put out of Christmas music from a variety of countries, broadcast on a Sunday before Christmas and in the UK on R3 is worth listening to.

We join our colleagues on Lithuanian radio [ murmuring in Lithuanian ] where the blah blah chamber choir of Vilnius are singing in some cathedral with a very resonant acoustic.

The Lithuanian voices continue murmuring, some applause as the conductor comes on, a few last minute coughs and off we go.

If anyone looks a bit out of the ordinary, who is to know? It's radio.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Orfeo by Richard Powers

Oodles of years ago, but in reality probably only ten, I read Time of our Singing, enjoyed it a very great deal, lent it to a friend and forgot all about it.

Then I saw a new novel with a musical name and whistled it up on the kindle app.

If you like musical novels, then this in The Guardian review will please you

Powers has not wholly solved the problem of writing about music without resort to technical language. To be fair, it is probably insoluble. The novel's evocations of musical pleasure will work best for readers who understand what, for example, suspensions or "strident minor sixths" are; but a lot of the musical description accomplishes impressively imagistic things with the most familiar possible terminology: names of instruments, "crescendo", the kinds of spatial metaphor with which music is always already riddled. ("The sopranos chase each other up a cosmic staircase, driven higher by the lurching vibraphones.") Cleverly, Powers makes sure to use as many vocal analogies as possible, since everybody knows what the human voice does: its verbs are as familiar to Lady Gaga fans as to creators of squeaky-door opera.

Great descriptions of Mozart 41, Kindertotenlieder and The Quartet for the End of Time, mixed in with what I read as a comprehensive ( and witty) trashing of the excesses of the 60s.

Saturday 3 May 2014

In other news

I've just had a lovely lovely day at a First Communion Mass and a fantastic party.

Great company.
Delicious food.
Fantastic weather.
Beautiful garden.

Just in case you think I'm a mardy misanthrope and altogether closet miserable person.


No one reads blogs

Well not this one and I have the stats to prove it.

An interesting comment on Loving it from someone who claims that those important people who go to meetings and make 'policy' do not now consider how their decisions will be played out on blogs.

That sounds like the a comment by the 'chaplain' of the Catholic secondary school where I was the Head of Music, who wanted the school's feast day Mass in the school hall rather than the church 5 mins down the road because her liturgical ideas we somewhat out there. A church a constricting location for Mass. Right...

Of course most of the Catholic constituency is beyond their reach anyway; they would be the millions of lapsed.

As to the bloggers many are in the world doing various important things - bringing up children, looking after sick parents, that sort of thing, invisible on the interweb.

Other invisible activities that carry on even when you break all the interweb everywhere are the stoic Catholics like me who will go to Mass every Sunday however awful. I can now attend a Mass and tune out completely everything that is being said, sung and done. ( I am lucky in that I don't have to do that very often, but know that if I had to, I would all the time.) I will forget to put money in various collections. ( My diocese allows ACTA to meet in Amigo Hall, so they don't need my money. ) I will turn out for the relics of Ste Thérèse of Lisieux however little publicity. I will turn up at Cofton park for the Beatification Mass, even when I have to leave at midnight and sit in a rainy field from before dawn. Lots of other things that really are invisible. Actions speak louder than words.

The reason St John Fisher and St Charles Borromeo are outstanding saints is because of what they did, who they are and because they stand in stark relief compared to their contemporaries.

Whilst Deacon Nick has been blogging, lots of other things have been happening. In five years, I have provided the music for over 300 EF Masses.
The parish have learnt another five ordinaries. Lots of other people have done lots of other things.

In his letters from prison, Blessed Titus Brandsma describes how he divides his day up into a monastic t/t. He just carried on his Carmelite life.

We should be under no illusions that within the company of Catholics we will be treated well. In my experience - that is a lifetime of going to Mass, 14 years a pupil in Catholic education, and 12 years as a teacher, that is precisely where you will have people at you all the time. No wonder it's so hard to get anything done. (Aside from my lovely choir and a few others, you try doing anything musical in the Catholic Church. Watch the queue of people forming to bash you over and over and over.) All whilst telling you how well we treat each other. Really? Not compared to where I have worked for nearly a decade. Not compared to orchestras I am in. I have a clearly defined role. I do it. I have authority over some matters. I use it. I defer to the decisions of others where they exercise authority. The allegedly hierarchical Catholic Church has people in positions of authority who do not use it when they ought and then when other people step into the vacuum seek to close them down. Some people really need to get out into the outside world.