Friday, 19 September 2014

Blessed be GAAAAD

Cardinal Burke @ Vespers and Benediction at Brompton Oratory, whenever that was.

Then he swept past in a Cappa Magna on the way to the Altar dedicated to St Philip Neri.


I expect the best of everything.

From human charity, to sacrificial love to beautiful music.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

La Rentrée

Taught everyone now, so no more lessons that start with giving out books. :-)

We have a great app that uploads our timetables and class lists to our iPads. random pupil selector seems to be a hit with the boys, or at least a novelty.

This week our ensembles restart and each year, rather as with sports teams we have to get them to work together and turn them into orchestras, choirs and jazz bands.

Over the summer I did orchestral conducting bootcamp and so am looking forward to using what I learned. It was hard core, but a great week. The other 35 or so participants were all very interesting and there was plenty of camaraderie and funny stories, mixed in with standing on a rostrum and being publicly humiliated each day, by three tutors. And I got to play the horn a lot in the class orchestra, which was 20 of us plus two professional pianists.

Tomorrow I do the first full orchestra rehearsal which is always a bit crazy, trying to get 45 boys sat down ASAP, tuned and playing and I set out the chairs, stands and music in advance. Fortunately, the routine with any orchestra is identical, so once they can do it at school, they can do it anywhere in the world. I do feel I am the equivalent of an infant teacher, passing on those crucial skills like how to hold a pen and form letters. It's just I deal in making sure your bowing matches your section principal. How to follow a conductor, especially if you sit at the back and play something loud. And never playing an open E string unless the conductor explicitly asks for it. Which I don't as a rule. :-)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

August holidays and review of the year 2013-4

This was 2012-3.

We sang 60 EF Masses (Several big Feasts fell on a Sunday this year - Immaculate Conception, Candlemas & SS P&P, for example, which explains the lower total.)
2 OF
The Carol Service

We learnt:
Stabat Mater Sequence
Te laudamus
Anima Christi
Inviolata ave Maria
Lots more of the Propers for Candlemas
Audi benigne conditor
The office hymn for the Sacred Heart

In the Autumn, lots of Marian Feasts fell on a Sunday, so lots of Mass IX.
In the Summer, we sang lots of Mass IV.

We were paid a visit by some seminarians from L'Instituit de Bon Pasteur, who sang beautifully and came to our practice. We we also visited by our friends from Spanish Place on All Saints and paid them a return visit on Christ the King (OF).

We spent quite a lot of rehearsal time revising music from previous years and singing it better.

Thank you to everyone who sang.

The last Sunday we sing is 27th July, followed by our traditional August break.

There are sung Masses on Sat 2nd August and Friday 15th August.

We then bid Fr Finigan farewell with Mass on Wednesday 27th August at 7.30pm.

Sunday 31st August, Father's final Sunday in Blackfen, will also be a Missa Cantata.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gregorian Chant Hymns - initial responses

Gregorian Chant Hymns

Counter Cultural Father A brave soul, not averse to straying into the dangerous territory of the quilisma.

A detailed review from The Chant Café by Dr Jennifer Donelson.

CMAA Musica sacra forum

Schola Sanctae Scholasticae, incidentally, consists of the four of us who all run choirs in parishes and then sing together sometimes.

We spent two days in the summer of 2012 at St Cecilia's Abbey recording with various of the sisters under their choir mistress, with whom we have been studying for several years, and then did some more recordings in London that autumn.

Since then, one of us (not me) has knitted it all together into a website and done all the hard work, making sure everything that needs to be attributed is.

The idea is that all that basic basic stuff that you want everyone to know and have access to in every ordinary parish everywhere is here in a form that is accessible. All free.







It fills a gap and compliments my favourite chant resources.

Corpus Christi Watershed I like the fact that they print the Gloria Patri complete for every Introit.

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest<\a> - lovely edition of the Requiem Mass, for example.

GABC A wonderful tool if you want Propers, maybe even with some psalm tones. The advantage over the Rossini Propers is that it uses four line notation and you can choose the tone.

Office Hymns in nice editions
Society of St Bede.

Ordinaries and most other things
The Parish Book of Chant CMAA

The CMAA also have the Liber Usualis 1961, The Gregorian Missal Solesmes 1990 and an enormous amount of other stuff available as free PDF downloads.

There is a huge amount out there.

Our new website is ideal for people wanting to make their first steps in chant.

Gregorian Chant Hymns

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Gregorian Chant Hymns

Gregorian Chant Hymns has just gone live.

It is a resource for those pieces of Gregorian Chant that form the back bone of Catholic devotional life.

The site provides, text, notation, translations, recordings and the means by which one may produce booklets for use at home or in church.

It is entirely free.

If you are seeking to introduce chant back into your parish, it could be a very useful resource for you.

Congratulations and thank you to Dr Candy Bartoldus for several years of work producing it.

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.