Sunday, 30 November 2008

Letters to The Times

or as they say in Ireland, 'The London Times.'

These follow on from someone writing a letter along the lines of, 'the vast majority of Catholics want a new Archbishop of Westminster just like the one I want.' Well, she didn't ask me and no, I don't want one who is going to change the teaching of the Church and how could that be possible anyway. However, these were quite encouraging from yesterday.

Sir, I am sure the Pope already has clear ideas about who and what he wants for the Roman Catholic Church in England (letter, Nov 26). It is strange how his detractors invoke the subject of liturgy as the first objection, quickly followed by clerical celibacy and a series of subjects that have been a running sore, as they see it, since Vatican II.
I look forward to more of what the Pope has already delivered. Perhaps some are disappointed that the former inquisitor chose love and hope as his underpinning gospel rather than the iron conservatism that many imaged he would impose. He has a genuine and generous understanding of the real issues within the Church. The past 30 years have been far from easy and no one knows this better than he.
Forms of worship, which belong to all time, not just the present, may not please everyone. But there is a new mood of stability at last within the Church instead of the endless wrangling of malcontents who have caused such harm since the 1960s. Their day is done.
The new Archbishop of Wesminster, whoever he turns out to be, has to be a real leader for English (and Welsh) Catholics, and, by definition, a Pope’s man. The true “vast majority” of Catholics here will heartily welcome that.
Jeremy Boot

Sir, The present Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, is generally regarded as one of the architects of the reforms of Vatican II, so it is rather surprising that anyone, not to mention the “vast majority” of Roman Catholics, should not want any new Archbishop of Westminster to be in the same mould as Benedict XVI, when they are said to be supporters of the same reforms. Those in favour of an end to the celibacy of priests and women as priests, neither of which was advocated in Vatican II, could consider joining the Lutheran Church. To list the Christian virtues as in opposition to the “mould” of the present Pope shows a degree of confusion not consistent with any Christian church teaching.
Bernard Cooper
Didcot, Oxon
Sir, Dr Inman apparently wants the Catholic Church to become the Anglican Church. God preserve us from the problems experienced by the latter.
Jim Johnston

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant....

I am, etc

Yours etc, Leutgeb.

The Choir

... a programme on BBC Radio 3 and presented by Aled Jones, ( who my Mum thinks looks like one of my brothers, but that's another story...) this week is all about music at the London and Birmingham Oratories.

Jackie will be happy. Fr Guy Nicholls has been interviewed and now the London Oratory are singing the 'Sancta Maria' movement from the end of the Monteverdi Vespers. My sort of vocal music. The only words are, 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis' lots of time in a cantus firmus kinda way with lots of instrumental twiddles.

Catch it on BBC iplayer for the next week.

Like Paulinus, I like to think that my licence fee pays for Radio 3, The Proms and 5 Orchestras spread across the UK and the BBC Singers. The BBC is the biggest employer of musicians in the UK. They are the only musicians who get sick pay, pensions etc rather than being paid per rehearsal, recording session and per concert on a free lance basis.

So not all bad.

Mind you that last episode of 'Apparitions' on Thurs was so explicit that I switched off. Ugh. That's apart from the usual plotting and spying that Caridinals with foreign, but unplacable accents were getting up to. Think Jesuits in Elizabethan England. Pity they didn't do a bit more plotting.

In the same episode, a nun listening in on someone in confession. Probability in real life? A big fat zero? Or am I just hopelessly naive?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Had a most frustrating rehearsal at lunch-time due to another department having some talk or other over run into lunch time. Thus 26/49 people didn't show, including all of the good people. What a waste of time. All par for the course. Concerts just happen after all. Not much point telling the dept in question, because non-musicians just do not have a clue about the knock on effect weeks later and don't usually care too much. They don't have to do bits of their job in front of audiences of 600 either. Grr

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Whither Weather?

Mike, the conductor, arrived fine and so we got through all the work needed for the concert on Friday. every time I looked out of the window the weather had changed so it was mean that we all left in a downpour.

Friday concerts are well, cheaper to put on mainly and have the strange effect of making you suddenly wonder how this bit goes. Lots of playing consists of remembering that there is a pull back or an accel at some point and not doing something stupid (ie audibly wrong.) That's not to say you don't make an effort to play it all well, but Vaughan Williams 5 starts with a string chord and then two horns (pastoral, English Countryside, cowpat music....), so we'd be stupid not to make sure we didn't split those notes. Despite the reputation of the horn, my experience is sheer bloodymindedness and 120% concentration with a sprinkling of practice usually mean that I don't mess up those bits. It's the entries you don't concentrate on properly that go by the way. Pros split notes, so I'm allowed a few now and then.


Did my missing a train by 30 seconds trick and was left at a station that is usually shut on Sun (therefore no coffee, no bookshop to nosy through, nothing,) for half an hour waiting for the next one. Sigh. All those 30 minutes spent waiting for the next train. Days of my life.


Freezing, rain, sleet, snow stuff in the Midlands.

Bad news because the conductor of the orchestra I'm playing in in 3 hours time lives in Shropshire.

Hope he's safe.

8.34 Now it's actually snowing......and settling. Oh dear.

Christmas Presents

Fr Z has a very timely article about monastic presents.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Sacred Music

Just typed that as Scared Music, often the case for various reasons, a Freudian Slap, no less.

Anyway, someone has lent me some back issues and I thought I'd better get reading so I went for the Autumn 2007 one as it's the one after July 2007 and we all know what happened then.

Lots of interesting nuggets

On Cantors not using microphones - it's grating having one voice dominating. Also, totally unnatural. You are standing facing one way and your voice is coming out of speakers all round the place. How weird. Another strain on the poor congregation. Electronically amplified sound - yuck. I say leave people alone and let's have a bit of quiet. Everywhere else is so noisy. (Maybe the hearing aid system could pick up the sound, broadcast it to hearing aids and not send it through speakers round the Church. )

Very interesting article on 'The freedom to love our heritage' by Jeffrey Tucker, rather than going on about the bad old days and being smug about how clever we all are now. Basically, the Motu Proprio saying the 'olen days' was good and they are not to be blanked out as, 'back then.' A friend of mine once took issue with a speaker at a school INSET course, when he started along the lines of how simpleton people were in the past. My friend pointed out that he was talking about his parents, who were married for over 40 years and sacrificed much so that their local Church and Catholic School was built. Muppets clearly.

Interesting stuff on the Ward Method. Sounds great, when do I get to teach it? Never seen her compared to Orff and Kodaly. She's right up there. Kodaly is groovy, if you are into Hungarian Folk Songs, but in a Catholic set up plainsong would be the ideal.

Meantime, I notice on Fr Z's blog that someone else has ishoos with the tritone at the start of 'On Eagles Wings.' We must form a club.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

On mobile phones

Yesterday, one of the younger boys (11) told me that someone was calling his phone anonymously repeatedly (....bullying alarm bells ringing...what did you do????? Fingers of blame pointing in my direction. Yeh yeh, point away.)

Having asked him if this was going on much in his form and whether their form tutor knew,(Phew, not me this time and it would have to be serious before I bothered her. For teachers hate being dumped on particularly the, 'Did you know x is bullying y?' type situation.)

I had a brain wave.

'If he phones again, pass the thing to me and I'll answer it. He'll get the shock of his life and won't do it again.' We had a chuckle and that little crisis passed.

'Hello Miss Leutgeb speaking, press 1 for 200 lines, 2 for a detention and 3 for a one way ticket to the Second Master's Office.'

That's pretty tame as stuff goes, though not for our 11 year old friend at that moment.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Fr Z on pheasants

Personally, I find running them over the easiest method and one hit my car on the A5 with quite a bang in October. I hope it made it to someone's table.

Fr Z on a more American approach.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

An Award.

Mac has awarded me an award.

Not bad for someone who spends 99% of blogging time reading blogs and 1% writing on her blog.

A pretty award too.
As usual, lots of the blogs I like have been awarded the award too.
But there are still lots of good ones left so;
Maggie Clitherow of Don't know what I'm doing
Faccio la mamma at Antagonistic Pots and Pans
Madame E at * Be kind, she's having a tough time, just now.
Fr Z - I like the recent excursions into Advent customs and breakfast.
plus everyone else on my blog roll.

A musical week

This week we had the big concert at school. All passed off well.

The next night I went to a concert with a colleague and heard a whole pile of Mozart which was very good. Other people were taking the strain and I like that particular conductor a lot.

Spent the next two days very tired. Playing in concerts is one thing, conducting requires a great deal more concentration and energy. Either you are listening intently for any signs that the music is about to be derailed or you are listening intently because the sound is very good and you are trying to make sure that is stays that way. The next day I'm still as high as a kite on adrenalin and totally exhausted. A strange feeling.

Then on Friday I tried out Bach Brandenburg 3 on my Wunderkinderorchestrer and they did good. Bach is the best composer and it was a great start to the day and worth getting the 7.11am train for.

Tomorrow a day of rehearsing for an orchestra that I play in. Good stuff. We play have lunch in a pub, play some more and then finish. Can't complain.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Remembrance Requiem

Today being Remembrance Sunday we had a Requiem for those fallen in the two world wars.

The Choir, plus stalwart organist plus a few extras, did a fantastic job on the Chants of the Requiem Mass, as did the Altar Servers with all their duties. On a musical level only hearing the Dies Irae, that melody so often quoted by composers, is a great thrill. Then I read the translation of the words. We're not messing around here. But I find the very stark warnings comforting because there's no hedging about, no platitudes, no euphemisms. No denial of death.

Conversation over coffee afterwards concentrated on what exactly was under the black material covering the catafalque (sp?). A few of us ( and not just children) suggested that we would have taken a peak had it not been for the fact that we were in Church and all.

Earlier on in the week we Music Teachers plus Choir bulked up the singing at a local Remembrance event. A poignant moment occurred when two very elderly veterans, one of whom seemed only just able to walk unaided went to plant their crosses. The MC pointed out a step which they negotiated fine, but when one went to place his cross, his glasses fell off and neither were able to pick them up, so the MC had to rush over to save the day and escort them back to their places. It was touch and go whether either would fall and in front of around 300 people. As Grandma once said to me, 'Don't get old.'

Friday, 7 November 2008


With my select readership and statmeter, it's fun to see where people are. This week has been very cosmopolitan with my first visitor from Iceland. Hallo! Also Finland, two today from Holland as well as Argentina and Bulgaria.

Someone googled 'Martin Shaw as a Priest with a very iffy beard,' today in Russian and ended up here.

Apart bara brith, Stockhausen's Mother crops up quite a bit - the cure for post natal depression in Nazi Germany being euthanasia and you wonder why he wrote music for helicopters and said he came from the planet Sirius....

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Green pen at the ready

I lived in Tunbridge Wells for a few years, or should I say Royal Tunbridge Wells, so have a green pen and having seen the trailer for BBC's 'Apparitions' am set for some correspondence.

Mac and I do like the Church they use on the telly. So that's where all the historic furnishings and statues went. Martin Shaw as a Priest with a very iffy beard. Much better in 'The Professionals.' Where will the car chases be?

I caught then end of 'Silent Witness' just now and what a load of jumbled up nonsense with the usual uptight mad Christian types. Too tired to go through it all. To bed. Alistair Darling's eyebrows are staring out from the News.....


Auntie Joanna has all about the Towards Advent event at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Sat 8th Nov. I went two years ago and it was excellent. I bought a book on plainchant from a Benedictine, some bees wax candles and an olive wood crib for my Mum made in Bethlehem. I spent a long time at that stall with several other people, because each crib was different and very beautiful, so there were just lots of people smiling and gazing at cribs really.

Then there was the CTS, Faith and various other stalls, plus the all important tea and buns area. I succeeded in missing all the talks then, but I'm sure they were very good as will be the ones on Sat.

No, I'm not one of those people who thinks everything exciting happens in London.

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life up in Glasgow have their Advent Bazaar on Dec 6th, also featuring tea and buns.... Too far alas to get to from down here.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Association of Catholics in Education

I received the following today and was asked to publicise it ......

Bernadette Lally of the Teresian Association and Fr Peter Edwards of St Joseph's Parish in New Malden have started an initiative - Association of Catholics in Education to support Catholic teachers, governors and all Catholics working in education whether in private, state schools or colleges - their last meeting was attended by Fr Luis Ruscillo who spoke on "Fit for Mission? Catholic Schools" Their next meeting is on 20th November 2008 at Pastoral Centre at St Joseph's, New Malden 7.30pm when Paul Stubbings, Deputy Headteacher of The Cardinal Vaughan School will be speaking on "Promoting Catholic Values in Education the talk will be followed by an open forum discussion with a panel of local educationalists the meeting is open in particular to staff and governors from Catholic schools as well as Catholics working in non Catholic schools.

This what Bernadette and Fr Peter say about their aims:

While there are well established and effective national associations for other Catholic professionals there is little available for Catholics in the education sector. The aims and objectives of the Guilds for Catholic Nurses, Doctors etc include: promoting their spiritual well-being of members, inspiring the whole practice of the profession within Catholic principles; providing Catholic ethical/moral guidance to members in an increasingly secular environment; drawing members together for mutual support, occasional lectures, networking, days of recollection, etc. We hope that this recently founded Association of Catholics in Education will cover all of that, and additionally provide a much-needed forum to share and develop ideas, encourage each other spiritually, and discuss current issues affecting Catholics whether involved in Church, state or private education.
"catholic schools and faith-based education benefit civilsociety by helping young people grow into responsible citizens." (Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent letter on education

Sunday, 2 November 2008

All Saints

To OLR for Mass, Vespers and Benediction, with a generous lunch break including homemade lasagne. Fr Z rightly highlights this important part of the day on Fr Tim's description. Yum.

Update. Drum roll, Maestro (Maestra?)
Mac's version ..... I thought that the 'nasty scare' might have been to do with the lettuce, but no.
The bar opened after all.