Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Future Dates

Our 'appointments diary' for the rest of the year is filling up quite nicely! In addition to our now monthly Masses in York, we've been invited to sing for the following services so far...

31st July 12pm. St Mary's Church, Barnard Castle
Annual Founders' Day Requiem

11th September 12pm. Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland
Annual High Mass

1st October 7.30pm. St Theresa's Church, Sheffield
Solemn High Mass [EF]

3rd October 11.00am St Theresa's Church, Sheffield
Solemn Mass [Latin, OF]

[Both these Masses are part of a triduum of Masses for the Golden Jubilee of the consecration of the

14th November 3.00pm. Holy Souls' Scunthorpe
Solemn Requiem Mass [Remembrance Sunday]
The music - Victoria à 6 was confirmed in November last year when we sang it during the Octave of All Souls.

20th December 7.30pm. St Mary's, Bishophill Jnr, York
Our Annual Carol Service.

There's also the church of St Marie, Halifax to fit in somewhere, and another Orthodox Divine Liturgy, but these will probably have to wait until 2011, more of which later as it will be our 15th Anniversary year!

Suggestions for the Carol Service most welcome. We'll see how many we can actually incorporate. :-)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Resurrecting Tradition - A Man for All Seasons

I've been to another concert this evening, with a slight difference. It was free, with a retiring collection for a very deserving charity. The choir 'Resurrecting Tradition' was a group of students from the University of York supported by Cassoc, the Catholic Students' Society, though by no means exclusively Catholic. [A bit like us in a way, but a lot younger!] Indeed, the concert took place in a Methodist church, where Nic, the conductor, is the organist. The choir - dare I say not all experienced singers, but full of enthusiasm[ :-) ], took us on a musical journey based around the Church year interspersed with Readings from the Bible and concluding with a couple of fun secular pieces. There was very little in the programme that I didn't know, which added to my enjoyment of the concert. They deserve HUGE credit for tackling this programme and singing  a cappella, especially in not the most friendly of acoustics. (The temperature inside the church was stifling to say the least!) The two solo pieces were great as well.

We need to show our support for such initiatives as this, and I'm pleased that several people came & not just from the University. Otherwise choral music will be relegated to concerts sung by professional & aspiring to be professional choirs - at a price. You'll rarely hear it in church liturgically [where it's supposed to be] except perhaps in major Cathedrals & Parish churches which are able to fund it.

I'm very much looking forward to the next time they sing. Details will be posted here when I find out!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

London Revisited

This time last week, I was back in London again. I've actually invested in an Oyster Card, since my visits are becoming much more frequent, to save the hassle of paying up front for day Travel tickets! Anyway, my visit this time was to attend the annual CIEL UK Mass and Conference, as I'd heard that James MacMillan was one of the speakers. A good account of the days proceedings can be found here. What struck me about the Mass though was that despite being informed some time before that the Mass Ordinary had been chosen specifically to encourage the congregation to sing, it, (Missa cum jubilo) was sung in such a way as to positively discourage such activity. We were even given the music, but that was a fat lot of good because there was no indication as to when we should have been singing! A rare black mark for the Oratory! If the congregation were going to be excluded in this way, we might as well have had a full polyphonic Mass. Sigh....

That said, the Mass itself was marvellous, despite the 11th hour adjustment to accommodate the Full Proper of the Mass for Ember Saturday in Whitsun week. Full credit to Anthony and the rest of the CIEL officials for organising this and the following conference.

After the conference & Benediction in the Little Oratory, I got the opportunity to meet and chat at length with Dr MacMillan. What a gentleman! It is a pleasure to talk to someone, justifiably famous who puts you at ease and even lets you discuss your own musical activities - such as they are! It's reassuring to know that his own church choir in Glasgow [how many other eminent composers/conductors direct their own parish church choir?] struggles from time to time to attract a fair balance of voices. We are definitely in very good company then! The sheer contrast with being able to talk to such a distinguished composer in such a manner compares very favourably with my experiences with members of a certain liturgical group, one of whose members made me feel like something my sisters dog had deposited - and this while talking about a Diocesan Director of music whom we both knew. It was a case of 'I am a liturgical superstar, and you are nobody' I can still remember the occasion quite vividly. It was in the catholic cathedral in Newcastle after a 'Choir' Festival in which most of the music bore no resemblance to anything like Choral Music which would be familiar to most singers. However, I digress....

The following day my host and I ventured into Camden to visit the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of All Saints for their Patronal Feast Day. After the Pontifical Liturgy, we were treated to a home made BBQ cooked in the traditional Greek manner. For £5, it must have represented the best value Sunday Lunch anywhere in London that day! I shall compare London with Leeds on Monday evening, as I've been invited  to another one there courtesy of the Greek Community & Parish of the Three Hierarchs.

Following my first visit to [& curry in] Brick Lane and a quick boat ride on the Thames, I reluctantly returned home, but not before putting some more credit on my Oyster Card in anticipation of the next visit....

I'm now going to explore the back catalogue of James MacMillan's recordings here.... :-)