Friday, 15 July 2011

The Advantages of Being Ill...

Ok,  I really can't think of many, but during my latest enforced period of rest caused by a very nasty respiratory infection - not chest infection as first thought, (though those people who've heard me over the last few days would be hard-pressed to tell the difference) - I've had time to update this blog with something other than the latest dates for Compline.

The 15th Anniversary Mass was a huge success, despite only having the full choir available on the morning. It gets incredibly frustrating when organising rehearsals in advance to find that half the choir don't turn up at the allotted time... It's fair enough when people let us know that they can't be at a rehearsal in good time, but to not turn up at all without any reason is very poor, especially when others have driven considerable distances to be there. Mini-rant over, but I do have one other minor pet peeve. This was a Festive Mass, with music to match, and all we got at the end was the Ferial Ite Missa Est - those that have heard it, know the one I mean. I do wish Fr. Stephen would learn some of the others as they're really not difficult at all! Back to the Mass which went almost without a hitch, the only minor blemish was me starting the Offertory Proper off too high. I've listened to it since though and it doesn't sound half as bad as I feared... We also received the following accolade from an Anglican member of the congregation who remarked "our services are usually so much better than yours, but that was very good and I really enjoyed it!"

The following day saw a really truncated Sung EF Mass in York, Rossini Propers (yes, Mulier Fortis & Leutgeb, I'm not afraid to use them every now & then!) with Missa de Angelis + Credo III - President of Una Voce International please note! ;-) We we officially told at this Mass that Fr. Stephen is leaving York to become a parish priest in the north-east of the Diocese. Good for him, but a loss for us, as he's a rare breed, a priest who has an exceptionally good singing voice. He'd tipped me off the week before up in Darlington with a not-so-subtle hint that me 'might' be moving, so the news was no surprise to me! We'd both visited the Anglo-Catholic church of S. James the Great, he to preach, and me to witness what is essentially one of the best Ordinary Form Liturgies (The parish effectively use the Roman Rite taken straight out of the 1970 Missal) in North/North-East England. Couple this with some great music sung by a super choir with fine congregational hymns, and you have a sublime experience. If only the Ordinary Form could be like this in other parts of the country! I have only one minor quibble, and that would be to get the Celebrant to use the High Altar and celebrate ad orientem, but that's just my personal preference. :-) The Parish Festive Lunch (it being Pentecost) was excellent as well, prepared by catering students at nearby Darlington College.

Back to Rudgate news. Last Saturday saw our first Gregorian Chant Workshop at St. Mary's Bishophill. Although we had 20 initially registering, we ended up with 13, which is still a good number as I'd have been delighted with 10! The workshop was led by Mark Burghagen with a little assistance from me as we went on. Poor Mark was also full of cold, so to everyone who did come along, Thank you for putting up with Mark's sniffles and me coughing and wheezing my way through the afternoon! We hope to run another one in October.

Looking further ahead to the remainder of the year, we have the Annual Founders' Day Requiem at Barnard Castle a week on Saturday. I hope I'm fit enough to sing for that, as I've  already missed out on the chance to sing at Markenfield Hall this week, and it's looking more than likely that I'll miss out on the launch of the Heritage Singers' latest CD tomorrow evening which I was really looking forward to too. :-( I've been hoping to meet them for some time as they perform a very similar service to Rudgate albeit it seems exclusively C of E liturgies. We're much more ecumenical! ;-) I have already met their Director, who is now a friend - not just on Facebook! - but it would have been a good opportunity to meet the rest of the choir as well. Oh well... One of these days when our dates don't clash, I may be able to get along to one of their services. Check them out on YouTube, they're really worth listening too.

Later in the year, in September, by which time this infection should have well and truly gone, we hope to return to Brinkburn for the Solemn High Mass there. The following week, I'll be in Oxford singing for the Priestly Ordination of a friend of mine, who has since achieved world-wide cyberspace fame as a photo-blogging Dominican! I can claim to know him before he was famous... ;-) What I'm really looking forward too, is being directed by James MacMillan, who is coming not only because he also knows fr Lawrence, but has written a piece of music for the occasion & is coming (from Berlin I believe) to direct the piece himself. There are other choral goodies in the Ordination music which I'm really looking forward to.

October, apart from hopefully organising our 2nd Chant Workshop of the year, sees me reprise the role of Concert Promoter for Eastern-European Talent, something last done nearly 20 years ago. This time it's not a choir I'm promoting, but an exceptionally talented Ukrainian artist by the name of Dmytro Hub'yak (pronounced 'Hoobyak') He is a bandura player whose ability has been recognised by the Ukrainian nation who have given him the honour of 'Merited Artiste of Ukraine' and he's not even 30 yet! I've already got him one booking in York and am looking at other venues in Yorkshire whilst my contact in Ukraine (who's ex-pat half Brit/half Uke) is looking at Ukrainian clubs in the Midlands so that we can try and make this a viable tour. It goes without saying that if you know of any venue that would like to host such a remarkable young man, then do please get in touch. :-)

Also in October sees the return of the choral Orthodox Liturgies at Ampleforth. Vespers on 28th and Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on Sat 29th. A remarkable venture as you have Orthodox Liturgy in Catholic Abbey directed by one of its monks, sung by a choir largely of Anglicans. More singers, of any denomination or none will be be made very welcome! This leads me to the next major Rudgate choral event after Brinkburn, when we hope to sing yet another Orthodox Liturgy to the setting composed by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. I've painstakingly transliterated this from the public domain edition written in Cyrillic text only, which is just as well, as I discovered errors in the original text. All we need now, are enough singers to make it a viable proposition for some time in November. A Choral Byzantine-Rite Liturgy was one of the services I wanted us to do in our Anniversary Year, so all you singers out there, whether you've sung with us already or not, if you're interested, do please get in touch, either by commenting here or via the link to our website. The venue will most likely be Bishophill Jnr, as will the Carol Service in December. Better start planning for that then, as before you know it, December will be upon us...

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