Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 31


My low C has appeared loud and clear!

Hodie apparuit and all that.

For those those who don't know, I'm not talking about the C in the bass clef - I'm talking about the C that's a fifth BELOW the bottom line of the bass clef. I'm a Basso Profondo (or Contrabass/Basso Profundo/Basse Noble/Octavist) trying to stretch his range downwards!


Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 26


Have been up to eyes in work this past month.

  • acting in a travelling show for children - a production sponsored by Health Promotion Board, to teach children about Osteoporosis and the importance of calcium and how to develop strong bones. It's the sort of show where you have a character named Aladdin and a genie that comes out of a milk bottle. It's not exactly high art. Actually, to be honest, it's artistically highly dubious and pretty crap as theatre. On the other hand, it's $90 a show so that's not half bad... call it prostitution - it pays the bills.

  • Have been fencing more (and losing weight, hurrah!) - Maestro Jeff keeps telling me I use the point of my sabre a lot more than the average sabre fencer.. 'that's a typical épée move' and all that. It drives my opponents up the wall! I think it's the rapier background...

  • My back hurts. It started with the neck and shoulders over a month ago - on and off. Now the lower back has joined in the chorus. I've tried various pillows and mattresses of varying hardness - but very little relief was afforded me. Finally, yesterday, I think I may have figured it out. The allergy specialist I'm seeing for my chronic hives pointed out that aches and pains are a typical withdrawal symptom for people who have been on long-term steroids and then start cutting down. AHA.

    Meanwhile, in other news, I'm having an exorasson (or riassa or rasson) made - for only $60! I'm also writing a play, attempting to do some translation work for filthy lucre, trying to learn my contrabass part for Trubachev's Divine Liturgy for Male Voices which I'm recording in October. Yes, I'm still working on making that low C louder and more resonant.

    Oh, and I think I like someone :)

  • Two Links from Dappled Things

    What Makes People Gay? - The debate has always been that it was either all in the child's upbringing or all in the genes. But what if it's something else?

    Where St Matthew might be buried - monastery found?

    - both links from Fr Jim Tucker.

    Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 22

    Is recorded classical music too cheap?

    Full story here. - a corking good read!

    Crusader Nabbed By Michigan Cops

    Medieval sword, mallet, armor no match for ye olde Taser - Full story here.

    Manor Park?

    Oy, KO6ZAP - does THIS look familiar?

    Technical Support!

    This is truly hilarious - link from Angela.

    Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 16

    Latinisations in the East

    Christopher: But these things you call Latinisations have been around in the Ukrainian Catholic Church for hundreds of years!

    Me: Yup - more than long enough. They've outstayed their welcome and ought to go home!

    Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 14


    From comments on the Summa Contra Mundum blog:

    A: Oh, clapping isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's out of place in a liturgy.
    B: What about when clapping is part of the music...
    A: When clapping is part of the music ...Run!

    Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 13

    I'm God?

    Take the quiz: "Which Holy Grail Character Are You?"

    Every time I try to talk to someone it's 'sorry this' and 'forgive me that' and 'I'm not worthy'. It's like those miserable Psalms-- they're so depressing. Now, knock it off!

    Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 9

    Two Links from Andrij

    Consultants to the Japanese Transport Ministry? - the Russian actually says 'Chinese Transport Ministry', heh.

    Fun at the Office! - Time to raid the office supplies cabinet...

    Sushi Fights Back!

    This is great - a hungry octopus and a unwary diver!

    - from Ben.

    From Maestro Peter

    Maestro Peter Verdon, my fencing instructor in London, just sent me the following text message (that's SMS for you singaporeans):

    Picture this gentlemen! I've been dashing through central London in a black cab whilst everyone sleeps! Flown across the Carpathian mountains and I'm now currently...

    ... Dashing east across Ukraine to Kharkov in a beat up taxi that should've been in a museum 50 years ago! All this to deliver a poem, a kiss and a ring! :-) .....

    ... Cyrano de Bergerac would be proud! :-)

    Ah yes. You see what sort of gallant heroes and gentlemen I hang around?

    I'm Ireland?

    You're Ireland!
    Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this makes you intriguing.  You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice.  You're good with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato.  You really don't like snakes.
    Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

    Via Novus Medioaevo

    Between Bans and Subsidies

    Fr Jim Tucker bring up an important point:
    To be against something doesn't necessarily mean one should want it banned; to be in favor of something doesn't necessarily mean one should want it to be publicly funded. Independent Country posts on this important point that many people miss.
    The article continues:

    So people equate Bush's refusal of federal spending on stem cell research with a ban on stem cell research. Then they discuss the merits of stem cell research, assuming that if the majority agrees that it is a good thing, they have a right to tax not only themselves, but also minority dissenters, to fund it. To me, this is jaw-dropping absurdity. How can people think like this? Why can't we have stem cell research remain legal, but not force the taxpayers to fund it? This is so frickin' obvious. Pepsi-cola is legal, but we don't grant vouchers to people who want to purchase it. I often think, "What the hell is wrong with you people?"

    Other examples where this comes into play: abortion, gay marriage, Intelligent Design curriculum in public schools, to name a few. In each case we pretend that these things warrant the attention of the federal government at all, when the federal government's own constitution tells us otherwise: the federal government has no legitimate jurisdiction over any of these issues.

    If the Bible was Blogged

    I know the Bible was not blogged. The publishing technologies were different back then. But what if it was? What technologies would be used? What kind of blogs would the authors create for their unique messages? Full story here.

    Apologies to whomever I got this link from - I can't remember who you are!

    Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 8

    First Diocese-Approved Tridentine Masses In Singapore

    Note: this is a purely personal perspective on the event, hence the 'I did this and that' tone - it is *not* at all meant as an objective (much less offical) report.

    So a few weeks ago, news reached Singapore that Fr Duncan Wong, FSSP, was passing through town and wanted to say mass at a local church. Never mind that he didn't need permission from the local bishop to say mass, it was sought out of courtesy and surprisingly, approval obtained.

    Then came the fiasco of trying to find a church in which to have this mass - most priests and parishes were distinctly unfriendly. Then unexpectedly, a church was found. A private sung mass with people invited by word of mouth.

    I got called in to lend some assistance exactly a week before the event - to loan them my russian cassock (they were THAT short of cassocks and weren't about to ask the SSPX). I discovered at the last minute that I didn't have it with me in Singapore, having left it in London - so I turned up at the rehearsal to let them know. I was promptly roped in to stand in for the priest at the rehearsal for the servers. I was handed a missal to read/sing the priest's parts from, and the look on the MC's face when I said I didn't need it and began to recite and sing from memory the priest's bits at the beginning of mass.

    Most of the servers had never seen an old-rite mass, never mind served at it. There were only two rehearsals, of which only one had someone singing and playing the part of the priest. By the way, that was me. *BLUSH*) While many Catholic/Orthodox boys have play-acted priest and saying/singing Mass/Liturgy in their childhood, I suspect very few ever got the chance to do it in a real church, in the Sung Mass form, with 8 altarboys assisting, and a live choir to sing the responses. It was great fun, I have to say.

    After this rehearsal of servers, I was informed that the schola hadn't yet been formed, so I turned up at the choir rehearsal on Monday evening to see what I could do. The choir consisted of some 20 folk who sing the Missa de Angelis (mass VIII) once a month at a new-rite mess. When the rehearsal ended and all they'd done were the responses, Salve Regina, Asperges and two hymns, I rightly surmised that these guys weren't going to be learning the propers.

    'Oh, since you can read neums, how about we pick a few guys and you can teach them to read neums and the chant for the two masses?' Somehow, I saw this coming. Historical sources mention how in the fifth and sixth centuries, Rome often imported chanters from Constantinople and the East - looks like it was happening all over again! Out of the 4 members of the schola- only two read neums (Gregorian notation) with any fluency prior to this. Two had never sung or seen the old rite and only one had more than a passing familiarity with it. Two practices of less than 2 hours each had to suffice to teach them neums and the music.

    A church that'd never had the old rite celebrated in it before.

    A mad rush to finda suitable thurible (censer), incense (I brought some lovely Greek rose incense from Mt Athos), cassocks (they would've borrowed my russian cassock had it been in Singapore) and cottas, candlesticks (IKEA turned out the source of our big six)...

    I spent nearly two days polishing up the base of an antique 19th C altar crucifix thrown out from King's College London a few years ago - it was so heavily tarnished that it required a few hours of soaking in lemon juice to even begin to get the brown oxide. Norman helped repair the shaft of the crucifix (it was thrown out after having been declared unrepairable). Mike polished the crucifix with lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and various other tasty things (he confessed he got the recipe off the web). It shone like gold. I've never seen it look so good - the 4 Evangelists on the arms of the cross on the front, and the 4 Latin doctors on the rear. Didn't get used in the end - not tall enough, I was informed. Oh well.

    Kenny, of course, was Thurifer and spent all his time fretting that he might trip and burn down the church or forget a rubric or make a mistake.

    Much mad rushing about like the proverbial headless chickens, worrying whether the schola could learn the music in time, whether the servers would mess up the service, whether anything else could go wrong. We didn't even know how many people would come - if any at all.

    The event got announced in a blog the day before the first mass.

    Amazingly enough, from this chaos emerged order.

    The servers were perfect- they knew what they were doing, and were reverent and dignified. Kenny and Mike were as professional as could be - they looked as if they'd been serving the old rite for years. Norman too, was excellent - pity as a Torchbearer he didn't have as much to do. Next time he'll be singing, I hope. Norman has just informed me that it was his first time serving any rite. He believes this makes him the only RC altar server who has only ever served the Tridentine Mass (outside of the SSPX that is).

    The schola didn't do too badly, I thought. One or another of us would occasionally misread an interval in the Gregorian notation and throw the rest off, but we started and ended all together.

    A few people who attend the SSPX chapel said our schola was far better than the group that sing at the SSPX chapel. I believe it, as I sang with them for 3 years!

    Norman insists I did a great job with the schola and that he was moved to tears when we began the Introit at both masses. He says 'Given such limited rehearsal time, the singers did a great job with the difficult chants - I was moved to tears at times. Not only was it beautiful, it was sublime.' I think he's overreacting, but I'm flattered nonetheless - we did put in a lot of work for this.

    Norman blogged about the event here, and Kenny did likewise with pictures! Here's one of them:

    from left: Kenny of the Holy Right Big Toe of St Peter, Edward of some particular Eastern Rite, Norman of the Holy Footstool of Christ, Fr Duncan Wong F.S.S.P., Jenson the soon-to-be-novice and Michael of the Sacred Strand of Hair from Moses' Beard. We joked about nicknaming Jenson 'Of the Holy Foreskin of Christ' but thought better of it afterwards.

    More from Kenny here, as well as from Mike!

    A pious lady of some age, who'd been suffering under the new religious climate, from the RC parish I was baptised and confirmed at (St Ignatius') was in tears beneath her dainty lace veil - she came over to hug every member of the schola. She was so affected that she couldn't speak coherently, except to purse her lips and nod her head, muttering 'so beautiful... oh it's so beautiful'. That, for me, was better than any eloquent praise or thanks. Norman mentioned something similar in his post.

    We got blogged about at In Illo Tempore and New Liturgical Movement- let's see where else we get mentioned in the days to come!

    A Lovely Lot For Sixpence

    One day Lowder found the choirboys of St. Barnabas filling their pockets with stones and preparing to bombard a sandwichman who carried a Protestant sandwich board. "You must not hurt that unhappy man," said Charles, "it would be very wrong; it would not, however, be wrong to obscure the words he is carrying. Throw the stones away, and there is sixpence to buy rotten eggs with." Now, it was the year of the Great Exhibition, and Prince Albert had brought in the reign of plenty. Rotten eggs were very, very cheap that year, and you could get a lovely lot for sixpence. Consequently, the sandwich-board was successfully veiled in greenish yellow, and the Protestant Party complained to the Bishop. The Bishop was secretly rather amused and in private talked of Lowder's "ovation," but publicly he was very indignant and suspended Lowder for six weeks.

    - from here.

    Still Think Vatican II Was A Good Thing?

    Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 7

    I'm Aragorn?

    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    Not bad at all, but not what I was expecting. I'd have thought I was prissy enough to be Legolas though.

    Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 6

    A Full Evening

    Spent today polishing the base of an antique 19th C altar crucifix (with the 4 Evangelists on the front and the 4 Latin Doctors on the rear) salvaged from King's College London when they were throwing it out. Brasso and lemon juice.

    Spent the evening cantoring for Singapore's first diocese-approved Tridentine (i.e. Old Latin-rite) Mass since the liturgical deforms of the 1960s. Not only was it the first mass, but it was a nice solemn Missa Cantata (Sung Mass), and most of the altar servers have never attended the Tridentine rite, much less served for it (in any form). They did splendidly, I have to say. The schola (led by yours truly) was in top form (not bad considering we only started rehearsing 3 days ago) in spite of a few flubs here and there - these guys learned to read 4-line chant notation JUST THIS TUESDAY!

    Then went to a party at Keegan Kang's house. His housemate Christian Lee was there too. It was a sort of media and theatre (and naturally film and TV too) people party. Flirty, boozy, cheery and slightly druggy (oops did I say that), but great fun.

    I've been on a detoxing programme for about 6 weeks now, but with the amount of smoking, drinking and suchlike (let's call it retoxing) from last night, I highly suspect we're back to square one.

    Cantoring at another Tridentine mass tomorrow, whee!

    Random thought of the day: Mozart's music is sublime, and Haydn's cello concerti are to die for. A pity that we know from Mozart's catalogue of his own works that he wrote a cello concerto, but that it's lost.

    Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 5

    Had lunch today with Caleb Goh, musical-theatre actor and a dear friend whom I have not seen for something like 5 years. He's well, living in San Diego, getting work (which is difficult for Asians in the showbiz industry there) and pretty much settled with his partner. It was lovely catching up over sushi - we really must see each other more often than this.

    Afterwards, I had the blissful delight of an afternoon nap - few things can be more relaxing than falling asleep to the sound of Mozart piano sonatas.

    This is turning out to be a beautiful summer - everything's going smoothly.

    Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 2

    Bach will make you gay

    This must explain me:
    By now, most of you have probably heard of Zach, the gay teenager whose blog was somehow discovered and who has been receiving a lot of attention since his parents sent him to Straight Camp. A NyTimes article describes the story, and one little detail caught my eye.

    Excessive jewelry or stylish clothing from labels like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger are forbidden, and so is watching television, listening to secular music (even Bach) and reading unapproved books or magazines.

    Yeah, there's nothing like that crazy motherfucker Bach and his raw tribal counterpoint to make me want to do the nasty with other women.

    I checked the Times article against the camp rules (listed in various posts on Zach's blog), and sure enough:

    No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the client¹s and the parent's/guardian's control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian).

    Interesting. See, the thing is--if one can stop being hysterical over sexual practices that one finds distasteful long enough to stop foisting one's ignorant opinions on tender adolescents, one might have time to read and learn something about art and history.

    Bach, as it turns out, was maybe the most devout composer ever... Also, Bach was the music director of a huge church and much of what he wrote was explicity Christian. He spent the better part of a decade composing a new cantata every week to be sung at the church service, including such sinful works as, Jesu, nun sei gepreiset [Jesus, now be praised] and Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen [Beloved Jesus, my desire].
    - link from Vernon.