Jesuit Poets

I am belatedly posting about a superb address I heard given at a mass to celebrate the Fourth Centenary of the (then) English Province of the Society of Jesus, held in Farm Street Church, London on 21 January 2023. The mass was celebrated by Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and the sermon given by Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the British Province. The music at the mass included the world premiere of James MacMillan’s “Precious in the sight of the Lord” (with MacMillan in the congregation).

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In a recent post I mentioned that English has no good word for the process reverse to that of abstraction. Writing that reminded me of a long and fascinating conversation in about 2002 on this very issue with my former colleague, Trevor Bench-Capon, who sadly passed on this past week (on Monday 20 May 2024).

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Music performance and morphic resonance

Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance posits the existence (in some metaphysical or conceptual sense) of morphic forms which arise when living beings act in the world. In this theory, these forms are strengthened with each repetition of the action, and create a force field (a morphic field) which can be drawn upon by subsequent beings repeating the same act. The theory predicts that doing the same thing should become easier over time, even when the entities doing the acting are different, in different locations or not not even alive at the same time. Morphic resonance, if it exists (whatever that may mean) is a form of action at a distance and action through time. I have been fascinated by this theory since first reading Sheldrake’s book about it 36 years ago.

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On quitting

Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) to Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) in Billions, Season 7, Episode 6, minute 36:20:

Sometimes quitting isn’t capitulation. Sometimes it shows grit and wisdom.”

Concert Concat 2024

This post is one in a sequence which lists (mostly) live music I have heard, as best memory allows. I write to have a record of my musical experiences and these entries are intended as postcards from me to my future self. Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • London Symphony Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda performing Prokofiev’s 7th Symphony, at the Barbican, London, on Wednesday 19 June 2024.
  • Elias Quartet and Heath Quartet in a concert of Felix Mendelssohn’s chamber music, including the Octet, at Wigmore Hall, London, Tuesday 18 June 2024.
  • The London Orlando Orchestra under Claudia Jablonski with soloists Alexander Doronin (piano) and Volodymyr Bykhun (trumpet) in a concert in St Cyprian’s Church, Clarence Gate, London on Sunday 16 June 2024. The programme:
    • Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano and Trumpet
    • Schubert: Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”

    About 60 people attended this free concert in the beautiful St Cyprian’s Anglican church, near to Regent’s Park. The Church has a compact Brentwood grand piano. The Orlando Orchestra comprises mostly student musicians and I understand was only founded by Ms Jablonski last year. The performance was absolutely stunning, and both works filled the church. The Schubert was superb, tightly played and serious, and profoundly moving. Ms Jablonski is a conductor to watch out for.

    I have not ever heard the Shostakovich better played than this, and indeed this sublime performance joins my short list of transcendent musical experiences, one for the ages. The performances by the soloists, Mr Doronin and Mr Bykhun, were both very confident and assured. There is a lot of fun in this concerto and that feeling was evident here: everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. The ending is a humorous race to the finish, and even includes some honky-tonk piano and two glissandos. What a joyous and uplifting experience this was.

    This performance was in great contrast to a very dour version of the same concerto that I heard once at the Barbican back in 2013.

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On ambition

Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) in Billions (Season 7, Episode 2, 11:45):

If a fella doesn’t have his eye on something, how’s he gonna know where he’s going?”

Loud Living in Cambridge

I was most fortunate this week to hear Jan Lisiecki in an outstanding recital at the West Road Concert Hall, Department of Music, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, on 26 February 2024, in a concert sponsored by Camerata Musica Cambridge. West Road Hall is a fine modern hall with very nice acoustics, and was fully packed. The hall management turned off the lights over the audience (as in a theatre), which should happen more often. Perhaps that darkness helped create the atmosphere of great seriousness this performance had. I later learnt that this recital was the twelfth time in the series that Mr Lisiecki had played the Preludes program.

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Oratory at Nudgee

This is a short post to record for history a very fine speech by Mr Oscar Roati, School Captain of St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Brisbane, Australia, at the Investiture Ceremony for the 2024 Senior Class on 24 January 2024. Apparently, his father Alex Roati was a Vice-Captain and his two brothers were both Captains of Nudgee. The speech can be seen here, from minute 41:20.

Vale: Peter Schickele (1935-2024)

The composer and musician Peter Schickele, manager of that lesser-known last son of JS Bach, PDQ Bach, has just died. He was heavily influenced by Spike Jones, whose music was a strong presence in my household growing up. With the death last year of Barry Humphries, it feels like the 1950s may now just have ended.

From his obituary in The New York Times, Mr Schickele is quoted as having said in an interview with the Times in 2015:

“Years ago I used to watch Victor Borge, still concertizing in his 80s. And it never occurred to me that I would do the same. I’m amazed that P.D.Q. has gone on for 50 years.

It just goes to show: Some people never learn.”

Owning the day

Australian chef and restaurateur Bill Granger (1969-2023) died on Christmas Day of cancer. Although he did not invent avocado on toast, he certainly popularized the breakfast dish through his restaurants in Sydney, London and elsewhere. In an interview with the AFR earlier this year, he is reported to have said:

I grew up in Melbourne, and when I moved to Sydney, I was shocked by its morning life. People were on the beach, walking through the park, owning the day. It felt very Australian, very optimistic. I think avocado on toast is optimistic.”