[for more appropriate blogging related to yesterday’s beatification, read Joe-Mark.]

The director of the Capella Sistina looks to be one of those clerical appointments that are partly responsible for the cult of mediocrity reigning in Catholic music across Europe at least. Someone safely part of the clerical establishment, and does some music – ideal person for [insert potentially transformative-of-diocesan-music post here]. And then his clerical status trumps any musical card a lay person may bring to any discussion. A web of the diocesanly-approved develops under the authorising shadow of the clerical cloak, and pow! Stuck with the Authorized Version of what liturgical music “should” be, a version developed on some weird provincial reception of the hermeneutic of discontinuity and knowledge of liturgical music apparently limited in time and space. ( Well, that’s what it looks like from the pew, anyway.)

“You musicians are all just snobs”.  I appreciate that some folk like the sort of anodyne pious pap that featured yesterday (sometimes  rather better performed – I am thinking here of an ordination in a northern diocese a couple of years ago). Fair enough. I have no problem with it in itself. I adore tea, and I still use Lipton teabags. Foodies would die a little at every meal served in this house. I don’t think they’d demand we shift to shopping and cooking as they do. But it would be ridiculous to serve my cooking, or my suggestions, at a big dinner. Not being a foodie, I like to have my gastronomological limitations shown to me by folk who know more about food than I do. I’ll go home and continue to buy giant jars of mayonnaise and eat factory-made pate, but I’m happy to have once in my life eaten mozzarella  that was thirty six hours away from the buffalo udder.

It’s a bit like the portraits of the canonised that are hung on the facade of St Peter’s. You can’t have anything too drastic, because you don’t want to upset anyone.  But  neither do you put up something with a moving waterfall background. Pianticella thinks the hymn for bl. JP II is wonderful. I am all for it, and her liking it. But let’s not put her in charge of music at papal celebrations.

James O’Donnell to the Sistine choir!

Was I the only person thinking sadly of last September as another dose of mediterranean sacroschmalz was mediocrely dished up?

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