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La Donna Mobile

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May 17, 2005, 8:11:37 PM5/17/05
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I do not make a habit of going to Westminster Abbey. In fact, tonight
was the probably the second time in my life, the first since I moved to
London. Although their Dean's Yard is my office Emergency rendez-vous
point.

Not a person friendly place. I know my brother-in-law, not a violent
man, nearly clocked one of their Jobsworths for asking him to not to us
his camcorder. It wasn't the substance of the request, but the tone. He
had just paid out for two adults/two children to enter, with no signs
saying 'no photography' so when he was instructed rudely by a
Jobsworth to put the camera away, his reaction was 'No one speaks to me
like that'.

This evening I had a a £5 ticket, in the Quire Stalls, no view. Fine.

In the interval we make to go out. Some silly Jobsworth questions why we
want to go out; one woman suggests that she really doesn't want to be
treated like a caged animal. Jobsworth insinuates that if we go out we
might try and take over empty seats with a view. (I would have been
angry if they existed; I would have been willing to pay, but they were
all sold out).)

I say "I need a cigarette; without a cigarette I can go really quite
mad" Jobsworth gets scared and lets us out. Halfway down the aisle, a
woman turns to me and says "You know that man said 'Some people want to
have a _cigarette_ during the interval'!" (reminiscent of Lady
Bracknell's handbag). Yes, well, what of it? Some other people wanted to
pee.

I stood in the courtyard and was told to go out the gate. I checked I
would be allowed back in. When the bell sounded for the end of the
interval and I made to go in, another Jobsworth snootily said "Yes?" I
said I was going in. "To the concert?" he enquired with utter
condescension and snootiness. I felt like saying "Look, arsehole, I know
I am fifty years younger than you , and obviously quite the wrong
gender, and I'm wearing a fleece, and carrying a rucksack, but don't you
dare condescend to me like that." Instead I just glared. I had a suit
on, it wasn't like I really looked a student (perish the thought). (I
tempted to write, 'and I'm not young', but, frankly, that's irrelevant -
if someone aged 14, or 9, had paid to be at that concert, they
shouldn't be treated the way I was treated).

It made me quite angry. I'm going to be snooty. In the Quire Stalls (no
view) we didn't clap in between movements of Haydn's Nelson Mass, unlike
the corporate people in the £28 seats. I have never been treated with
such utter contempt by any venue in my entire life. People say that
Covent Garden is snooty; I have never experienced that - in fact, the
staff seem to like common people like me.

There are so many venues round London used for concerts, but the way we
were treated by the Jobsworths at Westminster Abbey was just appalling.
I don't know what their problem is; I'm tempted to say, fear of women,
but my b-in-l would disagree. I wonder just how much profit they got
from tonight's concert.

There weren't even any toilet facilities provided, which is scandalous.
I can hold it in, but I have not experienced multiple childbirths nor do
I have a prostate, ageing or otherwise, to give me trouble. But when I
rejoined my colleagues in the pub and went to the loo before ordering a
drink, they all laughed at me.

It was a damn good thing that the concert was gorgeous - my favourite
soprano, Carolyn Sampson, sounded lovely even from the Quire Stalls.

But it would take a lot to ever get me into Westminster Abbey again,
even despite the thrill of walking on the graves of some very great
musicians and some hero Prime Ministers (well, okay, Clement Attlee) and
also seeing a statue to the scientist Mr Joule, whose home town is my
home town.

It is the twenty first century, and it's about time these religious nuts
started to understand that we have paid money to be in their sacred
venue, and whilst they continue to treat middle-aged women with
contempt, they are demonstrating why so many people have rejected
Organised Religion.

Just as a final thing, the second half was Haydn's Nelson Mass. Four
soloists - S/M-S/T/B, and a choir - adult male voices, and male
children's voices.

Off hand, what was it written for?

I believe there is a great deal of cant about voices in church choirs.
Blind tests have shown over again that experts cannot differentiate
between choirs of boys, of girls, and of both on sound alone. I have
also read that church choirs should remain boys only to ensure a
sufficient supply of males to eventually provide the adult voices, which
is a good argument, but one with no musical basis, IMO.

I would have thought that such a Mass would have been written for adult
voices SATB, but will stand corrected if necessary. I think I would have
preferred SATB to Adult/Child, but I don't know how it was written.

--
http://www.madmusingsof.me.uk/weblog/
http://www.geraldine-curtis.me.uk/photoblog/

JAG...@aol.com

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May 17, 2005, 8:26:33 PM5/17/05
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La Donna Mobile wrote:
> a lot of crap. it would put a dead man to sleep. jag

Stephen Jay-Taylor

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May 17, 2005, 8:57:18 PM5/17/05
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It's fairly unusual for any of our ecclesiastical foundations to mount
programmes that actually necessitate an interval in the first place. The
usual fare at either of the Westminsters, or St. Paul's, is a monolithic
slab, like the Missa Solemnis, the Vespro della Beata Vergine, or the Verdi
and Berlioz requiems : you sit through it, it finishes, some clap, some
don't, and then you bugger off to attend to personal needs. It seems to me
that if they're going to function - and programme - more like conventional
concert halls, then it behoves them to offer a comparable level of service
commensurate with the limitations imposed by the buildings themselves.

Some years ago I went to hear Caballé sing the premiere performances of
Bizet's Prix-de-Rome cantata "Clovis et Clothilde", first in Soissons
Cathedral and subsequently in Saint Denis ( the burial church of the Kings
of France just north of the Paris périphérique.) At the former the entire
audience was fed in astonishing splendour, in the neighbouring mediaeval
refectory of the Abbatial church : at the latter ther were enormous marquees
erected in the grounds for refreshment purposes ; at both there were
colonnades of portakabin lavatories. (Montserrat was stuck outside in a
cramped caravan painted pink for the occasion and could scarcely stop
giggling the whole time she was out there, holding court.) Clearly, they
order these things better in France : no Puritan/Spartan frowning on the
pleasure principle thought appropriate here.

SJT, who'll be at the Verdi Requiem at St. Paul's ON BASTILLE DAY,
hohohohoho


Leonard Tillman

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May 18, 2005, 12:19:23 AM5/18/05
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The spaces between finkLey's ears.

Leonard Tillman

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May 18, 2005, 12:23:53 AM5/18/05
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From: JAG...@aol.com

>La Donna Mobile wrote:

a lot of crap.

It's her metier, and for that, due credit must be given.

>it would put a dead man to sleep.

As he'd surely choose to remain, after experiencing
her....uh....charms.....

david...@aol.com

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May 18, 2005, 12:59:50 AM5/18/05
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Oh, dear. I didn't realize La Donna Mobile had made it onto Tillman's
s--t list. He'll soon run out of posters to alienate.

-david gable

Stephen Jay-Taylor

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May 18, 2005, 1:19:50 AM5/18/05
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PS. Things may have changed in our part-ecumenical, part-fundamentalist
religious culture since I studied architecture, but they used to be called
"Choir" stalls, presumably on account of who usually sits there. A "Quire"
used to be a printer's measure of folded pages in blocks of eight. Still,
these days you never know....

SJT, never knowing


Leonard Tillman

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May 18, 2005, 2:01:22 AM5/18/05
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>Oh, dear.

Exclaims drivellina dirtbag Goebbels, to her anus.

> I didn't realize La Dorky Moebus had made it
> onto my dashing Lovegod Mr.Tillman's s--t
> list.

Sisters-in-kind, you two....

>We'll soon run out of self-alienation material
> and swiggies.

You? Never.

alanwa...@aol.com

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May 18, 2005, 3:46:10 AM5/18/05
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But also often used to describe the general area of the seating. Quire
is the old ecclesiastical spelling and widely in use in many other
places apart from the Abbey - St Paul's as well, I think.

Kind regards,
Alan M. Watkins

Sagittarius

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May 18, 2005, 4:34:07 AM5/18/05
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"La Donna Mobile" <ladonn...@REMOVEbrixton.fsworld.co.uk> wrote in
message news:d6e17o$g98$1...@nwrdmz03.dmz.ncs.ea.ibs-infra.bt.com...

> I do not make a habit of going to Westminster Abbey. In fact, tonight
> was the probably the second time in my life, the first since I moved to
> London. Although their Dean's Yard is my office Emergency rendez-vous
> point.

The attitude of condescenscion on the part of some of the staff is, like
Poets' Corner, the Henry VII Chapel and the tomb of Elizabeth I, one of the
highlights of the Abbey. Visitors from all over the world have been able to
experience firsthand these great English jewels. I think it must be a
requirement of joining the ranks both of the employed and the volunteer
staff.

La Donna Mobile

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May 18, 2005, 7:54:36 AM5/18/05
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Stephen Jay-Taylor wrote:

This was explained during the Chas-Milly post-nuptial blessing (which I
only watched for the music...). I wonder if it is something to do with
Westminster Abbey and St George's chapel Windsor being Royal Peculiars.

LDM who thinks Royal Peculiars are not limited to places of worship...

La Donna Mobile

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May 18, 2005, 8:14:17 AM5/18/05
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It's so very silly, isn't it? For insults to be effective, to hurt, they
have to be focused and hit a raw nerve. Scattergun name calling, not
differentiating between the recipients really don't have the same impact
as calling in to question someone's judgement, or knowledge, or the
basis of their opinions, or their taste...

david...@aol.com wrote:

--
http://www.madmusingsof.me.uk/weblog/
http://www.geraldine-curtis.me.uk/photoblog/

alanwa...@aol.com

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May 18, 2005, 9:00:34 AM5/18/05
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>
> Just as a final thing, the second half was Haydn's Nelson Mass. Four
> soloists - S/M-S/T/B, and a choir - adult male voices, and male
> children's voices.
>
> Off hand, what was it written for?
>
> I believe there is a great deal of cant about voices in church
choirs.
> Blind tests have shown over again that experts cannot differentiate
> between choirs of boys, of girls, and of both on sound alone. I have
> also read that church choirs should remain boys only to ensure a
> sufficient supply of males to eventually provide the adult voices,
which
> is a good argument, but one with no musical basis, IMO.
>
> I would have thought that such a Mass would have been written for
adult
> voices SATB, but will stand corrected if necessary. I think I would
have
> preferred SATB to Adult/Child, but I don't know how it was written.
>
This is a wonderful work with an interesting history. Firstly it would
have been written for male voices in the choir. I have performed it
with a male childrens choir but I think the original is SATB.
Secondly, there are at least three editions of this score: the original
was first performed for 3 trumpets, drums, organ and strings but no
wind playeers because Esterhazy were at that time (1798) into economy
mode and had fired all the wind players. This edition survives and is
sometimes done today. In this version some of the wind parts are
actually given to the organ.

Haydn later put wind parts back in and it's more usually played with
these today although I have done the first version and that can be very
effective in a small church.

Thirdly, of course, Haydn did not call it the Nelson Mass and the great
Haydn scholar Robbins Landon produced fairly impressive evidence that
Haydn had completed the score a good fortnight before news of Nelson's
victory (no blogs, then) had filtered through. Some claim that Haydn
was working on this Mass at the time of the battle but, as I say,
Robbins Landon challenged and disputed that.

Either way, Haydn's title was Missa in Angustiis which I have seen
translated as Mass in Time of Anxiety (Robbins Landon preferred
version, I think) or Mass in Time of Fear or Mass in Comfort of Stress
I have also seen given. The Nelson epithet seems to have been attached
by others (again, Robbins Landon) probably because Nelson and Lady
Hamilton attended a performance of it at Esterhazy.

I am not experienced enough to say whether I could spot girls in a
cathedral choir in ensemble (I might be able to) but I think I could in
any solo. Their timbre is different and this, while possibly not
noticeable in ensemble or not so much when mixed with male voices, is I
think noticeable on it's own.

Of course there is absolutely no reason for their exclusion on musical
grounds and many Cathedral choirs today depend on them and were it not
for them some of the smaller Cathedral choirs might have ceased to
exist.

I hope, despite all the aggravation, that you enjoyed the work. I love
it. Did you notice, by the way, that it is only Haydn mass written in
a minor key?

REG

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May 18, 2005, 10:26:08 AM5/18/05
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It is a completely incredible work....what is your favorite performance on
record, if you have one? I think mine is still the Janos Ferencsik with
Stader, Hellmann, Haefliger and von Halem. I am embarrased that I was not
aware, despite a lot of listening to multiple versions, that the choir was
men only....it is possible that more modern performances use a mised choir,
or am I just plain wrong? I believe there is also a version with Hickcox
with Stahlmann (???) which I also recall as excellent.

<alanwa...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:1116421234.8...@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

alanwa...@aol.com

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May 18, 2005, 11:45:36 AM5/18/05
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REG wrote:
> It is a completely incredible work....what is your favorite
performance on
> record, if you have one? I think mine is still the Janos Ferencsik
with
> Stader, Hellmann, Haefliger and von Halem. I am embarrased that I was
not
> aware, despite a lot of listening to multiple versions, that the
choir was
> men only....it is possible that more modern performances use a mised
choir,
> or am I just plain wrong? I believe there is also a version with
Hickcox
> with Stahlmann (???) which I also recall as excellent.


It can be done with a mixed choir I think. I feel sure there is a
version but I have only performed it with a male choir. The recording I
have is Decca conducted by David Willcocks with, among the wonderful
singers, Helen Watts and the late Wilfred Brown, the latter one of my
favourite artists. I think it is a wonderful performance. That is
with Kings College Choir, Cambridge, which of course is all male.

I also have a tape of a very good performance I gave with Vaclav
Smetacek but I do not think this has been issued on a recording which
is a pity. It may not be well known that Smetacek was a wonderful
choral conductor - indeed it was his speciality and he loved doing
choral pieces.

Somewhere there used to be a recording of St Ludmila (Dvorak) which
shows Mr Smetacek at his very best. This is a lovely, dramatic but
very neglected piece dear to the composers heart and to Smetacek.
Dvorak wanted it called "A spiritual drama."

We recorded it for a rather arty-crafty Prague TV production in St
Vitus Cathedral although it was a public performance as well. Because
it was interspersed with shots of some of the wonderful interior
architecture of the Cathedral, the orchestra were placed all over the
show. The triangle player and I were marooned from half the brass -
the other half were somewhere else - and we could not see the conductor
clearly which made the absolute end of the work a life-enhancing
experience:):)

In quiet sections when the record was issued you could sometimes hear
weird clicking noises which were, in fact, desperate attempts by the
timpanist, working in an TV lights temperature of about 100 plus
degrees, to stop the remains of deceased animals from escaping from
their environment completely - they tightened up so much that at one
time I was rearranging notes as I went along which all adds to the
interest.

However, a wonderful tribute to Smetacek's dedication to choral music
and I think a splendid interpretation of what I think is a masterpiece.

Is the Ferencsik work currently on CD? I have seen several people
talking about it so I would be interested in hearing it.

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