Video Clips

Blog Aug-Sept 2010

In the Pope's Mass in Glasgow last Thursday evening I was hugely impressed with the music - from the traditional Be Thou My Vision to the modern compositions of James Macmillan written specially for the occasion - his new Gloria was particularly striking, and I suspect it will re-surface in many Masses to come. Macmillan was interviewed that morning on BBC 2 and spoke enthusiastically of his liturgical compositions (his most famous is probably Veni Veni Emmanuel) and how Benedict's own interest in music had been helpful to the Church. He was glad that the people of Britain would get a chance to see the Holy Father for themselves, as so often news about him was filtered through an often negative media. On the Friday it was on to Westminster Abbey for a moving ecumenical service. More original music for the occasion, this time from Gabriel Jackson - his Glory Be to God was quite an inventive piece.

The John Angotti concert in Vicar St last night was superb - musically and even visually! To start with we got a support set from the Cabinteely Gospel Group - high energy stuff, and how they filled the stage! Great singing, fine musical backing. Definitely have to attend 12.30 Mass in Cabinteely some Sunday. Quite a wide variety of material, though Oh Happy Day might be a bit long in the tooth.
John Angotti and band were in top form, an could really cut loose in a way that mightn't suit a church venue. It was great to see Vicar St full on the night, great to see gospel music in the heart of a secular venue. The sound was excellent - in school and in Westland Row Church the acoustics weren't ideal. The patter between songs was entertaining, inspiring and funny, but the music was all heart and soul, from the beautiful ballads like By Name I Have Called You to the up-tempo and uplifting songs like Common Ground and I Send You Out.

What a treat it was to have John joined by the Cabinteely Gospel Group and the 2nd Chance Music Group for the last few songs. They lifted the roof, not to mention the hearts of the audience. Next question: when is Angotti and band coming back?
Nice also to meet some Faitharts friends!

Yesterday the John Angotti event in school was brilliant. In the morning we had all the Transition Year students in the town (about 110) in our sports hall for this faith and music event and it was received very positively by the students. The music was excellent as expected as was the participation by the students. And I got caught when it was teacher participation time! The Deputy Principal, myself and teachers from the girls' school rocked the joint! Apart from being great fun it was very spiritual as well - praise, worship, reflection.

Tonight I went to the 2nd Chance Mass in Westland Row, Dublin - John Angotti was providing the music along with the 2nd Chance Music Group. I found it a very moving experience. I particularly loved the unaccompanied Agnus Dei and the communion reflection song I Can Only Imagine (video on left). As in school John was backed by a cool band - thanks Matt, Dion and Grady! I'm looking forward to the Vicar St gig tomorrow night.

Was watching live coverage of the Pope's visit to the UK today - being on the web it meant I could watch it in class with the students, which worked really well. From the point of view of the arts the most appealing aspect was the beautiful music at the Mass in Glasgow. I plan to use some of that when I continue working on religious themes in music with my Transition Year students.
I was hugely impressed - from the traditional Be Thou My Vision (as commentator Sally Magnusson said, it can move all hearts) to the modern compositions of James Macmillan, written specially for the occasion - his Gloria was particularly striking, and I suspect it will surface again many times in Masses to come. Macmillan was interviewed that morning on BBC 2 and spoke enthusiastically of his liturgical compositions (his most famous is probably Veni Veni Emmanuel) and how Benedict's own interest in music had been helpful to the Church.

Tomorrow we have US Catholic singer John Angotti in school for a faith and music workshop - I'm really looking forward to that, but a little nervous about the logistics! All TY students in town are coming to the morning session, while our 1st and 2nd years will face the music in the afternoon. When I do the music and faith module in TY I like to expose the students to a live performance - this year they're in for a real treat.

Oh well, back to school over a week now and exhausted. Surprised to see how long it is since I added to the blog.
Starting off again with a review of the film Karol, A Man Who Became Pope, shown on RTE 1 last Saturday. There's lots in it that will be useful for RE class, and the follow up film is coming up this Saturday afternoon.

The first film takes the story from the German invasion of Poland to Karol becoming Pope. The central performance by Piotr Adamczyk is excellent - thoughtful, convincing, often moving. Also impressive are Malgorzata Bella as Hanna, a possible love interest for young student Karol, and Raoul Bova as Fr Tomasz, a young priest and close friend of Karol. Any scenes with any one or more of these three are intense and involving. In fact it is in some of the set piece scenes that the film excels most. There's one that's fraught with tension as Fr Tomasz is "invited" to hear the confession of one particularly nasty Nazi, but storms out from the dinner table after delivering a brave rebuke to the Germans present over their treatment of Jews and their children in particular. Great scene for illustrating themes like injustice and prejudice. All scenes between Karol and Hanna are so credible, a lovely portrayal of friendship and blossoming romantic love. The tensions between them, over how to react to the German occupation (words or guns - useful moral dilemmas here) and his growing discovery of his vocation (see clip above), are sensitively but realistically handled. You can feel Karol's sense of mission, but also Hanna's sense of loss. In fact the way his vocation is handled is so well done that the relevant scenes would be very useful for covering the theme of vocation in class.
Scenes of the Nazi cruelty and the persecution of the Jews are strong and affecting. It could hardly be otherwise I suppose. After the World War 2 scenes there's much more talk as the fortunes of the Church and Polish culture are at the mercy of the godless communism of the Russians and their puppet rulers, but this part is affecting too, with some strong emotional moments, especially the forgiveness of a spy - very useful scenes for Confession and forgiveness. I thought the film was less successful when the talk was less concerned with interpersonal issues and more concerned with politics and theology. It's not that I'm faulting the theology, but at times the film was a tad preachy, trying to get important points across with lumps of theology and morality that didn't flow as easily as dialogue should.
If you missed it, it's available for less than a fiver at, and is available in segmented form on YouTube.