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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

March 9, 2014

MacMillan v NMAB – next round

evelyn @ 8:45 pm

Saturday’s Scotsman featured the latest in this struggle, a journalist having interviewed composer James MacMillan about his campaign for membership of the National Music Advisory Board (read more about this on the St Columba’s website). To my amazement, some of my own prose, described as ‘veiled in cautious terms’ was quoted in the article (for the record, the so-called caution was not inspired by deference to the NMAB, as the paper suggests, but was an attempt to write objectively and factually about a subject which is becoming increasingly emotionally-charged).

Much more interesting were some of the other points which emerged, with my comments in italics:

    • James MacMillan was asked if his promotion of Gregorian chant is seen as ‘elitist’. (Chant? Elitist? Even the happy-clappy brigade surely don’t think that. They just think it’s boring, and if in Latin, incomprehensible.) The composer’s reply was measured, possibly because he is so often accused of elitism, and reasonably generous to the happy-clappies. But chant is the way to go, as he sees it.
    • Dr Roger Williams of Aberdeen widens the field, pointing out the many Catholic settings written by the great composers of the past. (Yes! This is a veritable treasure-house.) He thinks most of it can be ‘adapted and adopted’ to suit the present Vatican II rules. (I’m not so sure this can readily be done without a dumbing-down effect, unless with the simplest of settings. I’d rather see some compromise on the part of the Vatican. But it would be worth a try.)
    • But by far the most astonishing bit of news is that the National Music Advisory Board is to be ‘reviewed’ and, apparently, re-formed. The Scotsman journalist was told this directly by the Scottish Catholic Media Office. As of today there is nothing about it on the SCMO website. As usual, we are getting our information about happenings in our Church from the secular press.

So is it game, set and match to MacMillan? Sorry, I meant, is this the knock-out punch?

We can only wait and see.



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