Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bloodthirsty Women and the CBA Assembly

Pat Took was our speaker at the CBA Annual Assembly on Saturday. Pat's theme was 'Living Together in Love' and predictably she was excellent. The whole day was really good with inspiring worship led by Colin Pye and our musicians, sharing of news, a brief AGM, and in the afternoon a stimulating exploration of covenant. Pat got us to think about how we as churches might draw up a covenant, an agreement, as to the right ways of behaving in church if we really are to live in love and not just talk about it.

On the Friday evening, as part of our encouragement of the inclusion of women at every level of church life, we had a four course meal, with Pat as the after-dinner speaker, aimed at women leaders. Pat has a winsomely mischievous streak, and this was in evidence as she mused on the accusation that the church has become feminised. She observed that most of the songs which justly receive this criticism are written by men! But she used this as the springboard to look at some of the songs women wrote in the scriptures.

Pat began with the Song of Miriam, then Deborah, then Judith (in the Apocrypha), Hannah, and finally Mary. The first three are extraordinarily bloodthirsty, with one song rejoicing after an enemy receives a tent-peg in the head, and another who loses his head completely.  The songs of Hannah and Mary, while not full of bloodlust, are about the turning upside down of the status quo, so that the powerful are brought down and the lowly lifted up, and the hungry filled and the rich sent away empty.

It was entertaining and, while Pat was not for one moment advocating violence, she was perturbingly challenging.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

David Mason and Penny Lane

I see in Thursday's Guardian that the trumpet player David Mason has died aged 85. He played in the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonia, and I met him as one of the professors at the Royal College of Music, who would frequently turn up on examination and audition panels. Also, I recall playing in a performance of Bach's B Minor Mass with the Tilford Bach Choir and Orchestra and he was the principal piccolo trumpet.

He was a gentleman and one of the premier trumpet players of the time. But even when I knew of him he was something of a legend for playing on the Beatles' song, Penny Lane. The story goes that Paul McCartney was searching for a special sound for the song and heard Mason playing the piccolo trumpet in Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto on television. Mason was summoned to Abbey Road by George Martin, the producer, and the rest is history. Even now when I hear David Mason on Penny Lane, it causes goosebumps.

Alan Civil was the horn player on Sergeant Pepper, and together with the other session players persistently kicked himself for agreeing a fee rather than royalties, so the story goes.