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The Catholic Mass in Macao

This workshop directed by the charismatic Philip Allinmore began with what proved to be a somewhat over-enthusiastic warm up involving grasping the midriff of the person in front whilst they breathed in and out. Fortunately all the charges of indecent assault have now been dropped.

The music was based around some interesting manuscripts recently discovered in the archives of St Dominic·s, the 17th-century cathedral church in Macao. As well as works by Portuguese composers such as Melgas and Rebelo, we were able to enjoy some of the output of musicians such as Go Hang, a local convert to catholicism. His work was particularly unusual, with its mixture of Portuguese and Chinese influences sometimes producing curious effects to the Western ear.

The pronunciation of the Latin proved to be very contentious and no consensus was reached even after protracted arguments involving more than a little Anglo-Saxon. Certainly the opening of the Gloria in Chinese Latin lost some of its impact and the word miserere proved particularly problematic. Sadly the late Harold Copeman's Singing in Latin seems to give little guidance on the matter.

Philip Allinmore did not seem entirely at ease with the music and appeared somewhat dissatisfied with our achievements though I believe I did hear him say something at the end about having bettered Go Hang himself.

It was gratifying to see so many willing helpers serving the coffee, though perhaps another time, given the size of the kitchen, we shall limit the volunteers to 15 or so. Apologies to those who did not get a drink but the treatment for the scalding did make things a little difficult.

DF 1/4/2005

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