Frank McMullan's blog

My post-retirement blog adventures

Archive for August 2010

Choral Ireland

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Proinnsias Ó Duinn conducting an outdoor performance of Handel's "Messiah". Photo: Frank Miller, The Irish Times

In another fit of madness – this blog is one too – I set up the Choral Ireland e-mail list way back in 1999.  It stemmed from my love of choral music and my involvement in another e-mail list: I kept wondering might there be some way to use such a list to the benefit of choirs and enthusiasts in Ireland.

It has been a success beyond my wildest dreams.  Choral Ireland has become a prime place for sharing upcoming concert and other information about the choral music scene in Ireland.  Approaching 5,000 messages have already gone out on the list over the years.  There are currently over 500 subscribers.

David Maxwell, musical director of Fingal Chamber Choir, Kieran Tully, tenor, and Lyn Carroll, soprano, have been a great support over the years as fellow-moderators of the e-mail list.  Kieran currently sings with the Mornington Singers; Lyn currently sings with Fingal Chamber.  David had been the linchpin of the e-mail list for many years.

Nitty gritty:  The e-mail list is facilitated under Yahoo! GroupsSubscription to the Choral Ireland e-mail list does not necessarily require registration with Yahoo! the way it works.  Nor is it required for access to the on-line Message archive, the way Choral Ireland is set up.  Registration with Yahoo! however, gives access to all other on-line features including members, photos, calendar and database etc.  Unsubscribing from the list is quite easy.


Written by Frank McMullan

30 August 2010 at 12:48

Reblog: On My Documentary: Taking A Chance On God (via John McNeill – Spritual Transformation)

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John McNeill, Charlie Chiarelli, Seán Millar, Kathleen Rygor, Brendan Fay & Stanley Rygor @ 'Silver Stars', January 2010, New York

Both John McNeill and Brendan Fay feature in Silver Stars. John’s first book “The Church and the Homosexual” [Beacon Press, 4th edition, 1993] was my first glimpse of a different way of understanding purported biblical prohibitions on homosexuality: it is a life-changing book.  Brendan is a documentary film maker, most noted for “The Saint of 9/11” about the life of Fr Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest, who died in the World Trade Center in New York. Brendan now has a documentary about the life of Fr John, a former Jesuit, at the final editing stage. Here is John’s recent post on the forthcoming documentary.

The documentary on my life and ministry finally has a title. During the four years it was being produced, we gave it the tentative title “Uncommon Jesuit.” Most critics thought that title was too narrow and failed to catch the essence of the documentary. I titled the second book I wrote on GLBT spirituality “Taking A Chance On God: Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Lovers, Families, and Friends” [Beacon Press, 1996]. On the occasion of our marriage in Canada in September, 2008, after 42 years of partnership, my partner Charlie Chiarelli inscribed my ring with the title of my second book, “Taking A Chance On God”. He then inscribed his ring “Taking A Chance On Jack”. 🙂 Everyone involved in producing the documentary is convinced that the title “Taking a Chance On God” is the perfect title for my documentary… Read more

via John McNeill – Spiritual Transformation

Written by Frank McMullan

28 August 2010 at 08:29

Posted in Church, Silver Stars

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Film review: Prayers for Bobby

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Ed, Bobby, Joy, Nancy and Mary Griffith c1980

Mary Griffith is probably the bravest woman I have ever come across to have allowed her story to be told!

GALA Choruses Festival 2000 took place in San Jose, California.  It was Glória‘s first involvement with the festival.  I joined one of the festival choruses as part of my extra-curricular activities.  Jay Kawarsky was our musical director.  We sang songs from Jay’s delightful compostion, “Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me“, based on the humorous writings of Michael Thomas Ford turned librettist for the occasion, originally performed and recorded by Lehigh Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, many of whose members sang in the festival chorus.  Learning music like this over such a short period and performing it in public was a thrilling new experience for me – something I have continued to do at other such festivals.

the CD

It was through this connection that I first heard of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man from Walnut Creek, California, from a fundamentalist Christian background.  Bobby committed suicide.   Prayers for Bobby, a powerful choral work composed by Jay, with libretto by Kendel Killpack, was first performed by New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus.  The CD recording, which was given to me as a gift in San Jose, is one of my treasured possessions.  It features a narrative by Native American Donna Red Wing as Bobby’s mother, Mary.

On 27 August 1983, Bobby, aged 20,  jumped Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Frank McMullan

27 August 2010 at 09:34

Posted in Choral Music, Church, Film

Guest post: Tampere Thoughts

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These are the ponderings of Erich Keller, one of the Silver Stars cast members, on our recent appearance at Tampereen Teatterikesä in Finland and our visit to the exquisitely located Hangaslahden sauna where ‘go jump in a lake’ takes on a whole new meaning:

Here’s a few bits of whispy-thoughts that fell to the page over our time in Tampere. The first was the impression of Tampere – the blocks lightened by the inverted gaze of the locals… I found that intriguing. The next was resultant from meeting a ‘festivalite’ who was more interested in the poke and the condescension than of an honest conversation. I found it difficult not to tell her to ‘f-off!’ I managed not to. 🙂 And, lastly, a few old wounds surfaced following the inspirational beauty of cherished hours spent with you and the cast at the lake; wounds which felt alleviation of pain by proximity to goodness of the Silver Star kind.


stacked like boxes
not tapered not vault
flat lines flat sky
colours invert
but cobbles
chimney stacks red
for mute eyes dancing
the street is staid And there’s more…

Written by Frank McMullan

26 August 2010 at 15:53

Archive post: Lavender bus: douze points!

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Gerry Ryan, RIP 30 April 2010

Here’s a letter to the editor of GCN I came across again today [note the actual dates]:

An extraordinary thing happened this week.  It’s not just that Glória won 2FM’s ‘Gerry Ryan Show’ competition to find a choir to sing with José Carreras [30 April 2005] at The Point, Dublin, wonderful and all as that is. No, it’s the way so many members of our community, friends and families rallied round and made it their business that we won.

Once we reached the finals, I had little doubt it no longer mattered which of the four choirs that qualified was the better one.  By far, it was which one had the biggest natural constituency – or, in our case, ‘unnatural’ constituency 🙂 – that was prepared to sit down, text and be counted.

José Carreras

In me bones, I knew from the beginning that the race was really between Mullingar Cathedral Choir and Glória.  And, at the end of the day, the lavender bus surpassed the Mullingar mafia by a considerable margin.

I love to sing.  It gives great meaning to my life to represent our community doing what I love to do.  Thank you, one and all, for putting your money where your mouth is and helping us mark our 10th anniversary year in this special way.

When we work together, we achieve great things!

Written by Frank McMullan

25 August 2010 at 08:59

Posted in Glória

Guest Post: A Spiritual Moment: Right and Good! by Glen O’Brien

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I remember reading a definition of ‘coming out’ some years ago:
‘Coming out is not an admission of what I do sexually. It is an affirmation of who I am, psychologically, emotionally, romantically and spiritually.’
I liked it so much that I learned it by heart and have used it on many occasions since.

It places the focus on the all that goes into the make up of people and is nothing if not inclusive. Surely all of us gay people can learn from this definition and in our ‘coming out’ celebrate diversity.

I was very heartened recently to read in GCN some accounts of gay families. What struck me was the ordinariness of the stories, celebrating the reality and diversity of ‘family’. I liked the piece about David and Gary where it says: ‘Both David and Gary say that being married hasn’t changed the nature of their relationship, but David didn’t anticipate the sense of pride involved. “I love introducing Gary as my husband. It feels like something right and good”’


"Coming Out", Glen O'Brien (Editor)


Those last words reminded me of something I read by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright: ‘When we perceive a thing to be beautiful, it is because we instinctively recognise its rightness.’ Is this what David experiences when he introduces his husband? Not so long ago in GCN, there was an article by Father Bernard Lynch who also celebrates the rightness and goodness of having a husband! I thank God that life is endlessly wonderful and even for those of us who are gay and people of faith there can be room for celebrating diversity and family on the margins of church, families that are dysfunctional in so many ways!

Glen O’Brien is author of “Praying from the Margins: Gospel Reflections of a Gay man” [Columba Press, 2001]
He edited “Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences” [Currach Press, 2003]
– both books are usually available online

Written by Frank McMullan

24 August 2010 at 11:02

Posted in Church, Glen O'Brien

Multifarious final gathering

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Attendees at the final gathering

Multifarious, fondly known as Multy, an LGBT spirituality group, had its final gathering in the Franciscan Friary, Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath, this past weekend.  Its usual fluid structure of theme/Eucharist/meal was again followed for this meeting.

Since early 2006 the group has met monthly at the invitation of the Franciscans as part of  its outreach to people on the margins – one of the few Catholic institutions to have the courage in the current climate in the Church to engage with LGBT people on their own terms, rather than on terms dictated and there’s more…

Written by Frank McMullan

23 August 2010 at 14:24

Posted in Church