Michael White, Author at Catholic Herald (2024)

Michael White

Benjamin Britten’s surprising habit of ‘Christianising’ non-Christian stories in his operas

July 06, 2024

Benjamin Britten was one of those composers whose religious leanings were unclear; and as a gay man in mid-20th Century England, he had few reasons to love a Church that showed little sign of loving him. But he nonetheless produced quantities of music for church performance, much of it significant. And his stage works had

A surfeit of minor keys this Easter

May 20, 2024

Michael White enjoys two Requiems, a Stabat Mater and two outstanding premieres. Musically, the journey through Holy Week to Easter is a slow descent into darkness followed by a sudden resurgence of light. And the descent is marked by Stabat Maters, Passion settings, Requiems… a solemn feast largely consumed in minor keys of which I

April 30, 2024

Austere, stark, private; the Bach solo cello suites aren’t usually thought of as religious works. Bach wrote them, probably, as exercises for domestic use. They’re based on dance forms. And although for centuries few cellists paid them serious attention, these days everybody plays them – not least the illustrious Steven Isserlis, who was doing so,

Dark shows for dark times: going toe to toe with Elektra and The Handmaid’s Tale

March 23, 2024

There’s an old Bugs Bunny cartoon with the punchline, “What’d ya expect in a opera – a happy ending?” It’s a fair point. Opera does of course do comedy, but tends to misery/pain/anguish as default positions. And they were defaulting to excess at the start of the year when London’s two main lyric companies –

Choirs at Christmas

February 02, 2024

From prestigious cathedral choirs to small ensembles, Michael White enjoyed concerts of the highest quality. I’m never sure what it is that compels us with peculiar force in deepest winter to gather together and sing – or at least gather together and hear other people sing – but imagine it’s something programmed into our collective

Israel-Palestine anxieties bear heavily on productions at Covent Garden and Bath

January 09, 2024

Filled as they are with stories about vengeful Israelites in conflict with their neighbours, it takes little effort these days to find sensitive material in Handel’s great Old Testament-based oratorios. Jephtha, which has vengeful Israelites from start to finish, is a case in point. And although preparations for the recent Covent Garden staging will have

Celestial assault in a mind-altering performance of Hildegard’s soaring music

December 01, 2023

Whatever we know about the 12th-century religious polymath Hildegard of Bingen is new knowledge, because she all but vanished from the record until the 1970s when her work was rediscovered, turning her into a cult figure. And there was plenty to discover. Essentially a Benedictine nun, she was also a mystic given to visions, theologian,

Rheingold: Opera as life and death at the Royal Opera House

November 03, 2023

Michael White enjoys an environmental Rheingold, a quest for happiness and an epic celebration of Stephen Sondheim. As someone put it to me last month, Wagner’s Ring is “fairy tales with music”. But it’s more: a history of the world from start to finish, told by somebody with an agenda and some questionable prejudices, but

God at the Proms: Three powerful performances in this year’s season

October 11, 2023

That this year’s Proms were big on God and death was maybe nothing special: God and death are ever-present in the concert repertoire. But looking back over the season, it was notable how many of the standout Proms events explored these topics. A case in point was Dialogues des Carmélites: the Poulenc opera brought to

From Cheltenham to Ryedale: the highs and lows of the festival season

September 02, 2023

The Essex town of Thaxted has assorted claims to fame, but for the most part they relate to its medieval parish church: a building of cathedral-like magnificence which in the 20th century attracted interesting priests and still more interesting musicians. Gustav Holst was Thaxted’s organist during the early years of World War I, founding a

Response to life

August 03, 2023

Michael White enjoys three very different outstanding performances. When music tourists go to Leipzig it tends to be for JS Bach, who lies buried (or seems to: there are disputes about whether it’s really him) by the chancel steps of the town’s Thomaskirche and presides in death over the rich, ongoing musical life of that

Enjoying tango and church music

July 04, 2023

Even a resolute republican would have been impressed by one essential aspect of King Charles’s coronation: its delirious abundance of great choral music. In a spectacle that could so easily have turned to pantomime – Gilbert & Sullivan came to mind – it was the music that provided anchorage, magnificently done and standing testament to


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Michael White, Author at Catholic Herald (2024)


What has happened to the Catholic Herald? ›

After 126 years as a weekly newspaper, it became a magazine in 2014. In early 2023, a 50.1% controlling stake was purchased by New York based alternative asset firm GEM Global Yield LLC SCS (Luxembourg).

Who owns the Catholic Herald? ›

Sir Rocco Forte and Olga Polizzi

Sir Rocco is co-owner of the Catholic Herald and chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels.

What is the biggest Catholic church scandal? ›

Of the Catholic sexual abuse cases in Latin America, the most widely known is the sexual scandal of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic congregation in 1970s. He had been sexually abusing at least 60 minors and fathered six children with three women.

Why is the Catholic Church losing so many members? ›

Among those who left Catholicism for an evangelical church, 78% said "their spiritual needs" were "not being met." Many people grew disenchanted with the Catholic Church because of the clergy sex abuse crisis.

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