John Michael East

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organist
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John Michael East

Post by organist » Fri May 10, 2019 11:22 am

John East who was my teacher 60 years ago is now 90 and on his last journey in St John and St Elizabeth hospice (where Cardinal Hume spent his last days). He was director of the Church Music Association in the 70s which did a lot of good work in the parishes. Please pray for him. :(

Southern Comfort
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Re: John Michael East

Post by Southern Comfort » Fri May 10, 2019 5:24 pm

Very sorry to hear this.

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Re: John Michael East

Post by Southern Comfort » Sun May 19, 2019 8:54 pm

Sadly, JME is no more. He passed away peacefully yesterday morning. We are awaiting details of the funeral from organist.

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Sun May 26, 2019 10:15 pm

I am preparing a leaflet about John for the funeral and for later distribution so contributions welcomed.

JOHN MICHAEL EAST
I met John through the CMA. He was doing the rounds of each diocese at the instigation of the Bishops’ Conference, to help with the transition from Latin to the vernacular… was it 1967 or thereabouts? Anyway, when he came to Lancaster diocese, we invited him to Preston Carmel. By that time we had struggled unsuccessfully to find an English Mass that the community actually liked, and in desperation I had written one myself. It went down well with the community and we sang it happily on various occasions for some months – till we had a visit from Dom Gregory Murray OSB. As you may know, he was a real perfectionist, and my efforts did not meet with his approval; so the Mass setting was temporarily discarded. It was some months later that John made his first visit to us, and we tried the Mass out on him – with a quite different outcome! Not only did he resurrect this Mass setting, but he encouraged me to keep on writing such music as we might need, and was ready to look over anything I wrote and sent to him for advice. He helped me to understand the Gregorian modes much better, and to use them, in a simple way, for English words, especially for Carmelite Feasts.
Some years later, it happened that I was moved to the Carmel at Golders Green, in North London. They hardly sang anything at the Liturgy, except for Benediction. But they were keen to make a start, though definitely preferred to avoid singing hymns at Mass. When I produced a ready-made modal setting for the Feast of St Therese, that seemed to fit the bill. And little by little we built up our own ‘Simple Gradual’ with Scriptural words often chosen by one or other of the Sisters and the music provided by me and ‘edited’ by John! He used to come every month, as Golders Green was well within reach of Westminster;
and always as a friend, not as a paid teacher.
Before Vatican II, most Carmels sang unaccompanied (indeed there was not that much singing in most Carmels). But the time came when I realised that we could do with some support, and we discovered that a small portable Yamaha keyboard could be bought for around £200. But we had no-one who could play it! I had played the violin before entering Carmel, and had some idea of harmony after doing School Certificate music (equivalent of O levels)… and an ideal teacher was at hand!… And John nobly took me on. Typically, he didn’t come with a pre-conceived plan of how I should be taught – except that he did set me a progressive programme of scales. Other than that, he aimed to meet my immediate needs,, which largely consisted in harmonising and playing our own Simple Gradual. After a while we upgraded to a Tickell three-stop chamber organ; and John started to buy me books of Organ pieces for Manuals only – mostly edited by C.H.Trevor, who had once taught him.
In 2005 we eventually closed Golders Green Carmel, as we were becoming few in numbers, and joined with two other Carmelite communities in founding a new Carmel at Maryton Grange, here in south Liverpool. Although I no longer saw John, we always kept in touch by e-mail and an occasional phone call. And of course it was a big shock when what was meant to be a minor operation some months ago led to the discovery of cancer cells. After that I phoned him fairly often… until the day there was no answer. After several attempts, I providentially got an answer from Patricia, who was visiting his flat, and she told me about his fall and transfer first to St. Thomas’ and then to St John and St Elizabeth’s. I was able to phone him there, and although he sounded very weak, it was so good to hear that he found it ‘wonderful’, both for the excellent nursing care and also for the contact with a priest. Special mention should be made of his 90th birthday – the day after he arrived at St John’s. Patricia was with him all day and he had TWO birthday cakes, one made by Patricia and the other by the Sisters at St John’s. Evidently a great time was had by all! A few days later, again providentially, John Woodhouse was in Liverpool, and came to visit me. We talked about John , and I heard about the rota of visiting friends. It was May 18th, and in the evening , Patricia’s e=mail arrived with the news that John had gone peacefully to God.
In paradisum deducant te angeli…
May the angels lead you to paradise…
Sister Mary Pia Taylor Maryton Liverpool (aged 91)

John East was offered the post as Director of the CMA at the end of April 1968, but did not start in post until the end of May/June as it took a little time to agree terms. Appointment was for one year initially. He embarked on a programme of 'campaign' in every diocese of England & Wales, starting in the North and gradually working down towards the southern dioceses.
His last editorial in Church Music was December 1972. Lots of issues re; funding which must have left a somewhat bitter taste.
John Ainslie Society of St Gregory to whom I am indebted for the information above.

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Re: John Michael East

Post by Southern Comfort » Mon May 27, 2019 9:33 am

organist wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:15 pm
John East was offered the post as Director of the CMA at the end of April 1968, but did not start in post until the end of May/June as it took a little time to agree terms. Appointment was for one year initially. He embarked on a programme of 'campaign' in every diocese of England & Wales, starting in the North and gradually working down towards the southern dioceses.
His last editorial in Church Music was December 1972. Lots of issues re; funding which must have left a somewhat bitter taste.
John Ainslie Society of St Gregory to whom I am indebted for the information above.
The demise of the Church Music Association can be laid at the door of Archbishop Derek Worlock, who at that time controlled the purse strings of the Bishops' Conference. He allocated money to fund the CMA (and JME's salary) for a period of three years. The problem was that the national campaign, diocese by diocese, did not start immediately (of course, it had to be organised first), which meant that by the end of the three-year period there were still two or three dioceses that had not been campaigned. John East had already reached a position where by the end of the campaign the newly-enlarged association would have been self-funding. It required just a few more months of subvention from the hierarchy. However, Derek Worlock was adamant and cut off the funding at the end of the three-year period, effectively pulling the rug out from under the CMA just before the point where it could have run downhill by itself.

Yes, John was very bitter about that. Task unfulfilled. He became a recluse, effectively rejected the postconciliar Church, and devoted his remaining efforts to Tridentine celebrations at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, and other places.

The CMA was therefore no longer viable on its own, and re-merged with its SSG "parent" in 1973 (it had broken away twenty years earlier, in 1953, as "The Church Music Association of the Society of St Gregory" under the chairmanship of Fr Agnellus Andrew, OFM).

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Wed May 29, 2019 4:57 pm


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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Wed May 29, 2019 5:00 pm

Very interesting about the CMA so it makes absolute sense for the SSG to celebrate John. He wasn't a recluse just rather a private person. He lectured on music at the University of Notre Dame, London and was much loved by colleagues and students alike. He kept in touch with convents. He chose Proms, operas and concerts with care. He did love Latin and supported the Latin Mass society.

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Re: John Michael East

Post by Southern Comfort » Wed May 29, 2019 10:42 pm

Perhaps recluse was too strong a word, but certainly in the years immediately following his departure John withdrew completely from public life. Perhaps as the bitterness receded he became more accessible, though still, as organist says, a very private person. He was seen at the SSG on one subsequent occasion in 1978, when he was invited to animate the congregation for the Festival Mass at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, which formed one of the climaxes of the joint SSG Summer School / Universa Laus Congress, held at St Mary's, Strawberry Hill, and attended by well over 200 participants from all over the world.

During his time as CMA Director, John initiated the Composers' Group, which still flourishes today. The initial meeting took place at Heythrop College, Cavendish Square, in 1968. After John's departure, Paul Inwood took on the role of convenor, assisted by Geoffrey Boulton Smith. When Paul left for the USA in 1991, Geoffrey continued alone. Since those golden days, convenors have included Paul Wellicome, Thomas Muir and the present convenor, Alan Smith. It is good to remember that John East's vision was the original spark that started it all half a century ago.

It is also good to know the date and time of John's funeral, and to see the tribute page on Facebook — thank you!

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:13 pm

The funeral details St Etheldreda's Ely Place
Reception of the body Monday June 10 6 p.m. followed by Extraordinary rite Latin low Mass
Funeral 10.30 a.m. Novus Ordo Tuesday June 11 no organ, 3 cantors Latin requiem plainchant, no flowers, donations to Hospice of St John and St Elizabeth. Reception in the crypt until 12.30 p.m. Cremation family only.
Memoir of John available.

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:13 am

The funeral was indeed beautiful in its stark simplicity. Fr Tom has chosen appropriate readings and focused on the director of music in I Chronicles n his homily. There was a moving address by John's godson and he spoke of John's gentleness and his openness to ideas. A reception followed and the SSG was well represented. There was much discussion about what could happen to John's music scores and books which he left to the Central Music library which he often used. They appear to be uninterested so a suitable collection needs to be found. St Mary's university was suggested or Durham. In September I hope to list the items (about 200). In the meantime I am compiling an obituary.
There was one addition to the liturgy as we sang Salve regina as the hearse left. :) :(

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:19 am

The obituary has been sent to Catholic, music and broadsheets.So far only Music and liturgy and The Universe have indicated they will publish it. How famous do you have to be?? :(

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Re: John Michael East

Post by JW » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:19 pm

organist wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:19 am
The obituary has been sent to Catholic, music and broadsheets.So far only Music and liturgy and The Universe have indicated they will publish it. How famous do you have to be?? :(
You might consider sending a copy to Independent Catholic News www.indcatholicnews.com.
JW

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Re: John Michael East

Post by organist » Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:58 pm

RSCM has published the obituary in September Church Music Quarterly. :D

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