Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Intern's Tale part 9 - May 2019

Hiya folks,

This month has been one of those months that has felt super long!

Singing at the YPray Conference in Swanwick
The first weekend of the month Helen and I went to the Y-Pray Women's conference in Swanwick, which was a great weekend, but very busy. We did lots of workshops including stone painting, prayer walking, journal writing and lots more. Even though it was only a weekend thing, it felt much longer than just 2 nights. It was certainly worth going to! I couldn’t play for that weekend as my shoulder had been playing up after a steroid injection, so I enjoyed the weekend as a delegate. Helen and myself did get to duet Roger’s ‘Engraved upon my palms’ though which was utterly brilliant, it is one of my favourite duets that Roger has written.
With Anthony at NODA

After Swanwick, I travelled through to Manchester where I went to the NODA awards with my brother and some friends, as Anthony had been nominated for Best Male Leading Role for his performance as Mark in Rent last year. He didn’t win, but he did win in his region. We had a great evening singing musical numbers until goodness knows what time in the morning. It was good to do that again, as I haven’t been in Amateur Dramatic shows since leaving Cumbria 4 years ago, I have missed all the sing along sessions.

Recording with TPO
Following that I had the great opportunity to be involved in the recording of an orchestral version of the Villa fans' chant Allez Allez Allez which Annie composed after Aston Villa approached The People’s Orchestra. I was up at the studio 8pm-10pm - it was a long evening, but it was tremendous fun. The recording was then mixed and played at Villa Park on the 11th May to around 40,000 people. As I’ve never done anything like it before, it was amazing to be involved!

CMM Supporters' Evening
The next evening we had the CMM supporters event at Catshill Baptist church, even though I was exhausted from the night before, the evening went really well and it was a great chance to chat to more of the CMM crowd that I don’t often get to see or have never met before. It was also a good opportunity for me to do more singing and playing the clarinet at this event, as I have had trouble with my shoulder, I have been giving the flute a rest. It has given me more confidence with playing clarinet which is good.

As it was Christian aid week, St Andrews did a Big Breakfast event on the Saturday, so I had volunteered to help out with that, it was such a great morning, we raised a lot of money that morning as we laid on breakfast, bookstalls, quizzes, garden stalls and more. It was great to be involved in this and it was really rewarding to know that what we were doing was helping so many people.

Apostle in Basingstoke
Annie and I then had a very busy weekend the week following as we had a gig in Basingstoke on the Saturday and a CMM choir gig on the Sunday. We did a musical in a day of Apostle which is one of my favourites of Roger's. It was an extremely busy day and very tiring as I was there playing Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone as well as a soloist. I absolutely loved this event, once we had finished the team went out for a meal together which was really nice, because of the nature of the gigs, the team don’t really get much opportunity to catch up with each other, so it was nice to be able to go out, relax and have a good catch up.

Due to going out for a meal, we were late home which made it all that much more difficult the next day to go and do another gig. Annie, Jonathan, Linda and I didn’t get back much before half midnight. Although we were tired, the choir concert was fantastic and with a lovely big audience. I enjoyed playing in the concert as I had done all the arranging and the playing of live instruments added to the performance!

Rydal Hall performance
Now we’ve got to half term, everyone said have a great week off and relax…but it was time to head up to Rydal Hall for our yearly Music week in Cumbria. It was a little strange this year though as Rydal was a new venue and it was only a Monday to Friday event. Even though it was crammed into a few days, the choir and orchestra were brilliant, and the concert was fab on the Thursday evening. My praise block on the Wednesday evening was great, it was a different set of music than I have done before, so I was a little more nervous, but I didn’t plan on anything to say. I left it to God as to whether I should say anything, I did, and it felt right. One of the songs I chose ‘Come now is the time to worship’, I felt it was right to slow it right down at the end to give space for people to sing and be with God. It went very well, and I left it to God as to what was right to do in the moment.

Leaving Rydal wasn’t the end of the working week, on the Saturday, we had a Spirit works event in my old church in Barrow. The people who came to the event, had never done anything like it before, which meant it was fresh for them and even though some were sceptical, they all joined in and gave it their all which was brilliant. I did another praise block for the Saturday; I was much more nervous for this as I was leading in front of people that I have known since I was 8. It was good to do it there I think, as it just shows to me how much I have changed over the year and how much confidence I have gained through working with CMM. It was nice to be back for the two days as I got to see people I haven’t seen in a couple of years, it was lovely to be able to catch up with them.

I have had much more go on in May, but you’ll be here forever reading if I wrote it all down…
I will update you next month, I’m getting close to the end of my time with CMM and I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done for me.

God bless you all and have a great month!
Gemma xx

More recording with the TPO
Playing at Rydal
Singing at Rydal
At the WWDP YPray Conference

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The intern's tale part 8 - April 2019

Hiya folks,

Even though I have had a couple of weeks off for Easter, it has been as ever, a rather busy month. I have fitted a lot more into this month than I thought possible with work and with my personal life.

The first couple of weeks with work were busy with advertising and contacting churches to advertise for CMM Choir's upcoming concerts throughout May and June. I have had good responses from churches which has been amazing! We have just 7 more performances to go!  For these concerts I am playing the arrangement I have done for Flute and Clarinet, including parts from the violins, cellos, violas, trumpet and piano parts. It took a while, but it is all finished and ready for the concerts now.

The People's Orchestra at West
Bromwich Town Hall
As part of being at Lickey Parish Church, we went for a weekend away with other churches in the area to be together and have a look into the book of Ruth, which was good, discussing it together was great for everyone. I helped with the worship leading on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday which was really rewarding, people who attended said that it added a certain something to the worship blocks to have the flute. As many people will know, when you're part of a church, it can be difficult to get to know the members of the congregation due to being busy before the service, and then being busy at the end of the service, so I personally don't get all that much time to actually socialise with church members as much as I would like to. So, I felt that the weekend was important as it gave us a chance to get to know each other properly and socialise in the afternoons and evenings which was brilliant.
I attended prayers both Saturday and Sunday, and I felt that I could just sit and be with God, which with my lifestyle, I don't always get chance to sit and just be with God.

Singing with The People's Choir
After a busy weekend away with church I went straight to West Bromwich Town Hall for a full-dress rehearsal for The People's Orchestra Concert on the Sunday night. As well as the Orchestra, the choir were singing in this concert, and even though they only had a few weeks rehearsal, it was fabulous! It was a very busy afternoon and evening. The concert overall went very well, the set that we did was phenomenal! I was left with a buzz of adrenaline - that's when you know it has been a good evening. It meant a lot to me as well, because I lost a friend a couple of months ago who absolutely loved his video games, so it was good to be able to play it for him in his honour. It was nice as well, as I had my family attend from Cumbria and a couple of friends from Manchester. For my brothers, it was probably the first orchestra concert they have seen me perform in, it was nice knowing they enjoyed it. We got lots of great comments on the concert and have been asked to do it again in September, which is fantastic!

Once that had all finished, and I got home there was no resting time; I had to pack ready to go on holiday again.  I went with my family down to Kent to Port Lympne Hotel and Resort/Safari Park, but sadly as Cumbria and the Isle of Wight have different Easter Holidays to Birmingham schools, I was still in term time, so I had to leave a day early to be back at school before they broke up for Easter. The resort was brilliant, we were in a lodge that had the most spectacular view, welcomed with a glass of prosecco! The resort was huge, for some of it we had to go and see the animals via a tour truck as there are big chunks of the park that you're not allowed to walk around due to the animals being out in the open. It was good to be able to spend some time with family that I don't see very often. Especially my eldest brother as he doesn't usually come on the holidays with us and I don't often get time to go back up to Cumbria, so I only see him a handful of times throughout the year so it was great to spend more than just a couple of hours with him and actually get to chat. We also got to go out to a novel restaurant where we got to choose the components for our meal and then actually cook it ourselves, it was very strange, but my cousins absolutely loved doing it and it was really fun. As holidays go, it was fun to be able to do have lots to do, have new experiences and play some games in the evening too. It was nice to go and enjoy myself and have a little break :).

Before going on the Church Weekend away, school did a production of Noah and the floating Zoo which was amazing! It was a whole school production from Nursery right through to year 6. They had such a fabulous time doing it and even the week later when they could relax a bit before Easter, they were still singing it around school. We got to have a relaxed afternoon on the Friday as we sat and watched the whole production as a lot of the time the children were backstage when they weren't performing so they did have chance to sit and watch it, so they all enjoyed watching themselves on stage, and were all having a great time singing along. It was a very nice and relaxed way to end the term for two weeks.
I am preparing myself to go back this week! Only a short time before the next week off.

You'll be glad to know that before I went back up to Cumbria that I finished my PGCE application! I am now just waiting on one reference to come in and then the application can be sent off, I now just must start panicking about the maths skills test and the interviews.
All fingers and toes are crossed....

Following all of that, we did a Worship Works gig up in Windermere in Cumbria, we had a brilliant team for this. The church members that we had there were very open to new ideas of how to lead worship, what songs to put in a worship block and how to just be with God. I really enjoyed the day, and even though I have worked on many of these days, they are all different and amazing to be on team for.

After the day had finished, I made the most of being in Cumbria.  I went for a meal with my family before going to see a couple of friends in the production of Ruddigore, which was fantastic. It was great to go and see it to support friends and it was the first Gilbert and Sullivan Production I performed in years ago.  As I was then on my Easter holidays I decided to stay up in Cumbria and do a bit of work at Lambert Manor (formerly Abbot Hall). I worked in Housekeeping, Restaurant, and a little bit in Reception. I had a good time, and it was lovely to catch up with people from work. After saying I was only down for a few shifts, I ended working 80 hours in just over a week! I got to see a few people throughout the week, but with the hours, I didn't have as much spare time to relax as I'd have liked. So, when I got back to Birmingham on the Monday evening, I had travelled down in First Class, relaxed on the train and looked forward to going back.

Playing at Hinckley
Coming back into the office on the Tuesday felt very good, as I wasn't running around like a headless chicken in a hotel... got some more done of the promo video for Pharisee I'm working on. I now just need to put it together and make sure it is all in time and runs how I want it to. At the weekend we were in Hinckley, doing Rogers 'From Pharaoh to Freedom' musical in a day. It was a great day; we had a brilliant choir and the team that went to it was fantastic. We had a good little set up for the orchestra in which Rachel (previous intern) was also there on team playing oboe. The day went very well, and we had a few of those light bulb moments where something in the musical spoke to choir members and audience which is amazing. The day also gave me chance to go through my arrangement for Flute and Clarinet ready for the CMM Choir productions which was great. We must have run it through at least 3 times before the performance, so lots of practise time. Although by the end of the day we were all exhausted and my lip had gone because of switching between instruments so much.

The last thing that I would like to mention is that when I ran church Sunday school, we did lots of great activities, but the one I found all the children liked the best was making Prayer Plaits. The three strands represent Peace, Hope and Confidence. They made them with partners and said a prayer for their partner whilst they were making the Plaits, it was amazing to see, and they took such pride in wearing them afterwards. I think this would be something anyone could do, I wear mine with pride everyday and never forget its significance.

I said it was a busy month... Apologies for the length, but I’m sure you’re used to me doing lots of writing!

God Bless you all,
Gemma x

Friday, 12 April 2019

A job opportunity at CMM

In the summer Roger's PA Nicky is going to be taking early retirement.  We will miss her!

Here is a little advertisement to find a replacement.  Do share it with anyone you know who might be interested.  Further details and an application form available from roger@cmm.org.uk

Friday, 5 April 2019

The Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship

Yesterday morning Roger, Mary and Tim travelled to London for a very special event.  Roger has become the recipient of the Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship as part of the 2019 Lambeth Awards presented by Archbishop Justin Welby.

We are utterly thrilled and delighted for Roger.

The Cranmer Award for Worship was first awarded by Archbishop Justin Welby in March 2016. It is named after Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533 to 1555, who wrote the Book of Common Prayer. It recognises outstanding contributions to all aspects of worship in the Church, including both words and music.  The 2019 Awards were presented by Archbishop Justin Welby on Thursday 4th April at Lambeth Palace.  Previous award winners include Matt Redman, Stuart Townend and Tim Hughes.  Roger’s award citation reads:

The Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship for his unique contribution to Christian music. 
Roger Jones, the Birmingham-based Director of Christian Music Ministries, has composed more than 23 musicals performed throughout the UK and in many countries overseas, including Jerusalem Joy, Mary Magdalene, Saints Alive, Barnabas and Greater than Gold, the story of the little Welsh girl Mary Jones and her Bible. That musical earned him the Bible Society’s Mary Jones prize in 2018. 

Roger has followed a distinctive path within the charismatic evangelical stream of worship. His focus has always been on writing music which is accessible by the local church and does not require complicated forces or hi-tech equipment to perform. He has always been missional - motivated by a desire to share his own, strong, personal faith in Christ, and for others to catch that vision. Roger is a faithful Anglican – a licensed Reader in his Diocese – and one who has always respected the old alongside the new – the fact that so many of his musicals use traditional hymns bears witness to this. He is also alive to the possibilities for the interplay of renewal music with Anglican liturgy – for example, at the Eucharist, interweaving hymns, songs and instrumental improvisation within a traditional liturgical framework. He has the rare gift of enabling others to discover their God-given identity in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and has used his musical gifts unstintingly towards this end. 

In 2017 he was well described at Spring Harvest as one of the Church’s game-changers. For 35 years, Roger’s gentle but powerful music ministry has made a distinctive impact in building up churches and individuals.

Roger says, “I was utterly speechless when I was told of the award.  It is an incredible honour.  Over the years it has been a joy to write music for the ordinary folk in the pew – music they can use to share the wonderful story of Jesus with their friends and neighbours.  I also feel it is important to say that this award is also for the team around me; family, friends and colleagues who have been tireless in their support and love.  It was a delight to be able to take my wife Mary and my son Tim, now a partner in the ministry, to London to receive the award.”

All of the award winners
The excited trio ready to leave

If you can't go first class on a day like this, when can you?
On the train (with Tim in the window!)
Mary and Tim

Lambeth Palace
Tim and Mary with Lambeth Palace in the background
Receiving the medal from Justin Welby
Roger and +Justin
Enjoying the reception

With the medal!
Roger and Mary
A close-up with the Archbishop

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Intern's Tale part 7 - March 2019

Hello folks,

This month has been a rather busy month for me. Not that others aren’t busy, but it has been interesting fitting it all in. I have been doing all sorts in and outside of the office that have kept me out of mischief.

The first big thing I did this month was present the CMM Choir talk. I spoke about Letting Go and everything that entails with giving our burdens to God so that he can guide and carry us along the path he has set for us. When I was writing it, I had to think about a life event that I could tell the choirs about, and the only thing that came to me was when I was very poorly, I had nearly lost my faith but then God gave me someone to trust and support me through a CMM Music week. Now, this was very scary for me to even think about telling anyone, as it was a time in my life I have always hidden, but whenever I tried to think of anything else, I hit a brick wall. God told me it had to be this, that people needed to hear about it.  Due to circumstance I struggled to trust people, but I met Yvette (now a very good friend) that week, I hadn't met her before, but I knew I could trust her with everything. She made no judgements and spent most of the week with me, supporting me, and guiding me back to God. She gave an epilogue which hit me, she spoke of the footprints poem and we sang King of Kings which has always meant a lot to me. That epilogue wasn’t her original idea, that plan came in the early hours of the morning. I broke down and gave God everything, I felt the Holy Spirit and I could feel and hear God. The talk went very well at the choirs and there was a good response from it afterwards, and people came and talked to me about something they were struggling with. God is here always, and in the words of the poem, ‘During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’  Trust in him and he will guide you along the path he has set for you.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been doing an exciting job in the office... I really enjoy sorting and arranging things out. I know, I'm strange but the best people are! I have completely rearranged our ministry copies cupboard at the office. I couldn't find room to put things that needed to be in there and I felt like doing a bit of sorting. So, I took out all of the music, and scrubbed the old stickers off so I could start from scratch. All the spines now face outwards, that way fitting more onto each shelf, all musicals in alphabetical order and there's now even space to put more things in there miraculously. It sounds boring but I had a lot of fun doing it and it looks much easier to find things now... as you can see from the comparison of the pictures.

Since then, I have carried on with my arrangements for Flute and Clarinet for 'From Pharaoh to Freedom' which I have now only got two more to do and then it's all done! Yay!! It has taken a while but hopefully it should sound good with the choir and backing track. I am hoping to do arrangements for Wildfire after doing these in preparation for the Music week in May.

Outside of the office I have been rather busy joining another choir. As I have mentioned before I am in The People's Orchestra, but this month they have started up a choir called The People's Choir. I am having lots of fun in the choir, our musical director is fantastic, keeping the rehearsal moving so it doesn't drag. We are taking part in the Orchestra Concert on the 7th April which only a couple of weeks away now! We are singing The Greatest Showman and some bits in Dragonborn. With only 4 rehearsals before the concert, we've done amazingly to learn these two well. The Musical Director certainly knows what she's doing. I'll be multitasking with two tops, two instruments and the choir on the 7th... that will be interesting to see how it goes.

At school I have been out on a school trip to the NEC, which is huge and absolutely terrifying to take a group of young children to. I have never been on a school trip with such large crowds and having the responsibility of looking after my little group. We had a good day, and it also showed me the way in which a school trip is organised now, there's lots to do in order for it to go smoothly. It was good to experience that, knowing what it would be like when I train. Afterwards when we got back, there was a training evening on and I was asked if I wanted to along as it was an Autism training session and as I work closely with children with Autism, we thought it would be a good idea. So I am proud to say now, that I have achieved my Autism Level 1 training!! Plus I have finished off my personal statement. I need to delete a few words but I always write too much with everything!

One thing I got to be a part of this month was a concert with Jazz Church Big Band which was amazing.  Because I have joined The People's Orchestra, I haven't be able to go along to the Jazz Church Band with Helen as it clashes. As this concert was on a Saturday, I was able to take part and it was so much fun. I was also able to play Tenor Saxophone which is one that I haven't played in some time, so it was brilliant to be able to go back and play it with everyone. Sax is one of my favourite instruments for the richness of the sound when it's played low, it's beautiful and I had a fantastic time being a part of it! I will certainly play with them again when I get the chance to on the Saturday gigs :D.

The latest CMM event I have been on was Worship works in Alcester with a fantastic team of people, it was a brilliant evening, the congregation there were ready to receive the Lord and listen to everything that Roger and the team of us had prepared. They were ready for the Lord to be there and take on board things that Roger brought to the evening. This weekend I am off back up to the Yorkshire area for a Spirit works event in Ilkley with CMM, please pray that it is going to be a great weekend and that everyone there is ready to receive the Holy Spirit in anyway that God chooses. I am leading a praise block again but I am really looking forward to that this time round.

Apologies for this one being a very long blog, but there has been a lot going on in this month!
God bless you all.
Until next month...may God carry you along your path and you give him your struggles and burdens.

Gemma :) x

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Jonathan Lewis - Remembered with Love

Annie Writes:

We had the sad news this week that our dear friend Jonathan Lewis has passed away peacefully.  He had been in a Marie Curie Hospice in Halifax for some time, first for respite care, but more recently full-time.  Jonathan loved singing at our residential music weeks at Grange-over-Sands and Scargill House - though in recent years he just came to watch, as his heart was not strong and he tired easily.  But his beaming smile will be remembered by all of us who knew him and loved him.

My best memory of Jonathan was from the first Scargill music week he attended: at the guests' concert he sang Roger's song 'I can't understand it and I can't explain it - Jesus has changed my life.'  He then ran to his mum, Maureen, and was engulfed in her arms.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the room!

We were aware that Jonathan acted with 'Mind the Gap' theatre company, but not how well-loved and respected he was as an actor.  
Tim Wheeler writes:

"I've been asked to pass on some deeply sad news.  The actor Jon Lewis died on Friday 15th March.

I've known Jon since 2001 when we worked together at Mind the Gap Theatre on the Emperor's New Clothes, performed at City Hall in Bradford.  He played one of the swindlers with great charm and guile.  Perhaps his finest performance was as a Christian in Mike Kenny's version of Cyrano (he also played a Nun in that production!) Or in the radio play Coming Down the Mountain, by Mark Haddon for BBC Radio 4.
His double act with Anna-Marie Heslop on the red couch was one of the best 'Richard and Judy' impersonations I have ever seen, repeated for numerous conferences and events.

Aside from being a talented performer, Jon was a warm, kind-hearted and funny man.

I saw him a few days ago.  He was struggling to speak but when I walked in he beamed, and I beamed back.  We beamed at each other for 20 minutes.

His mum, Maureen, is the kind of mum we all want - a quietly spoken fighter who loved Jon and his sister Sam.  She made sure he got what he needed and led a full and active life.

Jon is resting now.

The funeral is at 1.45pm on Wednesday 3rd April, at Illingworth Methodist Church."