Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Month Nine in the Life of an Intern

Read Month One (September)
Read Month Seven (March)
Read Month Eight (April)

Hello June, and hello blog post for May! The month began with the CMM annual dinner which featured a delicious three-course meal, followed by Roger's speech on the workings of CMM over the previous year, which he managed to make quite interesting! The next day I worked an extra half-day in the office, before heading off to Northampton with Helen (and little Michael) for the Women's World Day of Prayer YPray conference. Over the weekend, I played my oboe during some of the worship slots that Helen was leading, was the 'official' childminder for Michael (although I did have to explain to a lady from another group that he wasn't mine...), and ate a lot of chicken. The guest speaker for the weekend was Emily Owen, whose story of deep faith despite life-changing health issues was inspirational. 

A fun office job this month was browsing Roger's photo collection trying to find the most embarrassing pictures of him for Helen to put into a slideshow which those of you who were at Tamworth on the 19th will have seen. What I'm not sure about however is whether Roger thought that this was a worthwhile use of my time! On the subject of Tamworth, I have already written a blog post about that so I will direct you to that for my take on the day (click here), however I will say here that I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I think it was a fitting birthday tribute to Roger. 

May ended with the music week at Abbot Hall, Grange-over-Sands. It was lovely for me to see some familiar faces there, as well as meeting lots of new ones (including Anthony, who took some top-quality photos and requested a shout-outhi Anthony!), and the Cumbrian weather surpassed all my expectations, allowing me to wear shorts every day and providing a warm and sunny backdrop for a truly great week. The musical we learned and performed was Jailbreak, with the choir trained by Sharon Collins, and the orchestra brushed into shape by Annie. The schedule for a music week is well designed, so if you haven't been on one before, I would highly recommend it! Mornings feature times of worship and teaching followed by rehearsals, then there is free time in the afternoon which gives the opportunity for exploring the area. Evenings consist of a variety of different activities – this particular week included a DVD, a 'Heart & Soul Radio Roadshow' and Abbot Hall's infamous 'Floor Monopoly' which, as Monopoly is prone to do, revealed some unexpectedly competitive natures! Despite all the frivolity, the message of Jailbreak was preached well throughout the week, both by Roger in his morning teaching slots, and through the final performance on the Friday evening – in Jesus Christ, we are set free! 

The music week spilled over into the beginning of June, and the start of the month brings the realisation that this is my penultimate monthly blog, which means that in just a few short weeks my time with CMM will draw to a close. There is however, the rest of June to go, including a couple more gigs, so I will be making the most of the time I have left!

Team Orchestra at Abbot Hall

Jacqueline du Pré eat your heart out 😀

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Rock and an orchestra - a view from in front of the choir

Running around like a maniac
Saturday May 19th was the culmination of a huge amount of work from the Events desk at CMM.  Lindsay began the work by booking the Coton Centre, sending out some initial advertising and setting up the procedure for ticket sales and bookings.  Then when I returned from maternity leave I needed to complete the bookings, organise the volunteers, allocate the soloists and make sure the day itself ran smoothly. 

The day did run smoothly, thanks to the wonderful volunteers - Brian and Gill, Amy, Deb, Elaine, Mick, Paul, Pat, Caroline, Dave, Devon, Bill, Alison, Clive, Jenny, Alan, Pat, Sue, Susan, Jane, George as well as the CMM Team of Rachel, Annie, Roger, Mary, Sally and Tim.  Hopefully I haven't missed anyone out - no doubt people will have chipped in on the day or been approached to help with something on the spur of the moment - Bob, you're one of those!

Once the day was up and running, it was my job to train the amazing choir of over 200 singers.  Most people had sung the musical before, but there were a surprising amount who hadn't so I had to make sure every note was covered.  The choir were very patient and fun to work with, and produced a glorious sound.  Even though the orchestra was bigger than last time, the choir was much bigger and certainly held their own.

Leading the rehearsal with Jane
I was blessed to have Jane help as rehearsal pianist.  She kept everyone in tune and accompanied bits of the rehearsal, enabling me to focus on my conducting.  It is quite tricky playing an electric piano that has been plugged into a system, meaning no sound comes from the speakers on the keyboard but instead from speakers way above your head pointing away from you!  We began the day looking at the two-part pieces, but there was a real buzz in the air when we sang together in four parts for the first time - I think it was Just as I am.  Truly beautiful.  We just managed to get all the pieces rehearsed as the orchestra began to come in ready for the full rehearsal at 3pm.

Devon re-learning Rock
We began that rehearsal with a special piece written by Paul Herrington for the occasion. Once Roger took over the rehearsal I was able to focus on the soloists, making sure they all knew what they should be singing and where they needed to be.  It took Devon a little while to get the hang of Rock again - he had been singing the part of Stephen in Wildfire only the weekend before!  By the performance he was word perfect - good work!

Then once I had introduced the final performance I was free - I played trombone for the two songs where Alan was singing solo, which was fun, and I spent a bit of time roaming the auditorium taking photos and soaking in the performance. It is such a privilege to do my job - to work for a ministry that has touched so many people's lives.  It was also wonderful to have my mum and dad and older sister take part in the day, and for James to bring Michael to show him off a bit!

Thanks again to all my wonderful CMM friends - it is a privilege to have met you over the years.  I'm looking forward to what God has in store for us all next.
The amazing choir

More amazing choir

Friday, 25 May 2018

Rock and an orchestra - a view from the orchestra

So, the date has been and gone, the winner of the FA Cup has been decided and the Royal newlyweds are hopefully enjoying their first few days of marital bliss. For those involved in the life of CMM however, May 19th marked a much more important occasion – a special performance of Rock with an orchestra at the Coton Centre in Tamworth to celebrate Roger's 70th birthday.

At the start of the day I helped with registration - ticking people off the list when they arrived, distributing name labels or selling vocal scores to those who needed them. After welcomes and introductions in the main auditorium, those like myself who were part of the orchestra moved into the hall to begin rehearsals. Under the baton of Annie, whose orchestrations most of us were about to sight-read, we set to work learning our parts. Annie's oboe part for Rock contains some particularly beautiful passages, and it was a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to play them, after years of listening to the CD thinking 'ooh that bit sounds nice!' As a whole, the sound produced by the orchestra was fantastic, as there were representatives from virtually every section, and it was great to be part of a large band, making a change from the small combos that are formed by the team for each gig.

The sound produced by the choir was equally as impressive, as we discovered when we came together for a joint rehearsal after lunch outside in the glorious sunshine. The vocal soloists who took part were also on top form, and I believe the dancers were too, although it was quite hard to watch them, the conductor, and my music at the same time!

The performance itself was a joy to be part of – the orchestra, choir, soloists and dancers all came together to powerfully share the story of Peter's journey with Jesus. For those of you who've read my previous blog posts, you'll know that Rock is my favourite of Roger's musicals and so the opportunity to be part of a performance on the occasion of Roger's 70th birthday was a real privilege, and I'm sure it brought back a lot of happy memories for those who were involved in the original productions and subsequent tours.


Friday, 4 May 2018

The Mary Jones Prize

CMM are delighted to announce that Roger travelled to the Bible Society HQ in Swindon last week to collect the 2017 Mary Jones Prize (although he very wisely maintains that he already had it).

The prize is given to the person who has worked with distinction to keep alive the story of Mary Jones - the Welsh girl who saved for six years, and then, in 1800, walked 26 miles across the Welsh mountains to purchase a Bible from the Rev'd Thomas Charles. Inspired by Mary's determination, Charles was then instrumental in helping to establish the Bible Society four years later.

In composing Greater than Gold in 1983, Roger captured this story in music, bringing it to the attention of many people who may not otherwise have heard it, and it is for this reason that he has received the prize.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Month Eight in the life of an intern

Read Month Seven (March)

April is now over which means that it's time for me to try to pen another blog post. It's been a good month, which has included some new experiences as well as some more familiar ones.

My time in the office this month has mainly consisted of familiar jobs such as sorting out some sales orders (including ticket sales for Rock with an orchestra on May 19th – there's still time to buy yours if you haven't got one yet!), and I've also been working on another arrangement, although this time it's an instrumental arrangement for an upcoming gig. I've also ripped lots more tracks from CDs so that they can be used for the radio show – this can be rather tedious but it does mean that there is a library of individual tracks that can be easily drawn upon. 

Also, the impending doom that is my return to university seems to be looming ever closer (gosh that was dramatic wasn't it?!), and so this month I've started to think about what I can include in the report and portfolio that I have to complete at the end of the academic year, and the CMM office also had a visit from my tutor Clive who travelled down from Leeds to make sure that I was behaving myself. 

new, rather daunting task that I had this month was to lead a rehearsal for the West Birmingham branch of the CMM choir - as I'm not a particularly competent singer or pianist I was quite nervous about how I was going to be able to do this. Helen helped me to plan a rough schedule for my rehearsal, giving me some ideas for warm-ups and suggesting that I decide which specific bits of Rock I wanted to focus on (thanks Helen!). I also spent some time at the piano in preparation, practising trying to play as much of the 4-part vocal line as I could. This was a challenge because, as I have already mentioned, my keyboard skills are not especially well developed, and since ceasing piano lessons when I left school over two and a half years ago, I have not spent much time at all with the instrument. However, I found that I actually really enjoyed the time that I spent practising, and the improvement I saw over the few days was really encouraging. It's made me want to spend more time at the piano as it would be such a useful skill to develop further. The time I spent planning and preparing for the rehearsal meant that I went there knowing what it was that I wanted to achieve which helped give me some sense of security. Although far from perfect, I was able to play enough on the piano to get through playing the vocal lines individually and then together, before trying the songs 'for real' with the backing track. The choir were responsive, and not too scary (!) so overall, I felt that the rehearsal went well. What was even more encouraging for me was that if I'd been faced with such a task just a couple of years ago, then I almost definitely would have refused point blank, such was my fear of its requirements, therefore the fact that I did it without being completely overwhelmed is a huge personal achievement for me. I was then asked to lead a sectional with the men of the East Birmingham choir the following week – I'm not sure whether this was meant to be a reward or punishment for my performance the week before! 

Over the middle weekend in April I was part of the team for a Musical Man gig in Westward Ho!, followed the next day by the morning service in Appledore. I really enjoyed this trip, in part due to the fact that I always associate going 'down south' with going on holiday, but also the fact that, as I've now got to know a number of the CMM associates, it's really nice to then meet up with them again the next time they are on team. It's great feeling like I'm with a group of friends, rather than a group of strangers that I've only just met (although they have all been very friendly strangers)! The gig itself seemed to be well received, and on top of this, Roger's preaching on the Sunday morning really resonated with me, and so all in all it was an uplifting weekend. During my time in Devon, I believe I promised Bob a shout-out in my next blog post, so here we go: Hi Bob, it was great to see you again, well done for organising such a fantastic gig and I hope to see you again soon! 

April drew to a close with a lunch of some rather delicious Domino's pizza to celebrate my birthday. The time seems to be flying by so quickly - I can't believe I only have two months of my internship left, but there's still a good number of things going on to keep me busy, so see you all at the end of May! 

Bob, not only have you got a shout-out, there's a photo too!

Rehearsing for the morning service at Appledore Baptist

Friday, 6 April 2018

CMM Monthly ENews

Roger's Helen's April Newsletter!

Hi Everyone,

It’s Helen here, hijacking Roger’s monthly CMM eNews!  It is a big change for me being back in the CMM office again after a year away, but it is so good to see everyone and have my head in something other than nappies and annoying noisy toys.  I’m elbowing Roger out of the way this month, because he really hates blowing his own trumpet – so as a trumpeter I decided I would do it for him!

It is now over 40 years since Roger composed his first musical, Jerusalem Joy.  Since then he has amassed an amazing array of work including 23 musicals, numerous collections and now Worship Works and Spirit Works.  Over the years many, many people have learned the Bible and felt the touch of the Holy Spirit through Roger’s work.  Now I think that’s something to celebrate!

On Saturday 19th May we are having a special event to celebrate Roger’s 70th Birthday and you are all invited.  We are going to be learning and performing together the musical ROCK at the Coton Centre in Tamworth – a really wonderful arena.  So far we have an orchestra of over 30 and a choir of over 100.  But we need more (particularly singers and audience) to make it an even more wonderful and exciting day than it is going to be already.

If you’re worried about it clashing with the royal wedding or the FA Cup final, set your boxes to ‘record’ and jump in the car and drive to Tamworth!  Don’t miss out on what is going to be a really special day in the life of CMM.

Our SONG OF THE MONTH 'More Love, More Power is from Tim Jones’ backing Tracks Album “Come Holy Spirit”, in time for Pentecost.  All of Tim's tracks have a lovely style and an easy to follow piano melody.  Please download, use and enjoy!  The recordings are also available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.

Helen Pollard
Administrator and Communications Manager

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Month 7 in the life of an intern

Here we are at the end of yet another month – a month which has certainly been busier than the previous one, despite the first event, a Worship Works weekend in Windermere (try saying that quickly multiple times), being cancelled due to the ‘Beast from the East’. 

This month in the office, some of my jobs have included spending some more time using Sibelius to transpose worship songs into more suitable keys, taking some telephone orders, and proofreading the PDFs for an upcoming reprint of the Angel Voices score. This particular job was rather time-consuming, and made my brain hurt at times, however I did find it to be very satisfying in the end! I also cut up (not literally) the recently recorded DVD of the CMM Choir’s performance of Stargazers into individual tracks, adding the track information at the start of each video, in order to make it suitable for uploading to YouTube as required. It has therefore been another month of varied office jobs, which has certainly kept me on my toes!

The CMM Choir rehearsals started again at the beginning of March, and this term we are rehearsing Rock. I remember going to see Rock at DeMontfort Hall with my parents on its National Tour when I was about 11, and ever since it has been my favourite of Roger’s musicals. Perhaps now is the time to confess that 11-year-old Rachel was pretty starstruck by these people who performed in huge concert halls and went on national tours, and as a fledgling musician myself back then, I half wondered if it was something that one day I could be involved in. I wonder what 11-year-old Rachel would have thought if she’d known that 10 years later she’d be here working as an intern for CMM, alongside many of the people she’d just seen on stage?! I am therefore very much looking forward to the outings of Rock this year, especially Rock with an Orchestra on May 19th at the Coton Centre in Tamworth (that was a subtle advertising plug in case you hadn't realised).

The weekend of Palm Sunday saw two performances of Jerusalem Joy – one in Nuneaton on the Saturday, and the other at Pershore Abbey on the Sunday. Living in Hinckley, having to travel to an event in Nuneaton was a great excitement – a mere 6 minutes on the train, followed by a short walk, which is probably the least effort I’ve had to put into getting to a CMM gig thus far. Regarding the actual events however, it was interesting to compare the two, as the Nuneaton event was a ‘Musical-in-a-Day’ led by Annie, whereas the Pershore version was their own event augmented by a smaller CMM team, and I noticed that using different musicians and choir members could change the feel of a performance, though this didn’t mean that one was any better than the other. I had a different oboe part to play each day – at Nuneaton I played a transcription of the clarinet part, but Pershore had some musicians of their own (including a clarinettist), so I had spent some time in the office the previous week looking at the full score and copying and pasting bits of parts that weren’t going to be played. I therefore spent most of the time at Pershore playing a transcription of the viola part, but with other parts such as trumpet or flute cued in at the appropriate times! I very much enjoyed being a part of both performances, and I think the musical retells the Easter story in a powerful yet accessible way.

 March also saw a trip up to Scargill House in North Yorkshire for a Spirit Works weekend. I’d heard a lot of great things about Scargill, but I’d never been, and I was not disappointed. It is situated in a beautiful part of the country, which, as I discovered, is perfect for early morning runs (yes, I appear to have turned into one of THOSE people), but even this was part of an opportunity to be away from the day-to-day busyness of life and spend time in a place that is devoted to God. I’ll admit that I find Spirit Works challenging, but I felt that Scargill provided a place to wrestle with some of these challenges, and I wish we could have stayed longer – the weekend seemed to fly by. I realised that it’s not until I stop that I become aware of how busy I’ve been, and how often I've pushed God to the sidelines, and the weekend at Scargill highlighted to me how important it is to take time to rest and to reflect on God’s goodness, and I would very much like to return for a longer stay sometime. 

The (slightly) less-than-ideal weather conditions, but beautiful
setting of my early morning running at Scargill definitely
reminded me of the awesomess of God's creation!