Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Month Ten in the Life of an Intern

Read Month One (September)
Read Month Nine (May)

So this is it – my final day in the office and my final blog post. It all seems to have gone so quickly. 

June however has been quite busy, with a few gigs in the diary. The first of these was a weekend in South Wales with Helen who was leading Greater than Gold in-a-day. The Saturday got off to a great start with some parkrun tourism at the Gnoll Estate Country Park, and once we were all showered and clean we headed to the church to get ready for the event. I was playing oboe parts that I had created in the preceding weeks in the office by mashing together sections from the flute, clarinet and alto sax parts. It was rather a warm weekend (which in general was a good thing!), but unfortunately this played havoc with my reeds, so it was a bit stressful as I felt like I was fighting my oboe the whole time, but the choir and soloists did an amazing job – hats off to Helen, as the event was actually a 'Musical in-an-afternoon', yet she still managed to teach them the whole thing, and to round the day off, the performance was well appreciated by the audience. On the Sunday morning, Helen preached (very well) and the rest of us took part in the worship. The team were then treated to a lovely roast dinner cooked by Helen's mum to set us up well for the journey home! 

The following Saturday, I travelled to Kidderminster to be part of the team for a Musical Man evening with the New Life Together choir. The choir had been superbly trained and there was a large audience who seemed very responsive to Roger's testimony of God's work in his life. 

One of my office jobs this month has been to create a video of photos from Roger's 70th birthday bash in Tamworth which is now live here on the CMM Youtube channel. If you were there, see if you can spot yourself! I have also proofread the new files for the Simeon vocal score, which will be going for reprint soon. 
As my internship draws to an end, so does my time with the CMM choir. At the start of this month, I was asked to lead a rehearsal with each choir. I was pretty nervous, particularly as I hadn't led a full rehearsal with the East Birmingham choir before, however everybody survived so I guess it must have been okay! One of my lasting memories will be the incident from that week involving a rather large spider at the West Birmingham choir and the effect that it had on the front row of sopranos! Unfortunately, I have only been able to make it to one of the choir's performances of Rock, however I was very honoured to receive some lovely cards, gifts and well-wishes from the members and committee – it has been a pleasure to be part of the choirs and I very much hope that we will meet again in the future. 

As this blog post draws to a close, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone I've crossed paths with during my time with CMM – I have met some truly lovely people. I'd like to give especial thanks to Roger and Mary for taking me on, to the office staff for being so welcoming, providing me with lots of jobs to do and coping with my aversion to making tea, to all the associates I have met who have made me feel so at home when on team, to the couple I have stayed with over my office days for keeping me wonderfully well fed and watered and to the people who have given me lifts to and from stations and rehearsals. It has been a real privilege to be part of CMM this year and to have the opportunity to explore different aspects of music and faith, and the ways in which those are so closely intertwined. I am planning to stick around on the associates list so very much hope to see many of you again at some point, but for now, it's goodbye from me. 


Sunday lunch in South Wales!

Roger's June eNews

Hi Everyone – sorry I’m late with the June eNews.  Things have been very busy here at CMM!

Every Wednesday from 6-8pm Roger along with Rev Simon Gudger and Debs Mayo host a radio show called HEART & SOUL.  They feature Christian music, uplifting stories and conversation.  Please tune in and tell others! https://southbirminghamradio.uk/
It’s internet based, so you can get it on your PC, phone, tablet, etc.  If you'd like to be kept up to date each week with what is featured on the programme, follow the Facebook page @heartandsoulinspire

The CMM Choir have started their series of performances of ROCK (the story of Simon Peter).  Forthcoming productions are:
  • Sunday 24 June - Harborne Baptist Church - B17 ODH (1800 hrs)
  • Sunday 01 July - St Francis Church, Bournville - B30 2AA (1830 hrs)
  • Saturday 07 July - St Germain's Church, Edgbaston - B16 9TD (1900 hrs)
  • Saturday 14 July - St John's Church, Harborne - B17 9PT (1930 hrs)
  • Sunday 22 July - George Road Baptist Church - B23 7RY (1800 hrs)

Sadly, at the end of this month we say good bye to Rachel Haddon, our intern.  Rachel has played a wonderful role in the CMM over the last 10 months and we shall really miss her.  We wish her well as she now completes the final year of her music degree.  See the CMM Blog which contains the latest of Rachel’s report “The life of an Intern”, plus other news.

Also coming up we have a SPIRIT WORKS day at Rhos-on-Sea URC, North Wales 10am-4.30pm (contact office@cmm.org.uk or ring 01527 576440 for details)

Following a wonderful JAIL BREAK week in Grange, Cumbria, there are three more Christian music weeks to come, open all ages, abilities, singers, instrumentalists and listeners:
  • JUL 28-04 Aug (Sat-Sat) Lee Abbey, North Devon (01598 752621)
  • AUG 19-25 (Sun-Sat) Willersley Castle, Cromford, Derbys (01629 582270)
  • SEP 08-14 (Sat-Fri) Sidholme, Sidmouth, East Devon (01395 515104)

We’d love to see you at one of our events, and any publicity you can give to them will be greatly appreciated.  We really are excited about what is going on in the CMM ministry, and want to reach as many folk as possible!

Bless you all!


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