Friday 3 July 2015

Barnabas time!

While all of those events and the finishing of the biography happened during April and May, there was a bigger project bubbling away under the surface - Roger's brand new musical, Barnabas.

Alison and Roger
Roger and Alison had been working hard for much of 2014 on the musical, getting the music and lyrics just right.  Then in December we auditioned for soloists, and we just couldn't choose!
Barnabas - Bill Carpenter
Saul - Devon Brown
John Mark - Richard Harvey
Rhoda - Ann Steer and Yvette Roberts
Miriam - Amy Carter and Catherine Muggleton

Some of the Barnabas soloists
There were others who auditioned that we hope to use as soloists as the musical develops and we take it to different places around the country.  Watch this space!

The soloists began meeting together with Roger to learn their words, and Helen along with Annie put together a group of backing vocalists ready to go into the studio.  And during this time Tim, Chris, Annie and Helen were working on the backing tracks.

Most of the team at the rehearsal day
Then came the first big day - April 18th.  Helen, Annie and the backing vocalists - Chris, Paul, Chris, Dave, Phil, Sarah, Carolynn and Katie - gathered at Lickey Church for the morning to learn the choir music.  At the same time the soloists gathered at CMM.  Then in the afternoon everyone gathered together to rehearse and then a special 'practice performance' was put on in front of a small audience at the church.  The aim behind the day was for everyone to get a good feel for the musical - particularly what expression they might put in when they sing in the studio.  It also helped Roger and Alison to hear the whole thing performed so that they could have the luxury of making tweaks and changes.

The backing vocals group
The following week the backing vocals group went into the studio, and for the first time rather than singing, Helen conducted.  The aim was to enable the group to put in more dynamics and expression than had previously been possible.  The recording went very smoothly, although the first evening particularly was very long.  Chris also was very helpful and stayed behind to put some soprano sax on the recording too.

Five of the soloists
A few days later the soloists had their opportunity.  Poor Ann had a very bad throat, but we're still pleased with what she managed to sing.  Each of the soloists did wonderfully well - the challenge came particularly with the spoken sections, and trying to make them sound authentic and not stilted.  It was a really fun few days and the recording was really beginning to take shape.

The strings in action
Next into Chris' studio were the strings under Annie's excellent leadership.  It was wonderful that she could be joined by Libby and Heather on violin.  The live strings make a massive difference to our recordings and we are so grateful to Libby and Heather for giving us the time in their busy CBSO schedules.

Michael laying down some guitar
We are delighted that for the first time Michael Jones has been able to put some guitar onto a couple of the tracks Tim has created.  Michael has been improving hugely as a guitarist over the last few years, and it is so wonderful that a new generation of the Jones family can contribute to a recording.

Church recording day
Other than a tiny bit of flute and trumpet from Helen and the final mix with Roger, the last thing to go on the recording is a huge congregational sound.  On Saturday 20th June over 150 people gathered at Christ Church, Burney Lane for our special church recording day.  We were incredibly blessed to have so many people join us, from all over the country.  Roger and Annie conducted specially selected parts of the musical, Amy was in control of the music on the screen, and Helen and Keith were at the back of the church controlling the backing tracks.  At the same time Chris was all set up in the side chapel with his equipment, capturing what was an amazing sound.

Chris in the side-chapel
The earliest mixes with the congregation sound brilliant - this is possibly the best recording of the large group we have ever achieved.  Huge thanks to Keith for his sneaky feed of the backing track through the hearing loop system - everyone with a hearing aid was able to keep the church in tune and in time!  Huge thanks too to all those who helped out with refreshments and bookstall.  It was a manic day and we wouldn't have managed without you!

One last thing to do.  The music book, Barnabas has been dedicated to Pat, who has been a member of the CMM choir for years, a huge supporter of the ministry and prayer warrior, and a family friend who has stuck by the Jones family through thick and thin.
Roger and Pat
Some of the team at the rehearsal day
The backing vocals group in action
Bill and Devon in the studio
Catherine in the studio
Chris with his 'assistant'
The men at the church recording day
The ladies take a turn to record

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