SSG Summer School 2004

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mcb
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SSG Summer School 2004

Post by mcb » Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:01 pm

A survivor writes...

Well, I made it home again, exhausted and reeling after my first experience of an SSG Summer School. What an experience – five days packed with enough education, entertainment and provoking-of-thought to last a whole year. Something of a cross between a high-powered retreat and a Star Trek convention, I reckon, if that doesn’t sound unkind – I mean it entirely affectionately: it was a real joy to spend time with people who know and care about the same things I do, especially when plenty of the people there seemed to know vastly more than me and to care even more too.

The talks were certainly a high point. They were all good in different ways, but I especially appreciated Aidan Rossiter's session on the Mass, which was packed with penetrating observations concerning things I'd seen and heard thousands of times but never noticed or never thought about before; and Andy Raine's talk on Mission, which startled me by seeming to be addressed to me personally. How does he do that?

I went to Christopher Walker's workshops. He was his usual self – entertaining and challenging, putting across his big idea of recent years, that for a church choir it matters more to connect with the meaning of the words of a song than to fuss over the technicalities of the music. He's a brilliant and inspirational music leader, and it's hard for a mere mortal to take his ideas away and act on them without the underpinning of his great charisma.

The quiz was another highlight – I'm Sorry I Haven't A Pew. Two teams of three subjected to ingenious parodies of familiar rounds from radio and TV panel games, courtesy of quizmaster Paul Moynihan (who must have spent a whole year assembling the ideas). I felt my life had reached a high point of sorts when I watched the panellists trying to talk without hesitation, deviation or repetition about Eucharistic Prayer I! And the round of Feel the Cleric had to be seen to be believed. Paul Wellicome amply demonstrated his credentials as a true master of dramatic arts in the round of charades involving scenes from the Bible. This man successfully mimed, get this, the Transfiguration. Cool!

I'm a cathedral musician, so I'm spoilt. Week in week out we sing high quality music, old and new, and have the resources to sing whatever the liturgy requires without (too much) having to cut our coat to fit the cloth. So although Paul Inwood was a suave and benign musical director, I found the musical fare at the Summer School fairly familiar and routine. Maybe I was a tiny bit disappointed that the liturgies didn't cover a wider range of musical genres and provide more in the way of challenges. Musically the best things were the ones I don't come across regularly, which for me meant singing in the Gospel Choir and listening to the (so-called) Beginners' Choir, which did wonderful things with Zulu chants and the like. (Both were led by Bill Tamblyn, as caustic as Paul Inwood is emollient, but equally good at getting results.)

Perhaps the things which made the greatest impression on me were the non-musical aspects of the wonderfully creative liturgies (thank you, Peter Jones). While I'm spoilt for good music when I'm 'at home', we don’t get much in the way of 'good silences', and the moments of silence (and the skill in timing them) I found truly moving. Doing simple things with scriptural texts also made an impression – it's amazing how simple repetition of a short phrase, punctuated by silences, can make that phrase sink in so much deeper than hearing it once, maybe embedded in the lengthy text of 'a reading'. It didn't all work, I felt: the times when we had a long (repetition-free) passage of scripture broken up by music and silences, I found I just couldn't hold the text in my mind long enough to stitch it all together. But there was enough to take away and chew over in the things that worked.

Most of all, the thing that made the Summer School worthwhile all by itself was the people who were there, sharing their experiences and their hopes and frustrations. It's good to know you're not alone.

Will I go again? I certainly hope so.

M.

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presbyter
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summer school

Post by presbyter » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:29 pm

I'd just like to say that I didn't find the swimming pool :(

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mcb
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Post by mcb » Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:12 pm

I'd just like to say that I found the bar! :?

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Post by Tsume Tsuyu » Wed Aug 04, 2004 8:51 am

Well, I've hung up my Spock ears for another year :lol: and I have come down to earth with a bump after a wonderful summer school.

This was my third and I think it has been the best so far. I was very appreciative of the liturgies and liked the continuity of Morning and Evening Prayer, using the same songs and psalms over the week. Some of the music used was new to me and some very familiar. I think the balance was about right for me. Not everything appealed, but I did learn some quite beautiful new pieces – Chris Walker's 'Our Father' was one that particularly struck me although I don't usually like to sing the Lord's Prayer. As for Paul Inwood, well, I've not met him before and I am sorry to say that I was in awe of him for almost the entire week. I only struck up conversation with him on the morning we were due to leave and I was then sorry I hadn't spoken to him sooner. His musical directorship was calm and measured and he seemed to extract what he wanted from us in a very quiet way, almost without us noticing. I did sometimes wish he would let us see a bit more of what he was feeling.

The workshops I attended (Chris Walker's Spiritual Journey of a Choir and Bill Tamblyn's 'Reluctant Choristers' as he called them!) were well delivered and provided lots of useful information. Chris was a little less flamboyant than usual, I thought, and I was very appreciative of some of the suggestions he made to re-focus a choir on its purpose. Bill was just Bill! His workshop was for beginners to choral singing. Whilst not a beginner, I am one of those who 'always sings the tune'. I wanted to try a different part and increase my confidence to sing in parts. I did both of these, but I don't think any of us were expecting to use Zulu chant to achieve our goals!

Throughout the week, we journeyed along the Road to Emmaus and everything we did seemed to feed into that journey. The lectures were extremely thought provoking and each speaker complemented the one before. There were so many links, overlaps and connections (not just between the main speakers, but with what the workshop leaders were saying also) that one imagined they had all spent weeks together, planning. Not so, I understand. This was the Holy Spirit at work, then! The lecture by Andy Raine could never be put to paper and have the same impact as it did when Andy delivered it. And I'm sorry, mcb, but he was talking to me, not you! :-) His theme was mission. He reminded us that we are here to bless others – we should be showering blessings on all those we meet. He used a wonderful analogy – a piece of white paper upon which someone has drawn with a clear glue stick. You can't see where the glue is but, if you pour glitter over the page and shake it off, you will see where the glitter has stuck. Andy entreated us to pour blessings on all we meet. Some of those blessings will stick and those that don't will return to shower us. We don't need to worry about what sticks where, we just get on with the job of pouring and God will do the rest!

Like mcb, the Choral Society, led by Bill Tamblyn, was one of the highlights for me although I confess that I hadn't expected Gospel singing. It was an amazing experience but the best bit, by far, was seeing the look of pleasure on the faces of all those who took part. Over breakfast on Friday, Abbot Alan Rees said to me that the last thing he thought he'd find himself doing was singing (and dancing and clapping) in a Gospel Choir, but that he had loved it!

Another highlight for me was the liturgical dances that were incorporated into some of the main liturgies and, in particular, the dance depicting the events of Pentecost. I don't think I shall ever forget the sight of little Martha Raine (Andy's 5 year old daughter), as the Holy Spirit. Finally, I must just mention the look of absolute joy on the face of one, rather mature, Sister who took part in the Choral Singing for Beginners workshop with me. At the end of the last session she turned to me and said "Hasn't this been wonderful? Who'd have ever thought that I would be singing in Zulu and dancing! It's never too late to embark on a new challenge." How right she is!

I agree with mcb that what made Summer School so special was the people. I truly feel that blessings were poured down on me by all those I came into contact with last week. I'm sure I must have been sparkling when I left!!!!

TT

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Re: Summer School

Post by Dory » Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:18 pm

presbyter wrote:I'd just like to say that I didn't find the swimming pool :(


Dear Presbyter
Where were you ?? The timetable for Monday 26 July reads
4pm (or thereabouts) SITE TOUR :lol:

I didn't get to the pool either, despite all good intentions and packing the cozzie. Just not enough hours in the day to fit everything in, but I did know where it was!

An excellent SS, more of which anon.
D.

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Dory
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Re: Summer School

Post by Dory » Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:18 pm

Does that make me a fish out of water????
D.

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Re: Summer School

Post by presbyter » Wed Aug 04, 2004 7:05 pm

Dory wrote:Where were you ?? The timetable for Monday 26 July reads
4pm (or thereabouts) SITE TOUR :lol:


Still on the A120/130 I think - musicus' instructions about New Hall being off the Cheltenham ring road confused me

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Summer School talks in print

Post by musicus » Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:03 pm

I understand that the plan is for this year's excellent Summer School talks to be printed in Music & Liturgy, the quarterly journal of the SSG. All being well, Fr Allen Morris' introductory talk and Abbot Alan Rees' talk on the Word of God will appear in the next issue, and Fr Aidan Rossiter's talk on the Eucharist and Andy Raine's on Mission are scheduled to appear in subsequent issues.

SSG members receive Music & Liturgy as part of their subscription. Just click on SSG Home Page in the top right-hand corner of this page to find out more about the SSG.

Musicus

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Post by presbyter » Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:41 pm

I'd just like to say that I enjoyed it ;) Will that do for a report?

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SSG summer school

Post by organist » Sun Oct 03, 2004 6:49 am

I loved it - it was the best yet! Swimming pool fantastic but I have been there before. It's all a matter of planning. Get up early and go straight from the pool to breakfast thus feeling ready and refreshed for fantastic days full of wonderful music and liturgy. And the real love and support when you share your experiences - truly the Spirit is in this place and this time together.

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