Josie Moon

Poet, Musician and Educator

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New Adventures

The Poetry Cafe @ Riverhead Coffee

Following on from our enjoyable National Poetry Day events La Luna is very pleased to announce that in partnership with Riverhead Coffee we will be hosting a regular Poetry Cafe event for poets, writers and audiences to enjoy an afternoon of readings and conversation about writing.  The first Poetry Cafe will take place on Thursday 2nd November at Riverhead Coffee between 3.00 -5.00 pm and this first event is open to anyone to come along and read. We plan to run this event monthly and to have many poets and writers from our region joining us.

We were sorry to have to cancel the Poetry Tea today but even poets get poorly and we will reschedule this event as soon as we are able. 

Great Grimsby Community Choir GGCC

Following our very happy and successful move to St Mark’s church where we are settling in very nicely GGCC now has a packed autumn schedule of events and performances. We are thrilled to be singing this Sunday as part of The Fisherman’s Memorial Service at Grimsby Minster. The service starts at 2.00 pm and all are welcome to come along. We have some lovely songs to sing including Jo Townell’s arrangements of You Know You’re Home and Cold Winds Blow both by McCarthy and Moon and written specifically about the Grimsby fishing heritage.

Thanks to our friend Ian Pickles at The Peoples Magazine we have a lovely new logo.

Choir 01 (2)

For regular information about what GGCC are up to why not like our new Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/GGCommunitychoir/

 

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Great Grimsby Community Choir, Singing For Life

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The happy choir!

 

It’s a delight to announce the new beginning for the Great Grimsby Community Choir. We will be Singing for Life every Monday evening in our new base, St Mark’s Church, Laceby Road and we are already preparing for our first public performance of this exciting and busy term.

Our inclusive choir is open to anyone over the age of 14 regardless of singing ability or experience. We believe that every unique voice has a place in the choir and that everyone can develop their singing and gain enormous pleasure and satisfaction from the experience.  We love singing together and we are constantly adding to our repertoire and trying out new material.

We operate a flexible membership as we understand that people are busy and have many commitments in their lives. Our members come when they can and commit to what they can manage. The weekly fee is just £4 and we also run a raffle and refreshments to add to our resources.

Everyone is welcome to come along and join us and we hope to see lots of new faces this term alongside our fabulous regular members.

Best regards

Josie Moon

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A Junior Fish Tale

This week I’ve been working in local primary schools giving workshops in readiness for the MAPAS (music and performing arts service) Key Stage 2 Singing Festival in July.  As part of our Arts Council funded jazz and poetry project we’ve written a junior version of A Fish Tale. It features a narrative set across three time zones and eight original songs telling stories about Grimsby’s fishing heritage.

Pat McCarthy and I wrote the songs together using different genres to make the piece as varied and dynamic for the children as possible and to introduce them to styles they might not have come across before. We’ve got rock and reggae, folk, gospel, a sea shanty, a lullaby, a nursery rhyme and a hymn. This week we’ve delivered 9 workshops in 8 schools working with about 30 children at a time and next week we have a further 7 workshops in 7 schools.

Working with children in this way is exhausting and exciting in equal measure. All schools are different in terms of atmosphere and of course all children are different because they’re all unique little humans. We’ve heard some gorgeous singing this week and seen such enthusiasm for the songs and the story. It’s been a lovely experience.

Music education is vital to children’s artistic and emotional growth. I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying it, singing is a birthright and we each carry our own unique instrument, our voice with us. Singing with children is uplifting and energising. Watching them grow in joy and confidence over these two-hour workshops has been extraordinary; gratifying and moving.

The cuts to arts education have been devastating over recent years and are set to continue if a Tory majority is returned on June 8th. It really isn’t party political to fear the impact of further cuts in arts education, simply realistic; fewer music teachers, less music in school, fewer musicians for the future. Ultimately, fewer projects like these that inspire children not just to learn about music but also about history, stories and superstitions. The kids have loved hearing about witches stealing egg shells to sail away in and cause havoc in the Arctic.

There have been many moments of joy and fun this week – kids say lovely things that charm, disarm and frankly stun you sometimes. We’ve had all of that this week. For me, a truly profound moment was reading the school creed for Western Primary School, shared here with kind permission of the head and staff. What a beautiful, inclusive and humane message the creed conveys. I stood and read it over and over before the children arrived to do the workshop and I thought, yes, if we all took this on and applied it to our communities, we’d change the world beyond recognition.

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Music, Emotion and Meaning

It’s been a few days since attending a concert at the beautiful Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performed Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Offertorium by Sofia Gubaidulina and Vaughan William’s Symphony Number 3, A Pastoral Symphony.

Experiences of music performed by such outstanding musicians in what is an aural paradise of a building deserve reflection before pen is put to paper. I have thought about the experience a great deal since it happened on Sunday night.

Both Tallis and Vaughan Williams are composers whose work touches me deeply. The listening experience is always worthwhile and satisfying but there is something beyond listening that happens when I encounter their work.

At the very beginning of April I had the pleasure of singing Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with a vast choir in Hull City Hall and it is a challenging and exciting work to sing with equal moments of the near impossible alongside the sublime.  I have therefore been immersed in his work for some time and feel as if I am approaching a deeper understanding of him as an artist. On Sunday night I felt washed in the choirs of strings during the Fantasia and transported to that world in which one composer speaks across centuries to another. I didn’t want the Fantasia to end and felt it as a balm to my spirit as it rose and fell and weaved a spell to which I was able to surrender completely.

Gubaidulina is a composer with whom I am not so familiar. Her Offertorium like the Fantasia is a work that draws on themes written by another composer, in this case Bach’s Musikalisches Opfer (BWV 1079).  Offertorium is a concerto for violin and orchestra and it was beautifully executed, particularly by the soloist Vadim Gluzman whose passion and virtuosity were faultless. Having learned a little in advance about Gubaidulina, a Russian born composer with deep spiritual and mystical sensibility at odds with the politics of Soviet Russia I was intrigued by the piece. I listened to it before the concert and found it hard going and hoped that live I would engage with it better.

Prior to the performance Vadim Gluzman spoke about his own spirituality and about what Gubaidulina wanted to express in the piece; Christian principles of self sacrifice, hope, love particularly. I struggled to find hope in the piece as it unfolded. I found it unsettling, dark and ultimately upsetting. For thirty-two minutes there was a relentless darkness that enveloped and affected me to the point where I could feel rage, sadness and profound loss threatening to swallow me. I could appreciate the piece’s brilliance and it’s structural bravery, tackling Bach and deconstructing then reconstructing the theme. The delivery was extraordinary but I was left bereft by it.

During the interval the light began to return and I felt my rage dissipate. I was grateful to return to the concert hall to hear The Pastoral Symphony as the final item of the program. Vaughan Williams was moved to write the symphony in response to the mass deaths of the First World War. It is a most moving and elegiac work and a total contrast to the Offertorium. Light floods in through the symphony bringing hope, a sense of redemption and pure love and honour towards those who were sacrificed in their millions between 1914-1918.

The beautiful trumpet cadenza  in the second movement was inspired by Vaughan Williams’ experience of hearing the lone bugler on the battlefield play an accidental seventh rather than the octave. The sweet poignancy of the cadenza was restorative and generous after the harsh atonality of the Offertorium. 

The Pastoral Symphony finishes with a lone singer singing a song without words, bringing the work back to silence. The rich voice of the baritone on Sunday night was a voice singing for the dead but instead of feeling overwhelmed by rage and sadness I felt connected to humanity at a compassionate level, at the level of love. Vaughan Williams’ music does that for me, it brings me to love and to a sense of great peace and inner stillness.

It’s hard to countenance the horror of war or life under the dark oppression of Soviet Russia. Music is one of the ways in which humans make meaning out of experience. Music makes sense of the world in the same way that poetry and art make sense of the world. We owe much to artists for making meaning in these ways. For me there must be light in the work and hope. As the days have passed since Sunday and I’ve dealt with myself and the world, as we all do, every day I have made space for the light. I have turned my face away from the rage and the sadness of life; not because it isn’t there, it always is, but because the light and hope have more to offer in the end.