Nicknamed 'not-a-weekend away', 'Enrich 2023' consisted of a couple of nights away at the Quinta Christian Conference Centre in Shropshire with a small group of people involved in the various UCCF Leadership Networks, all meeting to think through how the gospel shapes the ways we engage with our areas of work. It was such a great chance to think about how every part of our music-making can be approached with a gospel lens. The days were bookended with two talks on ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. We were encouraged to both hunger for the bread - satisfaction – that Jesus is (John 5) and to rely on his shepherding and protection (John 10).
In the Music Network group, the two other students and I had each, prior to coming, filled in a table looking at a piece of music and our interaction with it - the ‘musicking’, i.e. our playing/practising/composing/listening/teaching etc. Then, in the sessions themselves, having given a live performance of our piece, we talked about its content and context and how that might reflect good gospel-centred truths but also how it might explicitly or implicitly contradict our faith. We took a similar approach to the musicking side, thinking and talking about at the context of our interactions with music and the goodness we could find in that, as well as aspects that might appear to offer salvation in the place of God. It was both refreshing to see the beauty and goodness in much of the music world, but also challenging to see how music can potentially be deceptive and how we can so easily idolise our interaction with it.
I looked at a contemporary unaccompanied viola piece called Perfect Storm by Pulitzer Prize winning Israeli-American composer Shulamit Ran. It was really interesting to think through what the piece’s aims could be and how the storm picture can reflect truths of the Bible. This wasn’t something I had thought about before and made me want to work through similar questions for other repertoire I play. I would definitely encourage having a go at filling in the table with something music-related you are doing at the moment (https://musicnetwork.uk/articles/seeing-every-piece-of-music-making-through-the-lens-of-the-gospel).
A few truths I took away were:
- It is good to celebrate self-discipline, creativity, and progress
- It is all too easy to rely on oneself in the practice room, resulting in worrying about performance (to teachers/audience/peers etc) due to a lack of trust and reliance in God
- The gospel offers a firm foundation – music is a gift, as are our teachers, and the time we have to work on it – we can gratefully steward these things knowing that working hard can be done in a posture of dependence
- We can look forward to the day when in the new creation our work will be redeemed, and we can continue to serve God in music-making then!
Alongside the organised time discussing these things, it was also lovely to spend time chatting to people from the other Leadership Networks (politics, art, science). They too are people keen to work well in the work God has given them, having real passion for their respective areas of expertise. It was really encouraging to see them thinking through the different challenges in their fields. It was also nice to chat to the other Leadership Network staff, spending time together over lovely food and enjoying a sunny walk with a pub trip en route!
Overall, a really refreshing ‘not-a-weekend’ –
I came away excited by how we can glorify God in our music, encouraged again to remember God’s sovereignty over everything we do, and further equipped to have conversations about Jesus in my music-making.