Gill Sutton is one of our Viola players and passionate about music and mission. Fresh back from France, Gill gives us a glimpse of some of the highlights of this years tour.
“My connection with Noel goes back many years to studying music at the Guildhall where Noel was teaching. I played viola with ASO frequently in its’ early days and have recently reconnected with them. It was a thrill to be invited to join the recent ‘tour de France’ which coincided with the popular race, but felt confident that our presence would have a more long- term effect!
I am passionate about music and mission, so these two weeks combining worship with outreach were an excellent match. It was delightful to spend time with the 25-strong orchestral members, many of whom I knew already from other playing contexts, and to make new friends. From the outset, everyone was loving and inclusive which I believe had a unifying effect on our sound. Our desire to devote ourselves to producing the best possible music as an act of worship had a powerful impact on audiences. We certainly felt God’s presence in the various venues where we played. (This is just as well, since perspiration challenges throughout pieces with no rests were constant!)
As ever, Noel crafted a programme that extended musical taste parameters from Carmen extracts to Carousel to the Sister Act version of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, who I’m sure would have been pleased to see the audiences’ delighted faces. Narration and translation gave opportunity to explain our faith motivation but it was not appropriate to offer direct personal challenges. The contribution of our two proficient singers, Andrew Finden and Sidina Gope-Fenopej created a dynamic current of connection between stage and audience, enticing the most skeptical of listeners to taste this new musical experience and delight in its’ effect.
I was aware of the secular society in France and its’ spiritual barrenness but seeing the reality for myself was significant. We met a number of English couples whose obedience to God’s call has brought them to sleepy villages to lead churches comprising a handful of expats with little interest in Christianity from the wider community. This made the impact of our concerts even more poignant and we were thrilled to hear about many ‘outsiders’ who came for the music but departed with so much more to think through. I felt that every note played was worthwhile, since God had purposefully attracted those present to taste of his water of life and they would not go away without drinking of it in some measure.
After six venues in the Poitou-Charentes area, a smaller group of us travelled further afield to Blois for the last few days. Once again, the sound of the offering resonated with the intrigue of the audience who stood clapping, repeatedly asking for encore after encore!
Personally, I felt so privileged to contribute to the essential work of ‘break up the fallow ground’ amongst people who have no concept of ‘what God has prepared for those who love him’. There was even time for canoeing, cycling on bikes for five and memorable star-gazing! Thank you ASO for the privilege of being part of a sound which is kingdom investment.”
See our ASOenFrance Facebook page for more about the ministry in France