The weekend of 6 – 7 March 2004 saw the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster Kevin Hayward) make a short journey to London, Ontario. The weekend schedule consisted of afternoon master classes on Saturday afternoon, a joint festival featuring the Staff Band and the London Citadel Band (Bandmaster John Lam), and Sunday services at the Citadel. The weekend concluded with a musical meeting on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday afternoon was spend in master classes, coordinated by Bandmaster Hayward. Members of the London Citadel Band, Ontario West Divisional Youth Band, and Ontario West Reservist Band attended the classes. The afternoon featured Bandmaster Hayward conducting short rehearsals with the youth and reservist bands, while other members of the Staff Band assisted in the various sections of the groups.
The festival on Saturday evening was a shared event with the Staff Band and the London Citadel Band both participating. The first half of the concert featured alternating performances. The bands then joined into a large massed group for the second half. The concert, entitled “Let There Be Praise!”, started with the Citadel Band playing a traditional march, Deeds of Valour (Bramwell Coles), while the Staff Band entered the hall. The Staff Band began the festival proper with Andrew Mackereth’s energetic Celebrate.
Following opening remarks from the leader for the evening, former Staff Band euphonium soloist Major Bill Brown, the Staff Band presented Exultate (Kenneth Downie). The Citadel Band, up next, featured Craig Woodland on cornet, playing Caprice for Cornet (William Himes). The choice of music was particularly fitting for the occasion, as the composer’s sister and other family members had traveled from Flint, Michigan to attend the festival. This was followed by a performance of A Quiet Place (David Mills) by the Staff Band.
The Junior Band from London Citadel was accompanied by the Staff Band for the next item, William Himes’ lighthearted medley Classics in Brass. This piece, specifically intended for young people to play along with a full band, is primarily based on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Ninth Symphony. Quotes from other classical works, including “Also Sprach Zarathrutra” by Richard Strauss, “Minuet in G” (Bach), the “1812 Overture” (Tchaikovsky) and more Beethoven, from the familiar “5th Symphony”.
The first half of the program concluded with two works from the pen of James Curnow. The Citadel Band presented the suite Jubilation, followed by the Staff Band’s presentation of the challenging work Trittico, which was written as a test piece for the National Brass Band Championship in the Netherlands, and features the old hymn “Consolation”.
In the second half of the program, the bands performed as a massed unit. The first item was In Good Company (Dudley Bright), a setting of the contemporary worship song “Lord, I Life Your Name on High” coupled with a 16th-century-style fanfare. The massed bands accompanied the London Citadel Timbrels in a drill set to Goldcrest (James Anderson). The versatility of the brass band was demonstrated with contrasting items, March of the Toreadors from Bizet’s Carmen Suite (arr. Keith Manners) and the big-band style Bugler’s Holiday (Leroy Anderson).
The central portion of the second half was a devotional thought from Major Bill Brown, bracketed by two items, A Little Prayer (Evelyn Glennie, arr. Robert Childs) and Solidarity , a setting of the well-loved song “It Is Well With My Soul”, arranged by former Staff Bandmaster Robert Redhead.
The concert concluded in thunderous fashion as the massed bands presented Peter Graham’s transcription of Pines of the Appian Way, from Respighi’s classic work The Pines of Rome.
Major Bill Brown was again the speaker for Sunday morning services, which were led by the Staff Band’s Executive Officer, Lt.-Colonel Merv Leach (Ret). Featured items in the morning service included The Wonder of It All (arr. Kenneth Smith), My Treasure (Wilfred Heaton) and To Worship (Ian Robinson), with cornet soloist Steve Brown. The Citadel Songsters contributed to the worship with the contemporary song Total Praise.
The afternoon meeting featured the youth of the Citadel, with the YP Band and Junior Timbrels featured. Staff Band items in the afternoon included Trailblazers (Andrew Mackereth) and Jubilee (Paul Drury).