Canadian Staff Band 35th Anniversary Festival

The Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster Kevin Hayward) gathered on 1 May 2004 with guest soloists Curtis Metcalf (euphonium) and Jens Lindemann (trumpet), for a concert celebrating the band’s 35th anniversary. Also participating in the weekend were former bandmasters Lt.-Colonel Norman Bearcroft and Brian Burditt. The venue was the Bayview Glen Alliance Church in Toronto, where the large stage held the formation for a massed band including current members and alumni, about 75 players.

Following a massed rehearsal and a dinner for the associated participants and their families, the concert began with Lt.-Col. Bearcroft conducting his own march, Wreath of Courage. The first of the guest soloists, Canadian trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann, performed Joshua Swings the Battle (Stephen Bulla), which is included on the recording, entitled Rising Sun he recently made with the Staff Band and which was released on the anniversary weekend.

Next, the band presented a new work from Captain Leonard Ballantine, music and gospel arts secretary for Canada and Bermuda. The piece, Heartbeat, features four popular contemporary worship songs. Euphonium soloist Curtis Metcalf, a former principal with the Staff Band and now affiliated with the Hannaford Street Silver Band in Toronto, played the solo Botanicus. Written by Canadian composer Charles Cozens and premiered by Metcalf with Hannaford Street in 1998, the music describes various flowers visited during a day in the life of a bumblebee. An unusual and challenging piece for a Salvation Army band and audience, it was nonetheless extraordinarily performed. Metcalf’s other offering later in the concert was Glorious Liberation (Ivor Bosanko), a solo that he played during his time in the Staff Band, most notably during the band’s 1985 tour.

Lindemann also contributed further to the first half of the festival, showing his versatility by playing flügelhorn in an arrangement of the Adagio from Rodrigo’s concerto for guitar. The band performed Riverdance, with Lindemann handling flügelhorn, trumpet, and piccolo trumpet solos. Other items in the first half included a vocal item, Goodbye, Cruel World, with the male voices accompanied by Scott Gross and Noel Samuels on tuba and Steve Pavey and Jim MacArthur on euphonium. The band also played The Kingdom of God (Eric Alexander) and The Last Amen (Peter Graham).

The second half of the program saw the band expand as former members joined in. Many of the items presented were part of the band’s repertoire in previous decades, punctuated by Lt.-Col. Bearcroft’s humorous tales from the early days of the Staff Band. Items included one of the first pieces written for the band, Bearcroft’s Just Like John. His arrangement of The Londonderry Air was conducted by former bandmaster Brian Burditt. Another Bearcroft selection, conducted by the composer, was the euphonium duet Timepiece, presented as a double quartet of present and former soloists. Former bandmaster Colonel Robert Redhead, unable to attend the weekend, was represented with his composition Reflections in Nature. Another “historical” item was the classic street march Montreal Citadel (Norman Audoire), a long-time feature on Staff Band programs.

Trumpet soloist Lindemann returned for two more items, Slavische Fantasie and a tender rendition of Someone to Watch Over Me. The latter was a favorite of Lindemann’s father-in-law, who was recently killed in a tragic traffic accident. Lindemann also gave a touching acknowledgment of the Staff Band and Bandmaster Hayward’s support during this recent loss. This was followed with a devotional period, including a massed male chorus singing Bearcroft’s arrangement of “I Know Thee Who Thou Art”, entitled The Calvary Track.

Former principal cornet Deryck Diffey moved back to his old position for Songs of Newfoundland, the final feature of the program, conducted by the composer, Lt.-Col. Bearcroft. The concert ended with the benediction God Be With You Till We Meet Again, sung by the massed band.

Canadian Staff Band web site