Ministry Weekend at Cambridge

There was a real sense of intrigue and excitement as the Ministry Weekend at Cambridge (Bandmaster Dr. Stephen Cobb) arrived in Newmarket on Saturday, 27 April 2013, for a ministry weekend hosted by Cambridge Citadel. The Staff Band had the privilege of playing at the world-renowned Tatttersall’s Sale Ring – not a first for brass bands, but definitely a first for the ISB.

The Saturday evening festival, played in the unique setting, commenced with the popular Temple 125 (Kevin Larsson) before moving on to The Lord Bless You and Keep You (Paul Sharman) and an exciting work by Steven Ponsford, The Day of the Lord.

Soloists for the evening included the Staff Band’s recently appointed principal cornet, Carl Neilsen, who played Victorious. Derick Kane (euphonium) contributed Air ’N Variations (Stephen Bulla) and Richard Woodrow (flügelhorn) offered Through the Fair. The final soloist was principal trombone Andrew Justice with Blessed Assurance.

The first half concluded with Paul Sharman explaining the thoughts and meanings behind his piece, Quest, which was originally written for the Territorial Youth Band in 2012. This item, along with several other pieces featured during the weekend, is planned to be on the band’s next repertoire recording.

The Staff Band welcomed the audience back to their seats for the second half with a new arrangement of Every Time I Feel the Spirit (arr. Jones) before presenting a new piece by Captain Martin Cordner, Call of the Gospel. Darren Shaw’s Guardian of My Soul continues to be an item that resonates with both musicians and audience, providing an appropriate link to the challenging message brought by Major Noel Wright, the executive officer of the band. Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) brought a great evening to a close.

The Staff Band moved to the Cambridge Citadel hall for Sunday services, which included excellent contributions from the host corps’ Singing Company and Songsters. Major Wright continued his theme of “Commending Christ” as he engaged and challenged the congregation. A highlight of the band’s participation was the meditation Just As I Am (Wilfred Heaton).

The Sunday afternoon festival featured cornet soloist Gavin Lamplough, who played Tucker, and a euphonium duet, Brilliante, from Derick Kane and Jonathan Evans. The Staff Band continued to present music from the 1970s, featured on the latest Heritage Series recording, including The Warrior Psalm (Ray Steadman-Allen) and New Frontier (William Himes).

Other items presented in the afternoon included Unconquered (Arthur Gullidge), Life Ablaze (Steven Ponsford), Fill the World with Glory (Kevin Larsson) and Come Home (David Catherwood). A real feature of the afternoon was the band’s tribute to the host corps, Arise, a Mighty Army. This piece was composed by Dudley Bright to celebrate the corps’ 125th annivesary. The composer was present and was asked to conduct the Staff Band for this item.

Ministry Weekend at Cambridge web site, original report by Simon Scott