Solent Fellowship Band on the Isle of Wight

On 28 June 2013, the Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster John Bird) made its second visit in as many years to play an evening’s music at the Isle of Wight Corps. Happily, a calm sea and warm weather provided a relaxing prelude to a program that, in the main, featured music from the Salvation Army’s traditional repertoire.

Eric Ball’s music was featured at the beginning and end of the program. The second movement of Songs of the Morning, associated with May Pike’s words “Begin the day with God” was played as a “prayer in music”, and, as a benediction, the second movement of The Pilgrim Way with its setting of the words first published in English in the Sarum Primer of 1558:

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.

As a major contribution to the first half of the program, the band played another Ball composition, Constant Trust, with references to “Trusting Jesus day by day”.

The audience was knowledgeable, sensitive to the playing of the band, responding appropriately to the music, and clearly understanding the meaning that the music portrayed.

Of course, there was fun. Two great marches were included, South Coast (Martyn Thomas) and Star Lake (Eric Ball), the latter taken at a lively pace for an excellent timbrel display by ladies from the host Corps. The Fellowship Band’s soloists were in top form. Martyn Thomas (cornet) played In the Love of Jesus with purity of sound and musical sensitivity. Callam Carter (tenor horn) gave another exciting performance of the Rondo from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4. There was also a sparkling cornet trio, The Veterans (Ray Steadman-Allen), played by Aubrey Ford, David Morris and Simon Easton. This was balanced by the trombone feature From That Sacred Hill (Dick Krommenhoek).

The “Message in Song” portion of the concert included At This Day’s End sung by Adrian Griffiths, Leslie Condon’s arrangement of When Jesus Looked O’er Galilee (Catherine Baird/Ernest Fewster) as a band song accompanied by the trombones, and two congregational songs, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” and “How Great Thou Art”.

Other items from the Fellowship Band included Procession to Covenant (William Himes), My Comfort and Strength (Brian Bowen) conducted by assistant conductor David Samuels, In Quiet Pastures (Ray Steadman-Allen), and the finale from Rossini’s William Tell Overture to end the concert.

Prayer was offered by Derek Smith and a Bible reading by Trevor Dawson. Words of welcome came from Paul Ellis, who plays with the Fellowship Band when the ferries from the Isle allow, and words of appreciation from Isle of Wight Corps Bandmaster Michael Jones, who played in the Fellowship Band in its early years and who expressed his delight with an evening Salvation Army music “with a message”.

The concert over, there were brief farewells and a rush to the ferry port in mini-buses driven by stalwarts Doug Hulme and Martyn Harris to meet the last evening ferry to the mainland. The ferry was delayed as always, this time (it was said) for fear of running aground because of a very low tide. But the members of the band were finally able to form a long and orderly queue at the food bar on the ferry, and another calm sea ended a musically prosperous voyage across the Solent as the lights along the Island shore faded and those of Portsmouth came into view.

Solent Fellowship Band web site