In 1906, an official Board of Enquiry certified that the band at Consett had the honor of being the first Salvation Army Corps Band, with its beginning in 1879. Since the 50th in 1929, major anniversaries of the band’s founding have been occasions for a visit from the International Staff Band, and the 125th anniversary was no exception. Bandmaster Stephen Cobb and the ISB journeyed north to Consett on 25 September 2004 for a weekend celebration.
The weekend’s activities began with a civic reception at the newly renovated Empire Theatre, originally opened in 1885. The Staff Band was greeted by the current Bandmaster of the Consett Band, Jeff Baker, and Councillor Cathy Clarke, who holds the chair of the Derwentside District Council. The festival began with the march Montclair Citadel. This was followed by cornet soloist Martyn Bryant, playing a new work from the pen of Kenneth Downie based on the hymn tune Crugybar. This slow melody solo was contrasted with the next item, Glorifico Aeturnum (Dean Jones). Other soloists who contributed to the festival included Kevin Ashman (cornet), Derick Kane (euphonium), Andrew Justice (trombone), and Gary Rose (vocal).
The major works presented were My Strength, My Tower (Dean Goffin) and On Ratcliff Highway, Ray Steadman-Allen’s musical painting of the early-day Salvation Army marching through London’s East End. Other items offered by the band included Heart Beat (Leonard Ballantine), Shekinah (Kenneth Downie), and From That Sacred Hill (Dirk Krommenhoek). The final note was sounded with Ray Farr’s exuberant arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata in D minor.
On Sunday, the band participated in the morning worship and then marched down Sherburne Terrace for an open-air meeting. Windy conditions, common in the Consett area, made this meeting a challenge, well-met by the band. The final event of the weekend was an afternoon festival at the Consett Corps hall. In addition to the Staff Band, the Consett youth band and senior songster brigade performed in the afternoon. Staff band soloists included Matthew Cobb (cornet) and Jonathan Miller (horn). Other band items included a new work from Canadian Territorial Music Secretary Leonard Ballantine, Covenant Worship. Lorne Barry’s new piece Trinity was also featured, and the band presented two items by Edward Gregson, the march Dalarö and Variations on “Laudate Dominum”. The afternoon festival concluded with the march Glory! Glory! (Wilfred Heaton).
International Staff Band web site