The International Staff Band (Bandmaster Stephen Cobb) visited Bristol on the weekend of 27 – 28 November 2004, their third weekend campaign of the current season. As is usual for a ministry weekend, the Staff Band presented a festival concert on Saturday evening and participated in worship services and a second concert on Sunday. The Saturday evening festival was held at St. George’s Hall, a venue noted for its acoustics and frequently used by BBC Radio 3. Many in the large crowd were attending a Salvation Army music festival for the first time, and enthusiatically welcomed the Staff Band as they began the program with Montclair Citadel (Stephen Bulla).
In addition to the full band contributions, several soloists were featured during the evening, including cornetist Martyn Bryant, a soldier at the Bristol Easton Corps, who played Crugybar. Other solo items were Canaans Land (Derick Kane, euphonium), This I Know (Andrew Justice, trombone) and Joyous Song (Kevin Ashman, cornet). The featured “big item” of the evening festival was Ray Steadman-Allen’s descriptive work Victorian Snapshots: On Ratcliff Highway, in which the composer paints a picture in music of the early days of the Salvation Army in the East End of London.
Sunday morning worship services at Bristol Easton Corps were conducted by the Staff Band under the overall direction of their Executive Officer, Major John Wainwright. On Sunday evening, the band returned to the Corps for a praise meeting, in which the local Corps music sections also participated. Staff Band soloists in the evening meeting included Matthew Cobb (cornet) and Jonathan Miller (horn). Staff Bandsman Martyn Bryant showed the range of his musical talent by conducting the Bristol Easton Songsters.
The most notable event of the weekend occurred during the Sunday evening meeting, while the Staff Band were performing Leonard Ballantine’s new piece Covenant Worship, when an Advent candle located too close to a smoke detector caused the building’s fire alarm to sound. After the band and congregation evacuated the building and returned at the all-clear signal, the band reprised the piece without interruption.