Christmas with the Salvation Army in Toronto

The Salvation Army in Toronto held its second annual “Christmas with the Salvation Army” music and gospel arts celebration at Massey Hall in Toronto on 4 December 2004. The event marked a return to the venue for the Army, which has not held an event there for quite some time. The program, designed as an experience for Salvationists and non-Salvationists both, included music, dance, drama, video and multimedia presentations. Featured groups included the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster Kevin Hayward), the Festival Chorus, a group of 300 voices led by Territorial Music Secretary Captain Leonard Ballantine, the Bracebridge Youth Brass, and the Peterborough Temple Singing Company. One highlight was a performance of Joyful, Joyful as featured in the motion picture Sister Act II, featuring a number of young people singing and dancing, the Staff Band, the Festival Chorus, and a rap solo.

The guest soloist for the evening was Canadian trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann. Lindemann was featured in three items, Three Kings Swing, Greensleeves, and Stephen Bulla’s arrangement of O Holy Night. The concert also featured Sharon Vardy Bacon, who sang while accompanying herself on the Celtic harp. The Staff Band’s major contribution to the concert was another work by Stephen Bulla, A Christmas Suite. One of Bulla’s earlier works, this piece was recorded by the Staff Band in 1978. However, the present version is considerably different, as the composer made some subsitutions of melodies in the third movement prior to the item being published by Rosehill Music.

Considerable positive reaction was noted to this year’s concert. Next year’s event has already been booked for Roy Thomson Hall.

Canadian Staff Band web site