Annual Festival Features Future All-Stars

Sixty young people, ranging in age from 13 to 18, from all four US territories and Canada gathered at Star Lake Camp in New Jersey for the second annual Future All-Stars weekend sponsored by the New York Staff Band. The weekend, held 18 – 20 February 2005, culminated in the Staff Band’s 118th Annual Festival, held this year at the Spring Valley Corps.

The Future All-Star participants were chosen on the basis of video-taped auditions and an extensive application process. Members of the Staff Band were on duty not only as musical instructors but also as food service and housekeeping workers, keeping the cost to the delegates to only $45 plus transportation.

The weekend began with rehearsals on Friday evening. New York Staff Bandmaster Ronald Waiksnoris welcomed the delegates. Unfortunately, Bandmaster Waiksnoris was unable to attend the remainder of the weekend because of the recent death of his father and the need to complete funeral preparations. The event was ably run in his stead by the Gordon Ward, the Music Director for the Greater New York Division and the Deputy Bandmaster of the New York Staff Band. The Friday evening rehearsal went for a total of 3.5 hours.

On Saturday, the delegates were able to fellowship with the Staff Band members during breakfast. Major Thomas Mack gave a devotional before the All-Stars and the Staff Band joined in prayer. Most of the rest of the day was given over to rehearsals, both full-band and sectional, for a total of 7 hours of rehearsal time. At the end of the day, the delegates were shown a video greeting from Stephen Cobb, Bandmaster of the International Staff Band, who was leading rehearsals of the UK Territorial Youth Band in Bournemouth, England on the same weekend.

The venue for the weekend shifted to the Spring Valley Corps on Sunday morning, where the Holiness Meeting was conducted by the Future All-Stars. They provided both preliminary and in-meeting music and shared personal testimonies. Jenna Carr, a delegate from the Northern New England Division, presented the vocal solo Teach Me Thy Will. Future All-Star (and current Staff Bandsman) Andrew Garcia accompanied Gordon Ward in a performance of Voice of Grace.

The 118th Annual Festival began with In Good Company (Dudley Bright), with the New York Staff Band joined by the Future All-Stars. Other items played by the Staff Band included a new "opener" from the pen of Dorothy Gates, All Glorious, based on the hymn tune "Hanover" and James Curnow’s transcription of Dance of the Jesters, originally composed for the International Staff Band.

The Future All-Stars feature part of the program began with a setting of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, a movement from the suite Endless Praise (William Himes). This was followed by the classic quick march Manhattan (Erik Leidzén). Alan Tolcher, a delegate from the Flint Citadel Corps in Michigan, presented the cornet solo The Glorious Fountain. The All-Stars played Bound for the Promised Land (Paul Drury) just before Major Thomas Mack, long-time leader of the New York Staff Band’s choral efforts, led the All-Star Chorus in Peace Like a River. One of the highlights of this section was a special award to Major Mack, who has reached 35 years of service in the New York Staff Band. The All-Stars section of the concert ended with one of the great works of Eric Ball, the tone poem The Triumph of Peace.

The All-Stars and the Staff Band then joined together as a 90-piece massed band, presenting three items: Cossack Wedding Dance (Peter Graham), From that Sacred Hill (Dick Krommenhoek) and Dean Jones’ extended work Glorifico Aeternum. The appreciative crowd was treated to a double encore, The Stars and Stripes Forever and then all 90 massed band members singing Rock of Ages.

The New York Staff Band gratefully acknowledges that the Future All-Stars weekend was made possible through the generosity of the Howard L. Green Foundation.

Reported on the New York Staff Band site