Midweek Concert in Chatham

Wednesday, 11 May 2005, saw the members of the International Staff Band (Bandmaster Stephen Cobb) make their way to the Salvation Army hall in Chatham for a festival concert. Although not unheard of, a mid-week engagement is unusual for bands such as the ISB, with many of the members having to make a special effort to attend.

The concert opened with Fanfare to Worship (Steven Ponsford), followed by the first of several solo items, Martyn Bryant’s presentation of Crugybar (Kenneth Downie). An old favorite, Morley Calvert’s Canadian Folk Song Suite, was next, followed by another solo item, this time featuring principal cornet Kevin Ashman. Ashman premiered a new solo, written for him by Lt.-Colonel Norman Bearcroft, entitled On Course!. The solo showcases a variety of skills, ranging from extremely technical passages to slow-melody playing.

Another of the bands outstanding soloists, Derick Kane, showed his mastery of the euphonium with the solo Canaan’s Land, a work composed for him by Peter Graham. Tomado de la Mano (Erik Silfverberg) was followed by a vocal/piano offering from Gary Rose. The first half of the program concluded with Glorifico Aeternum (Dean Jones), a work which has rapidly moved into the status of an Army “standard”.

Following the interval, the band opened with Hallelujah Parade (Kevin Norbury). The congregation was given the opportunity to participate with the congregational song “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah”. Andrew Justice, principal trombone, was the next featured soloist, playing Terry Camsey’s arrangement This I Know. One of the melodies featured in the solo is “Hundreds and Thousands”, from a song co-written by General John Gowans, who was present in the audience. There were also several ISB alumni musicians in attendance. Bandmaster Cobb made special mention of former percussionist and vocalist Ron Symonds, who is now 91 years of age.

To set a devotional mood in anticipation of the message from ISB Executive Officer Major John Wainwright, the band offered three items: From That Sacred Hill (Dick Krommenhoek), HeartBeat (Leonard Ballantine) and Shekinah (Kenneth Downie). Following the devotional, the band was honored to have Lt.-Colonel Ray Steadman-Allen, perhaps the most accomplished living Salvation Army composer, introduce his major work Victorian Snapshots – On Ratcliff Highway. Steadman-Allen is a soldier of the Chatham Corps. This extended work, which has a rich meaning grounded in the history of the early days of the Army in the East End of London, was greatly enhanced by the composer’s explanation, particularly because of a large percentage of non-Salvationists in attendance at the festival.

The crowd was also treated to an encore, as the band used Ray Farr’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata in D minor as a postlude, giving the evening an exciting finish.

International Staff Band web site