Territorial Band Visits Great Smoky Mountains

The Southern Territorial Band (Bandmaster Nick Simmons-Smith) journeyed on a four-day tour of the Great Smoky Mountains region of northwestern Georgia and eastern Tennessee, 17 – 20 October 2013.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The members of the band gathered at Atlanta Temple Corps to board the coach for the tour in a steady drizzle. The first leg of the tour took the band to Rome, Georgia, where the day’s activities were hosted by Roman Festival Brass (Musical Director Don Robinson). The first stop was at Berry College, where arrangements had been made for the Territorial Band to have rehearsal time and space. One of the rehearsals was open to members of Roman Festival Brass and to students and faculty from the college. Having been shown great hospitality from the college, the band finished their rehearsals and loaded up to head to the concert venue for the evening.

After setting up and conducting a sound check at the concert venue, Fellowship Baptist Church, members of both the Territorial Band and Roman Festival Brass descended on a local pizza restaurant for dinner. With more than 50 brass and percussion players, the ovens were kept quite busy.

Roman Festival Brass opened the evening concert with William Himes’ arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner. Their portion of the concert contained several works by James Curnow. The band showed its versatility with hymn settings, theme and variations, a collection of spirituals and a classic British march. A highlight was Jubliation (James Curnow), which includes the spirituals “Sing When the Spirit Says Sing” and “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit”. Roman Festival Brass finished their half of the concert with an energetic rendition of March of the Cobblers (Barrett/Siebert), which was used in the movie Brassed Off!.

The Territorial Band presented a well-rounded second half, starting with an exciting performance of Praise Him! (Stephen Bulla), met by an enthusiastic audience. This was followed by a lovely arrangement by Goff Richards entitled The Shepherd’s Song.

Three of the Territorial Band’s soloists were featured on the program. Principal cornet Jamie Hood played both flügelhorn and trumpet on Standing on the Promises (Douglas Court), which received an immediate standing ovation. As usual, Hood provided a superb performance, showing versatility from soft, light, jazzy flügelhorn sounds to a vibrant and flashy upper register on trumpet. Other soloists included Robert Snelson, who played the featured flügelhorn solo in Light-walk (Barrie Gott), and principal euphonium Dr. Steve Kellner, who played In Christ Alone (Richard Phillips).

The band concluded the concert with the classic festival march Praise (Wilfred Heaton), followed quickly by a posted hymn setting of The Day Thou Gavest, leaving these words ringing in the listeners’ ears:

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

Friday, 18 October 2013

After a good night’s rest at a hotel in Cleveland, Tennessee, members of the Territorial Band boarded the coach at around 10:00 am to travel to Crossville, Tennessee, for a “double-header” concert at Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church. An additional performance was added to the concert schedule after the first concert sold out. Fairfield Glade, located just outside Crossville, began as a vacation community which has transformed into a retirement community over the years. The Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church occupies a campus-like location, with multiple buildings. In association with the local Rotary Club, the church has started a program called L.I.N.K.S. (Lonely Instruments in Need of Kids) which allows community members to “loan” old instruments to a child who wants to learn to play.

The first of the two one-hour concerts featured all of the soloist who played on Thursday, all well-received again with beautiful musicianship artistry in each performance. The band’s “big” piece was The Last Amen (Peter Graham), finishing the first half of the concert.

Percussionist Bernie Dake signaled the start of the second half by vamping on the drum kit, with Dr. Kellner eventually coming in to start Down to the River (Alan Fernie) without introduction. The concert ended with an invitation from Bandmaster Simmons-Smith for the audience to reflect on the beautiful hymn setting In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie).

Following a delightful homemade meal provided by members of the host church and a short break, the Territorial Band began the second concert of the double header. A similar program was given, with an enthusiastic crowd (including a heckler who made the concert a bit more interactive than expected). The band added For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert) following a devotional given by Lt.-Col. Willis Howell (bass trombone). The audience was equally appreciative of the efforts of the band and soloists for the second concert as it ended, as the previous evening, with the postlude The Day Thou Gavest.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The band had an early departure from Fairfield Glade as they embarked on the three-hour trip to Chattanooga, where their first engagement was an outdoor concert at the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza. After the short program, the members of the band had lnch on their own and were provided tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium (voted America’s best aquarium for three years in a row) and had some time to explore the riverfront area.

The venue for the evening concert, which was shared with Jericho Brass (Musical Director Frank Hale), was the Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. Jericho Brass has a connection to the Salvation Army that goes back to its founding in 1998, when the late Major Otis Street helped to get the band started.

The Salvation Army of Chattanooga hosted both bands for dinner, serving a feast of home-style favorites. Major Al Newsome, Chattanooga Area Commander, and his staff showed great hospitality to the Territorial Band during their two days in the command’s territory. Major Newsome also served as the compère of the evening concert.

The concert was kicked off by Jericho Brass with the festival march Valiant (Brenton Broadstock), followed by Music for a Festival (Philip Sparke). The band’s tenor horn soloist, Tracy Street, played An Untold Story (Paul Lovatt-Cooper). They concluded with their own arrangement of Down by the Riverside.

The Territorial Band took the stage and played a program similar to the other concerts on the tour, including Praise Him!, The Shepherd Song, Standing on the Promises, The Last Amen, Light-walk, The Well Is Deep (Norman Bearcroft), In Christ Alone and Praise.

To conclude the concert, the two bands combined for Washington Salute 125 (Stephen Bulla) conducted by MD Hale and In Perfect Peace conducted by Bandmaster Simmons-Smith.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The venue for Sunday morning worship was the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga. This church – the building itself – is amazing, with two-story ceilings, exposed brick, wood floors and stained glass. There were about 200 worshippers at the service, which was also a baptism Sunday. The Territorial Band played a short preliminary set and then acted as the “duty band”, accompanying congregational hymns along with the church organ – a glorious sound.

Two of the band’s soloists were featured during the service. Jamie Hood played Standing on the Promises as the offertory and Dr. Steve Kellner offered In Christ Alone as a meditation.

The members of the Southern Territorial Band were reminded several times throughout this short tour that Salvation Army musicians play not just for musical edification, not just trying to please the audience, and not just to hear ourselves play, but as a means of praising the Lord. For those who already know the Lord, it’s the chance to commune with Him. And for those who do not know Him, it could be the introduction they’ve been waiting for – that He’s been planning. The purpose of a Salvation Army band – and the Southern Territorial Band – is one of ministry and mission.

Southern Territorial Band web site, original reports by Randi Bulla
Jericho Brass web site