North Toronto Centenary Music Weekend

To kick off their 45th season, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) was privileged to visit North Toronto Corps on 5 – 6 October 2013, as a part of a year-long celebration of the corps centenary. A great weekend was planned by the corps anniversary committee, which included Staff Band member Jeremy Smith, corps bandmaster Paul Carew and corps songster leader (and Staff Band deputy bandmaster) Major Kenneth Smith.

On Saturday morning, youth bands from Yorkminster Citadel, Etobicoke Temple and North Toronto gathered for a clinic organized by YP Band Leader Jeremy Smith. Staff Band members sat in with the young players for a massed rehearsal under Bandmaster Lam, as well as conducting sectional rehearsals and offering individual instruction.The afternoon concluded with a short program for parents and other visitors.

Following set up and sound checks for the evening concert, the Staff Band mingled with former North Toronto musicians who had gathered for the celebration. They enjoyed a light supper and viewed memorabilia of 100 years of music ministry at the corps.

The evening concert opened with the premiere of a new piece by Major Smith, Coronation Fanfare and Intrada. This is an exhilarating arrangement of two songs: “All Hail the Power” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. Following words of greeting from Captain Rick Zelinsky, corps officer, and a congregational song, the Staff Band launched into Norman Bearcroft’s rousing march Temple 85.

As always, the Staff Band has several accomplished soloists. The next item featured Rick Allington (horn) playing The Old Rustic Bridge (Erik Leidzén). Then Emily Ewing and Steve Brown presented the cornet duet Synergy (Martin Cordner).

Rounding out the first half of the concert were Faith Is the Victory (Sam Creamer) and Major Kenneth Smith’s suite With Heart and Hand, which was introduced by the composer. In between, the audience enjoyed a video presentation of historic highlights of music ministry at North Toronto. The corps sergeant-major, Dr. Richard Cameron, also shared memories of growing up at the corps and what it meant to be involved in the music sections over the years.

Following the intermission, the Staff Band commenced the second half of the program with Endless Praise (William Himes). Jeremy Smith was then invited to conduct the Staff Band in his march NTCC 100. Written for the corps’ centenary, the march features the song “I Believe” by General Arnold Brown (written when Brown was the corps bandmaster in the 1950s) and the contemporary praise song “I Am a Friend of God”, a favorite of the current congregation.

Further highlights of the program included the tuba duet Tuba Tandem (Robert Redhead) featuring Jonathan Rowsell and Scott Gross. Major Kevin Metcalf (flügelhorn) presented a new arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah by Olaf Ritman. Following a brief devotional by Major Metcalf, former North Toronto musicians were invited to join with current band and songster members in a meaningful rendition of the song Lord, You Know That We Love You (Howard Davies).

To conclude the program, the Staff Band presented The Ellacombe Chronicles (James Curnow), a set of thematic variations on the tune associated with the words “Fill thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise”. The band then moved into the audience for the benediction In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified, bringing the night to an appropriate conclusion.

On Sunday morning, the Staff Band led worship at the corps, which included participation by the songsters and worship team. In addition to providing a prelude before the meeting, the Staff Band’s main contribution was They Shall Come from the East (Kevin Larsson). Major Kevin Metcalf spoke on “Getting There from Here”, using Hebrews 11 and including three songs that describe various aspects of the Christian’s journey through life. Following the closing song, “I’ll Go in the Strength of the Lord”, the band presented a special-request postlude, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Wall of Sound.

Canadian Staff Band web site