Melbourne Staff Band Visit to Preston

The Melbourne Staff Band (Bandmaster Ken Waterworth) visited the Preston Corps on Sunday, 21 August 2005, for a day of worship and praise. Preston has a long musical tradition, and has recently had a change of leadership in the Corps band, as Roger Trigg, a former member of the Staff Band, has moved to Ireland and been replaced by Bandmaster Damian Rawlings. The Staff Band’s principal euphonium, Jamie Smith, was out of the country at the time of this engagement, so Nigel Atwill, a reservist with 17 years of service in the Staff Band, was called upon to dust off his Staff Band uniform and fill in the euphonium section.

The band opened the morning worship service with preliminary items, to set the time for the meeting. These items included Here I Am To Worship (arr. William Gordon) and Jesus Answers Prayer (Kenneth Downie). The Executive Officer of the Staff Band, Major Robert Paterson, led a time for the children in attendance, in which everyone learned to say “Thank You” in various languages. Major Janette Shepherd shared a personal testimony, and the band contributed further to the meeting by singing Howard Davies’ song Lord, You Know That We Love You. The band also played Prayer of Thanksgiving, a composition by the Bandmaster of the Chicago Staff Band, William Himes.

The message for the morning was given by Major Paterson, using Matthew 14 as his text, and emphasizing the thanksgiving theme of the service. Following the conclusion of the meeting, the band formed up outside the hall and marched down the street as a witness, encouraged by cheers from some local residents.

In the afternoon, the Staff Band presented a concert at the Latrobe Retirement Village, opening with Kevin Norbury’s march Courageous. This was followed by The New Covenant (James Curnow) and Staff Bandsman Garry Todd playing Stephen Bulla’s jazz-flavored cornet solo Joshua Swings the Battle. The program also featured a number of well-known hymn tunes and classical items, including Amazing Grace (arr. William Himes), Mozart’s Horn Rondo (featuring principal horn Sarah Nottle), Abide with Me (Ray Bowes) and James Anderson’s simple, yet poignant arrangement of Jesus Loves Me. The band also played Dean Goffin’s arrangement of the William Tell Overture from memory, much to the delight of the audience.

The audience also participated in a sing-along with the band, accompanied by a graphic display from the Staff Band’s multimedia coordinator, Vaughan Duck, and with a “request segment”, where the audience suggested favorite hymn tunes for the band to play. The concert concluded with the cornet duet Deliverance, played by Ken Whittaker and Rob Beasy, followed by Musical Galop (Ian Jones).

On the way back to the Preston Corps hall, the Staff Band made a stop at the home of retired Preston Bandmaster Len Russell and his wife Beryl. The band formed up in front of the house and played several pieces as a ministry to Bandmaster Russell, who had been a dedicated teacher of young musicians for many years. (Bandmaster Russell was Promoted to Glory just two weeks after the Staff Band’s visit, on 3 September 2005.)

The Staff Band’s busy day concluded with an evening meeting at the Preston Corps hall. The concert began with Let Everything Praise (Martin Cordner), followed by the William Himes’ cornet solo Jubilance, played by principal cornet Neil Roper. Other items included the trombone ensemble From that Sacred Hill (Dick Krommenhoek) and a recent work from Leonard Ballantine, HeartBeat. The major work for the evening was the technically demanding and spiritually uplifting masterpiece from the pen of Dean Goffin, My Strength, My Tower. Nigel Atwill, who traveled with the band in the absence of the band’s regular principal euphonium, played the important solo phrases in that work, and also joined with Ken Whittaker for The Prayer, a cornet/euphonium duet arranged by Ian Jones.

The band invoked a devotional mood by singing Knowing You preceding the message by Major Paterson. The evening concert and the long day of worship and praise concluded, fittingly, with Martin Taylor’s arrangement of The Power of Your Love.

Melbourne Staff Band web site