Staff Band Invades Eastern Territory

The Melbourne Staff Band (Bandmaster Ken Waterworth) traveled to the greater Sydney area on 12 – 13 October 2013 for a ministry weekend organized by the Hurstville Citadel Corps.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

When the weekend schedule states a 6:45 am airport arrival, it means an early rise for the majority of the members of the Melbourne Staff Band. The gathering of bright-colored pistachio polo shirts grew as small groups of members arrived to check in. The flight took off on schedule and landed on time in Sydney at 9:25 am. The Staff Band was met by Bandmaster Steve Reay of the host corps, who coordinated the events for the weekend. The members of the band boarded buses and traveled across town to The King’s School in North Parramatta.

The King’s School is one of the most prestigious schools in Sydney, with a campus covering over 300 hectares of finely manicured grounds, including 19 sporting fields. The venue for the Saturday evening concert was Futter Hall, the school’s main assembly auditorium.

The truck carrying the percussion and larger equipment had already arrived, and the Staff Band quickly set up for the concert and did a short sound check. They then traveled back across town to Hurstville Corps, where they linked up with their hosts and had some time to relax and refuel before the evening concert.

Many of the Staff Band’s Sydney friends and relatives were in the audience for the concert. With regular trips to Sydney over the years, there have been many friendships made and developed. The Staff Band entered the auditorium to a great ovation, and following a welcome and prayer by Bandmaster Reay, Bandmaster Waterworth brought the baton down to start Christ the Lord (Marcus Venables), which was followed by the Broadway-esque Temple 125 (Kevin Larsson).

Lt.-Colonel Ian Hamilton, returning to his Staff Band duties after circumnavigating Australia towing a caravan, responded to the welcome and introduced the first two soloists for the evening, Jamie Smith (euphonium) and Garry Todd (cornet) who played Fearless (Martin Cordner) and The Victory Cry (Andrew Blyth), respectively. Both performances were received with generous applause acknowledging their skill and artistry.

Bandmaster Waterworth introduced vocal soloist Rebecca Raymond who sang Almighty (arr. Michael Pilley) and New Jerusalem (arr. Brian Hogg). As audiences have come to expect, Raymond’s performances were powerful and clearly communicated the message portrayed in the songs.

The Staff Band’s performance of Brian Hogg’s Gigue: Alleluia, Amen!certainly had many feet tapping and nearly had a few people tempted to jump on stage and show off their Irish dancing skills. This item has become a very popular addition to the Staff Band’s repertoire. The band then presented Daniel’s Band (Leonard Ballantine), based on the Sunday School song “Dare to Be a Daniel” in a jazz waltz form.

Prior to introducing the final item of the first half, Lt.-Col. Hamilton announced the launch of the Melbourne Staff Band’s latest recording, My God and King!, and presented a copy to Bandmaster Reay. The first half concluded with a scintillating performance of Kevin Norbury’s Variations on Maccabeus.

To open the second half, the Staff Band performed Sam Creamer’s latest work, Telling It!. Written in a salsa style, it is based on the tune “I want to tell what God has done”, and is likely to quickly be used by bands around the world. Following this, Rebecca Raymond had the place swinging with her rendition of William Broughton’s up-tempo arrangement of Now I Belong to Jesus.

Ron Prussing, on his home turf, gave an authoritative performance of Concert Piece (Guilmant, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen). Prussing was in fine form and showed why he has the reputation of being one of the world’s finest trombone soloists.

The Staff Band filled the expansive auditorium with a sonorous sound with its performance of The New Covenant (James Curnow), which led into a devotional message by Lt.-Col. Hamilton. This was followed by Rebecca Raymond’s challenging and moving vocal solo Your Grace Still Amazes Me (arr. Brian Hogg). Throughout the evening, much of the music was enhanced by creative multimedia presentations designed by Vaughan Duck.

The evening concluded with an exciting performance of Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) and a further reminder of the International Staff Band’s 120th anniversary celebrations, Andrew Blyth’s arrangement of St. Clements. Bandmaster Waterworth responded to the enthusiastic applause with two encore items, the classic march Emblem of the Army (Arthur Gullidge) and a newer piece rapidly gaining classic status, Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

It was certainly a “full house” at Hurstville Corps for the Sunday morning service. As a prelude, the Staff Band presented Slater’s Song (Kenneth Downie) and Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes).

The meeting commenced with the congregational song Stand Up and Bless the Lord (arr. William Himes). Craig Downes led a responsive reading, based on Psalm 96, and the song Above All Powers. Darren Waterworth kept everyone on their toes during the Children’s Message, where he encouraged the listeners to “stuff our lives with joy”. Other Staff Band contributions during the meeting included a personal testimony from Ken Marsh, a Scripture reading by Britteny Ling and the baritone solo Donegal Bay (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) played by Mark Hamilton.

The congregational singing was very inspiring and this was particularly experienced in the song In Christ Alone. Leading into Lt.-Col. Hamilton’s Bible message, Rebecca Raymond sang The Love of God (William Broughton) and the band offered Guardian of My Soul.

Lt.-Col. Hamilton’s message was based on 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price.

He enthusiastically encouraged those present to live their lives with the understanding that God owns us and we should live in accordance with His plans for our lives.

During a time of reflection and response a number of people came forward to pray. This was an answer to the prayers of the Staff Band and Hurstville Corps, that the moving of the Holy Spirit would be evident during the weekend. The meeting concluded with the congregational song Lord, I Make a Full Surrender.

The final event for the weekend was an afternoon concert. The concert commenced with the Melbourne Staff Band performing My God and King! (Paul Sharman) and Courageous (Kevin Norbury). Martin Cordner is becoming one of the Salvation Army’s prolific composers and the Staff Band has enjoyed playing Send the Fire, a medley of tunes by Phil Laeger, including “A Mighty Fortress”, “I Surrender All” and “Send the Fire”.

A number of soloists were featured during the afternoon. John Collinson (cornet) played Song and Dance (Philip Sparke). Dean Rusling (soprano cornet) and Scott Downes (flügelhorn) joined in the duet Pie Jesu (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen). Ron Prussing (trombone) offered Let the Beauty of Jesus (William Broughton). In addition, Rebecca Raymond sang two vocal solos, Amazing Grace (arr. Leonard Ballantine) and He Reigns (arr. Brian Hogg), which were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

The afternoon concluded with Roger Trigg’s recent composition Indescribable, based on the song of the same title by Chris Tomlin, and the exciting A Psalm of Praise (James Curnow). After Major Trevor Nicol, Hurstville corps officer, expressed appreciation to the Staff Band and those involved in organizing the weekend, the weekend ended with a snappy performance of the march Goldcrest (James Anderson).

The Staff Band thanked Trent Franks (Camberwell Citadel) who, at very short notice, assisted in the percussion section for the weekend.

Weekend Extended

Unfortunately, the band’s friends at Hurstville could not control the weather that led to delays at Sydney airport, resulting in the flight home to Melbourne being cancelled. Much to the chagrin of family at home, the band was “over-nighted” in Sydney, put up in a hotel with a flight rescheduled for 6:45 am on Monday morning.

So, just as the weekend had begun, the brightly-colored pistachio polo shirts gathered at 5:00 am in the foyer of the hotel, ready for bus transport to the airport, arriving back in Melbourne just after 8:10 am.

Although this ended up being an involuntarily “extended” weekend, the Staff Band was grateful for the opportunity to use their ministry to bless, encourage and challenge those who heard their music.

Melbourne Staff Band web site, original report by Darren Waterworth