Since the “opening” of the Salvation Army brass band scene to the wider world of brass bands some years ago, a special relationship has developed between the International Staff Band and the renowned Black Dyke Band. This year, Black Dyke celebrates its 150th anniversary, and the ISB was invited to participate in the celebrations with a joint concert in York Minster, held on Saturday, 1 October 2005. Taking advantage of the paid travel, the ISB completed the weekend by participating in Sunday worship at Clowne, a smaller corps that might not have been able to host the band under ordinary circumstances.
Saturday, 1 October 2005
After rehearsing massed band items and partaking of a buffet tea together, the two bands returned to the Minster to see a large queue of people waiting for the performance. An estimated 1,800 persons attended the concert, filling the nave and aisles of the grand church. The concert opened with Black Dyke, under the expert direction of Dr. Nicholas Childs, beginning with their signature march, Queensbury, followed by Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a technical tour-de-force. Black Dyke is noted for outstanding solo players, as shown by principal cornet Roger Webster and his sensitive performance of Ave Maria (Caccini).
A hallmark of a great brass band is the ability to play even simple tunes with precision and profound harmony, demonstrated by Black Dyke with two verses of the hymn tune “Deep Harmony”. Trombone virtuoso Brett Baker played the classic Arthur Pryor solo Annie Laurie, a wonderful example of the theme-and-variations form. To close Black Dyke’s portion of the program, Dr. Childs chose another classical transcription, the march section of The Pines of Rome (Respighi).
During the re-set of the stage for the ISB (which was expertly done, taking only three minutes), the audience was treated to an interview of Dr. Childs by Roy Newsome, author of the recently published history of the Black Dyke Band prepared for their 150th anniversary year.
Bandmaster Stephen Cobb opened the ISB’s part of the festival with Celebration, written by Leslie Condon for the ISB’s 75th anniversary. Keeping with the celebratory theme, the next item was Cause for Celebration (William Himes), an item recently added to the ISB repertoire based around the familiar tune “Old Hundredth”. Also demonstrating their ability to play simple tunes with grace and sensitivity, the ISB then played a simple setting of He Found Me (Howard Davies). The ISB portion of the program concluded with a major work from the pen of Kenneth Downie, King of Heaven, featuring various sections of the band in a set of variations on the tune “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”.
The bands joined together for the second half of the program, playing as a massed band. The first item was again by Kenneth Downie, a march written as a tribute to the great Salvationist composer Wilfred Heaton. The combined cornet sections were then featured in the old classic Cornet Carillon (Ronal Binge). Black Dyke’s euphonium soloist, David Thornton, played Variations on a Theme by Rossini. He was then joined by three other outstanding artists, Robert Childs, John Clough, and Denzil Stephens, who presented How Great Thou Art, under the direction of Geoffrey Whitham, one of the highlight moments of the evening.
Rev. Wendy Wilby (wife of noted composer Philip Wilby), who serves as chaplain of the Black Dyke Band, offered a prayer. This was followed by the massed bands playing William Himes’ glorious arrangement Procession to Covenant. Although this work would have made a fitting ending to the evening, the conductors had decided to end with a more contemplative piece, the hymn tune Crimond, as arranged by Goff Richards.
Sunday, 2 October 2005
Following the conclusion of the Saturday evening concert, the ISB packed up and headed down to Clowne, where they would spend Sunday in worship and praise, beginning with a capacity congregation as the Staff Band played before the morning service. Steve Hanover opened worship, which was directed toward the theme “Looking Unto Jesus”. The Clowne Songsters contributed a song, Scripture was read by Staff Bandsman Damian Wilemen, and principal cornet Kevin Ashman testified. The morning message, given by the ISB Executive Officer, Major John Wainwright, was preceded by Gift of Love (Nick Samuels) from the band. The morning service concluded with Breathe, an arrangement by Dorothy Gates of the contemporary Christian song “This Is the Air I Breathe”.
In the afternoon, the Staff Band presented a musical program, opening with Fanfare to Worship and Canadian Folk Song Suite. Soloists Kevin Ashman and Derick Kane were featured, playing On Course (Norman Bearcroft) and Travelling Along (Chris Mallett) respectively. In a more relaxed style, the next item was Grace Alone (Craig Woodland).
Clowne is the home corps of the ISB’s featured vocalist, Gary Rose, who was enthuiastically welcomed by the audience. The first half of the afternoon concert concluded with another major work by Kenneth Downie, Variations on a Theme by Henry Purcell.
The second half opened with Cause for Celebration, followed by the Clowne Singing Company. This was the beginning of a devotional period, with testimony from Nigel Hills, the trombone feature There Is a Redeemer (Ralph Pearce), and a Scripture meditation given by Major Wainwright. The final item on the program was A Light in the Darkness, a new work by Nick Samuels, built around the ideas of Jesus as the Light of the World and Christians as lights in the darkness. A special encore item was played by the band, a march entitled Clowne Centenary by Jim Wright (who was present), which had been “unearthed” in the band’s archives prior to the weekend.