Royal Oak Citadel 90th Anniversary Concert

On the weekend of 10 – 13 October 2013, Royal Oak Citadel, Michigan, celebrated its 90th anniversary with a series of special events, including a gala concert featuring the Royal Oak Citadel Band (Bandmaster Greg Payton) and Songsters (Songster Leader Doug Holman). Special guests for the concert were well-known composers James Curnow and William Himes, along with Captain Sally Broughton.

The concert opened with thunderous applause as Bandmaster Payton and Songster Leader Holman were introduced and took their seats in the band on soprano cornet and bass trombone, respectively. The applause continued as James Curnow stepped to the podium and, with an impressive attack from timpanist Craig Beachum, led the band in his festival march Faith Is the Victory. This piece was originally written for the opening of the current Royal Oak Citadel building on Main Street, although, because of the composer’s educational commitments, it was not completed on time.

This was followed by a warm welcome from current Royal Oak Citadel corps officer Captain Peter Mount, who introduced the guests for the weekend: James and Marge Curnow, Captain Sally Broughton, Commissioners Barry and Sue Swanson, and William and Linda Himes. After the introductions, Bandmaster Payton led the band in Gowans and Larsson Overture (William Broughton), a delightful potpourri of melodies from the famous Salvation Army musicals by John Gowans and John Larsson.

The Gowans and Larsson melodies continued as Captain Broughton, on piano, gave a little variety show with the assistance of Ian McNeil and Major Heather Holman. Although this was a hard act to follow, the Songsters were up to the task. Their first set on the program opened with Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord, featuring tenor soloist Captain Terry Smith. The second song was a powerful anthem by Tom Fettke, entitled Exaltation.

Professor Curnow returned to the stage and, with the assistance of Commissioner Barry Swanson, presented an award for excellent service to an individual who taught countless musicians over the years (including James Curnow and William Himes) and left behind quite a legacy at Royal Oak Citadel, F. Maxwell “Max” Wood. Another surprise came from the guest composers: the world premiere performance of a piece they had co-written in honor of Max Wood, appropriately entitled Legacy. Both composers took part in conducting the premiere, Bandmaster Himes leading the first half and then trading off to Professor Curnow for the second half.

Captain Broughton returned to the piano, this time joined by Bandmaster Himes for a piano duet arrangement of Ray Ogg’s classic march Rousseau. This was followed by the second set from the Songsters, who were joined by Major Heather Holman as the featured soloist in the laid-back, jazzy selection Goin’ to the Holy City, accompanied by an ensemble with brass, bass guitar, piano and drum kit. This was followed by Captain Broughton leading the Songsters in He Arose. Beginning in an ominous, minor key for each verse, it changes character to an bright, upbeat presentation of the chorus, relaying the good news that “Christ arose a victor from the dark domain!”

Under the direction of Bandmaster Himes, the Band concluded the first half with his three-movement suite To the Chief Musician. This unique piece features, in addition to masterful brass writing, chanting and singing. Vocal solos were provided by Matt Coakley, Mark Gallup and Doug Holman.

The second half kicked off with Himes again conducting one of his own compositions, the festival march Milestone. The second half of the program was dedicated to a massed Alumni Band and Songsters. The Alumni Songsters started first, with Doug Holman conducting Adoration, Thanksgiving and Praise (Gavin Whitehouse). Bandmaster Himes then led them in Isaiah 40, his own a capella composition. The Alumni Songsters finished their portion under the direction of former Songster Leader Ian McNeil, who led them in another anthem by Tom Fettke, The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.

The Alumni Band then took the stage. Their first item was James Anderson’s ground-breaking march Goldcrest. In a surprise, Bandmaster Payton handed the baton to Max Wood for this performance. This was followed by Guardian of Our Way (James Curnow) and The Witness (William Himes), conducted by their respective composers.

After closing remarks from Captain Mount, Bandmaster Himes led the massed Band, massed Songsters and the congregation in the Salvation Army’s “national anthem”, O Boundless Salvation, culminating in a wall of sound. This was a thrilling and fitting conclusion to a wonderful festival of praise, music and worship.

Review by Fred Mbesi, posted on the TroyFred Productions web site