Canadian Staff Band Fall Festival

On 16 November 2013, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) welcomed the Eastern Michigan Divisional Band (Bandmaster Tom Hanton) and the Ontario Central East Youth Chorus (Leader Cathie Koehnen) to Scarborough Citadel for their annual Fall Festival concert.

The Youth Chorus provided preliminary items as both bands took their seats. The Staff Band opened the concert with the premiere of a new work by Deputy Bandmaster Kenneth Smith, Coronation Intrada and Fanfare, which uses the tunes “All Hail the Power” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns” to provide an exciting opener. Following a welcome and prayer by the Staff Band’s executive officer, Major Kevin Metcalf, the Divisional Band demonstrated their Michigan roots by performing one of William Himes’ earliest published works, The Witness.

The Staff Band continued with the selection Inspiration, by young German composer Ruben Schmidt. This overture-style piece uses strong melodies such as “Knowing You”, “Count Your Blessings” and “Anything for Jesus” to leave an impression on the audience. Cornet soloist Emily Ewing was featured in some sections of the middle of the work.

The Youth Chorus presented two contrasting items, the reflective Be Still and the upbeat Make His Praise Glorious. This was followed by Bandmaster Hanton leading the Divisional Band in what has become one of the recent classics of Salvation Army brass band literature, Fusion (Martin Cordner). This work describes the joy of being united with Christ by “fusing’ the tune “Brantwood”, associated with General Albert Orsborn’s words “Thy name is joined with mine”, with Chris Rice’s contemporary song “Come to Jesus”.

The Staff Band brought the first half to an end with another premiere, this one from Canadian composer Marcus Venables, a Christmas tone poem entitled Christ’s Birth. This was a highlight of the concert for many, using a number of Christmas melodies to paint a picture of the night Jesus was born. There was superb playing from all sections of the band, especially the trombones and horns.

Following an intermission, the Staff Band began the second half with Endless Praise (William Himes). This piece combines “I Stand Amazed in His Presence”, “Blessed Assurance” (featuring principal trombone Craig Lewis) and “Joyful, Joyful”. After this, Andrew Bell, principal euphonium of the Divisional Band, gave a rousing performance of Euphonium Fantasia (Stephen Bulla).

The Staff Band played Kingsfold (Leonard Ballantine) and the Youth Chorus sang Behold the Tabernacle of God before Bandmaster Hanton introduced the Divisional Band’s major work for the evening, Robert Redhead’s Corpus Christi. Following this performance, Commissioner Brian Peddle, Territorial Commander for Canada and Bermuda, brought a devotional message, based around Isaiah 41:10.

Bandmaster Hanton returned to the stage to lead a massed band feature, the highly energetic Pound the Streets (Paul Lovatt-Cooper). Major Metcalf then concluded the concert by leading the congregation in the song God, We Will Give You Glory, accompanied by the massed bands. All in all, it was a great night at Scarborough Citadel with all three musical groups.

Review posted on the TroyFred Productions web site