The long-running Profile Night series of concerts in New York had its latest installment on 14 October 2005, when composer and conductor Brian Bowen was featured at Profile Night XXVII. A number of groups performed, including the New York Staff Band, NYSB Chorus, Greater New York Timbrels, Greater New York Youth Band, and the newly formed Greater New York Youth Chorus. An audience of 800 was present in the Centennial Memorial Temple for the Friday evening festival, which consisted entirely of works composed by Bowen.
Bowen is no stranger to New York, being the immediate past Staff Bandmaster, serving from 1986 to 1992. The program began with the Staff Band presenting two marches, The Southern Cross and The Warriors, the latter with a drill from the Greater New York Timbrels. Cornet soloist Michael R. Baker joined the Staff Band to play Flashback, a solo originally written in 1962 as In My Saviour’s Care and revised by the composer in 1987, its “retro” theme-and-variations form prompting the new title.
The Staff Band, well known for excellent vocal as well as instrumental performance, formed into the NYSB Chorus and sang Whosoever Heareth, an item written during Bowen’s time as Staff Bandmaster. This was followed by the band selection Folk Heroes, written for the Staff Band’s tour of the United Kingdom in 1992.
The Greater New York Youth Band (widely considered to be one of the finest youth bands of the Salvation Army), under the direction of Greater New York Divisional Music Director (and Deputy Staff Bandmaster) Gordon Ward, also contributed to the program, playing the march Sovereignty (written by Bowen for the NYSB Centenary in 1987) and the well-loved transcription Love Divine (Stainer). The evening was also the debut of the newly-formed Greater New York Youth Chorus, under the direction of Assistant Divisional Music Director Gavin Whitehouse, sang The Place of Healing and Rise Up, Shine Up.
Michael Baker returned, playing Jesus Drew Near, accompanied by the Staff Band, followed by a Scripture reading and a devotional message by Brian Bowen. In his message, Bowen linked the words of Psalm 23 and the hymn tune “University”, as he described the process and thinking behind the composition of his great meditation on that tune, My Comfort and Strength. Although he composed the work nearly 40 years ago, Bowen has had relatively few opportunities to conduct the meditation in concert. On this occasion, he was able to conduct the Staff Band in an inspired and moving performance, bringing Profile Night XXVII to a fitting conclusion.
New York Staff Band web site