On 31 January 2014, the Fellowship Band Annual Dinner in Tunbridge Wells (Bandmaster Darrell Scholes) held its Annual Dinner at the Nevill Golf Club, Tunbridge Wells. This was a new venue for the dinner; several members of the band are Tunbridge Wells golfers. On an extremely wet evening, the A21 road was almost gridlocked following an accident, and many of the band members were delayed by an hour. Despite this, everything went well with an excellent menu served at peak freshness.
The guests for the evening were Lt.-Colonels Peter and Maureen Wood, who served for many years in Korea. As guest speaker, Peter Wood transported minds and hearts to a much less privileged setting; to Seoul and the Salvation Army’s Children’s Home for abandoned and orphaned boys. A band was established at the home in the 1920s, but suffered a tragedy in 1905, when North Korean troops marched 18 of the band members away, never to be heard from again.
Lt.-Colonel Wood, during his service in Korea, brought the Seoul Boys’ Home Band to the 1978 International Congress in London and has followed up with many of the members of that band in subsequent years. He told the story of Kim Yong-Bok, who played the cornet solo Life’s Pageant (Terry Camsey) accompanied by the International Staff Band, led at that time by Lt.-Colonel Ray Bowes.
After returning to Korea, Kim earned a music degree from Seoul University and engaged in further study in Los Angeles. He became a noted trumpet player in Korea, teaching at notable music colleges and tutoring at the Boys’ Home. But suddenly, his career changed after visiting a college for blind students and noting that there was no real music program. Kim began volunteering at the school and was eventually asked to join the staff after the principal noted the profound effect his teaching had on the students’ morale. The change was dramatic and the air of enthusiasm and cheerfulness in the college was infectious. Kim attributes his willingness to give up a lucrative careet to teach in this setting to what the Salvation Army did for him as a young person.
Lt.-Colonel Wood also mentioned that one of the aims of the 1978 tour of the Boys’ Home Band was the allow Salvation Army banding to gain a foothold in Korea. At that time, there were only about 50 Salvation Army brass musicians in Korea – all at the Boys’ Home. There were no corps bands. Now, the territorial music director reports that there are 600 commissioned brass band musicians in 20 corps bands throughout the country.
Lt.-Colonel Maureen Wood rounds off the celebratory and thanksgiving evening with a passage from Scripture and prayer. The Fellowship Band thanked the Woods for being present and sharing the moving story about the Salvation Army’s transforming work in Korea.
Fellowship Band Annual Dinner in Tunbridge Wells web site, original report by Phil Edwards