In the early days of The Salvation Army, one of the first traveling bands was the Household Troops Band, wearing distinctive pith helmet headgear and campaigning throughout Britain. Twenty years ago, this historic ensemble was reborn under the leadership of Major John Mott (musical direction) and Lt.-Colonel David Phillips (spiritual direction), both of whom have maintained their positions with the band for the entire 20 years. On Friday, 11 November 2005, the Troops gathered at the Reading Central corps hall for a concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of the “new” band.
Attended by a large audience, including many former Troopers, the concert began in classic Troops style, with the cornet and trombone sections marching into the hall with their helmets on, playing Olympic Fanfare (arr. Peter Graham). Several soloists performed, including Andrew Piper, who played William Himes’ So Glad! (originally written for flügelhorn) on an instrument not often heard in Salvation Army concerts, the clarinet. Carl Saunders (cornet) played Song of Exultation, and Keith Loxley contributed the euphonium solo How I Love to Sing. A bit more unusual was Martin Blessett’s performance of the old favorite Czardas, normally heard on the violin but on this night ably performed on tuba.
The major item of the concert was Richard Phillips’ Metamorphosis, which was accompanied by a multimedia presentation. Another favorite of the audience was Ray Farr’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata in D Minor. For the last few items of the concert, former Troopers joined the current band, the highlight of the combined group being one of the masterpieces of Salvation Army band literature, The Call of the Righteous (Leslie Condon).
As is usual on such anniversary occasions, letters of congratulation were read, including one from Stephen Russell, a former member of the band now living in New Zealand, and one from Lt.-Colonel Norman Bearcroft (now residing in New York), who was in a leadership role in Salvation Army music in the UK at the time that the Household Troops band was re-formed.