Easter in Western Australia

On Easter weekend of 2014, the Melbourne Staff Band (Bandmaster Ken Waterworth) traveled to Western Australia, where the band participated in Good Friday services in Perth and Easter observances in Albany.

Good Friday, 18 April 2014

The members of the Staff Band arrived in Perth on Thursday evening. After a brief sound check and rehearsal with local musicians for the Good Friday services, members of the band were billeted with kind folk from Perth.

The Good Friday morning meeting, held at Perth Fortress Corps, was led by the Executive Officer of the Staff Band, Lt.-Colonel Ian Hamilton. A prelude with Written in Red (arr. Jones) played by the band, followed by Via Dolorosa presented by the Perth Fortress Songsters (Songster Leader Helen Mulder), set the scene for a reflective, yet confronting, reminder of Christ’s crucifixion.

The congregation was engaged and challenged by items from the Staff Band, including O Sacred Head, Once Wounded (arr. Albert Jakeway), the trombone solo I Walked Today where Jesus Walked (arr. Peter Graham) played by Paul Smith and How Deep the Father’s Love (Roger Trigg). Staff Band vocal soloist Major Jeanette van Gaalen asked the musical question What Love Is This?, referring to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. The Perth Songsters sensitively and effectively painted a picture in song, reminding all that Jesus died alone.

The Bible message presented by Lt.-Col. Hamilton, entitled “Jesus plus nothing”, challenged the listeners that there are no half-measures with God. The closing congregational song, Crown Him with Many Crowns (arr. Charles Skinner) was a fitting conclusion to the meeting.

After a sumptuous lunch, provided by the Perth Fortress Corps and graciously served by the Songsters, the Staff Band and Perth Fortress Songsters provided musical support for the Divisional Good Friday Service, again led by Lt.-Col. Hamilton. The prelude was comprised of the Songsters singing God So Loved the World followed by the Staff Band offering Love’s Immortal Token (arr. Charles Skinner).

Musical selections For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert), Worthy Is the Lamb (Roger Trigg), When I Survey (Olaf Ritman) and King of Kings (Eric Ball), all presented by the Staff Band, helped to reinforce the message of Christ’s sacrifice. Major Jeanette van Gaalen sang Via Dolorosa and the Perth Fortress Songsters sang O Calvary’s Lamb, contributing to a worshipful atmosphere.

Lt.-Col. Hamilton spoke about “Light in the darkness”, reminding the congregation of man’s sinful state, the “dark side” of man. Jesus, who was without sin, became sin for us, because of God loved us so much.

The Staff Band’s principal cornet, Garry Todd, played the delightful solo The Victory Cry (Andrew Blyth) as a postlude following the benediction pronounced by Western Australia Divisional Commander Major Wayne Pittaway. Following the conclusion of the service, the Staff Band embarked for a five-hour coach ride to Albany.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The first engagement of the day in Albany was a street march in the city. Beginning at the old town hall, the short march took the band to the local farmers’ market around the corner. The band presented a 20-minute recital where every piece was received with rapturous applause. The market happened to be celebrating its 12th anniversary on this day and the band took a few moments to sing “Happy Birthday” to the crowd. After a few words of thanks from the farmer who manages the market the band completed the lap of the block and returned to the town hall.

After lunch at the Albany Corps, there was opportunity for the members of the Staff Band to relax at the hotel or take in some local sights before the evening concert. A late afternoon set up and sound check at the plush new Albany Entertainment Centre was worthwhile as the band worked with the venue’s sound engineers, who were knowledgeable and professional in all aspects.

The local corps officer, Captain Niall Gibson, worked extremely hard promoting the Saturday night concert and this was evident as the Staff Band took the stage. The orchestra section was completely filled, forcing the venue to open the balcony. Although an exact count was not taken, it is estimated that over 500 people were in attendance.

The concert commenced with a transcription of Terracini’s arrangement of the Power of Your Love. The transcription is the work of Perth native Martin Taylor, who was in the audience and was acknowledged by the band for this piece, which was first used 13 years ago. The concert continued with Call of the Gospel (Martin Cordner), an up-tempo piece based on the chorus “We Have a Gospel Story”.

Executive Officer Lt.-Col. Ian Hamilton introduced the band and the first soloist for the evening, John Collinson, who presented one of the most popular cornet solos of the last 30 years, Norman Bearcroft’s Song of Exultation. Extremely difficult and testing for the soloist, Collinson delivered it with perfection and poise. After an enthusiastic response from the audience, the band seamlessly transitioned into another solo item, In Christ Alone (Richard Phillips), performed on euphonium by Craig Downes.

The band then introduced their vocal soloist, Jeanette van Gaalen, who sang two contrasting arrangements. The first was the laid-back swing number We’ve Come This Far by Faith, followed by the popular song The Prayer. Both songs displayed the amazing flexibility in van Gaalen’s voice.

A lighter item from the band, Brian Hogg’s gigue Alleluia! Amen!, led into the major work for the night. Variations on “Maccabeus” (Kevin Norbury) is a demanding work for any band and is an ideal number for an Easter weekend, with the words of the recurring theme, “Thine is the glory, risen conquering Son! Endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won!”

Following a 15-minute interval, the band started the second half with Jubilo, Jubilo (Martin Cordner). This was an opportunity for the band’s multimedia artist, Vaughan Duck, to display his wizardry and creativity through the visual medium.

Jamie Smith was introduced as the next soloist. This was the second euphonium solo of the evening, but was very different from the first, as Smith presented the third movement of Spiritual Fantasy (Douglas Court). This movement, based on the song “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”, is a fast-paced, four-minute array of semiquavers, keeping both the soloist and the entire band on their toes.

The City of Albany has an important place in the war history of Australia. For many Australian soldiers, it was the last Australian soil that they saw as their ships left port. As a former member of the Staff Band, the music of Roger Trigg has become popular with the band. Strong to Save, based on the hymn tune “Melita”, was originally written for the Staff Band in 2012 when the band was invited to Canberra to commemorate the sinking of the Montevideo Maru during World War II. The sinking of this Japanese ship, loaded at the time with prisoners of war, claimed the lives of over 1,000 Australians. These included Bandmaster Arthur Gullidge and 16 Salvation Army bandsmen, one of whom was Roger Trigg’s grandfather, Wilfred Trigg. The piece is a three-verse arrangement of the well-known tune, which is associated with words by William Whiting, “Eternal Father, strong to save”. The multimedia which supported the music was very powerful and the extended silence at the end of the final chord was a moment that will be remembered by the Staff Band for a long time.

Lt.-Col. Hamilton brought a short message before Jeanette van Gaalen was again featured with They Could Not, supported by the band. This was another powerful performance of the Easter story that was another highlight.

Another item composed by Roger Trigg, Atonement, was next on the program. The music is about the reconciliation of God and humankind through the death of Jesus Christ. It features the songs “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice” and Chris Tomlin’s “The Wonderful Cross”.

After the benediction, the band presented its final two items of the evening. St. Clements (Andrew Blyth) and Arthur Gullidge’s classic march Emblem of the Army ended the night perfectly and sustained applause was heard as the band exited the stage.

Easter Sunday, 19 April 2014

Easter Sunday started early, as the band gathered at the coach just after 5:00am to travel to Emu Point for the sunrise service. Despite the rather chilly weather beside the water of Oyster Harbour, about 100 people arrived to share the experience. Several shrieking seagulls and a couple of warbling magpies added their contribution to the occasion. Congregational songs included “Christ the Lord is risen today” and “Because He lives”. Captain Niall Gibson led the service and Lt.-Col. Ian Hamilton in his message referenced the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

The morning service was held at the Albany Corps at 9:30am. The Staff Band opened the meeting with The Road to Emmaus (Dean Goffin) and Hail the Risen Lord (Steven Ponsford). Good singing, of “Crown Him with many crowns”, “Knowing you, Jesus” and “Lord, I lift Your name on high” enhanced the worship. Individual contributions by members of the Staff Band during the meeting included Scott Downes with the flügelhorn solo He Is Lord, a message for the children from Bradley Todd and a personal testimony by Stewart Orchard.

Following the Scripture reading by Elisha van Gaalen and the vocal solo What Love Is This? by Major Jeanette van Gaalen, Lt.-Col. Hamilton spoke of the need to allow the resurrected Jesus to be “alive in me and you”. The last song, Thine Be the Glory (arr. Ray Steadman-Allen) was followed immediately by the final section of Celebration of Contemporary Gospel Song (William Himes), which incorporates “Easter Song” (Annie Herring) and “My Tribute” (Andraé Crouch).

A heavy rain shower just before an excellent lunch threatened to disrupt the afternoon arrangement of a Combined Churches Easter March and Rally, but the rain soon cleared and the crowded main street of town witnessed the event, led by the Staff Band. Some 200 people gathered and moved up the street behind the band to the music of Shine, Jesus, Shine. After a welcome, the band played a 15-minute set which included the swing item Tell It! (Sam Creamer) and the trombone feature Jericho (Roger Trigg). The rally included singing led by Major van Gaalen and representatives of churches in Albany speaking on aspects of relationship with God through Jesus.

Melbourne Staff Band web site