On Saturday, 31 May 2014, the Bermuda Divisional Band (Bandmaster Warren W. Jones) marked its 18th Annual Spring Festival of Music at the North Street Citadel Corps in Hamilton, Bermuda.
While most Salvation Army concerts tend to be attended by faithful Salvationists, the Bermuda Divisional Band Spring Festival has become a major outreach vehicle for the Salvation Army in Bermuda, with many attending regularly who have no church affiliation. Band members have made ot a point to invite workmates, friends and family to this annual event. As one newcomer remarked the following week back at the job, “If I like something once, I’ll try it a second time. Let me know when the next one is on.”
This year, the festival was honored to include the territorial leaders for Canada and Bermuda, Commissioners Brian and Rosalie Peddle, as the special guests. The theme of the festival being “Good Ol’ Army”, the evening featured selections that captured the Salvation Army’s long history as a force for the salvation of souls.
Early arrivals were treated to a multimedia presentation, put together by Divisional Band executive member and first horn Tamiko Ramabuke. The presentation showed a combination of Salvation Army history and a video compilation of the Divisional Band. As its prelude, the band featured the song Banners and Bonnets (Meredith Willson), with vocal soloist Deputy Bandmaster Jamel Bean. Providing a glimpse into the past, several female members of the band sported bonnets during the performance.
It has been common for the Divisional Band to invite guests from other denominations, however, in light of the theme this year, the festival was “all Army”. Bandsman Sheldon Fox II composed a march for the Divisional Band entitled Love at Home, featuring that hymn tune as the theme. Additonally, Fox assembled a vocal ensemble, which presented the songs Spirit Divine, His Provision and Every Praise (Hezekiah Walker).
The band’s first baritone, Shonette Wilson, took the audience back as she led “The Hallelujah Lassies”, a timbrel brigade, in a traditional drill to the congregational favorite “I’ll Go in the Strength of the Lord”. The brigade then closed out their portion of the program with a very contemporary presentation entitled Sold Out.
Former Divisional Band member Vanessa Gaiton sensitively concluded the devotional time with a liturgical dance interpretation of People Need the Lord.
Among the selections provided by the band were:
- I Surrender All (Andrew Mackereth), Deputy Bandmaster Jerome Astwood, flügelhorn
- Marching Along (Nick Simmons-Smith)
- Deep River (William Broughton)
- Let There Be Praise (Barrie Gott)
- Divine Communion (Arthur W. Gullidge)
- The Wonder of It All (Kenneth Smith)
While it is always difficult to know how the music is received while one is presenting it, the Divisional Band had prayerfully prepared months in advance for the evening and, based on comments received, the Holy Spirit moved throughout the evening. For some, it was a spiritual awakening and members of the band are aware that they have a responsibility to follow up and encourage those persons to explore their feelings. For others, it was a time of reflection and joyful praise. Whatever the “takeaway”, the band believes that God was glorified.
It is the continuing prayer of the Bermuda Divisional Band, as they play at the Spring Festival and throughout the beautiful island community, that the Spirit of the Lord will be in their playing and their living.
Report by Divisional Bandmaster Warren W. Jones, submitted (with photos) by Jerome Astwood