On the last weekend of May 2014, the Amsterdam Staff Band (Bandmaster Olaf Ritman) could be found in the United Kingdom! The Staff Band was invited to celebrate the 135th anniversary of the eldest Salvation Army band in the world, the Consett Corps Band. To kill two birds with one stone, the Staff Band brought with them Ben van Dijk, bass trombonist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, as guest soloist, in conjunction with the release of his new solo recording, World Concerto, which includes the Staff Band as the accompanying group.
Friday, 30 May 2014
The band gathered together at Schiphol Airport in the early morning. A smooth flight to Newcastle followed, where the band was met by members of the Consett Corps. A quick ride to the Consett Salvation Army hall, a very interesting and extended presentation about the Consett Corps and its band, and a short rehearsal followed.
The coach then took the band to the Durham County Hall for their first concert of the weekend. Many representatives of surrounding cities and counties were present as well as invited persons, including descendants of bandsmen who formed the Consett Corps Band in the early days of the Salvation Army. Soloists during this concert included Mark Onstwedder (trombone) who played Jesus Shall Conquer, Michel Arnoldus and Arend Pietersen (cornets) with Synergy and Menno van der Woude (flügelhorn) in They Shall Come from the East.
Saturday, 31 May 2014
This was the Staff Band’s busiest day during the trip, with two concerts. First, the coach brought the band to Durham, where they went the the Salvation Army’s Sanctuary21, a shelter for homeless and addicted persons. The shelter is run by two familiar faces to the Staff Band, Lieutenants Cor and Angelique van der Woude. The band was able to stow its gear at Sanctuary21 in preparation for their concert at the majestic Durham Cathedral, about a three-minute walk from the shelter. This ancient building, over 900 years old, is definitely one of the greatest buildings where the Staff Band has played.
In the meantime, the guest soloist for the weekend, Ben van Dijk, joined the band, and the group was off to Durham Cathedral, where hundreds of people were eagerly waiting for the concert. The band opened with Edward Mylechreest’s arrangement of He Is Exalted, and, when the last chord faded away, everyone realized that they were in for a treat in this special, beautiful, old building. In particular, the quieter pieces, such as Bandmaster Ritman’s Tu Es Petrus and Lux Aurumque (arr. Andrew Poirier) were absolute gems to play in this environment.
Ben van Dijk excelled with three solos, Shenandoah, Danzone and Na Sopkah Manchurri, all of which were written by Steven Verhelst and included on the new recording. They Shall Come from the East is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of recent years and here the audience really enjoyed it. Even the last “BOOM” by Leslie Stastra on bass drum, which sounded like an explosion in the cathedral, was appreciated! The final piece was Amsterdam Festival March (Norman Bearcroft), written for the Staff Band’s 1992 tour of Canada. The unmistakable theme “Tulips from Amsterdam” left the audience satisfied and pleased, according to the many responses.
The venue for the evening concert was a theater about 100 yards from the Consett Corps building. This was a quite difficult hall for the band to play in, with very dry acoustics. The first people had already entered the hall during the sound check and it took only minutes for the room to fill with an anticipating audience. When the band came in, a huge applause was given, and during the way to their chairs the bass section took a deep bow. This was a clear example of the great atmosphere not only in the theater, but also for the entire weekend.
The band set off with Call of the Gospel (Martin Cordner), followed by Lord, with My All I Part (Brian Bowen). Two contrasting items, both with a great message. After the usual introductions, guest soloist Ben van Dijk treated the audience to a flawless rendition of World Concerto, an almost 15-minute tour de force for bass trombone and band. The following piece, Letter from Home, became one of the highlights of the weekend. The audience appreciated this quite unusual piece which is certainly not known within Salvation Army circles.
During the evening, the Staff Band also gave the world premiere of Mansions of Glory. Written by the principal tenor horn of Black Dyke Band, Jonathan Bates (who, despite Bandmaster Ritman being “sure that he was in the audience”, was in Germany), this work features two main tunes. “Coventry Carol” was one of the first tunes played by the original Consett Corps Band and “I know thou art mine” has significant meaning to the people of Consett. Written for the Consett Band, the premiere of this fine work was appreciated by the audience.
Prior to the interval was the official release of the new recording by Ben van Dijk, accompanied by the Amsterdam Staff Band, entitled World Concerto.
The only other soloist during the evening concert was flügelhorn legend Menno van der Woude, who gave a scintillating performance of Children of Sanchez.
Sunday, 1 June 2014
On Sunday morning, the Staff Band teamed up with the Consett Corps Band for a joint march to place where the original Consett Band rehearsed. The Staff Band is used to marching, and particularly enjoys marching with other bands, however, doing this in the hilly surroundings of Consett was sweat-provoking and challenging.
After the morning meeting, in which the guest soloist again showed his incredible and controlled skills, the only portion of the trip left was a “wind-up” praise meeting, which took the form of a short, informal concert. One of the features of the afternoon concert was the world premiere of Bandmaster Ritman’ first “big” composition. Fun and interesting to hear, Vain Resistance will surely become popular among Salvation Army bands around the world.
Report submitted by Steef Klepke. Photos from Amsterdam Staff Band Facebook page.