Celebrations of Old and New in Pennsylvania

“Celebrating new beginnings to faithful service” could have been the theme as the New York Staff Band (Bandmaster Ronald Waiksnoris) traveled to Pennsylvania on the weekend of 17 – 19 April 2015. The weekend began with a concert in State College, followed by centenary celebrations in Carlisle.

State College – Friday, 17 April 2015

After a long coach ride from Territorial Headquarters, the weekend started in State College, Pennsylvania. The Salvation Army recently re-established the corps in State College under the leadership of Envoys Betty Ellen and Derek Bennett. The Staff Band presented a concert featuring many new works, ranging from a straight-ahead jazz arrangement of the class Rock of Ages to a new euphonium solo composed by Ivor Bosanko, Precious Jewels. The audience at the Assembly of God church was very warm and receptive and it is hoped that the music played will invigorate the Salvation Army’s work in State College.

Carlisle – Saturday, 18 April 2015

After the concert in State College, the Staff Band boarded the coach and headed to Carlisle for celebrations of 100 years of Salvation Army work in that city. Upon arrival at the hotel, the band was greeted by the host corps officer, Captain Mike Davis, and the band discovered an additional blessing as they entered their rooms and found a letter that expressed, “We have bathed each of you in prayer for this weekend.”

On Saturday morning, the band started the day at Ottobein Methodist Church, where the first part of the day was planned for the Staff Band to work with young people from all around the division. By 10:00 AM, over 200 beginner brass players had arrived to celebrate their work in a Regional Prep Day. Over the last year, all of these players had been learning music at various levels and this was a day where they could all come together to make one enormous beginner band and chorus.


The program started with a mini-concert by the Staff Band, to introduce them to the beginners with the hope to get them excited about participating in Salvation Army music. The mini-concert opened with a piece composed by the Pendel Divisional Music Director, Dr. Harold Burgmayer, entitled Fortress. After a few more fun items the work began.

The massed chorus rehearsed two items led by the Regional Music Director, Ronda Atwater. After the chorus rehearsal, everyone picked up their instruments and spread out around the room to rehearse with the Staff Band, working on two items written especially for this occasion by Dr. Burgmayer. The event ended with a short program, open to the public, where everything was presented, including items worked on by individual groups and timbrels. It was a special event to see so many young people playing instruments, singing and using timbrels at the beginner level, and their future development is eagerly anticipated.

After lunch, the Staff Band went to the heart of Carlisle where an open-air was held, with the band playing in the city square. A short program, including a devotional by Executive Officer Lt.-Colonel Kenneth Maynor, was presented to a very welcoming crowd. The open-air ended with William Himes’ arrangement of God Bless America that had everyone in attendance singing along.

On Saturday evening, the band returned to Ottobein Methodist Church for a concert celebrating the centenary of the Salvation Army in Carlisle. Majors Alma and John Riley and Captain Mike Davis put a lot of preparation into this event and it was evident as the band entered a very full chapel for the event. The program was a full concert, including new works such as Raise the Song (Simon Morton) and Power and Glory (Paul Lovatt-Cooper), and classics such as Shine As the Light (Peter Graham) and Crown of Conquest (Ray Steadman-Allen). It was a very exciting program, and after an already special day it was a blessing for the members of the Staff Band to be able to celebrate with the Salvation Army of Carlisle on this landmark anniversary.

Carlisle – Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sunday is always special with the Staff Band and this Sunday was no exception. There was a beautiful, vibrant congregation assembled as the band filed into the Carlisle Salvation Army. The preliminary music included a new arrangement in honor of the weekend, on the hymn tune “Carlisle”, by Dr. Burgmayer, who led the staff band in his work. There was rousing singing of “In the Sweet By and By”. John Opina gave an inspiring testimony about change and how God will always be with you. The service came to a solemn close with members of the band praying with members of the congregation. There was no more appropriate way to end the weekend than by celebrating God using believers as His instruments and seeing lives changed.

New York Staff Band web site