Songs of Exuberance at Mountain Citadel

Article by Craig Lewis
Photographs by Kathy Downer

“Songs of Exuberance” was the theme for a concert at Mountain Citadel (Hamilton) on 12 November 2006, featuring the Mountain Citadel senior music sections and guest trombone soloist Andrew Justice. Andrew is the principal trombone of both the world renowned Enfield Citadel and International Staff Bands.

The Mountain Citadel Senior Band, under the fine direction of Bandmaster Phil Rayment, opened the proceedings with a rousing rendition of William Gordon's The Great Revival. This march epitomized the theme of exuberance which can be described as being “joyfully unrestrained and enthusiastic”. Fortunately for the listener, the band managed to show some restraint on this exciting number. The congregation was then given their chance to make a joyful noise in the singing of William Booth's song Send the Fire to the upbeat tune by Lex Loizides.

Andrew Justice at Mountain Citadel, 12 November 2006

It was then time for the featured soloist to make his debut. Andrew Justice has a world wide reputation for the consistency of both his solo and band playing and was in fact making his second appearance at Mountain Citadel, having played here with the International Staff Band on their North American tour in 2005. His first contribution for the afternoon was the Rhapsody on an American Folk Hymn for Trombone and Band by Ralph Pearce. This piece is an intentional combination of Aaron Copland and John Williams and is written in quasi suite format with two faster, technical movements sandwiching a delicate and exposed middle section. Andrew was clearly up to the challenge and demonstrated both his sensitivity on the middle tune and his sheer power in the third movement.

The Mountain Citadel Songsters, under the recently resumed leadership of Sharon Vize, provided two contrasting numbers. The first was the toe-tapping Singin' in the Heav'nly Choir by Graeme Press which is in the style of ‘the Gaithers meet Hee Haw’. The second was In the Garden by Douglas Court which marries the traditional words to a lovely new tune in compound metre.

As this was the Remembrance Day weekend in Canada, the band's next contribution was a tribute to those who had gone before. John William's Hymn to the Fallen is one of those haunting numbers that is able to transport the listener to another place and time. This was aided by an excellent video presentation by Josh Downer that interspersed scripture and words with pictures of those who had engaged in both earthly and spiritual warfare. The video and music combined for a very effective solemn presentation.

Songster accompanists often go unnoticed so it was fitting that our own songster accompanist Helen Lewis was able to feature an Ivor Bosanko arrangement of the hymn tune Armadale (written by her grandmother) during the collection.

Andrew Justice at Mountain Citadel, 12 November 2006

The band then demonstrated its ability to play rock and swing styles in David Mills' Love Lifted Me featuring individual solos by Jeff Vize (euphonium), Sherie Keogh (cornet), Nathan Downer (tuba) and Josh Downer (drum kit).

After commenting on the band's ability to swing, Andrew Justice introduced his second major solo for the day, Song of Exuberance by Leslie Condon. His performance of this Latin inspired solo left no doubt that his reputation as a soloist is well deserved. The accompaniment for this solo is also a major work for band and the members of Mountain Citadel Band are to be commended for their contribution on this item. Andrew was then joined by MCB's principal trombone, Craig Lewis, for the 1930's duet Comrades.

The songsters led us into a devotional period with a new Leonard Ballantine arrangement entitled In Jesus' Name. Andrew continued the sensitive mood with the Don Morrison solo Consecration featuring the tunes ‘O Take Me As I Am’ and ‘Teach Me How to Love Thee’. Following a brief devotional by Captain Wycliffe Reid, the band closed the devotional period with an uplifting arrangement by Andrew Mackareth of the contemporary worship song Above All. The finale band item of the afternoon was the classical fireworks of Bizet's Farandole from the L'Arlesienne Suite.

Following courtesies by Bandmaster Rayment, Andrew Justice displayed his conducting skills (he is the deputy bandmaster at Enfield) by leading the band in the march Praise (Wilfred Heaton). While the piece did not feature the choreography of Andrew's English bands, it is always good to hear this timeless number. A spoken benediction concluded this wonderful afternoon of exuberant music.

Submitted by Nathan Downer, Mountain Citadel

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