SLFB Long Weekend in Blackpool and Carlisle

On the long weekend of 28 – 30 September 2018, the South London Fellowship Band (Conductor Darrell Scholes) visited the northwest of England, with events in Blackpool and Carlisle. Despite challenges with travel and accommodations, the trip was ultimately successful and satisfying.

Friday, 28 September 2018

On Friday, the visited Blackpool Citadel. It was a memorable journey, fraught with traffic delays from start to finish. Because of the delays, the band was forced to change their arrival plans, postponing their intended check-in at the hotel until after the evening concert. It was 18:05 when they finally arrived at the Citadel. With the program scheduled to start at 19:00, the band somehow managed to have an excellent meal, unload the coach, get set up, change into their uniforms, and commence playing by 19:20.

The concert began with Light-Bringer (Martin Cordner), immediately followed by ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine). Though a somwhat ironic choice given the travel impediments experienced during the day, the calming effects of the arrangement re-focused the band’s playing for the rest of the evening.

South London Fellowship Band at Blackpool Citadel, September 2018

South London Fellowship Band at Blackpool Citadel, September 2018

The program featured solos from Maurice Horwood (trombone) with Blessed Assurance, Craig Finch (flügelhorn) with Morricone’s Melody, and Adrian Horwood (euphonium) with Brillante. Adrian Horwood also led the band’s male voice items Whosoever Heareth and What Will You Do With Jesus?. Though not billed as solo performances, special mention must be made of John Clarke’s rendition of the starkly exposed baritone melody in Alone Yet Not Alone and Roger Gadsden’s tenor horn obbligato in What Will You Do With Jesus?, both contributing significantly to the impact of those items.

The major work for the evening was Dean Goffin’s Symphony of Thanksgiving. Though full of individual difficulties for every player, the band should be allowed a modicum of self-satisfaction for a fine performance, warmly endorsed by a most appreciative audience. A moment of reflection was contributed by John Moye, who based his thoughts around some well-chosen verses from Philippians 2. Other items featured during the evening included The Crystal Tide, In God’s Presence, and Britannia.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

At 07:15, the sun rose over Blackpool, heralding the second day of the Fellowship Band’s long-weekend visit to the northwest of England. Band Secretary Rowland Little had thoughtfully arranged for all of the band and supporters, if they wished, a full English breakfast in the Beefeater restaurant, making for a relaxed and pleasant start to the day. With Carlisle being just under 100 miles north of Blackpool, it was planned that the band would have a relatively leisurely drive up through the Lake District. All that was needed was decent weather, which fortunately was apparent.

South London Fellowship Band, concert in Carlisle, September 2018

South London Fellowship Band, concert in Carlisle, September 2018

“Local lad” Rowland Little gave a running commentary as the band passed through Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, and Thirlmere, enjoying the beauty of the hills and fells with their distictive drystone walls. Major Paul Church brought an on-coach devotional thought and prayer and Bev Hudson told something of the background and story of the Carlisle corps officers, Captains Mel and Steve Scoulding. A lunch stop was taken at the delightful market town of Keswick, with some also taking a stroll to view nearby Derwent Water.

The frustrating journey up the M6 on Friday meant that the band could not check into their Blackpool hotel until after the concert. So they were well pleased to arrive at the hotel in Carlisle in good time, looking forward to an hour or so’s relaxation. Unfortunately, a mix-up by the hotel’s management meant that none of the keys were ready, and some of the rooms were not prepared. So the band was ushered into the adjoining restaurant for a free cup of coffee (much to the annoyance of the restaurant management) while things were sorted out. The band secretary remained calmly in control throughout, and eventually everyone found their rooms, although some had barely 15 minutes before the coach was scheduled to depart again for the hall.

The Fellowship Band’s conductor put together a basic program for the Friday and Saturday night concerts, with the option to change a few items on Saturday. The Carlisle audience was able to enjoy some items not heard in Blackpool, including Celebration (Leslie Condon) and All the World Is Waiting (Paul Sharman). Principal cornet Alan Moyse played, with sensitivity, Lord, Show Me What I Need (Ray Bowes). The band’s other soloists – Maurice Horwood (trombone), Craig Finch (flügelhorn), and Adrian Horwood (euphonium) – were also featured.

Bev Hudson brought some thoughts from the Word of God, based on John 6. The band sang the male voice item What Will You Do With Jesus?. The major work was again Symphony of Thanksgiving. Published in 1952, this Salvation Army brass classic still “comes up fresh”, challenging the conductor and players alike, thrilling listeners.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

On Sunday, a little before 10:00, the Fellowship Band and the Carlisle Corps gathered together to commit the day to the Lord in prayer, led by Adrian Horwood. Bridging the very short interval between the prayer meeting and morning worship, the band played All for Thee (Kenneth Downie).

At the outset of the Harvest Festival morning worship, Major Paul Church challenged the congregation with “What are you expecting from today?”, reassuring all that “His blessing will be among us”. Major Church later expertly “directed traffic” for the Harvest Altar Service, calmly coping with a song and tune mismatch!

Giving his personal testimony, Rowland Little mentioned that he had left Carlisle, his home town, 53 years ago. Tracy Wood (Chatham Corps) demonstrated her skills as a youth worker when she convinced three Carlisle young people to help her in an illustration involving some (very messy) sandwich-making.

Carlisle Songsters (Songster Leader Ian Johnstone) sang Bow the Knee (arr. Tom Fettke), which brought much blessing and demonstrated that quality singing is achievable when using a backing track. For its contribution to Sunday worship, the Fellowship Band played A Special Moment (Steven Ponsford), a sensitive arrangement based on General John Larsson’s melody “God’s Moment”.

Roger Gadsden brought the Bible message, based on Habakkuk 3 and Acts 14. The message affirmed that, whether or not there is a harvest, we must “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God our Saviour”, who is sovereign and in control.

The need to get back on the road to London made it impossible to schedule a second meeting or program in Carlisle, but the band did manage to squeeze in a Salvation Praise Wind-Up. The band’s two contributions were Songs of Testimony (Norman Bearcroft) and Music Maker (Peter Graham). Carlisle Band (Bandmaster Gordon Hiscox) gave a crisp rendition of the march medley Good Old Army (Nicholas Simmons-Smith) and the weekend concluded with both bands uniting for the classic Montreal Citadel (Norman Audoire).

The return trip was much less eventful than the outbound journey. The band expressed great appreciation for their coach driver, Colin Richardson. Colin drove a round trip in excess of 750 miles, in difficult conditions, and also played first cornet with the band in between driving duties.

South London Fellowship Band web site, original report by Graham Hardwick