Lancaster Weekend for New York Staff Band

On the weekend of 20 – 21 October 2018, the New York Staff Band (Bandmaster Derek Lance) was in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware (Pendel) Division, specifically visiting the Lancaster Citadel Corps.

On a beautiful fall day the Staff Band boarded a coach and traveled to Lancaster where they met up with the Pendel Brass and the Pendel Youth Band. To begin, the Staff Band performed a mini-concert. Featured items included the brilliant Almighty (Roger Trigg), a lovely new piece entitled O Love (Andrew Blyth), and the scintillating (i.e. FAST) Russlan and Ludmilla (Mikhail Glinka, arr. Michael Kenyon).

Dividing forces, half of the band went to rehearse with Pendel Brass and the others to rehearse with the Pendel Youth Band. Both of these groups continue to demonstrate excellence in their playing, under the guidance of Pendel Divisional Music Director Gavin Whitehouse and his staff of regional music leaders. Staff Band members also provided other instruction during the day.

The venue for the Saturday evening concert was the splendid auditorium of the Calvin and Janet High Fine Arts Center at Lancaster Mennonite High School. The concert opened with two contrasting items, the exciting Proclamation (Tom Davoren) and the contemplative Be Still (Dorothy Gates). Major Dean Satterlee, Lancaster Citadel corps officer, offered words of welcome and and invocation before the Staff Band brought a Russian flavor to the concert with Russlan and Ludmilla.

The host division has a strong musical tradition, and the Pendel Singers, led by Gavin Whitehouse, were a welcome addition to the program. For the first of their three items, Prepare (Leonard Ballantine), they were joined by the Pendel Youth Chorus. Other items from the Pendel Singers included Nearer My God to Thee (Heather Sorenson) and He’s Been Faithful (arr. Camp Kirkland).

The Staff Band continued with two more contrasting items, including a festival march, The Southern Cross, by former Staff Bandmaster Brian Bowen, and O Love, a new work by Andrew Blyth based on the song “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”. This led into a devotional thought given by the Staff Band’s Executive Officer, Lt.-Colonel James LaBossiere. The final item of the first half was a major work, Partita on “St. Theodulph”, written by a former member of the band, Kevin Norbury.

Following an intermission, the second half kicked off with Balkan Dance (Etienne Crausaz) and a new work by Steven Ponsford, Toccata Fire!, which again showcased the Staff Band’s technical skills.

Pendel Divisional Commander Lt.-Colonel Stephen Banfield then came to the stage, where he made a special presentation to David and Donna Burgmayer, who have recently retired as long-serving members of the Pendel Brass and Singers. A particularly moving moment was when Lt.-Col. Banfield asked for everyone in the auditorium who had been in an ensemble with or been instructed by the Burgmayers to stand. Well over half of those present, including several members of the Staff Band, rose to their feet, showing the impact of their ministry throughout the years.

The Staff Band’s final individual item of the evening was another work by Steven Ponsford, Turris Fortissima. Based around the motto of the English city of Portsmouth, “Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah’ (“The name of Jehovah is our strongest tower”), this major work features the songs “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”, “Ein’ Feste Burg”, and “Shout to the Lord”.

The Pendel Brass then joined the Staff Band on the stage for the conclusion of the concert. First up was one of the true classics of Salvation Army brass band literature – in fact, of brass band literature in general – Eric Ball’s The Kingdom Triumphant. This timeless work evokes imagery of both the first (represented by “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”the second coming of Christ, which is represented by a glorious treatment of the hymn tune “Helmsley”, associated with the words “Lo, He comes with clouds descending”. The magnificent ending was enhanced by the power of sixty players, filling the hall with powerful sound.

The final item of the concert was one that has become a fixture at Pendel Brass concerts, William Gordon’s arrangement of God Be With You, again played by the combined bands.

On Sunday morning at the Lancaster Citadel Corps, the Staff Band presented several items, including Almighty, Everlasting Hope (Paul Sharman), Great Are You Lord (Joel Collier), O Love, and St. Clements (Andrew Blyth). Just before the message, brought by Lt.-Col. LaBossiere, the band offered The Eternal Presence (Eric Ball). It was evident that the Holy Spirit was present as there were several moments of reverent silence at the conclusion of the music.

The weekend ended with the Staff Band presenting an afternoon concert at the Woodcrest Villa, a retirement residence in Lancaster. There was music for every taste in a light program that included:

  • South Shields Celebration (Martin Cordner)
  • Balkan Dance
  • Climb Ev’ry Mountain (arr. Philip Harper)
  • Manhattan (Erik Leidzén)
  • New York, New York (Goff Richards)
  • Amazing Grace (William Himes)
  • The Red Shield (Henry Goffin)
  • Toccata Fire!
  • Lullabye (Philip Harper)
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever (John Philip Sousa)

Brass Crest Staff Report (Saturday night concert)
New York Staff Band web site, original report by Karen Shaffstall
Derek Lance – Facebook page