The weekend of 27 – 28 October 2018 saw the Amsterdam Staff Band (Bandmaster Olaf Ritman) travel almost as if they were on tour. The band went to Winschoten, Oude Pekela, and Veendam, in the far northeast of the country, almost in Germany. The Winschoten Corps was celebrating its 130th anniversary and had invited the Staff Band to participate in the festivities.
On Saturday afternoon, the Staff Band gathered in a shopping mall in Oude Pekela where they played an open-air style concert. As this was actually indoors, many people stayed to have a listen despite the bad, cold weather outside. Although the Favourite Marches and Hymn Settings book (better known as the “Rainbow Book”) and the Marches and Hymn Settings (General Series) (the “Red Book”) are definitely in need of follow-ups, they were once again used to great effect during the short concert.
The Saturday night concert was shared with a male voice choir, which was a nice change for the audience. The band and choir performed one piece together, Ik wandel alleen in de tuin, arranged by Jorgen IJsendorn. There was a good mix of music for every taste. This concert was also the Dutch premiere of Be Still, a composition based on Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”, a gorgeous arrangement that the Staff Band first heard during their tour in the USA earlier in 2018. The arrangement is by Dorothy Gates, trombonist and composer-in-residence of the New York Staff Band. It was also the Dutch premiere of the cornet solo Oasis (Kenneth Downie), effortlessly played by long-time co-principal Michel Arnoldus. Also featured in a euphonium duet were Michel Rosenquist and Simon Smedinga.
All in all, it was a great night. The Winschoten Corps had made every effort to promote the weekend and the presence of the Staff Band, and it turned out to be a great success. The full Staff Band program for the evening included:
- Music from the Elizabethan Court (I) (Elgar Howarth)
- Be Still (Finlandia) (Dorothy Gates)
- My All to God (Olaf Ritman), Michel Rosenquist and Simon Smedinga, euphonium
- Beulah Land (Wilfred Heaton)
- Music from the Elizabethan Court (IV) (Elgar Howarth)
- Oasis (Kenneth Downie), Michel Arnoldus, cornet
- The Spirit in Me (Kevin Larsson)
- Ik wandel alleen in de tuin (arr. Jorgen IJsendorn), Staff Band and male choir
- Evening Variations (Olaf Ritman)
- Triumphant Prospect (Olaf Ritman)
On Sunday morning, the Staff Band participated in a good meeting, with Edwin Outhuisjse (trombone) gave his testimony. The band brought two pieces. The Break of Day (Steven Ponsford) contains one of the most popular contemporary Christian songs, “10,000 Reasons”. The other selection, Psalm 46, was written by Canadian composer David Rowsell.
The Staff Band’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Hans van den Hoek, brought a moving sermon based on Luke 19:1–10, the story of Jesus entering Jericho and talking with Zacchaeus. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, these Bible verses were read by Gerard van de Staaij, who is one of the smallest in the band.
The final event of the weekend was a Sunday afternoon meeting at Grote Kerk Veendam. This meeting was focused on singing together. Individual contributions of the Staff Band included Psalm 121 – My Help Comes from the Lord featuring baritone soloist Jorijn van Hese, and three Dutch premieres – Thy Matchless King (Joel Collier), Boundless Kingdom (Steven Ponsford), and Light-Bringer (Martin Cordner) – the latter was published some years ago but this was the first performance in the Netherlands.
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