On 3 February 2009, a new era began for Salvation Army music in the USA Southern Territory as Nick Simmons-Smith began his service as the Territorial Music and Creative Arts Education Secretary. Simmons-Smith, originally from Chelmsford, England, replaces Dr. Richard E. Holz, who has entered honored retirement after leading the territorial music department for some thirty years.
A fifth-generation Salvationist, Simmons-Smith holds a bachelor of arts degree in music composition from the Colchester Institute (1997) and a post-graduate Certificate of Education (2003). He came to the United States in 1998, working in the Texas Division music department, then under the direction of Bandmaster James B. Anderson. He returned to the UK in 2002, working as a teacher and earning his post-graduate certificate. In 2004, Simmons-Smith returned to Texas, and in 2008 moved to territorial headquarters in Atlanta, as a music publishing and marketing specialist.
Simmons-Smith inherits a strong music program from his predecessor. In his time leading music in the USA Southern Territory, Dr. Richard Holz made enormous progress, with a list of accomplishments including the expansion of the summer Territorial Music Institute from a small operation held in conjunction with another camp to a 10-day concentrated music course with nearly 250 participants last year. Dr. Holz also brought the South into the music publishing world, starting the American Instrumental Ensemble Series in the mid-1980s. This graded series of selections, 16 per year, has become an essential resource for many corps bands and other ensembles. For vocalists, the territory also publishes the Sing Praise series, arranged for SAB choir. He also presided over a reborn Territorial Band and created a Terrtorial Songster brigade.
In an interview with Major Frank Duracher, published in the 6 February edition of The Southern Spirit, Simmons-Smith outlines the goals that he has for the department as he begins his service:
“I want this department to be known for resourcing the territory. We want to aid the DMDs [divisional music directors] and corps in the field for their presentations of worship . . . I’m really keen on blended worship, using our traditional music forces as well as creative arts and also our contemporary music groups. . . . The corps and divisional music programs are really ‘where the rubber meets the road’ and this department will strive to be a resource to them. We also want to build on the success of TMI and the Worship Arts Retreat, and to continue becoming more diverse in the creative arts program. . . . Other areas of music education will be emphasized as well: leadership training, piano instruction, music theory and conservatories. We will continue this territory’s prominent role in publications for our traditional Salvation Army music forces. . . . I see the music and creative arts forces as playing a critical role in first attracting young people to the corps, and then holding on to them.”
The Southern Spirit 6 February 2009