MSB at Warrnambool

The Melbourne Staff Band (Bandmaster Ken Waterworth) traveled to the town of Warrnambool on the weekend of 6 – 7 November 2010. Warrnambool, an Aboriginal name meaning “Plenty of Water” or “Running Swamps”, is situated on the rugged coastline of Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast and is the home of the well-known Fletcher Jones Gardens.

After arrival and setup at Warrnambool College, the Staff Band conducted workshops with local musicians from the district, including Salvationists, students and players from local city bands, including five players from Portland City Band. From the “vibe” in the practice rooms and the mixing and mingling of all the participants, the workshops were received very well and enjoyed by all present.

A very tasty and welcome barbeque meal hosted by members of the Warrnambool Corps was enjoyed by the touring party.

Noted absentees for the weekend included Rob Stevens, Ken Whittaker, Wayne Collyer and Jason Stewart, all with health concerns. Also, Neil Roper thought it may be prudent to remain in Melbourne as his wife was due to have their second child sometime soon. With the solo cornet bench depleted, former Staff Bandsman John Collinson and Band Reservist Rob Beasey, who is also the band’s coach driver, received the call for duty and very proficiently sight-read much of the music for the weekend.

The Saturday night concert commenced with the fanfare Agnus Dei (Creamer) followed by Stephen Bulla’s march Diamond Jubilee. Vocal soloist Rebecca Raymond entertained and blessed everyone with her sensitive renditions of Now I Belong to Jesus (arr. Broughton), They Could Not (arr. Bowen) and Your Grace Still Amazes Me (arr. Hogg). Jamie Smith, principal euphonium, wowed the audience with a scintillating performance of Euphony (Redhead) and Clinton Fisk, a “local boy made good”, stunned family and friends with his outstanding performance, complete with the use of multiphonics, of Standing on the Promises (Silfverberg) on Eb tuba.

The main work of the evening was the Staff Band’s convincing performance of Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball). Written in 1967 as a contesting piece, the music compellingly tells the story of man’s journey through life in search for meaning. The Staff Band “told the story” with the assistance of visual media prepared by Vaughan Duck.

A combined band comprised of all of the participants from the afternoon workshops rounded off the evening with the performance of three items which were rehearsed earlier in the day.

There were many blessings as the Staff Band worshipped with the comrades and friends of the Warrnambool Corps on Sunday morning. The Staff Band thoughtfully presented God’s word in music by playing Just As I Am (Wilfred Heaton). Major Ray Begley preached on this theme, reminding the congregation that we can come to Jesus “Just as I am,” but issued the challenge, “Are you ready?”

Troy Whittaker spoke to the children, drawing inspiration from his golf clubs to convey the message that, just as each club has its own specific purpose, so do we each as people.

A “pleasant” Sunday afternoon open-air concert at Lake Pertobe provided the opportunity for evangelism and contacts to be made with families who got more than one usually expects when going to a picnic or barbeque at the lake.

The Staff Band battled the elements, with gusty winds and patches of rain. However, they persisted and faithfully presented the gospel message through music. Soloists Gary Todd, who played A Happy Day and the ever-popular Rebecca Raymond, who sang Almighty and Your Grace Still Amazes Me, attracted a crowd (including insects and seagulls).

With no time for whale watching, the Staff Band boarded the coach and returned to Melbourne, having been encouraged by the faithfulness of the folk of the Warrnambool Corps.

Melbourne Staff Band web site, original report by Stephen Webb.