The Chicago Staff Band (Bandmaster William Himes) made a short trip of just 85 miles to Ottawa, Illinois on Saturday, 19 February 2011, for a weekend consisting of a Saturday evening concert and Sunday worship service. With a population of just over 18,000, Ottawa is a city of two rivers, situated where the Fox River meets the Illinois River.
The Salvation Army in Ottawa is led by Captains Quentin and Mary Boyle, who had made arrangements for the weekend to be hosted at the First Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, pastored by John Walker.
A good crowd gathered for the 7:00 pm concert, which began with James Curnow’s Hallelujah!, followed by an invocation from Captain Quentin Boyle. The first soloist of the evening, Beth Cooper, played Trumpet Call (Kenneth Downie). The Staff Band then presented one of the gems of Salvation Army brass band literature, Wilfred Heaton’s Victory for Me!.
In addition to being a top-rank brass band, the Chicago Staff Band is also a choir, and the CSB Chorus presented the next two items, I Hear a Voice a-Prayin’ (Bright) and Grace (Hayes). Euphonium soloist Shaun Thomas was next, playing Norman Audoire’s classic We’ll All Shout Hallelujah. The first half of the program came to an end with a composition by Stephen Bulla, To Worlds Unknown.
The second half began with a transcription from orchestral music, Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare (Strauss, arr. William Himes). This was followed by Chassidic Dance (Howard Evans). Another solo item, Walk with Me (Ray Steadman-Allen) was presented by trombone soloist Brett Tolcher, followed by Scripture offered by the Staff Band’s executive officer, Lt.-Col. Richard Vander Weele.
Heidi Smith, vocal soloist, performed Unshakeable Kingdom (Gaither, Gaither & Smith) before the Staff Band closed the concert with another classical transcription by Bandmaster Himes, this time the fourth movement of Giannini’s Symphony No. 3. The audience was sent home with a prayer from Captain Mary Boyle and a choral benediction offered by the CSB Chorus.
On Sunday morning, the Staff Band returned to the First Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, where Lt.-Col. Vander Weele gave the message of the morning, based on the familiar Psalm 23, continuing a theme started by Pastor Walker.