To kick off its 2011 – 2012 season, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) visited two corps in the province of Nova Scotia on the weekend of 30 September – 2 October 2011.
The weekend was originally scheduled in response to an invitation from Yarmouth Corps to help celebrate its 125th anniversary. The Staff Band added an extra concert at Halifax Citadel on the Friday evening. Unfortunately, because of a delay in departing Toronto, the band did not arrive at Halifax Citadel until 7:40 pm – ten minutes after the scheduled start time of the concert, to applause from the crowd gathered outside the building. The band quickly made their way inside, changed into their uniforms and gathered their instruments, and walked in just after 8:00 pm to start the concert.
After adjusting to the hall during the first item, The Gathering, it was on to the rest of the program as the band played to a capacity audience who had been patiently waiting to hear them. Some people had driven in from outside the city, including several from Fredericton, New Brunswick, four hours away. They came to hear the band, and the band did not disappoint them.
The concert featured a mixture of items from the band’s spring tour along with some recently-added pieces such as Seize the Day (Peter Graham), The Firing Line (Bruce Broughton) and two new arrangements by Kevin Larsson – Fill the World with Glory and They Shall Come from the East.
Solo items included Salvus played by Steve Pavey, Down by the Riverside played by Major Kevin Metcalf and a special rendition of Somebody Prayed for Me played by Craig Lewis and conducted by the arranger, Bandmaster Peter van der Horden of Halifax Citadel.
After the concert, the band enjoyed a delicious roast beef dinner (at 10:30 pm, held over from earlier by the good folk of the corps), then made their way to the hotel for the night in anticipation of the journey to Yarmouth the next day.
On Saturday morning, the rain began in earnest and did not let up for the rest of the band’s visit. Nevertheless, the band made the four-hour trip to Yarmouth, arriving mid-afternoon to set up for the evening program. Located in the heart of the world’s largest lobster fishing grounds, Yarmouth is a small rural town of about 8,000 located on the western coast of Nova Scotia. Founded in 1761, it is celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2011. The Salvation Army has been active there since 1886. Formerly a major shipbuilding center, Yarmouth was a significant tourist destination for many years with visitors coming across the Gulf of Maine from the United States. Unfortunately, with the recent loss of the ferry service, tourism is not what it once was and the town is facing an uncertain future.
Following a sound check in the beautiful sanctuary, the band enjoyed a lovely supper hosted by Majors Peter and Janice Rowe, corps officers, along with Majors Morris and Wanda Vincent from Divisional Headquarters and the special guests for the weekend, Majors Bruce and Judy Power from Toronto, who had been stationed at Yarmouth some years ago. Each member of the band received a “loot bag” filled with mementos of the visit, including baseball caps and various other items celebrating the town’s 250th anniversary.
The Saturday evening concert was enjoyed by a large audience who appreciated the band’s musical ministry. The program was a repeat of the night before in Halifax and included a selection of lighter items such as The Name (with the band donning the aforementioned baseball caps), the vocal item Goodby, World, Goodbye and the popular Light-Walk (Barrie Gott) featuring the Staff Band Timbrels. Two large-scale works by Robert Redhead, Rejoice! and Christ-Hymn, concluded the first and second halves respectively.
After a restful night, the band participated in the Sunday morning meeting with various prelude items and two selections – Let There Be Praise and Shine On Us. Major Bruce Power brought the Bible message on Psalm 93, inviting the congregation to be aware of God’s presence in their lives and to listen to His voice.
Regretfully, planned outdoor activities for the afternoon, including a march of witness and open-air meeting, had to be canceled because of the rain. Nevertheless, the soldiers and friends of the Yarmouth Corps greatly appreciated the band’s visit and extended an open invitation for a return at any time.
The band expressed thanks to Captain Steve White, Divisional Youth Secretary for the Ontario Central-East Division, and Andrew Dolan of Scarborough Citadel, for their help during the weekend.
Canadian Staff Band