Paul Lovatt-Cooper Profiled in New York

The Greater New York Division of the Salvation Army invited the resident composer of the Black Dyke Band, Paul Lovatt-Cooper, as the composer to be featured in the 33rd annual installment of the Profile series of concerts. Lovatt-Cooper is the writer of some of today’s most exciting and inspiring brass band music and follows in the illustrious steps of composers such as Eric Ball, Ray Steadman-Allen, Dean Goffin and Kenneth Downie as “profiled“ composers. The concert, held in the Centennial Memorial Temple in the heart of Manhattan, featured the Greater New York Youth Band and Youth Chorus, and their guests the New York Staff Band (Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris).

The Divisional Commander, Colonel Guy Klemanski, welcomed the honored guests, including the territorial leaders, Commissioners Steve and Judy Hedgren. The almost 1,000-strong audience was introduced very quickly to the passion and power of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s music as the Staff Band blazed into Enter the Galaxies. Lovatt-Cooper’s music is demanding for the players but easy on the ear for the listeners. The anticipation was then enhanced by the acknowledgment of the Lord’s presence in everything that was to happen in the next two hours, as the General Secretary of the GNY Division, Major Evan Hickman, gave the invocation.

The Staff Band then presented Home of Legends, which is reminiscent of John Williams’ famous Olympic medley (some of Lovatt-Cooper’s compositions will be included in the London Olympics). This was written for the legends who have passed through the famous Black Dyke Band, but was very fitting considering the “legends” who been featured over the previous Profile concerts.

Adam Fyn, a young Canadian member of the Staff Band, flawlessly and poignantly presented the baritone solo Donegal Bay. Fyn is a euphonium student at Montclair State University.

Next, Paul Lovatt-Cooper displayed his skills as a percussionist – he has been in the percussion section of the Black Dyke Band for many years and has also played with several other championship section bands. For this concert, he whipped through Rondo alla Turka, a real aerobic workout which brought the crowd to their feet.

Where Eagles Sing is perhaps Lovatt-Cooper’s signature piece, launching his popularity and recognition. After the Staff Band’s presentation, Commissioner Steve Hedgren related how he had listed to this item several times over as he had driven, one day, across Oklahoma, with windows down and “hair streaming in the breeze.” He then likened the soaring of the eagle to the majesty of the Lord and urged all to seek His presence in their lives.

It was finally time for the Greater New York Youth Band to step to the fore. This band has maintained an exceptional standard for many, many years and again rose to the occasion as they presented Horizons under the direction of Bandmaster Gordon Ward. The Greater New York Youth Chorus then presented My Simple Prayer, which uses the same melody as the solo Donegal Bay. The chorus, under the direction of Gavin Whitehouse, created a “holy moment” with their performance.

Bandmaster Ward’s son, Tim Ward, played the horn solo An Untold Solo. A sublime performance, beautifully played, with sensitive accompaniment from the Youth Band and ending on a delicate top D. Tim’s brother, Chris Ward, then guided the Youth Band through Darkside of the Moon. This piece considers a barren, desolate place with glimpses of the light on the “other side”, then introduces the true light with the melody “Our God Reigns”.

Lovatt-Cooper then stepped to the microphone and shared his testimony. He related how he had grown up in the Salvation Army, with officer parents, but had “drifted away” as a teenager. When studying with Peter Graham, Graham had recommended him to Bandmaster Waiksnoris as a percussion instructor for Star Lake Musicamp. Lovatt-Cooper explained that Star Lake was a breath of fresh air. He began to consider his faith and during a prayer meeting, while singing I Love You, Lord, tears rolled down his cheeks and realized that there was a God and he was saved. He advised anyone in the Centennial Memorial Temple that if they were not saved, they were missing out on a wonderful thing! As exciting as the music was, this moment was the pinnacle of the evening. He then went on to introduce Fire in the Blood, which had been written as his testimony for the celebrations of the 120th anniversary of the International Staff Band in June 2011. The performance, given by the Staff Band, was the US premier of this work, which incorporates three melodies, “Sing Joy to the Lord”, “Lord, You Know That We Love You” and “I Love You, Lord”.

Finally, Lovatt-Cooper conducted the massed bands in Vitae Aeternum, which has become a favorite of Salvation Army bands since its composition. The work features “God Came in Jesus to Love Among Us”, “I Will Praise You“ and Ivor Bosanko’s tune “His Provision”, which accompanies words by General John Gowans:

Holy Spirit promised presence fall on me,
Make me all I want to be,
Holy Spirit, give your power to me,
O Holy Spirit!

The Youth Chorus joined with the massed bands, singing these words, bringing a wonderful climax to a marvelous, God-honoring and soul-lifting evening.

Posting by Ian Anderson on the New York Staff Band Facebook page