The [bclink id=”957″ target=”_blank”] of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster Dr. Harold J. Evans) undertook its first “away” engagement of 2012 on 24 March with a visit to Lower Earley Corps (Reading).
Extra chairs were still being put out as the band lined up to march into the hall. The 150-strong audience was, from the first to the last note, treated to a feast of sparkling brass band music – with a sincere Christian message abundantly made clear. Under the leadership of Bandmaster Evans, the band showed beautiful control as well as the capacity for exciting and inspirational playing.
After the opening the concert with the classic festival march Pressing Onward (Erik Leidzén), followed by introductions and a congregational song, the first soloist of the evening was featured. Craig Snell (cornet) performed Don’t Doubt Him Now (Leonard Ballantine, arr. Craig Woodland). This was followed by Celebration of Contemporary Gospel Song (William Himes).
Two more of the band’s soloists were featured in the next two items. First, euphonium soloist John Starkes presented Peter Graham’s technically demanding Bravura. Next, Barney Lawrence offered one of the standard works of tenor horn literature, Csárdás (Vittorio Monti, arr. Steve York).
The first half concluded with William Gordon’s transcription of the Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem. The technical work needed for this item proved to be well within the capability of the band and showcased the players’ skill with ease.
The second half of the concert opened with Just Like John (Norman Bearcroft). The focus then shifted to the Easter story, with “A Prelude to Easter”, including musical items and Scripture readings. This began with a congregational song (In Christ Alone). This was followed by a series of pieces, each representing an important event in the Easter narrative, beginning with The Name (Martin Cordner) for Palm Sunday. The theme continued with Written in Red (Dean Jones) representing Good Friday and He Can Break Every Fetter (Kenneth Downie) representing Easter Saturday.
The final work of the evening, representing the Resurrection, was Leslie Condon’s thrilling The Call of the Righteous, which drew tumultuous applause. On an evening where many were visiting the Salvation Army for the first time, the concept of silent appreciation as well as heralded applause was a significant realization. After receiving a wholehearted thanks from the host corps and a benediction, the band left a wonderful message that summed up how all felt as they left the hall – I’ll Walk with God (Nicholas Brodszky, arr. Goff Richards).
[bclink id=”957″ target=”_blank”] web site, original report by Dean Jones