On Saturday, 2 June 2012, Salvationists and friends, including many Canadian Staff Band alumni, gathered at Toronto’s Scarborough Citadel for the Staff Band’s 43rd Anniversary Festival. With this year’s guest, world-renowned trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann, the night was sure to be entertaining as well as musically uplifting.
The Staff Band began the concert with Servants of God (Steven Ponsford), followed by the congregational song “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (arr. Kevin Metcalf), which was led by the Territorial Commander, Commissioner Brian Peddle. The Commissioner commended the band for its 43 years of ministry in the Canada and Bermuda Territory and around the world, before offering a prayer asking God’s blessing on the evening.
The Staff Band then launched into Herbert Rive’s award-winning march Spirit of Joy, published in 1957. This was followed by the timeless Latin American classic, Malaguena, during which Jens Lindemann made his entrance from the back of the hall, adding his unique high-range trumpet obligato to the delight of the audience. In his comments afterwards, Lindemann noted that it was a personal joy to once again be working with the Canadian Staff Band, having appeared in two previous anniversary concerts (2002 and 2004), as well as making his recording, Rising Sun, with the band in 2003.
Lindemann’s second piece of the evening was the world concert premiere of Starlight (Peter Meechan), a slow ballad written for his recent recording, Dreaming of the Masters, with Fodens Band. He was then joined by the Staff Band’s principal cornet, Steve Brown, for the sparkling cornet duet Synergy (Martin Cordner), based on the old Salvation Army song “We’re in God’s Army and We Fight”.
The conclude the first half of the concert, the Staff Band played Shine On Us (Michael W. Smith, arr. Jonathan Rowsell), followed by another new work by Martin Cordner, Fusion. This challenging work is based on the tune “Brantwood”, associated with Albert Orsborn’s words “I know thee who thou art”, and Chris Rice’s “Untitled Hymn”, inviting the listeners to “come to Jesus”.
Following the intermission, the Staff Band presented Fill the World with Glory! (Kevin Larsson) before welcoming back Lindemann for the Canadian brass band premiere of Shenandoah Fantasy (Jay Chattaway, arr. Todd Fiegel). Originally written for orchestra, this major work features numerous trumpet styles in variations on the familiar traditional American melody. Another setting of an old American melody, Down by the Riverside, featured Lindemann in a New Orleans-style jazz arrangement by Jeff Christmas, culminating in the entire cornet section standing front and center to the delight of the audience.
It was then time for a change of mood as the Staff Band presented Eric Ball’s great masterpiece, Resurgam. Although composed as a test piece for a brass band championship in Great Britain, and considered one of the crown jewels of brass band literature, this major work is deeply spiritual, based on the composer’s setting of a phrase from the Apocrypha, “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God”. Featuring contrasting styles charged with high emotion, this item was a definite highlight of the program for all who were present. Ending on a note of quiet serenity, it was followed without a break by William Himes’ setting of Amazing Grace, once again featuring Jens Lindemann – a masterful bit of programming by Bandmaster John Lam that allowed the audience time for spiritual reflection leading into Commissioner Peddle’s message.
To conclude the night, the Staff Band gave an invigorating performance of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood, written for the International Staff Band’s 120th anniversary celebrations and premiered at Royal Albert Hall almost exactly a year previous to this concert.
A final benediction was given with the members of the band moving out into the audience to play God Be With You (William Gordon), in tribute to the original Canadian Staff Band which was lost in the Empress of Ireland disaster in 1914 and to all former Staff Band members. It should be noted that the special guest joined with the band for both of the final items, adding extra sparkle to the presentations.
Audience members left having been treated to a wonderful evening of music. Jens Lindemann proved once again why he is such a consummate performer, not just through exhilarating and spell-binding playing, but also in his witty banter and entertaining comments throughout the night. It was a most enjoyable program and a great way to kick off the Canadian Staff Band’s 44th year of ministry.
Canadian Staff Band web site