Weekend in Gainsborough

Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Gainsborough, 16 – 17 June 2012. A weekend of great ministry for the band was enhanced by great music and fellowship.

From the minute the band arrived they were kept busy. The first action was to march through the town to the “Old Hall”. Gainsborough, a town which is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1087, is a town with much history and the Old Hall was built between 1460 and 1480. A building with an interesting past, Henry VIII stayed there for a time. It was this building that provided the backdrop for the first concert of the weekend. A crowd gathered to hear the band play music including marches; hymn tune settings, such as ’Mid All the Traffic; a cornet solo, Share My Yoke, played by principal cornet Nicola Redhead; and more up-tempo items, such as a rock transcription of Stand Up for Jesus. Following the concert the band had an impromptu tour of the Old Hall before marching back to Gainsborough Salvation Army to set up for the evening festival.

The next event for the band was a civic reception. The band was well looked after all weekend and the way in which the district council welcomed the members of the band into their chambers for dinner was yet another sign of the appreciation of the towns-folk. The band then returned to the Salvation Army hall for a prayer meeting in advance of the evening festival.

From the opening number, Amazed (Paul Sharman) – specially written for the band’s recent appearance at the London Congress – to the final magnificent strains of The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball), the band displayed an assured, confident sense of excitement and musicianship. As is normal with Birmingham Citadel Band programs, there was an eclectic of old and new, large and small scale works. Wilfred Heaton’s considerable skills were displayed in Victory for Me, while Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Vitae Aeternum gave the band the chance to generate excitement and devotion all in one package – a real crowd-pleaser.

Other items included Peace (Kenneth Downie), Ask (Peter Graham), For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert), Moses, Get Down! (Barrie Gott), Shalom (Erik Silfverberg) and William Himes’ well-crafted Soli Deo Gloria.

The band is blessed with several excellent soloists, four of whom were featured in this concert. Neil Blessett (horn) played Demelza (Hugh Nash). Mark Sharman (trombone) imparted much blessing with Somebody Prayed for Me (arr. Peter van der Horden). David Taylor (euphonium) played Harlequin (Philip Sparke) with his usual aplomb. Some humorous light relief was provided by Edward Dixon as his tuba solo, The Bare Necessities, was “hijacked” by the rest of the band.

Those who love classic Salvation Army marches would be delighted with the band’s final number for the evening, George Marshall’s The Liberator, which sent the audience home feeling that they had been blessed, entertained and inspired by what they had seen and heard.

After a restful night, the band gathered at 9:45 on Sunday morning for prayer at the beginning of the day’s worship and activities. The theme for the morning meeting, “The Blood of Christ”, was introduced with the band playing He Can Break Every Fetter (Kenneth Downie). The congregation was drawn into the attitude of worship by the soulful playing of the trombones as they introduced the words “He can set you free”. These were repeated with more and more certainty as the rest of the band joined in, reaching the final triumphant chords – the testimony of the band who knew them as a truth.

Worship was led by assistant band sergeant Robert O’Connor, supported by testimonies from Nicola Redhead and Robert Hayward. All were blessed by the singing of the Gainsborough Songsters, led by Sue Blyth. The powerful message of The Crimson Tide was enhanced by multimedia words and pictures. Although this piece has been in the band’s repertoire, it is always fresh for the band and listeners alike. Seeing members of the congregation with eyes closed and heads bowed at the end of the piece showed the band that the message had once again been conveyed.

Bringing the thought for the morning, band sergeant Ian Kershaw reminded those present of the redeeming, atoning and restoring power of the blood of Christ, shed at Calvary. Although this is a familiar story, Kershaw gave all something challenging to ponder both then and later.

After a cup of coffee and conversation with the Gainsborough folk, the band again had the privilege to march the streets of the town for an open-air meeting at a shopping precinct. Just as on Saturday afternoon, people came out of the shops to look, listen and take photos as the band marched past. About 200 people stood around listening, and contacts were made with many of them. Because of the great interest, the plan to simply walk back to the hall was abandoned and the band instead marched back.

Following lunch together, the another near-capacity congregation greeted the band as they took the stage for the final meeting of the weekend. Ein Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth) got the program off to a rousing start. The band’s range of styles and sounds was clearly evident in the contrasting Joy of Loving Hearts (Kenneth Downie) and Before His Throne (Paul Sharman).

Four new items were then presented. First was a tenor horn solo, The Piper O’Dundee (Kenneth Downie), ably presented by Andrew Dickinson. This was followed by Norman Bearcroft’s classic euphonium duet, Timepiece, superbly played by David Taylor and Keith Watts. Another contrast in style was heard in the simple but emotive arrangement of This Is My Father’s World, composed by Gainsborough’s bandmaster, Andrew Blyth. Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) has become a favorite of audiences since it was premiered during the ISB 120 celebrations in 2011. From the explosive opening, into the thought-provoking melodies played by Redhead and Taylor, to the exciting finale, this was a superb first rendition by the Birmingham Citadel Band.

Bandmaster Blyth gave some emotional words of appreciation for the band’s ministry over the weekend. He recalled the tour of Canada, where he had been the guest conductor, and the happy memories and shared experiences. He was then invited to conduct the band in the march Rosehill (Albert Jakeway).

After the rousing congregational song “Crown Him with Many Crowns”, the band said farewell to their hosts by playing An Irish Blessing (arr. Bradnum), with special emphasis on the last phrase, “God would hold us all in the palm of His hand.”

Birmingham Citadel Band web site,
Original reports by John Sharman and Graham Andrews