God and Country in Columbus

On the weekend of 6 – 7 April 2013, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) traveled to Columbus, Ohio, as the guest band for the annual God and Country Concert. Established in 1986 to foster friendship, coöperation and musical fellowship between Salvationists and musicians of the greater Columbus area (specifically, the Brass Band of Columbus), this event has a three-fold purpose: to honor God and country through music; to recognize outstanding contributions to music and through music; and to assist youth with their musical development.

After an early morning start and a long coach ride from Toronto, the Staff Band arrived at Dublin Jerome High School in the mid-afternoon, just in time for rehearsals with the Brass Band of Columbus (Musical Director Brian Stevens). This was followed by a meal, allowing time for the members of the Staff Band to visit with the hosts, local Salvationists and members of All-Star Brass. The latter is a local band organization which visited Toronto in 2012 for the Hannaford Festival of Brass and heard the Staff Band during that event.

At 7:00 pm, with a capacity audience, the God and Country Concert began with the entrance of national flags and the Canadian and American national anthems. Contributions from the Staff Band during the evening included Servants of God (Steven Ponsford), the euphonium solo Harlequin (Philip Sparke) featuring Cameron Rawlins, Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper), Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre, arr. Andrew Poirier) and the fourth movement of Vittorio Giannini’s Symphony No. 3 (arr. William Himes).

The Brass Band of Columbus played William Gordon’s arrangement of Make His Praise Glorious and American Pageant (Thomas Knox), a medley of American patriotic tunes written for the Presidential inauguration of Richard Nixon. Later in the program, the band played Semper Fidelis (John Philip Sousa) and offered a scintillating performance of Between the Moon and Mexico (Philip Sparke).

Following the presentation of scholarships to two young people, to encourage them in their music education, the bands combined for two items. These included the festival march Able (Turkington, arr. William Himes) and the popular Wall of Sound (Paul Lovatt-Cooper), which was written in 2010 for the National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain.

On Sunday morning, the Staff Band led worship at the Chapel at Worthington Woods, one of five Salvation Army corps in the greater Columbus area. In addition to prelude items and song accompaniments, the Staff Band’s major contribution was They Shall Come from the East (Kevin Larsson). In his message, entitled “Making Samson Perfect”, executive officer Major Kevin Metcalf used the familiar story of the hero from the Book of Judges to challenge the congregation to maintain their covenant with God through pure and holy living.

The weekend concluded with an afternoon festival featuring Chapel Brass (Musical Director Dr. Keith Wilkinson). Begun as the Central Ohio Youth Band in 2002, this ensemble is now associated primarily with the Chapel at Worthington Woods. The band’s high standard of playing was evident during its presentation of the third section test piece for the 2013 North American Brass Band Championships, Saint-Saens Variations (Philip Sparke).

The Staff Band’s major offerings during the afternoon included Horizons (Paul Lovatt-Cooper), Hillcrest (Bruce Broughton), Easter Glory (Leslie Condon) and Seize the Day (Peter Graham). Two soloists were also featured: Rick Allington (tenor horn) played The Old Rustic Bridge (Erik Leidzén) and Noel Samuels (tuba) gave a rendition of The Higher Plane (Stephen Bulla), originally written for soprano cornet. Two massed band items were also included on the program: Lift Up Your Voice (Stephen Bulla) and Flow Gently, Sweet Afton (Paul Sharman).

Canadian Staff Band web site