Canadian Staff Band Weekend in Toronto and London

On the weekend of 2 – 4 March 2007, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster Brian Burditt) performed in a series of engagements in Toronto and London, Ontario. Beginning with a performance as a part of the annual Festival of Brass hosted by the Hannaford Street Silver Band on Friday evening, the Staff Band also joined with musical forces at London Citadel for a Saturday evening festival and Sunday worship service.

The Hannaford Street Silver Band is a group comprised of professional brass musicians, under the artistic direction of Curtis Metcalf, and is regarded as one of the premier brass bands in North America. Three Salvation Army groups performed during their 2007 Festival of Brass: The Ontario Central Reservists Band and the Canadian Staff Band (along with the Weston Silver Band) on Friday evening, and the New York Staff Band (Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris) as the featured performers on Saturday evening.

The Friday evening festival began with the Ontario Central Reservists Band (Bandmaster Geoff Norton). Their selections included Swingtime Religion (Barrie Gott), Motivation (William Himes), and the vocal solo Love Changes Everything (Andrew Lloyd Webber) featuring Phil Christie. A highlight of the reservists' performance was the cornet trio What a Friend (Erik Leidzén) played by Deryck Diffey, Gary Dean and Jim White. Sustained applause signaled the appreciation of the large audience.

Weston Silver Band (Musical Director Larry Shields) presented several quality items, including Blenheim Flourishes (James Curnow) and the march Slaidburn (W. Rimmer). Especially enjoyable for the audience was an arrangement of Louis Prima's Sing Sing Sing, featuring former CSB member Gord Mayer.

The Canadian Staff Band's portion of the festival began with Fanfare and Flourishes (James Curnow), followed by Leslie Condon's festival march Celebration. Cornet soloist Ron Heintzman played Concertpiece for Cornet (James Curnow), his first public performance of this work. After a selection of three movements from Peter Graham's Windows of the World, the Staff Band included On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss (Barrie Gott). The concert concluded with a classic from the pen of Edward Gregson, Variations on “Laudate Dominum”.

On Saturday, 3 March, the Staff Band made the journey to London Citadel, where they joined with the local corps music forces for the rest of the weekend. The Saturday evening festival, entitled “Brass Praise”, featured three bands of young people from the Citadel: the beginning group (led by Deborah Dawe), the intermediate band (led by Daren Tilley) and the Youth Band (led by Bandmaster John Lam). Before the concert, the Staff Band helped to prepare each of these groups for their performances.

Items performed by the Staff Band included the items from the previous night's concert in Toronto. Additional pieces included the “Cossack Fire Dance” from Call of the Cossacks (Peter Graham), featuring five soloists: Steve Brown (cornet), Barrington Venables (trombone), Steve Pavey (euphonium), Ron Heintzman (cornet), and Stan Ewing (xylophone). Barrington Venables also gave a rousing solo performance of Joshua Swings the Battle. Two other swing-style items, Wade in the Water (Leonard Ballantine) and All Aboard (Farrell) were also featured. The concluding work was the latest major composition by Robert Redhead, Christ-Hymn.

The Staff Band lead the Sunday morning worship at London Citadel under the leadership of their Executive Officer, Major Ron Millar. Following the prelude, which concluded with the upbeat vocal item Righteousness, Peace, Joy (Leonard Ballantine), the Staff Band's contemporary music ensemble led a time of praise and worship. Contributions from the band included Gifts for His Altar (Leslie Condon) and another vocal item, Lord, Listen to Your Children.

Canadian Staff Band web site, original report by Stan Ewing