NCB Switzerland/France Tour - May 19/20 - Bern

The National Capital Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster James Anderson) is touring Switzerland and France, 17 – 27 May 2007.

Following a fine breakfast at the hotel in Zürich, the National Capital Band boarded their coach and traveled to the Swiss capital city of Bern, where we participated in the Congress celebrating 125 years of Salvation Army work in Switzerland, at the BEA Expo Centre.

Congress Kickoff

Band items during the kickoff included Motondo (Donald Osgood) and Since Jesus (Leonard Ballantine), and accompaniment for the congregational song “They Shall Come from the East”. The opening of the congress was celebrated with a multimedia “fireworks display”, with the NCB providing the music in the form of James Curnow's Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren”. General Shaw Clifton gave the keynote address, speaking on selected verses from Psalm 136. Sovereignty (Brian Bowen) was the postlude.

Concert and Open-Air Meeting at Bundesplatz

Following the kickoff meeting, the band quickly loaded up their equipment, grabbed a quick sandwich lunch, and went to the Bundesplatz for an outdoor concert and grand open-air meeting. The concert included Washington Salute 125 (Stephen Bulla), Since Jesus, Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Onward Christian Soldiers (Gordon Langford), What a Friend (Erik Leidzén), God With Us (Kirkland/Fettke, arr. Kevin Norbury), ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine), and Motondo.

The open-air meeting, held in the Bundesplatz following the NCB concert, opened with a dance troupe performing to the band's rendition of Great Is the Lord (William Gordon). Remarks from the President of the Swiss Parliament and General Clifton followed. The highlight of the meeting, with the square solidly packed with Salvationists, was the entry of four different bands from four streets leading into the square, forming into a massed band in front of the Parliament building. Massed items (with the massed Swiss bands in the square and the NCB on the stage) included the Swiss National Anthem, the marches Victorious and Perth, and the congregational song “Now Thank We All Our God”. The NCB concluded the meeting with William Himes' stirring arrangement of O Boundless Salvation, with the numerous Salvation Army flags on the square waving and the crowd singing along.

Brass Nocturne

The final event on Saturday for the NCB was the “Brass Nocturne” concert, which began following the evening meeting and lasted for an hour, finishing near 11:30 pm. Despite the late hour, several hundred people stayed in the congress hall to hear the band. The band's principal trombone, Stephen Bulla, served as the master of ceremonies for the concert. The band started with Winchester Revival (Kenneth Downie), followed by God With Us. Deputy Bandmaster and principal cornet Ian Anderson played the beautiful Share My Yoke (Joy Webb, arr. Ivor Bosanko). This was followed by In Light We Walk (Stephen Bulla) and the cornet duet Quicksilver (Peter Graham), expertly played by Ian Anderson and soprano cornetist Noel Morris.

Sunday Meetings

On Sunday, the NCB participated in two meetings. The first was a workshop given by General Clifton on the international work of the Salvation Army, including mention of several countries in which the Army will soon be “opening fire”. The National Capital Band provided preliminary music and accompaniment for congregational singing for both the workshop and the following meeting, which was the concluding meeting of the congress and again featured a message by General Clifton.

Preliminary music for the first meeting included Minneapolis IV (Emil Soderstrom), Blessings! (Nick Simmons-Smith) and Our God Reigns (James Anderson). Appropriately, the band played Norman Bearcroft's march Saved to Serve, which was written as a tribute to the Salvation Army World Service Office in Washington, DC, on the occasion of the retirement of its director, Hardin White, as a postlude.

For the finale of the congress, preliminary items included Shine, Jesus, Shine, In Light We Walk, Wisbech Citadel (Albert Gay), and a portion of To Regions Fair (Norman Bearcroft), during which the General and other dignitaries entered. Music during the service was provided by the NCB in harmony with a praise band of Swiss musicians. Following General Clifton's uplifting message, several persons knelt at the Mercy Seat – in fact, the General stopped the meeting from going forward at one point because some were still praying. The grand finale of the congress was the assembled congregation singing “I'll Go In the Strength of the Lord” as more than twenty flags from various corps and commands in Switzerland made their way to the stage, waving in a display of Salvationist spirit. The postlude was Ivor Bosanko's Marching Onward, which features the same tune (and was the inspiration for the version included in the current Salvation Army tune book).

Following the conclusion of the service, General Clifton personally thanked the band for their service during the concert. Bandmaster Anderson took the opportunity to present the General with some small gifts, which included a copy of the NCB's latest recording, The Words of the Amen, and a special presentation print created by NCB member Laura Boutchyard, featuring a tripytch of Washington, DC scenes and the band's mission statement.

After loading the equipment truck, the band walked a couple of short blocks to the Restaurant Baumgarten, where they were treated to an excellent meal before returning to the Hotel Continental for the evening.

Sources:
Brass Crest Staff Report
National Capital Band web site