Canadian Staff Band in Barrie

On the weekend of 28 February – 1 March 2009, the (Bandmaster John Lam) conducted a weekend at Barrie Corps, an hour’s drive north of Toronto. The visit, hastily arranged because of the cancellation of a previous commitment, was appreciated by local Salvationists and friends of the Salvation Army who were able to enjoy the Staff Band’s music and spiritual ministry.

Following a Saturday afternoon rehearsal, the Staff Band members shared a time of fellowship with the local band members. A crowd of more than 200 then filled the sanctuary and spilled into an overflow area to take in the evening concert – and they were not disappointed.

Beginning with Where Eagles Sing (Paul Lovatt-Cooper), the program was quickly off to a good start under the direction of Bandmaster Lam. Many of the pieces in the first half will be featured on the Staff Band’s upcoming recording, scheduled for release in June. Items included the march Bounty Down (Howard Davies), Leslie Condon’s Festivity, and a new work by Leonard Ballantine, Great Lakes Mission, written from the 125th anniversary celebrations of Hamiltion Meadowlands and London Citadel bands in 2008.

Two soloists were featured in the first half, Major Kevin Metcalf with Pleasure in His Service (Bruce Broughton) and Steve Pavey playing Ralph Pearce’s Welsh Fantasy for Euphonium and Band. The cornet section was featured in the first movement from Concertante for Band (Stephen Bulla) and the band also played Dean Goffin’s classic Symphony of Thanksgiving.

The second half of the concert was generally lighter in tone and included items such as Hallelujah Parade (Kevin Norbury), Libertango (Piazzola, arr. Burgmayer), and the xylophone solo Joyous Rhythm, featuring a dazzling display of manual dexterity by percussionist Leigh Rowney. A new piece by Major Ken Smith was introduced, Songs of the Pioneers. Written for the 125th anniversary of Guelph Corps, it features songs from the early days of the Salvation Army associated with the opening of the work in this Ontario community.

A moment of spiritual reflection came as the trombones played Olaf Ritman’s exquisite setting of When I Survey. Following a Scripture reading by Major Metcalf, the band stood to sing Lord, Listen to Your Children under the direction of vocal leader Steve Brown. The evening concluded with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Vitae Aeternum, featuring the popular song “His Provision”.

The next morning the Staff Band returned to the Corps for Sunday worship. Many people gathered early to listen to the Staff Band’s prelude, which included Morten Lauridsen’s choral masterpiece O Magnum Mysterium, a wonderfully rich harmonic setting transcribed by Leonard Ballantine. Various members of the band participated in the service, which included the vocal solo I Stand in Awe sung by Cameron Rawlins, a flügelhorn solo – I Surrender All (David Chaulk, arr. Andrew Mackereth) played by Steve Brown, and the selection ’Tis So Sweet (Harold Burgmayer). The band also sang an arrangement of Michael W. Smith’s Shine On Us. The message was brought by Major Kevin Metcalf, who encouraged his listeners to emulate the Apostle Paul by living a life of purity and holiness in response to the gift of God’s grace.

After the service, the members of the Staff Band shared in fellowship with members of the congregation during a light lunch provided by the Corps before departing for home.

Report on the web site, by Major Ken Smith