South London Fellowship Band at Emmanuel Church

On 13 March 2009, the (Bandmaster George Whittingham) made its fifteeth annual visit to Emmanuel United Reform Church, West Wickam. The event was a concert of classical favorites, with guest conductor Dr. Stephen Cobb and guest soloists Anthony Harris (vocal) and Carl Nielsen (cornet).

The members of the Fellowship Band were grateful to see the church absolutely full (including the rear congregational extension) and again enjoyed the building’s excellent acoustics, afforded by its fine timber roof.

Friday the 13th was Comic Relief night on the BBC, and Major Whittingham brought some humor to his introductions by comparing himself to a football manager who had been “given the chop” for a new manager from the very top of the Premier League of banding – Dr. Stephen Cobb, Musical Director of the International Staff Band. Dr. Cobb immediately accepted this “transfer of the crown” by commandingly bringing the baton down on Meyerbeer’s Coronation March. The band responded with confidence as it responded to his sensitive guidance through “Army” arrangements from the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Wagner, Schubert, Grieg and Mascagni.

During the concert, Dr. Cobb shared his insights on the challenge for brass bands when playing music written for the wider range of instruments in an orchestra, endorsed the importance of brass bands in the Salvation Army’s mission, and described encouraging developments in the Army’s music ministry with young people. He also spoke about how he had been captivated at the age of 10 by hearing a recording of the Staff Band playing Grieg’s Last Spring, and how that was a springboard for his commitment to Salvation Army banding and to the organization itself.

As in previous years, the concert was again favored by brilliant guest soloists. Anthony Harris, tenor, performed for the third year running, delighting the audience with three German lieder in the first half of the program, and later singing three popular songs, including If I Loved You from “Carousel” and Kashmari Song. Dr. Cobb mentioned that Harris was the first male treble singer in the Army’s Territorial Youth Choir, and is now well into his Bachelor of Music studies at the Guildhall.

Staff Bandsman Carl Nielsen skillfully played the second and third movements from Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, originally written in 1796 for the trumpet specialist credited with developing the valved trumpet.

The financial appeal for the evening, which raised £550, was donated to Nash College in nearby Hayes, a further education college for around 60 young people with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Brenda, a governor from Nash College, with Perry, one of the students, introduced the audience to the work of the College and its parent organization “Livability” (the new name for the merged Shaftesbury Society and John Groom’s Housing, which have worked among the UK’s marginalized people for 160 years).

The Minister of the church, Reverend Bill Bowman, told the band that they were playing better than ever, and extended an invitation for the sixteenth annual concert next year. The band is appreciative of the splendid link formed with the Emmanuel Church over the years.

web site, original report by Phil Edwards