For the first time in two years the International Staff Band of The Salvation Army stepped onto a platform to perform a musical programme, aptly named Together Again. For the more than 250 people in the audience, this was a complete delight and was emotional for the performer and listener alike. Launching their new CD Powerhouse, the festival was in an unusual, and yet perfectly balanced, format, of three sections.
The first section featured music from the Band’s new CD. First up was Legacy Of Faith (Nicholas J. Samuel). The compositional collage technique used in included the overlaying of quotes from classic SA music, onto the tune of Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven. This flowed beautifully into Paul Sharman’s lovely setting of The Lord’s My Shepherd. Rhapsody on St. Francis (Andrew Wainwright) started with a rousing fanfare and led the listener through a musical journey of the tune associated with All Creatures of Our God and King. The first section ended with two technically challenging and brilliantly played pieces, Toccata Fire! (Steven Ponsford) and Powerhouse (Kenneth Downie).
In the second section, Bandmaster Dr Stephen Cobb explained each piece and led the listeners through a number of pieces recently presented to the Territorial Music Council. This eclectic group of people, from various areas of The Salvation Army world, decide what is published by The Salvation Army. A La Manera (Paul Sharman), Evening Variations (Olaf J. Ritman), Prelude on Ascalon (Geoffrey Nobes), Groove Hosanna! (Munashe Chikwezvero) and Wonder (Stephen Gibson), all featured in this section, giving the listener an excellent idea of what is coming, and the direction of SA music going forward.
The evening finished with a celebration of some Salvation Army classics. Praise (Wilfred Heaton) was followed by a flawless performance of So Glad! (William Himes) by Richard Woodrow of Norwich Citadel. Major Paul Kingscott, Executive Officer of the ISB, brought the Bible reading and thought, where we were led to ponder how clearly we heard the voice of God through the evening’s music and in our every day lives. The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball) provided a perfect finish to the evening, leaving the audience with the words, ‘Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! God appears, on earth to reign’ ringing in their ears.
Report by Paul Hooper