Welcome to our Web Site, where we hope to keep you up to date with our aims, activities and
events, so please keep in touch through these pages and feel free to contact us at any time
Visitors are always welcome to our rehearsals which are held on the second and fourth Mondays
of each month at the Bromley Temple Salvation Army Hall, Ethelbert Road, Bromley BR1 1HU.
The SLFB is open to mature, competent players who fall into one or more of the following categories-
i) are active, retired or former Salvation Army bandsmen
ii) are members of or regular attenders at other churches
iii) are sympathetic to The Salvation Army’s ethos and are committed to the Christian faith
South London Fellowship band were privileged to be asked to support the celebration of Simon’s life at Croydon Citadel on 14th August after the service at the crematorium. The turnout, both from members of the band and friends and family, was high – particularly for the middle of the summer holiday period. The congregation was near capacity and the band, with friends who expressed a wish to join in, overflowed the platform.
Many tributes were paid by a number of friends from both past and present as well as to Simon’s dedication and commitment to his work in the Salvation Army’s music editorial department – these included a video message from Stephen Cobb and Andrew Blyth and a word in person from Richard Phillips. Comments were made about Simon’s sense of humour and his quiet, unassuming manner, seeing what needed to be done and getting on with it before being asked, as well as taking responsibility for young people on work experience. His musical talents were praised and reference made to his high quality euphonium and baritone playing, piano playing, editorial eye and musical ear – the latter being used to great effect in the background of recent ISB recordings. His love of being with family and friends, appetite for food and role in music schools were also highlighted during the evening.
Music for the evening was chosen by family and included the tunes Ascalon, And can it be, Jerusalem & In Christ Alone. A varied programme of band items were requested – Songs of testimony, Of whom I sing, Brillante (Euphonium solo on this occasion by Adrian Horwood but in memory of Adrian and Simon playing the duet version on a number of occasions over the last year) Prelude on Lavenham, and marches Celebration and In the King’s Service.
Towards the end of the evening the ISB cd featuring Simon as baritone soloist with the ISB in ‘My story and song’ was played.
The evening was truly a celebration and from the band’s point of view a tribute to a man who had made a positive impact on the group during his 18 month membership – an activity which he threw himself into and enjoyed immensely.
It was with some shock and disbelief that we heard of the sudden and unexpected passing of our Assistant Principal Euphonium, Simon Birkett, on Friday July 21st. Simon had sustained an injury in June in connection with a charity event for The Emily Ash Trust, an injury from which Simon had not fully recovered and which sadly proved fatal.
Simon had been associated with our band for a number of years, and was a featured soloist, with Song of Triumph, on our CD: Crown of Gold – The Music of Ray Bowes. Of our most recent CD, A South London Celebration, Paul Sharman commented “Simon Birkett…provides a lovely instrumental backing to Norman Bearcroft’s arrangement for male voices of The Calvary Track.”
Simon became a full time member of the band two years ago, and rapidly formed, with Principal Euphonium Adrian Horwood, a most formidable euphonium section – the envy of many. Adrian and Simon were featured, to much acclaim, as euphonium duettists throughout our recent Pentecost tour of the Netherlands.
Our first scheduled rehearsal was just three days after Simon’s passing. The larger part of the first half of the rehearsal was readily reserved to a meditation, led by Band Chaplain Roger Gadsden, centring on Simon, Simon’s wife Rosie and Simon’s family. Reading from 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 – “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” – Roger spoke of God’s great comfort and compassion at times of need and distress. Following a prayer, the band played the Prelude on Lavenham – a favourite of Simon’s – sensitively directed by Darrell Scholes, who then read to the band a tribute to Simon that had been placed on Facebook by Dean Jones. Earlier, Major Doug Hayter brought all the family and our words, thoughts and actions to God in prayer.
Simon will be sorely missed by the band as a player, as a good and kind friend, and as a vital part of our fellowship. We prayed on Monday that God might uphold Rosie and her family at this difficult time – and we continue to express that prayer.
A South London Celebration
‘There can be no doubt that the ‘fellowship’ band is a true success story in the life of Salvation Army music making’; so says the opening paragraph in the booklet of the South London Fellowship Band’s latest CD, A South London Celebration, and is a fair statement to make. Many areas across our Territory now have Fellowship bands in which current and former SA bandsmen, alongside friends of the Army, can meet together, play music and share in fellowship with each other.
This CD, the seventh to be released by the band since their formation 23 years ago (and the first under the leadership of Darrell Scholes), features music exclusively composed for The Salvation Army by SA musicians. From Arthur Gullidge in the 1930s to Steven Ponsford, one of the current crop of young composers, the works featured span nearly 80 years and are just a small sample of the legacy of music that The Salvation Army is justifiably proud of.
The march Southern Australia is one that, in my opinion, is not heard often enough and gets the CD off to a bright start, with tight rhythmic playing throughout. The other march on the CD is Light-bringer by Martin Cordner. In recent years, Martin has shown a real gift in writing marches for the modern era and Light-bringer is one fine example of this.
Two of the bands soloists are featured. Firstly, principal cornet Alan Moyse presents a beautiful, sensitive rendition of Kenneth Downie’s setting of Healing Waters. The band’s principal euphonium player, Adrian Horwood, features Peter Graham’s Canaan’s Land which was originally written for Derick Kane, whose informative programme notes in the booklet give good insight into the music featured on the CD. Adrian overcomes the musical and technical challenges of the solo to give a first-rate performance. Mention must also be made of Adrian’s partner on the euphonium bench, Simon Birkett, who provides a lovely instrumental backing to Norman Bearcroft’s arrangement for male voices of The Calvary Track. Also featured is the band’s trombone section playing The Cleansing Power by Stephen Bulla.
As a young bandsman at Regent Hall, I remember playing A London Celebration, a piece written by our then Bandmaster, Peter Graham. The piece features numerous traditional songs, show tunes and TV themes associated with London and, in those days, it was accompanied by slides (literally!) of photos of famous London landmarks. It’s great to hear this again and pick out all the melodies that are contained within and it really is an enjoyable piece to listen to.
James Wright’s Fantasia for Children is a fun piece which features a number of Sunday school choruses and really comes to life in the hands of this slightly older group of musicians!
Michael Davis has, over the last few years, written a number of beautiful arrangements that have been published in the Triumph and General Series and his setting of Ask the Saviour is sensitively handled by the group. Going back in time, Dean Goffin’s meditation The Compassionate Christ is given a similar treatment, with some lovely solo lines and good ensemble playing. The more extended meditative work, My Comfort and Strength, gives the group an opportunity to show its musicality and good dynamic range. In particular the final verse is triumphant without being overblown, saving the climax until the concert Db major chord in the penultimate bars.
In Steven Ponsford’s Music of a Legacy there are references to SA classics that many of this band will have played numerous times in their original form and Steven’s clever writing has brought these once again to mind. The band handles the technical passages well and gives a convincing performance of this well-constructed work.
A few intonation issues aside, the band sounds in good form, playing with a musicality one would expect from the many years of experience that exists behind the stands. Good use of dynamic contrast is evident throughout and there is a certain vitality about the playing. The programme is interesting and varied, with something for everyone.
We are proud to announce the launch of our new CD, A South London Celebration
For full details and how to obtain your copy (£12.95 each), please click here
We have now added a Photo Gallery to our website which you can open by clicking on the button at the top of this page. If you view these as a slide show, you will get the benefit of seeing the images in full screen
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