Visits to West Wickham URC 13th March and Bexleyheath 28th February 2015
WEST WICKHAM URC
Our annual programme at the Emmanuel United Reformed Church, West Wickham, is always an occasion to be looked forward to – by the band, members of the church and by the many friends of the band, who we delight to renew fellowship with. In the welcome to the band, the full hall was told that it was “really a rather special occasion”.
We lost no time at the commencement of the programme, plunging straight into the march The Golden West (Merritt) with our opening sequence being completed with the 1977 Suite, On the Road (Davies). At the conclusion of the cornet solo Share my Yoke (Webb arr. Bosanko), Phil Edwards invited us all to join him in prayer, “…as the cornet melody lingers…” to “…celebrate our togetherness here in this beautiful church.”
When the band gathered before the programme, we were told that it was our 19th visit to Emmanuel. But when we were formally welcomed, we were then told it was our 18th visit. But later the band’s founder, Major George Whittingham, after he had been given a resounding welcome, was able to set the record straight: “1995 we did our first concert here…tonight is the 20th anniversary”.
Our guest instrumental soloist for the evening was Ryan Coates (Croydon Citadel). Introducing Ryan, our conductor Darrell Scholes let us know that Ryan is a fifth generation salvationist, who is currently studying for a degree in music at the University of Salford. Ryan had chosen two challenging solos, published almost fifty years apart. First, Terry Camsey’s Life’s Pageant from the mid 1970s and then the Erik Leidzén classic, A Happy Day, which, the music tells us, won “1st prize Theme and Variations Band Music Contest 1926”. Both solos were marked by extended applause, demonstrating how much Ryan’s skills were appreciated.
Our guest vocalists were Eunice, Miriam, Rhoda and Ruth – the Atkinson sisters. All active songsters in their home Corps, we were informed that they first started singing together as a group some thirty years ago (parents Majors Raymond and Mavis Atkinson were in the audience). Accompanied by Maggie Hicks, the Sisters brought us six very varied items with great enthusiasm, starting with Proclaim the Glory of the Lord (Liles / Borop) and including God’s Love to me is wonderful (Cox / Krommenhoek) and John Rutter’s well-loved arrangement of For the beauty of the earth. More reflectively, we heard He Giveth More Grace (Flint / Mitchell arr. Holck) and Jesus keep me near the Cross (Crosby / Werner), the latter sung a capella. Their second set of songs ended on a joyous note with Three Sally Army Girls – words by General John Gowans and music borrowed from the Mikado (Sullivan).
Len Ballantine’s arrangement of the tune Shenandoah – ’Mid all the Traffic – preceded the band’s major contribution to the programme: Ray Steadman-Allen’s Melodies of Dvořák. Published back in 1964, this piece has long been a favourite with both band and audiences, featuring the Czech composer’s distinctive, bright music.
Just prior to the interval, a collection was taken, with the proceeds going to outreach work amongst children – it was later announced that £450 had been raised. Then, at the conclusion of the interval, the band struck up with Yellow Submarine (Lennon/McCartney arr. Fernie), which is structured like one of the old “patrols” favoured by bands of an earlier era. With everyone settled down for the second “half”, band and congregation joined together in Thomas Chisholm’s great hymn of affirmation Great is thy faithfulness (at the beginning of the evening Praise, my soul had been an equally uplifting sing).
Moments of Reflection featured all our soloists: the Atkinson Sisters singing (with band accompaniment) Bring Him Home from Les Misérables (Boublil / Schönberg arr. Babb) and Ryan Coates changing to the Flugel Horn to play The Seal Lullaby (Whitacre arr. Sharman). Reading from Luke 4 (“Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness”), Bev Hudson told us that Lent is a time for spring cleaning our lives – we are each called to slow down and listen to the voice of God. Bev then introduced an arrangement of the melody Make me a channel of your peace by Ray Maycock.
The band’s last item was Peter Graham’s Music-Maker. Published in 1989, this features four of the melodies of General John Larsson, which are guaranteed to send everyone home with a spring in their step! A spoken benediction, the band playing God be with you (Gordon), and so our visit to West Wickham was over for another year. And yet another happy memory.
Report by John Clarke
The last day of February 2015 may have been grey and damp around the streets of Bexleyheath, but there was warmth, light and a great welcome (not to mention an excellent buffet!) for the South London Fellowship Band, as we presented a programme in Bexleyheath Corps’ temporary home, Bexleyheath Methodist Church.
As soon as the band was seated, we launched, unannounced, into Michael Kenyon’s transcription of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Marche Militaire Française. This was immediately followed by our Principal Cornet, Alan Moyse playing the solo I’d rather have Jesus (Himes) and then the band playing Howard Davies’ Suite On the road.
Having introduced ourselves musically to the good sized congregation, we were formally welcomed by Bexleyheath CO Captain Paul Wood, who then handed the evening over to his father, Lieut. Colonel Peter Wood who was the evening’s compère.
It is always a joy for us to visit Corps where Fellowship Band members soldier. Three of our members are Bexleyheath soldiers, and the programme had been arranged to aid Bexleyheath Corps’ Building Project. The Corps had to vacate their premises some six years ago, but they have now raised two thirds of the funds needed to build a replacement. Work on this could start in 18 months’ time. In his opening remarks, Lieut. Colonel Peter assured Corps listeners that “…this would not be for ever…”. We were also pleased to be sharing the programme, and renewing our association, with Bexleyheath Singing Company, under the leadership of Rachel Gash.
Band and congregation joined together in the rousing Wesley hymn “O for a thousand tongues” – Lieut. Colonel Peter did a quick calculation that if everyone sang as if they were ten people, then we would sound like those thousand tongues. Our trombones were then to the fore with The Cleansing Power (Bulla). Later, after the band played Percy Merritt’s 1936 march The Golden West, everyone again joined in singing Zephaniah’s Song – a modern setting by William Himes, which earned a resounding Hallelujah! at its conclusion.
As our compère pointed out, Zephaniah is not often mentioned in Army gatherings. Tonight, the Old Testament prophet was granted two mentions – because one of the songs brought to us by the Singing Company was Zephaniah 3:17 by Dean Jones.
In their two sets, the Singing Company presented a total of eight songs, ranging from an upbeat What a friend (Scriven/Clarke arr. Ballantine), where the singers negotiated some awkward notes and intervals with ease, through A melody of love (Roth/Jones) to Charles Wesley’s well-loved words Love Divine (Wesley/McBroom arr. Gash) where the singers confidently sang “till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise” – all sung from memory. In the middle of the first set of songs, Caitlin Pretious sang On My Own, from the musical Les Misérables, as a solo. With excellent diction and confidence, Caitlin’s voice displayed a maturity beyond her young years.
Last December, Salvationist musicians around the world were saddened to learn of the promotion to glory of “RSA” – Lieut. Colonel Dr Ray Steadman-Allen OF. For many, if not most of us, music emanating from the pen of RSA has been a constant throughout our lives playing SA music – for RSA had been a published composer since the mid-1940s. It was our privilege to pay tribute to the work of RSA by presenting three of his compositions (three out of over 400 we were informed).
First up was our Principal Euphonium, Adrian Horwood with the solo The Conqueror. This is a bright number built around the tune “I’m a soldier”, which Adrian presented with his customary assurance and skill. This was followed by RSA’s classic selection, In quiet pastures. In a Musician feature many years ago, this selection (dating from 1950), was the one most mentioned by readers as their favourite “Sunday night” selection. It still speaks today.
The third item of the RSA tribute was also the evening’s major work: RSA’s selection, On active service. Introduced by our conductor, Darrell Scholes, and published in 1958, RSA pays a tribute in music to Bandmaster George Marshall, who had been promoted to glory two years earlier. The composition’s structure is reminiscent of Marshall’s Army of the brave and features an extended cornet solo, expertly rendered on the night by guest-cornetist Keith Hutchinson.
After the band played Michael Davis’s sensitive arrangement Ask the Saviour, Lieut. Colonel Peter read from 1 John 5 “…everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world…” and assured all that God is willing to aid us. As the song says, he will carry us through. This led naturally on to the male voices singing You’re never too far from God.
The final band number was Music-Maker, Peter Graham’s rousing medley of melodies by General John Larsson, ending empathically, “There is joy in the Salvation Army”. Our evening in Bexleyheath ended with the band playing the benediction God be with you – William Gordon’s arrangement of the tune Randolph. –
Report by John Clarke
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