Monthly Archives: March 2014

Reports on the Band’s Annual Dinner 31st January and our visit to Gravesend 14th February 2014

SLFB’s Annual Dinner at The Nevill Golf Club, Tunbridge Wells, Friday 31st January, 2014
with guests Lieut-Colonels Peter and Maureen Wood

The band’s annual dinner was at a new venue this year, prompted by the band’s Tunbridge Wells golfers. With the A21 road almost gridlocked following an accident, the chef and hosts must have had an anxious wait for so very many bandsmen to arrive, delayed by an hour on this extremely wet evening. But everything went superbly with the excellent menu preserved in peak freshness – relief, joy and appreciation all round! It was a delight again to greet many retired members with their wives. What wonderful and extensive fellowship this band has created over its 20 year’s lifetime.

Our guest speaker, Peter Wood, transported our minds and hearts to a much less privileged setting for a brass band, namely to Seoul and the Army’s Children’s Home for abandoned or orphaned young boys. A band had originally been established in the 1920s but suffered tragedy in 1950, when North Korean troops marched 18 of the band members into North Korea, possibly never to be heard from again.

During Peter’s long service in Korea, he had brought the Seoul Boys’ Home Band to the Army’s Centenary International Congress in London in 1978, and was able to follow up on the subsequent progress of many of the boys when he attended the Korean Territory’s own centenary celebrations in 2008, meeting with former band members and hearing some of their stories. He learnt that just about every member of the ’78 band had been successful in adult life. Particularly absorbing was the story of a cornet player, Kim Yong-bok, who as a youngster in the band in 1978 played ‘Life’s Pageant’, accompanied by the International Staff Band. The audience gave him a standing ovation and Lieut-Colonel Ray Bowes gave him a hug! In the years after the Congress, Kim Yong-bok earned his music degree at Seoul’s University before moving to Los Angeles for further studies. He returned to Korea some years later determined to make a name for himself as a trumpet player – which he did – but also wanting to do something for young musicians.

He pursued his career in music and in teaching at notable music colleges and also gave tuition to young players at the boys’ home. But then he made a sudden change. He came across a college for blind students and saw that they had no real music programme. Kim started to work with the students on a voluntary basis. When it was seen his teaching was having a profound effect on the morale of the students, the principal invited him to join the staff. One of the outcomes was the development of a highly skilled concert band which played at a concert attended by the President and First Lady of Korea. The First Lady was so impressed she asked Kim what she could do to help his programme. As a result of that help and many other supporters the college now has a fully fledged music department with Kim Yong-bok as the head.

Kim told Peter and Maureen that when he first arrived at the college he noticed how sad the students looked. He told the principal that they had to do something to change the students’ sadness into joy and happiness. The change was dramatic and the air of enthusiasm and cheerfulness in the college became infectious. Kim Yong-bok now has a second degree in special education with his thesis on “Brass band education and techniques for students with visual impairments”.

Peer commented; “Why did Kim Yong-bok, who had wowed the audience at the Albert Hall so many years before, decide to give up his career as a professional musician? Just as we were taking our leave, he put his hand on my shoulder and said quietly: ‘you see all this? I do this because of what The Salvation Army did for me.’”

One of the unwritten aims and hopes for the ’78 tour was that brass banding might find acceptance and a foothold in the Army in Korea. When the ’78 band set off on its world tour the 23 players were selected out of about 50 from Seoul Boys’ Home. That was the sum total of all the Army brass players in Korea. There were no corps bands at all. But the territorial music director told us that there were now some 600 commissioned brass musicians in the territory, based at 20 corps which now have their own band.

Maureen rounded off this celebratory and thanksgiving evening with a passage from the scriptures and prayed. We thank Peter and Maureen for gracing us with their presence and relating this moving story about the Army’s transforming work in Korea.

Lieut-Colonels Peter and Maureen Wood

Lt Colonels Peter and Maureen Wood

Report by Phil Edwards

Visit to Gravesend

The South London Fellowship Band presented a fine concert on its latest of regular visits to Gravesend, this time in aid of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). A good crowd gathered in the 18th century Parish Church of Gravesham, braving very poor weather, to hear the band in top form under its musical director Darrell Scholes.

The programme featured the band’s soloists Stuart Gilbert (Baritone) – ‘In This Quiet Moment’ (Bosanko arr. Scholes); Alan Moyse (Cornet) – ‘Happy All The Day’ (Leidzen); Adrian Horwood (Euphonium) – ‘Harbour Light’ (Bearcroft); and vocalist Les Swift – ‘Love Changes Everything’ (Lloyd-Webber). The trombone section gave a scintillating performance of Steven Bulla’s ‘The Cleansing Power’ and the male voices sang sensitively ‘You’re Never Too Far From God’ (William Himes arr. Mack).

The full band’s contributions were ‘Hail The Risen Lord’ (Ponsford); ‘The Golden Pen’ (Heaton); ‘Guardian Of My Soul’ (Shaw); ‘Easter Glory’ (Condon); ‘Bandology’ (Wright); ‘Somewhere Out There’ (Barry); ‘Nimrod’ (Elgar arr. Goffin); ‘A London Celebration’ (Graham); and ‘How Great Thou Art’ (Graham). Bev Hudson gave a thought from the Scriptures.

A cheque for £2,400 was presented to Karen Deacon, RNIB Director for Education & Social Care. Karen responded acknowledging the gift and spoke movingly about the work of the RNIB. Retired Bandmaster Brian Hillyer (Gravesend), a member of the SLFB, was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by the RNIB acknowledging his part in the organisation of the visit of the SLFB and raising of the money.

Band singing 'You're Never Too Far From God'

The Band singing “You’re Never too far from God”

Trombone section playing 'The Cleansing Power'

The Trombone Section Playing “The Cleansing Power”

Karen Deacon making a presentation to Brian Hillyer

Karen Deacon making a presentation to Brian Hillyer in recognition of his fund raising efforts

Report by John Hockley
Gravesend Corps Press Representative