Monthly Archives: June 2015

Visit to Chatham 13th June 2015

Some of our engagements are very straightforward. We turn up, put up our music stands and banners, take them down at the end, and depart – with the sincere hope that, in between, we’ve managed to bring something to all who have listened to us.

At the other end of the scale are complex events involving brass, choral, a number of corps, soloists, accompanists, guest conductors. Such was the South London Fellowship Band’s mid-June visit to the Kings Church Medway in Chatham.

Adrian Horwood, and his colleagues from Chatham Citadel, had drawn together musical forces from a wide area of Kent, and beyond. Songsters from Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone, Strood and Tunbridge Wells augmented host brigade, Chatham Citadel. Over 100 musicians. A renowned SA composer as conductor and compère. And all in aid of a very good cause.

Appropriately for a programme titled Celebrate Together, the Band, under the direction of Darrell Scholes, opened proceedings with Leslie Condon’s festival march Celebration. Written for the ISB’s 75th anniversary in 1966, this music still sparkles nearly 50 years on. This was followed by the massed songsters in A Jubilant Song (Martin).

The programme was then put into the competent hands of the evening’s special guest, Captain Martin Cordner. The evening was to see Martin in the roles of composer, choral conductor, brass conductor and compère.

Under Martin’s direction, and with Carole Horwood (piano) and Steve Wood (percussion) accompanying, the united songsters further brought to us Would you know? (Hoffman/Potters), We celebrate you (Gwenyth & Robert Redhead), God of my praise (arr. Kirkland) and Total Praise (Smallwood). Retired Songster Leader Adrian Horwood ascended the podium to direct the mighty Worthy is the Lamb, from Handel’s Messiah.

Earlier, Adrian had added the role of euphonium soloist to what was turning out to be a very busy night for him. Written by Martin only last year, Eminence challenges soloist, conductor and band alike. The composer writes “Through two songs the piece challenges Christians to be eminent in their worship (‘With all my heart’) and in their witness (‘This is why I love my Jesus’)”. As ever, Adrian tackled every challenge in an assured way, and richly deserved the prolonged applause.

Chatham Citadel Songsters, conducted by Songster Leader Carolynn Woodman, took centre stage in presenting three well-rehearsed numbers: Go out with joy (Dave & Jean Perry), Limitless Grace (Gowans/Blyth) and Cantar ! (Althouse). “Cantar ! (which means “Sing !” in Spanish) is a salsa work for choir. The text is a combination of English and simple, repetitive Spanish phrases, set to a rhythmically infectious melody”. The wide range of rhythm instruments used added to the effectiveness of this hugely appreciated arrangement.

At the top of the programme, the Band played Music-Maker, Peter Graham’s potpourri of the melodies of John Larsson, which has been a popular ever-present number in the Band’s repertoire this season. The Band’s trombones later came to the fore for Stephen Bulla’s trombone feature, The Cleansing Power.

For many, the brass “gem” of the night would have been the Band playing the meditation The Light of the world (Goffin). Written when the composer was still a corps bandmaster in New Zealand, this is music that continues to speak down the years. After Martin had brought his thoughts from Scripture, the Band played Michael Davis’s sensitive arrangement of Ask the Saviour.

The united songsters and Band combined forces under Darrell Scholes for Eric Ball’s Rhapsody Challenge and Response. Fight the good fight and I need thee every hour are the early melodies featured in this piece, which dates from 1977. The final section is Eric’s arrangement of his own original music, the Sessional Song Hold Fast, which the singers sang with appropriate fervour (with the Band accordingly reducing the dynamic of the full scoring).

The Band had opened the programme and was also entrusted with the evening’s closing number. Under the baton of the composer, the Band played Martin’s Festival March Light-bringer, which features two of the Founder’s songs – Send the fire and O boundless salvation – possibly a piece we’ll be hearing more of in this 150th anniversary year of the SA.

And the good cause? Chatham Corps’ One2One programme (Employment Plus and Active 50+), for which the sum of £430 was raised.

The Band joins Chatham Corps in congratulating Adrian and the team for a splendid occasion.

So just one final challenge remained – ascending a very steep hill back to the car park and then home, reflecting warmly on an evening rich in the diversity of God-inspired and God-praising music.

John Clarke