The Southern Territorial band had the privilege of participating in the North American Brass Band Festival – held in Long Beach, California: May 19 – 22, 2016.
The event was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Western Territorial Staff Band and brought together all the Staff bands from North America: Canadian Staff Band (John Lam), Chicago Staff Band (Harold Burgmayer), New York Staff Band (Ronald Waiksnoris), Southern Territorial Band (Nick Simmons-Smith), and, of course, the host band Western Territorial Staff Band (Neil Smith.)
The Southern Territorial Band met at LAX airport on Wednesday May 18th arriving, as always, from all points of the Territory. After a rehearsal in the Terrace Theater, a 3,000-seater auditorium, the band were taken to their lodging aboard the Queen Mary – now a floating hotel. The Queen Mary, launched in 1936, was quaint and interesting – something akin to the Titanic! – with many of its original fixtures and fittings intact. It was also the cheapest lodging available in popular Long Beach, CA.
After a day of rehearsal at nearby Tustin Ranch corps, the band headed back to the ship for a banquet with the other bands. A rich, unique fellowship exists between Salvation Army bands, and was evident to see as everyone caught up with old friends, and quickly made new ones.
Friday was devoted to a massed band rehearsal – featuring all 5 bands. The rehearsal of Eric Ball’s magnificent “The Kingdom Triumphant” whetted the appetite for the concert the next evening, but even the simple warm up of Gowans and Larsson’s hymn tune “Someone cares” blessed those present.
Saturday included outdoor concerts by the Western Territorial Youth Band, and two local Divisional Youth Bands. This was followed by an afternoon concert in 5 parts – featuring each band. The Southern Territorial Band played “Intrada: A Mighty Fortress!” (Steve Kellner), “A prayer for Courage” (Andrew Barrington, soloist Jeffrey Barrington), “Trombone feature: Let there be peace on earth” (Nick Simmons-Smith), and “The Great Salvation War” (James Curnow) conducted by the composer. It is worth noting that all four pieces were written by members or former members of the Territorial Band. All four pieces also feature on the band’s latest recording: War and Peace.
The evening concert was a glorious celebration of Christian brass band music. Each band marched into the auditorium to the March: “Roll Call” (Broughton.) Highlights included a specially commissioned work by eminent brass band composer Dr. Philip Wilby: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” based on the Christian allegory written by John Bunyan in 1678; the band singing “Jesus Thou Art Everything to Me”; and a Hollywood-style opener by Kevin Larsson that featured each band on its own. The Territorial Band rose to play “When the Saints” with typical fervor and represented the Southland extremely well.
On Sunday morning the band led worship at Riverside (CA) corps. Lt. Colonel William Mockabee (STB Executive Officer) preached on the “Postures of Prayer.” The band led worship through the playing of “Prayer for Courage”, “Cantad a Jehova” (Dorothy Gates) featuring Manny Munoz on trumpet, a testimony by bandsmen Jeremy Rowland and an Altar Call solo “I surrender” played exquisitely on the Flugel Horn by Darryl Crossland. Many people came forward to pray at the altar during the playing of this arrangement of Phil Laeger’s song.
After the traditional Southern Territorial postlude of “Celebration” (Les Condon), the band traveled to Disneyland to participate in a massed band march through the park! Thousands of people witnessed The Salvation Army lift the name of Jesus higher through the “happiest place on earth.”
We hope and pray that many lives were touched by the weekend’s events. It was a true celebration – well executed by the Western Territory and their Music Secretary: Neil Smith. One could tell by the response to concert items, Sunday morning worship, and the fellowship of believers that Salvation Army banding is still a vibrant and effective way to communicate the Gospel message. Long may it continue!