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Allen reviews Tab concert

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by Barbara Allen – 

“Total Praise!” was the title of the International Staff Songsters USA tour and the capacity crowd at Pasadena Tabernacle on Easter Saturday felt part of the whole praise experience – totally!

From the moment the songsters walked through the auditorium shaking hands and singing “I Feel Like Praisin’ Him” (Yearwood), you had the feeling that this group was more than a top-notch Salvation Army vocal group – they had a real sense of fellowship between them and a desire to communicate the gospel through their singing.

Staff Songster Leader Andrew Blyth began the evening by challenging us to completely “dedicate ourselves to the Lord” and stated that, “we’re all in this together.”

From the a cappella “In Perfect Peace” ( Downie ), with its crystal clear soaring top soprano line, to the lively and infectious “Jesus Is Alive!” (Kenoly), one could only marvel at the clarity of diction and pure vocal sound we were experiencing. The complex rhythms and melodic intricacies of Kenneth Downie’s “Veni Emmanuel” were tackled with faultless precision whilst the atmosphere created by Katy Richardson’ s beautiful setting of “Take My Life” left the audience with a sense of reflective stillness.

Major Bill Cochrane remarked that “the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday” could be a dark one, but we need not wait for tomorrow to celebrate His resurrection, He can be the light of our lives every day.” This thought was carried into the second half of the program when the Songsters took on a more relaxed approach. Andrew Blyth stepped away from the group and allowed an even deeper level of communication to take place as the songsters sang directly to us “You are the Light” (Groth/Aas) with the words “fear will not defeat me, I’m giving it all to you, Lord.”

For me, the highlight of the evening would have to be Darren Bartlett’s presentation of his own arrangement of “Vaults of Heaven” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Whistle Down the Wind. Darren’s tremendous stage presence and glorious voice lit up the stage and set the scene for “Come on David” (Bartlett), a very nicely choreographed and humorous re-enactment through song of the David and Goliath story.

The final song, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (Rutter), was made even more poignant as the songsters stood around the sanctuary in and amongst the audience.

As the evening drew to a close, one did indeed feel that “we were all in this together” and we had just experienced the true meaning of “total praise.”

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