Army East and West unite unite
West welcomes New York Staff Band.
by Christin Davis –
Over 50 years since Congress declared the first National Salvation Army Week in 1954, the Western Territory’s Pasadena Tabernacle Corps hosted the New York Staff Band (NYSB), led by Bandmaster Ronald Waiksnoris, for a weekend celebration of all that is Army. The band then traveled north, performing at Del Oro Division’s Concord Corps.
“How are you going to tell people about the Army?” asked Pasadena Tabernacle Corps Bandmaster William B. Flinn, who organized the weekend. “Look for ways to celebrate.”
Celebration was central to the weekend’s activities—the goal was to reach as many people as possible, using the print and broadcast media, to business and community leaders, to music lovers and Salvationists, bringing everyone together for one purpose.
“All parts of this campaign allowed us to spread the good news of Jesus in different venues and to different audiences,” Flinn said. “Because of a good band—amateur musicians at a professional level—we could present the gospel in places you wouldn’t normally be able to.”
Arriving Thursday, only hours before their first call-time, the NYSB began Friday morning with a live broadcast at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif., for broadcast on the local KTLA news channel. Along with the band’s performance, the station news team interviewed the band’s executive officer, Major Richard Munn, and gave information about the local Salvation Army. The band then led a chapel service for over 700 students at Maranatha High School, covered in print by the Pasadena Star News, before driving downtown for a Los Angeles Rotary Club meeting that had to be moved to a larger venue because of such high registration.
For a touch of Hollywood, the band spent a few hours on Friday afternoon touring Universal Studios. To complete the day, over 150 people joined the NYSB for the Glendale Corps’ re-dedication meeting in the newly renovated chapel and honoring of three influential people—Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich who volunteers at the corps, property donor Virginia Thomson, and Walter and Charlene Painter, benefactors of the Nancy Painter transitional home.
“Our goal was to give our audience a dose of ‘Army,’” said Glendale Corps Officer Captain James Sloan. “We accomplished that and were blessed by [the NYSB’s] spirit of service—they displayed the very best of Army banding.”
Over 200 people attended Saturday’s Southern California Divisional Music Councils, held at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps and led by Divisional Music Director Kevin Larsson. The NYSB conducted a brass band clinic, allowing musicians from the area and those outside of the Army to take part in an open rehearsal. Other classes included a brass clinic with renowned trumpet soloist Allen Vizzutti, a gospel style performance art workshop with the London-based soprano Annika Scutt, and a Spanish-language praise and worship workshop.
The Celebrate at the Ambassador with The Salvation Army gala concert was held Saturday, May 12, featuring the NYSB, the Pasadena Tabernacle Youth Chorus, Vizzutti and Scutt.
“This is one of the very memorable events of my career,” said City of Pasadena Mayor William Bogaard in presenting a certificate of acknowledgment to the NYSB and a proclamation in recognition of National Salvation Army Week to Pasadena Tabernacle Corps Officer Captain Edward Hill. “I have come to learn The Salvation Army is important in meeting community needs and am delighted to join in the celebration,” Bogaard said.
The NYSB was well received throughout the weekend—given standing ovations at the conclusion of the concert, the high school, the Glendale Corps and at the Rotary Club meeting, which is said to be rare.
Western Territorial Commander Commissioner Philip Swyers said, “Music is the glue that holds people to the Army—what we’re really about is growing an army and gluing people to the Army with music as the heartbeat.”
The NYSB participated in the Sunday morning worship service at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, concluding the service in a joint benediction with the Tab band followed by a barbecue lunch before departing to the airport.
From beginning to end, the band reached people, celebrating the gospel of Christ and the Army mission, and recognizing Army’s 120 straight years of service to Los Angeles.
“It was great to see how involved The Salvation Army is in the Pasadena community—it’s above the surface,” said NYSB flugelhorn soloist Andrew Garcia. “This weekend’s changes in atmosphere and shared performance responsibility created a different experience for us; we were able to give and receive.”
Farther north, the NYSB visited the Golden Gate Bridge and performed at San Francisco’s Pier 39. “A hush fell over the crowd when the band played ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit,’” said Derek Helms, Del Oro divisional music director.
That night, over 400 people filled the Concord Corps for a standing room only concert. The opening march, “Concord,” was especially appreciated and many were happy to see Jeff Markee, NYSB cornet player, back at the corps he attended before moving to New York.
“The people from the community were very impressed—most had never heard an Army band before,” said Major Clay Gardner, Concord corps officer. “One man told me he thinks he is going to put down his clarinet and give the horn a try.”