Festival features Western Territory Staff Band and Songsters
By Don McDougald, Lt. Colonel –
An air of excitement filled the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps June 11 at the first joint festival featuring the Western Territory Staff Band and Staff Songsters, and kicking off the West’s Commissioning weekend.
The first piece, “Come to the Music” by Ralph Pearce, immediately demonstrated the skillful stylings of the Staff Songsters, led by Barbara Allen, with accompaniment by the Staff Band, led by Neil Smith.
After a congregational song, “Stand Up and Bless the Lord,” the Songsters presented a package of four items, moving listeners from invitation to testimony. “Come as You Are” featured soloists Aleen Bradley, Ashley Van Kranenburg, Erin Kofoed and Marianna Kleeman in an upbeat arrangement.
Come as you are, bring every burden;
Come as you are, bring all your shame;
Come as you are, I know you hurting;
But when you call upon His name
And surrender, surrender,
You never be the same.
“I’m a Different Man” featured Matt Wood as soloist with a jazz group accompaniment.
The Staff Band presented an item composed by James Curnow for the European Brass Band Championship. Based on an ancient tune “Te Deum,” meaning “Thee, O God, we praise,” the band presented the music with an excitement in sound, tonality and technique. The popular Gowans and Larsson song, “We Have a Gospel,” stirred emotion and enthusiasm before “Fusion,” by Martin Cornder, sought to capture the sense of the celebration that arises when a believer arrives in heaven. It began with the song “I know Thee Who Thou art” and blends with the words “Come to Jesus.”
Where the first set of music by the Staff Songsters was a time of worship, the next set was a time of celebration. Starting with a toe-tapping arrangement of “Joshua Fit De Battle,” it was followed by a swinging version of “Swingin’ with the Saints” by Mark Hayes. Len Ballentine’s talent was showcased in the final two items of “I Will Wait for You” and “Go Down Moses.”
Lt. Colonel Diane O’Brien, band executive officer, in her last event with the Staff Band before retirement, gave a devotional on the miracles that have happened in the life of young people in the Army, naming a few participants that night who are now leaders in their own right.
“When Jesus puts his hand on their lives, he brings a miracle of blessings and opportunities,” she said. “When we believe, ‘In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust,’ lives are transformed.”
The section closed with a new arrangement by James Allen, including the song “In Christ Alone” and concluding with the old Army chorus “In Thee, O Lord, Do I put my trust.”
The final Staff Band piece was composed by Paul Lovatt-Cooper for the International Staff Band’s 120th Celebration. Incorporating the worship chorus “Lord You know that we love You,” the arrangement moves into the chorus “I Love You Lord” and concludes with a flourish from Psalm 95, “Come Let us sing Joy to the Lord.”
Bandmaster Ivor Bosanko led a joint final item, Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” providing an exciting conclusion to an evening of glorious music. The audience rose to its feet in the traditional salute to music, leaving no doubt that the evening had been a banquet of sound and a blessing to each listener.