Hendon Band captivates crowds throughout the West

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Upon arrival in Los Angeles on the Thursday before Palm Sunday, the Hendon Band began an intense time of traveling and ministry around the territory.

Their first performance reached far beyond the walls of any Salvation Army facility. Live from the Hollywood Tabernacle Corps, the Hendon Band concert was broadcast throughout the Los Angeles area on the KTLA morning show. Television reporter Gayle Anderson, an Army friend, met with the band and quickly established a good rapport. KTLA showed segments of the band playing throughout the morning show.

Major Carol Seiler, Southern California divisional strategic initiative coordinator and director of women’s ministries, described for viewers the Army’s work in the Los Angeles area. This publicity was a great opportunity for the Army to demonstrate our mission.

Later that day, the band performed at Los Angeles City Hall, where Mayor James Hahn, all 15 council members and other city officials greeted them. The Los Angeles Rotary Club was the next venue, where influential businessmen and leaders heard a presentation of the gospel through music of the highest standard. The band played a variety of music, perhaps reminding listeners of church tunes they may not have heard for some time, and encouraging and challenging them to seek the Lord in new ways.

At Hendon’s first full music festival at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, a capacity crowd greeted the band. From the opening notes of the march “Montclair Citadel,” with its flourishes and driving rhythm, to “The Essence of Time”—with Hendon Corps Officer Major Russell Wyles sharing words of challenge—the band’s superb musicianship and technical brilliance did not overshadow the message of the music.

The next day a crowd of 700 met the band at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. Many came not knowing much about The Salvation Army but eager to hear good music. The band challenged and inspired listeners with selections ranging from “Ad Optimum” to Peter Graham’s “The Last Amen” to the gospel song “Total Praise.”

Hendon Band featured several soloists: Paul Hopkins (trombone), Anthony Scannell (euphonium), Matthew Cobb (cornet), and Stephen Hopkins and Kathryn Hill (piano) provided technically advanced yet sensitive presentations. Other soloists included Steve Yalden and Steven Moulton on the xylophone—not the typical Army repertoire—demonstrating dedication to excellence and exemplifying using any skill for the glory of God. The band’s principal cornetist, David Daws, who is also responsible for the Young People’s Band at Hendon, is probably the world’s finest cornet artist. The clarity of his sound and expertise in technique amazed every congregation, with his flawless renditions of “Golden Slippers” and “Carnival of Venice.” While Daws’ skill was thrilling to all, his encouragement of young musicians and his willingness to teach and inspire others will reach far beyond any notes he can play. This spirit of giving back is evident in the Hendon Corps and is a spirit for every Salvationist to emulate.

In Seattle, another capacity crowd greeted the band. Confounding the idea that brass banding is outdated is the observation that more young people in America are now involved in some form of school band program than ever before—therein lies an opportunity for the Army!

Seeking new ways to be innovative, Hendon changed clothes from their red festival tunics to brightly colored polo shirts for the second half of each concert. They also reset the stage to resemble a big band format, with the drums set center stage. During the more relaxed second half, the band presented music with a swing, big band, and gospel feel. Highlights included the moments of reflection from the tune “From That Sacred Hill,” to the rich sound of Roger Cobb’s singing.

In Concord, a former Salvationist decided to return to the corps after attending the Hendon Band’s concert there. This news thrilled the band, as their goal is to reach out through all they do to those who are lost.

The unique venue of the Los Angeles Bell Shelter was another opportunity for Hendon to share in ministry with many who have lost their way in life. While the band entertained and presented a message to the 400 clients there, the biggest impact came through sharing a meal and fellowship. This was the highlight of the week for many members of the Hendon Band.

The final days of the tour included concerts at the San Diego Citadel, Santa Ana Temple and Tustin Ranch corps. Preceding the concert at Santa Ana, the band marched through the streets of that city, and participated in a Good Friday open air service. During the final concert at Tustin Ranch, Wyles challenged the congregation to move from the Good Friday experience to the joy of the resurrection and not to get caught in between.

Now that the visit of the Hendon Corps Band is a memory, there are lessons to draw on from their ministry: 1) It is worth the effort—no matter what we do in life, if we plan to honor the Lord then it must be worth our time and energy and it must be done to the highest standard. 2) Family is important—whether biological or spiritual, it is vital for each of us to be part of a family and to seek ways to expand and encourage one another. 3) Use your resources—look at what is around you and work out how to use your time and talents to glorify God. 4) Invest in young people—they are not the “future”; they are the present, and they will respond if they are mentored and encouraged. 5) Together we can make great music—by joining together we can make something far more beautiful than we can on our own.

Recently, General John Larsson said, “If you want to disarm the Army then take away its music.” Let’s follow the high standard set by the Hendon Band and find innovative, tried and tested methods, new and old concepts for re-arming this Army. Thank you Hendon!

Report compiled by: Martin Hunt. Contributing writers: Jeff Curnow, Russ Prince, Kevin Larsson, Carl Darby, Derek Helms

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