International Staff Band celebrates 120

Weekend celebration in London draws music lovers from around the world.

The Salvation Army’s International Staff Band (ISB) celebrated its 120th anniversary in London with a weekend of events featuring eight Salvation Army staff bands from around the world.

The celebrations included a sold-out concert in Royal Albert Hall on June 4 and concluded the following day with a march of witness down the Mall and a program of music at Buckingham Palace.

Several thousand people lined the Mall to watch the eight bands—International, Amsterdam, Canadian, Chicago, German, Japan, Melbourne and New York staff bands—march and then play a concert in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace—a privilege rarely granted by Her Majesty the Queen.

After the program each band marched away, with General Linda Bond taking the salute.

Earlier, during music councils, Japan Staff Bandmaster Hajime Suzuki testified and thanked Salvationists for their prayers and support for his country after the earthquake and tsunami. He said that he came to the Lord from a non-Christian family through music, after a professor introduced him to Salvation Army music.

The General shared how God in love can transform those who fail him. Many people came to the mercy seat.

The previous day, the staff bands each presented a 20-minute concert at the Royal Albert Hall, introducing themselves to concert goers.

That evening, some 5,000 ticket holders returned for a massed bands festival—among them the General, the Chief of the Staff Commissioner Barry C. Swanson and Commissioner Sue Swanson (world president of women’s ministries), territorial leaders Commissioners John and Betty Matear, General John Larsson (Ret.) and Commissioner Freda Larsson.

After the bands’ triumphal entry, a prayer by ISB Executive Officer Lt. Colonel David Hinton and a welcome by International Staff Bandmaster Dr. Stephen Cobb, each staff bandmaster took the baton to lead the massed bands. The International Staff Songsters added two contributions.

Commissioner John Matear reminded the audience of The Salvation Army’s dedication to the task God has set it. Referring to 1 Corinthians, he emphasized that the war The Salvation Army is committed to is one of peace and righteousness.

The evening concluded with the festival march “Celebration.” As fireworks went off and a large Salvation Army flag descended from above the stage, the bands sang out: “We’ll keep the old flag flying, flying round the world.”

BBC Radio 2 broadcast a 30-minute program about the celebrations on June 8. The program will be available online for seven days at

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Compiled from various reports from the UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland


Read a first-hand account of

the celebration by Neil Smith,

Western territorial music secretary, online at


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