International Staff Band ‘Wows’ the West
by John Docter –
Making its first trip to the West since 1980, the London, England, based International Staff Band (ISB) proved it was well worth the wait. The ISB and Bandmaster Stephen Cobb blessed and inspired enthusiastic capacity crowds of Salvationists and non-Salvationists alike in Denver, Colo., Phoenix, Ariz., Portland, Ore., Walnut Creek and Pasadena, Calif.
The band’s week-long stop in the Western Territory, which included a performance at the National Advisory Organizations Conference and a worship service at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, wrapped up a 17-day tour that also took it through parts of the Southern Territory.
The audience at the Pasadena festival, like other ISB crowds throughout the tour, gave the first of many standing ovations before the band even played its first note. And with that first note, the band proceeded to blow back into their seats the approximately 950 in attendance as it flew through a transcription of Shostakovitch’s intricate “Folk Festival.” This exciting opener was immediately contrasted with the delicate Bill Himes arrangement, “Make Me a Channel.”
The remainder of the program displayed similar contrasts, showing the band’s incredible musical versatility and spiritual depth; from timeless Army classics like “Resurgam” to the swing style of Bill Broughton’s “Deep River;” from complex and technically demanding works like “Shine as the Light” and “Odyssey,” to lush, melodic selections such as “I Vow to Thee My Country.”
Soloists David Daws (cornet), Derick Kane (euphonium) and Andrew Justice (trombone) lived up to their international reputations with flawless performances. The band also drafted some local talent when former ISB cornet soloist Captain Terry Camsey joined Daws for the duet “Quicksilver.”
Justice also shared thought-provoking words during the evening’s devotional, which tied in perfectly to the euphonium solo “Annie Laurie.”
Cobb and executive officer Major Ian Barr brought an added dimension to many of the numbers with their insightful introductions. Former staff bandsman Kevin Norbury, visiting from the Eastern Territory, shared the many spiritual levels of his composition “Odyssey.”
Bandmaster Ralph Pearce, music director for Southwest Division and host of the ISB during their stay in Phoenix, said the band was an “inspiration to brass musicians to develop their craft and to Salvationist musicians to renew their commitment to this unique Army opportunity for service and evangelism.”