Melbourne Staff Band Wraps Up U.S. Tour in the West

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By Geoff Davis – 

At the conclusion of an extensive U.S. visit, including tours in the Eastern and Southern Territories and Sierra Del Mar Division, Australia’s Melbourne Staff Band was welcomed for a weekend visit at the Tustin Ranch Corps (Captains Lee and Michele Lescano). Preceded by a reputation for very high standards, the band fulfilled all expectations.

The band performed, after arriving from San Diego, before an appreciative crowd at Disneyland and then enjoyed the theme park on their own. Later the bandsmen were honored by a division-sponsored welcome dinner with their Tustin Ranch hosts before a joint rehearsal with the home corps band.

On Saturday, following a Mexican luncheon prepared by corps members at Santa Ana Temple Corps (Majors Fernando and Nancy Martin) the band provided an afternoon concert for more than 200 enthusiastic Hispanic soldiers and friends.

The Saturday evening festival at Tustin Ranch was in partnership with the corps band (B/M Ed Freeman) and timbrels (Acting Leader Margaret Arnold) at the corps’ 1996 Spring Festival. Australian Consul and Mrs. Rob O’Donovan were on hand to welcome their fellow citizens.

The capacity crowd was delighted with a well balanced, high standard program of varied styles. Their rich, full-bodied sound was exemplified by “Variations on a Hymn by Louis Bourgeois” and “Corpus Christi.” Their arrangement of excerpts from “Swan Lake” brought an impressed audience to its feet in a spontaneous standing ovation. In contrast, they were relaxed and rhythmic in swing-style numbers such as “Lightwalk.”

Territorial Music Director B/M Ivor Bosanko commented, “The band again reached the standard of performance we expect from them. The music chosen was challenging, absorbing, entertaining and soul-searching.”

Masterful individual talent was displayed throughout the weekend in cornet, soprano cornet, baritone and euphonium solos, as well as duets and trombone ensemble numbers. Male voice items were well presented and favorably received. Their animated rendering of “Steppin’ on the Clouds,” complete with an appearance by the “devil,” was a great crowd-pleaser. Sensitive and proficient piano playing was much appreciated in all meetings.

The leadership of B/M Ken Waterworth was impressive throughout: musically and firmly in control, but without a demonstrative style-the obvious result of thorough training in rehearsal.

On Sunday, the band participated in Sunday worship services at Tustin Ranch, delighting children in Sunday school, as well as for an afternoon festival audience. The bandsmen obviously wanted to convey spiritual truths through their music as well by taking every opportunity for personal testimony and comment.

The profound spiritual leadership of the band’s executive officer, Major Brian Everett, was acknowledged lovingly by the Bandmaster, this being his last engagement before retirement.

Sierra Del Mar Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock said of their engagement at the San Diego Citadel Corp (Captains William and Haryette Raihl): “The Melbourne group rendered an unforgettable musical expression. Not only was there a great display of artistry, but we were also spiritually moved!”

Many felt a deep sense of God’s presence during the visit of the Melbourne Staff Band, and lasting friendships were forged as a result of warmth and friendship. Their outstanding presentation will long be remembered as a musical highlight in Southern California. Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef, divisional commander, expressed his particular appreciation for the band’s final number. “Their sensitive rendition of Alistair Taylor’s arrangement, “I Need Thee,” made a profound spiritual impact and united the whole congregation in a moment of meditative silence. I was blessed!”


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