New York Staff Band joins marchers
The Army’s New York Staff Band, one of the premiere brass bands of the world, participated with charisma, competence and commitment during highly active pre-New Year and New Year’s weekend activities. The strenuous itinerary contained two parades, including marching rehearsals, three full length concerts, performances at Disneyland, the Long Beach Aquarium and Sea World, and two television presentations.
Staff Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris said, “The New York Staff Band was privileged to have an active reaching-out ministry on our recent visit to California. Salvationists and friends in Pasadena, Tustin Ranch, San Diego and Long Beach all went out of their way to make us feel at home. The Tournament of Roses parade was an unforgettable experience. The Army’s marching unit, 250 strong, including musicians from all over the country, gave an exciting and vibrant witness to the hundreds of thousands of people along the parade route. The lasting memory will be kicking off the year 2000 playing ‘Standing on the Promises’ to present the crowds of people with the ageless message of Christ’s love.”
The band demonstrated both its musical prowess and cooperative spirit as they melded into the large parade band. In concert, performances were flawless, communicating instrumental expertise and a sense of Christian spirit within every performance. Programming was exemplary, with a fine mix of contemporary and traditional items designed to reveal the band’s stylistic skills. Every soloist was outstanding, both in the technical aspects of performance and in their sincere desires to communicate the essence of particular compositions. They included Gordon Ward on cornet, Todd Vanderwiel on euphonium, and Lindsey Evans on trombone. Evans commented:
“The visit of the band to Southern California was a virtual whirlwind of activities stretching
from San Diego to Pasadena as the band participated in two parades and presented music festivals in venues as diverse as Sea World and the Pasadena Tabernacle.”
Tom Mack led the band as they assembled as a chorus. Their traditional rendition of William Bearchell’s “Rock of Ages” at the conclusion of the program revealed the power of music to communicate to the human spirit.
Staff Bandsman Tom Schneibner stated: “Fellow bandsmen remarked that it seemed like we had been away from home longer than a week. For me, the exact opposite seemed true. A constant brisk pace kept us busy from early morning to late at night throughout the tour, and the time passed quickly.
Highlights included renewing acquaintances with about a dozen former band members now residing in Southern California; the joys and agonies of marching over five miles in the Rose Parade that went nonstop; and presenting three music festivals to capacity audiences. While the weather was cold, the audiences greeted us warmly. It’s been over 30 years since the band has visited Southern California, and I hope that our next visit comes much sooner.”
The New York Staff Band has been in existence well over a century. A newspaper reported on their first appearance on New York’s Broadway in 1887: “…the bandsmen rode on bicycles in tandem style–one to pedal and one to blow! Their national commander headed the procession riding in a sidecar. They wore neat uniforms with white trimmings and double knotted cords across their chests. All seemed intelligent.” Southern Californians would agree with that assessment.