New Zealand youth band ‘wows’ West


The origins of New Zealand’s National Youth Band lie in a 1980 tour to Australia for The Salvation Army’s centenary celebrations; the band formed exclusively for that visit. In 1989 the idea of a band to encourage the territory’s top young brass players was revisited and the current band began.

It was therefore with a sense of growing anticipation and excitement that the National Youth Band of New Zealand was welcomed to Los Angeles International Airport on Good Friday at the commencement of a 17-day campaign of the Western Territory.

Including their leaders, Colonel Gwyneth Redhead, the executive officer of the band and territorial music secretary for the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, and Bandmaster Stephen Stein, the group totaled forty-two.

The band’s first engagement was an open-air meeting, held in front of a large music store at a mall in Santa Ana. The band enthralled a large and appreciative crowd with a varied and attractive program. The band presented their first evening concert in Santa Ana. As a prelude to the evening, the Santa Ana praise and worship team set an exhilarating pace, which captured the hearts, minds, and spirits of all who were there. Both groups had come well prepared to share the gospel message with bilingual overhead projections. At the conclusion of the concert–which featured music to suit all tastes, including a euphonium solo played as a soundtrack to a video depicting a beautifully scenic New Zealand, and the newly created Latino massed songsters from corps in the Los Angeles area, under the direction of Divisional Music Director Kevin Larsson–Bandmaster Stephen Stein and the band received a well deserved standing ovation.

After only four hours sleep the group was up at 3.00 a.m. and heading towards west Los Angeles for the sunrise service at Hollywood Bowl. This was truly a memorable and spectacular event for the band–7,000 people in attendance, ten choirs from various churches, Pastor Jack Hayford and the unique atmosphere of that world famous outdoor amphi-theater. Resplendent in their red tunics the band commenced the service by dramatically marching in from the back of the theater playing Onward Christian Soldiers. This opening was designed as a tribute to the work undertaken by the Army at ground zero in the wake of September 11.

From here it was on to the Santa Monica corps for the Easter morning service in which the band featured Revelation Hope, a multi-media worship experience devised by Colonels Robert and Gwyneth Redhead. The afternoon again featured several open-air meetings by small groups of the band on the Santa Monica promenade and finally an evening concert.

At each stop on the tour, which included Ventura, Santa Maria, Salinas, San Jose, San Francisco, Berkeley, Concord, Sacramento, Redding, Mt. Shasta, Portland and Medford, the band was received with pleasure, delight and appreciation.

Their program planning and presentation was of the highest order with the integrated use of multimedia, brass band, praise and worship group, drama and soloists creating an atmosphere between the musicians and the congregation of true holistic worship.

On a number of occasions they played in churches whose congregations had never before heard a brass band. The music and ministry of the band connected in a very profound way everywhere they went. Having had the privilege of traveling with the band throughout most of the tour, I am certain that the kingdom of God has been extended and that heaven will be rejoicing as a result of the visit to the Western Territory of the National Youth Band of New Zealand.

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