Profile Night creator recognized

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by Terry Camsey, Major

The year was 1978 and Terry Camsey, the divisional music director for The Salvation Army in Greater New York, came up with an idea to recognize the contributions of noted Salvation Army composers. Profile Night was born.

Twenty-five years later Camsey found himself the focus of the annual event he created as The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division recently honored the composer at Profile Night, held at New York City’s Centennial Memorial Temple. It was an unlikely scenario for a humble man who never envisioned himself being honored alongside many of the most celebrated names in Salvation Army music.

“I never felt I was one to write festival pieces,” he said in his opening remarks. “I write to move people, to inspire. Like Erik Leidzen would say, ‘I write for the little old lady in the back row’.”

For someone with such modest goals, Camsey has achieved considerable success and his contributions to Salvation Army repertoire have been significant.
More than 100 of this self-taught composer/arranger’s compositions have been recorded. He has excelled as a cornet soloist both in his native Eng-land and with the New York Staff Band. While divisional music director in Greater New York, he led the well-known Temple Chorus.

But the defining characteristic of Major Terry Camsey’s music has always been its ability to move and inspire the masses. The same philosophy has been applied to Camsey’s present vocation as a teacher of church growth principles.

Certainly, Profile Night with Terry Camsey was one of inspiration as the New York Staff Band, the Greater New York Youth Band, the Greater New York Chorus, the Harlem Temple Singing Company and the Greater New York Timbrelists paid tribute to the composer through their performances.

In addition, the program included solo performances by vocalists Katherine Padilla, Raymond Livingston and Judy Alkintor Chung. Trombonist Burt Mason, cornetist Gordon Ward and the evening’s special guest performer, euphonium soloist Jason Ham from the United States Military Academy at West Point, represented the instrumental side.

The program, coordinated by present GNY Divisional Music Director Ward, provided a spotlight for some of Camsey’s more popular compositions as well as some the composer indicated he “had never heard performed before.”

The NYSB, under the leadership of Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris, opened the program with the brisk march “Ready to Serve,” written for a GNY Youth Councils in 1977.

The NYSB Chorus, led by Major Thomas Mack, performed “Bound for Glory,” which also used an American folk tune as its motif. Under the direction of Lt. Colonel Norman Bearcroft, the Greater New York Chorus sang “Hear Me When I Pray,” “Questions,” “Sing We Many Years of Blessing” as a finale and “Benediction.”
Camsey has always had an appreciation for the multi-culturalism of New York City and was especially pleased to hear the Harlem Temple Singing Company perform “A West Indian Prayer.” One of the highlights of the first half of the program was a timbrel drill, choreographed to “The Overcomers,” by the Greater New York Timbrels.

Another characteristic of the Camsey’s compositions has been the ability to paint pictures, particularly of Army history. This was used effectively in the second half of the program by the Greater New York Youth Band, in “Remember the Child-ren,” a series of vignettes depicting Army activities in the late 1800s.

Much of the program’s second half was devoted to solo performances. Katherine Padilla was especially moving with her rendition of “Imagine.” One of the instrumental highlights was the solo “A Joy Untold,” sometimes referred to as the Army’s version of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” performed by West Point’s Jason Ham.

In his comments, Camsey spoke about the “human need to leave a legacy.” Certainly, the Camsey legacy could include his achievements as a cornet soloist or the vast repertoire of music he composed.

But his true legacy may be his ability to write in a manner that touches the masses and, for that gift, his place among other celebrated Army composers is well ensconced.

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