Reunited in proclamation

Pasadena Tabernacle Corps Band celebrates its 115th year.

by Jeff Curnow –

Bandmaster William Flinn directs the congregation to join with the band in a choral song [by Jody Davis].

As the holiness meeting on Sunday, November 15 at the Pasadena (Calif.) Tabernacle Corps ended, the soldiers reflected on a yearlong celebration. In continuous service since 1893, the Tabernacle band has completed its 115th year of proclaiming the gospel through music. The band evolved from the Los Angeles No. 2 and Los Angeles Tabernacle bands, to the Hollywood Tabernacle and Pasadena Citadel bands. The corps celebrated the band’s history with a reunion weekend celebration.

The weekend included a reunion rehearsal, where more than 25 former band members joined current band members under the batons of former bandmasters Dr. Ronald Smart, Lambert Bittinger, Ivor Bosanko and William Gordon.

The Saturday evening celebration began formally with a reception and reunion banquet, which recognized past bandmasters and Bob Docter, a member of the band for 63 years, who was honored with the dedication of a music trust fund in his name.

During his remarks, Docter said, “I am a stayer. Some people are ‘band hoppers,’ but I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the same corps for more than 60 years.” His is a remarkable record of service spanning more than half the band’s history.

Festival of Thanksgiving
Saturday’s celebration concluded with the band’s annual festival of thanksgiving concert. Each of the former bandmasters chose three pieces that were significant during their tenure.

Highlights of the concert included the premiere of Ivor Bosanko’s new test piece entitled, “Tabernacle.” Challenging for each member of the band, “Tabernacle” began with a depiction of the building of the Hebrew tabernacle. It included a sweeping setting of an original hymn tune by Bosanko, a brief fugue and a final, march-like section.

The Tabernacle Songsters performed three songs under the direction of Songster Leader Martin Hunt and former Songster Leader Dr. Ronald Smart.

Guest speakers for the weekend were Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers. In his devotional thought given during the concert, Swyers emphasized the dedication to God that is necessary to sustain an organization for 115 years. He challenged the audience to a renewed dedication to service.

Under the leadership of Timbrel Leader Barbara Curnow, the Tabernacle Timbrelists presentation honored veterans. Their innovative drill featured swing dancing and World War II style uniforms, a video with a soundtrack by the Andrews Sisters, and photos of Tabernacle soldiers from their military days.

In the 375 days of celebration leading to the weekend—from the October 2007 recording session to April’s Southern Territory tour—the band was on duty for 175. The finale for the concert and the year was the band’s performance of “Proclamation,” with Bandmaster William Flinn conducting, before a backdrop of photos and film from the band’s history.

It is moving to remember the pioneer Salvation Army soldiers of 1893, arrested for disturbing the peace with open air meetings. Their labor, and the dedication of generations of band members who followed, allow us the privilege to share in their legacy.

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