So. California Youth Band Tours Germany, Scandinavia
by Carl Darby –
The Southern California Divisional Youth Band, Chris Mallett, bandmaster, recently returned from a 10-city, 10-day tour of Europe and Scandinavia. The 42-member group, made up of musicians ages 14 to 30, shared the light of Christ with audiences in Holland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.
Commissioner John Larsson, territorial commander in Sweden, expressed his appreciation for the band’s visit. “The word reaching us from the centers visited is that of great appreciation for the musical prowess and high standards set by the band in every way,” he said.
Members of the band had traveled almost 22 hours when they arrived, straight from airport, for the tour’s first concert at Apeldoorn, Holland. The melodic strains of “The Army Comes to Town” written by Mallett, dispelled strains of fatigue as the evening praise and worship festival commenced an hour late due to problems and delays. Laughter from within the band as it accompanied Tom Freeman’s vocal solo, ironically titled “It’s Been a Wonderful Day” (Peter Graham) was typical of the spirit of this Christ-centered section.
Made up of musicians from seven division corps, it included Welsh, Korean, Laotian, English, Chilean, American, Japanese, and Canadian nationals–truly reflecting the diverse cross-cultural ministry undertaken within the Southern California Division.
The tour’s dynamic and thought-provoking programs featured a number of new works written especially for the band by composers such as Ivor Bosanko, Bill Gordon, Ralph Pearce and Mallett. In contrast, there were also a few selections that were more than 60 years old.
A number of the tour’s selections are featured on the band’s new recording titled, “Illuminate,” produced for the purpose of revealing the light of the world throughout this European ‘mission.’
This was certainly the case as equipment and instruments were unloaded in Hamburg, Germany in the heart of the “red light” district. The packed venue attracted neighbors of the corps, who demanded a number of encores.
In Horsens, Denmark, the band took part in a march of witness through the densely populated streets and shopping center, where temperatures never reached more than freezing. Following the march, the band presented an afternoon festival.
In Copenhagen, the Temple Corps experienced testimonies within the Sunday morning holiness meeting under the leadership of Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef and Lt. Colonel Sherryl Van Cleef, divisional director of women’s organizations.
Van Cleef emphasized the power of prayer and how this had been realized within the band, especially relating to one of its member’s recovery from cancer, during the last year. Fay Mallett’s resonant command of the vocal solo ‘Remember the Children’ (Joy Webb), with backing from the band, set the scene for the Colonel’s message reinforcing that a Christian passport, or Salvation Army I.D. will not get us to heaven, but each of us as children of God need to be cleansed by his blood in a real and relevant way. ‘Lord Make Calvary Real To Me’ (William Broughton) and ‘Mid All the Traffic of the Way’ (Leonard Ballantine), selected to enhance the message, produced thought provoking responses.
The afternoon festival was highlighted by Ivor Bosanko’s specially written cornet solo, ‘Irish Variations’ which displayed both the technical prowess and lyrical expression of soloist Martin Hunt.
After five days of continuous travel, some sightseeing was afforded in Copenhagen. A full-sounding, impromptu performance of the doctrinal, ‘We Have Peace’ (Howard Davis) in Copenhagen Cathedral created a reverent moving atmosphere within the band and its surprised listeners.
In Jönköping, Sweden, the band’s program was broadcast live on the radio. Especially well-received was the recently composed Ralph Pearce euphonium duet, ”Glory,’ performed by Chris Mallett and David Ferguson. Kevin Larsson was the trombone soloist in “Angels on High” (Stephen Bulla) in which his playing contrasted greatly to the solo which he shared with cornetist David Gebhardt in Barrie Gott’s jazzy ‘Swingtime Religion.’
As the band had been away from the United States during Thanksgiving, the Divisional Commander, in his daily devotional thought during the festivals, made specific reference to how thankful we should be to our God for his goodness.
The final piece within the program, ”When His Love Reached Me’ (Chris Mallett) was the reason that the band had undertaken this “mission.” Thunderous applause and standing ovations demanded all the encores that the band contained within its repertoire. A small group accompanied the Divisional Commander as he conducted the service at Vesakaren the next morning.
The impact the band made musically, but more importantly spiritually, may never be fully known. The group’s non-Salvationist bus driver, however, said the band should continue to just ‘be’ what they had been, as the musician’s Christian example had made a great impression on him. Their Christ-like attitude and commitment, he said, had touched many people. The language of all nations–music–had illuminated Europe via The Southern California Divisional Youth Band.
“You’ve done more good than you realize”
We have just returned from the great city and corps of Hamburg, situated in North Germany.
The occasion was the visit of the Southern California Youth Band, and our eight hour return journey there and back was well worth every effort made. The program, performance and musical presentation were of the very best. Bandmaster Chris Mallett and the band were true ambassadors of the West, and the Germans who filled the Hamburg hall unanimously took them to their hearts.
I suspect Germany might have been one of the more difficult stopovers for the band. Sadly, owing to difficulties experienced by the Second World War, its aftermath, the rise of Communism and the building of the infamous wall in the East, Army music-making suffered a serious decline. Many of the musical traditions have been lost or at least forgotten. Some of our Salvationists have lost the art of good hospitality, organization and planning, yet there is hope.
The wheel is turning, which leads me to say that the visit of the Youth Band will have done more good than the music-makers will ever realize.
The best way I can let the world know how much they have been appreciated in Germany is through the pages of New Frontier. Hallelujah!
May the Lord continue to bless these fine representatives of the West.
Lt. Colonel Brian Taylor