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The International Staff Band Visit to Belfast Citadel

23 Feb 2008

Following a very warm Belfast welcome, the International Staff Band started the evening with a very unusual opening piece - The Call of the Righteous, which was very well received. The evening got under way with the skilful leading of the programme, by both Dr Stephen Cobb (Bandmaster) and Lieut-Colonel Trevor Davies ( Executive Officer).

The first half of the festival featured some of the Band's traditional festival music and included the very rarely heard cornet solo, Victorious (Kevin Ashman), the newly completed euphonium solo, Images of Praise (Derick Kane) and finished with James Curnow's tour de force, Trittico, which featured the old American tune, Consolation, which we associate with the words "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds." What a marvellous way to end the first half of any Salvation Army musical Festival! It was good to see so many former bandsmen at the event, with the interval giving the opportunity for meeting and greeting.

The second half of the programme was much lighter, compared to the first, and included the vocal solo, What a Friend, by the Band's vocalist Damian Wileman. The setting of the folk tune, O Waley Waley, in the trombone was a special moment of the evening and was appreciated by all of those who were there. The evening was brought to a close with another relatively new work, The Pilgrim's Progress, inspired by John Bunyan's book of the same title. As if this wasn't enough, following a benediction by Col Davies, the Band played another piece, Where Eagles Fly, before finishing. After transferring everything back to our own Hall and setting up for the morning meeting, the Bandsmen then went to billets for a well-deserved rest. Sunday mornings are always special times but this Sunday was particularly special.

The Band played some reflective music before Col Davies asked us "Does God make mistakes?" During the meeting, The Kids Alive Band played and the Staff Bandmaster Stephen Cobb actually conducted it! Col Davies told us that as a matter of course the ISB would think and pray for the Corps or Centre they are about to visit But during their devotions thinking of their trip to Belfast, a number of the ISB Bandsmen got together and arranged to bring 3 instruments over for the weekend to present to The Kids Alive Band and this was a significant moment in the morning meeting.

The ISB contributed I Know Thou art Mine, and concluded the meeting with the beautiful setting of The Lord is Gracious. The Sunday afternoon praise meeting again was led by the ISB and this time it was the turn of Andrew Justice who featured the Trombone Solo, Song of Exuberance, and Gary Fountain played the Soprano Cornet Solo, Flowerdale.

Our Songster Brigade took part in the meeting and it was great to see our Hall almost full (in fact there were only 3 empty seats in the main Hall). The main contribution from the ISB was Daystar, which is a major musical work by Ray Steadman-Allen, based around the tune Ascalon, which we associate the song Fairest Lord Jesus.

After a quick dismantling of the equipment the Band were on their way to the various airports to get back home in time for supper, but they have left many memories, and stirred many emotions, in those who had the privilege of meeting them as individuals or hearing them as a Band.

I can only say thank you once again to the ISB, and also all of those within and associated with our own Corps, who made this a very special weekend for the Belfast Citadel Band and Corps.

B/M John Moore

For more photographs - see The Gallery.