Rochester High School, Michigan, October 19th
Eastern Michigan Divisional Band & Chorus (Christopher Ward)
Chicago Staff Band (Dr Harold Burgmayer)
Review by Dr Keith M Wilkinson
It was my privilege to be the compère for this excellent festival. First to the front of the stage was Eastern Michigan Divisional Band who proudly presented three world premieres, each composed especially for them. They commenced with the stirring opener The Risen King (Andrew Wainright) followed by the meditative Be Still And Know (Philip Rayment) and the band also presented the exciting festival march Victory Heroes (Stephen Bulla). Each was presented in a very polished manner and served to demonstrate the remarkable progress that has been made since Christopher Ward was appointed Divisional Music Director in March 2018. An innovation since his arrival has been the formation of a Divisional Chorus who contributed two beautiful numbers including The Meditations Of My Heart, based on the familiar words of dedication from Psalm 19. The Divisional Band concluded their segment of the programme with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Power And The Glory, music which contains the hymn All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name and features many of the traditional hallmarks of PLC's accomplished writing including exciting antiphonal music and a more contemplative middle section.
It is the policy of the much-travelled Chicago Staff Band to include in its busy schedule visits to each of the divisions within their territory in order to provide encouragement to the local Salvationist musicians. It was abundantly evident that they were delighted to share the stage for this evening's event with the talented musicians of Eastern Michigan. They opened their programme with exciting music from the talented pen of Marcus Venables, In Awesome Wonder and followed with the devotional Radiance (Andrew Garcia). CSB chose to feature two of their talented soloists - principal cornet Beth Malovance played Faith Pursuit (Martin Cordner) with its interesting use of electronically-aided echo effects and the recently-married principal trombone, Brett Tolcher, appropriately chose Thoughts Of Love (Arthur Pryor). Following their bandmaster's transcription of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance (from the ballet Gayane) CSB concluded with Kenneth Downie's interesting set of variations, King Of Heaven, music in which each of the sections of the band take their turn in the soloists' spotlight.
The combined bands opened with Robert Redhead's A Fanfare Of Praise and continued with the all-time favourite (and always thought-provoking) The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball), enhanced by the well-chosen words of introduction provided by Commissioner William Roberts. The wonderful evening concluded with the combined groups, both voices and brass, presenting a benediction using music by Maurice Ravel and compiled specially for this event by Harold Burgmayer, A Parting Blessing.
The wish was voiced at the start of the evening by Eastern Michigan Divisional Commander, Lt Colonel John Turner, that we would all experience an uplifting evening of praise. His wishes were very amply satisfied!