INTRODUCTION

This article seeks to highlight ten Salvation Army brass writers whose music has become popular in the past ten years. Like my previous 'Ten Emerging Composers' article (2012), this 2017 update comes as a result of my passion to see The Salvation Army and its music groups serve the purposes of God. My desire in writing this therefore is to bring glory to God and encourage and inspire writers to continue in what they are doing. I hope the article will provoke thinking about mission, banding, composing and how the SA as a movement can resource its writers; be they brass composers, poets, song writers, lyricists or whatever. Remember - I'm a music enthusiast, not a music expert and in this article I humbly offer my views. You're very welcome to agree or disagree with them. If you have a view, feel free to voice it in the comments at the bottom of the page.

I'm pleased to report that all ten of the emerging composers I highlighted in 2012 have gone from strength to strength, with Marcus Venables now at last published (seven works published since 2014), and all ten established as leading present-day composers and arrangers.

WHAT IS AN S.A. BRASS COMPOSER?

The definition I have settled on for this article is "someone who is resourcing SA bands with their works on a regular basis through either publication, performance or recording."

LIST CRITERIA

You might also be interested to know how I arrived at the ten. Well, I have done this by:

  • pooling the views of key personalities inside the SA banding world
  • analysing the appeal and popularity of the composer's music around the world as evidenced by the number of publications, performances and recordings (as far as I could research)
  • offering my own view on a composer's creative ability and potential

WHO TO INCLUDE

Before we get to the ten, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the wonderful number of composers who are coming on to the scene as I write this. If you have had a piece of music published by the SA for the first time in recent years, I want to offer my congratulations. I pray you will hold on to the sense of privilege and excitement you felt when first setting eyes on your music in print. If you have not yet had something in print, I urge you to keep persevering: listen to the voices of your SA music department (rather than the praise of friends!) and continue to 'fan into flame' your desire to write for the Kingdom of God.

Presently the Salvation Army brass band composer scene is alive and well. However it is still dominated by males from the Western hemisphere. In my research of music published in the past 5-10 years, I have encountered numerous new writers (all from Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA). I am not seeing so many emerging composers from SA Territories in Africa, Asia or Latin America. If you live in one of these regions and are reading this article - we need more from your writers!

Also, you will note an absence of females from my list of ten, and there was only one in my 2012 list. There are many factors in why we don't see so many female brass writers; the principal reason I guess is that the SA banding world has historically been a man's world, where women were not permitted to play an instrument, let alone write a note of music. Well, it's time we said goodbye to those memories. We have to be truthful and admit that today's SA world still has elements of male dominance, but I don't think that should stop the women of the SA putting pen to paper and providing music for SA worship and witness. If you are a woman, we need you to write music!

As you can imagine, it's been a challenge to such narrow a wide field of emerging composers into just ten, so I would like give special mention of a number of emerging composers who didn't make my ten this time around (they may well make your ten). Many of these composers have seen their first publication in the past 5-10 years, and all have a good understanding of the basic harmonic tools and seem to be enjoying the compositional process:

SPECIAL MENTIONS

  • Alexander Addis (UK) is YP Band Leader at Boston corps. He has been welcomed to the journals with two arrangements in Scripture Based Songs. Let's hope it is not too long before we see some more from him.

  • In 2014 Deputy Bandmaster John Anderson (AUS) of Ringwood corps, Melbourne had his first work published. Desire of my heart (NJS 1401) is a well-constructed Meditation. More John, please!

  • Captain Anders Beijer (SWE) continues to write and in the past five years has had two more works published; one in Norway's ScanBrass journal and one in the UK's Triumph Series.  Anders is an able writer and I would like to see more of his music going forward.

  • Mike Brooks (CAN), a salvationist from Springdale corps, Newfoundland had his first work published: an attractive Soprano and Flugel duet Here I am to worship (MLB 49, publ. 2017). I hope Mike continues to produce more.

  • Warren Brooks (AUS) from Hurstville corps has had two works published in the UK journals, one of which Worthy is the Lamb (TS 1278, publ. 2016) has been used in worship by our own corps band here at Cambridge Citadel, UK.

  • Territorial Envoy Ian Browning (UK) has turned his hand to brass writing and in 2014 we saw his first published work, an arrangement of the song Jesus is the name we honour (SBS 15-5). Let's hope we see some more from his pen.

  • I have had a number of dealings with developing African writers and one of the most promising is Zimbabwe composer Munashe Chikwezvero. He has yet to see a piece published, but his work is inventive and accessible, and so I hope we see some of his music in print in due course.

  • Joel Collier (USA) is a gifted musician and in 2015 we saw his first published work, a chorus arrangement I bow adoring (ABJ 318). I hope we see more of his music in due course.

  • David Craik of Peterborough corps, UK had his first publication in 2015 with Come and see (SBS 16-2). I hope we see some more of his arrangements.

  • Curt Dahlquist (SWE) had his first work published in 2016. It's a beautifully melancholy Trombone Solo based on the chorus Heaven in my arms (ScanBrass 2016-08). It would be good to see more from Curt in the future.

  • We have seen in the Triumph and General Series journals some beautiful writing from the pen of Michael Davis. Some of these have been recorded by Hendon SA Band and others. I am sure we will see more from Michael.

  • A skilled musician, Eric Dina (USA) has been working closely with Dorothy Gates and the USA Eastern Music Department. He recently had his first piece published in that Territory (Greensleeves ABJ 243, publ. 2017). Let's hope we see more from Eric.

  • In 2016 young Los Angeles-based composer Zachary Docter (USA) had his first work published - an attractive march entitled Sunburst (US 449). More please, Zachary.

  • Kevin Downing (USA) is a talented musician from Alexandria Citadel corps, VA. He is an exciting prospect and has been writing for a number of years. At last, he had his first work published in 2017 (My Jesus, I love Thee TS 1288, publ. 2017). Keep them coming Kevin!

  • The output from David Edmonds (Dunstable corps, UK) hasn't quite been as voluminous as some, but he has some great ideas and his music continues to develop. We look forward to more of his writing.

  • Doug Engle (USA) from Royal Oak corps in the USA Central Territory is developing his talents and we have seen his first two works in the Unity and Triumph Series journals.

  • Major Stephen Forman, an officer of the UK Territory, had his first work published in 2015 (Marching! US 435). He is developing his gift with encouragement from UK Music Editorial, so hopefully we will see more from him. Keep going, Stephen!

  • For more than ten years Simon Gash (UK), a member of the UK Music Editorial team has been producing brass arrangments 'to order' as part of his work. He has produced some good vocal settings so I hope it is just a matter of time before we see some brass settings from him.

  • With the publication of his work Christ is all in 2015, you could class Robert Getz (USA) as re-emerging! His 1974 Prelude Ellers (FS 363) has been popular over the years and I for one am glad to see - at long last - another of his pieces in SA journals.

  • Since 2014 we have seen a number of pieces from Nicholas King (UK). Nik, a soldier at Sittingbourne corps, is a member of the UK SA's Creative Arts team and very able musician. I am sure we will be seeing more of his work going forward.

  • Philip 'Pip' Hannevik (NOR) is a very talented musician and has written a sizeable amount of brass band music. However we've seen only one publication through the SA in the past ten years. An SA music department somewhere needs to contact Pip and help ensure we see more from his pen in future!

  • Ronald Heintzman (CAN), Bandmaster of the Meadowlands corps band was recently appointed as Soprano Cornet player in the the Canadian Staff Band. His first published work, a solid arrangement of My Jesus, I love Thee (Tune: Gordon, MLB 35 publ. 2014) has been recorded by the CSB. I would like to see more of Ron's work coming through in the future.

  • In 2003, Bandmaster Peter van Horden (CAN) of Halifax Citadel penned a delightful march for the anniversary of his corps (Halifax Citadel MLB 32, publ. 2014). I'm glad it has come to print. Peter, can we have another?

  • A few years back I spent some time with upcoming Dutch composer Jörgen IJsendorn, a young writer with great talent. We've yet to see his work in any of the journals but he has some good ideas and I hope he continues to develop his gift. [edit: Jörgen's first piece is to be published late 2017 - a horn solo Promises (US 460)]

  • Having spent 25 years in military bands, Dr Steven Kellner (USA) is an experienced musician. In 2003 he began to write for the American Instrumental Ensemble Series (USA Southern), and good music it is, too. I gather he is now writing music for full-size bands and so I hope it is not too long before we see some of his work in the worldwide journals.

  • Peter Kim (USA) of the US Central Territory had his first published work in 2015 with a setting of the chorus I'd rather have Jesus (US 428). It would be good see more from him.

  • Andrew Maycock (UK) has written a number of choral works for the UK's Sing to the Lord journal. He hit the big time with his song Everywhere - a re-imagining of the Gowans/Larsson song It's as high as the sky. Hopefully it won't be too long before some of his brass output is seen in print.

  • In recent years we have seen two brass works from cornet soloist-composer Major Kevin Metcalf (CAN), who is presently Corps Officer at London Citadel corps, Ontario. Kevin is known for his talents in music and so I am hopeful we will see more of his work in future.

  • With both brass and choral music published by the UK, Edward Mylechreest (UK-USA) continues to develop his gift. His first published piece Easter Jubilation (US 392, publ. 2012) is very appealing and since then we have seen two or three more works come to print. Keep up the good work, Ed!

  • The name Geoffrey Nobes (UK) has become synonymous with one piece; his prelude on the tune Lavenham (GS 2156, publ. 2016), a piece of reflective music that has brought blessing to many around the world. We are starting to see one or two new works from his pen so I hope he continues with that desire to write for SA bands.

  • In 2013 US Western Territory composer Kathryn Opina had her first work Day by Day (ABJ 302, publ. 2013) published. It's a really stirring setting, so I hope we see more of Kathryn's music in future.

  • Major Marian Parker (UK), presently the Corps Officer at Worthing corps, has been writing brass music for a while and we are now starting to see the fruit of her labours. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her music.

  • Chelsea Pascoe (UK) is a very capable musician and as well as having a couple of brass pieces published in the UK, now has had a work published in the USA Eastern's American Band Journal. Always producing music that exciting and creative, it will be good to see more of Chelsea's music in the future.

  • Bandmaster Paul Prince (AUS) of Preston corps, Melbourne had his first work published in 2013: Rescue the perishing (AGS 1304) is a catchy arrangement and so it would be great to see more from Paul in the future.

  • Another capable musician, Phil Rayment (CAN) has been writing some good works for brass. His first published work Winter's Snow (GS 2064, publ. 2008) is well crafted. Now working alongside the Music & Gospel Arts department in his Territory, we are starting to see his music published there.

  • The Canada & Bermuda Territory have a real pool of talent at present. Jonathan Rowsell (CAN) is one of their composers who is turning out some really good music. I hope we see much more from Jonathan in the coming days.

  • Like Geoffrey Nobes, the name of Major Darren Shaw (UK) has become synonymous with one work in the past few years. Darren's arrangement Guardian of my soul (GS 2119, publ. 2013) hit the crest of a wave back in 2012 and has become a blueprint for works by other composers in subsequent years. We've seen one or two more from him so let's hope he continues to write for SA bands. Darren - it's really good stuff!

  • Samuel Shelley (UK) is a young man who is developing his gift. In 2016 he won the Nock Deighton challenge for young composers with his work Matka (published by Lake Music). He has had two works published in the Scripture Based Songs journal, and I think we can be confident of seeing more of his work in the future.

  • Australian composer Lindsay Stow has produced some appealing music for the journals in his native land. It's been accessible music so far - and brass music like this is always most welcome by our corps bands. More please, Lindsay.

  • Wayne Thompson (CAN), a member of the Cariboo Hill Temple corps, has had two works published in the Maple Leaf Brass journal. We look forward to seeing more from his pen.

  • Harrison Venables (Can), younger brother to established composer Marcus, certainly has music in his blood, and it's been great to see his name appear in his home country's Maple Leaf Brass journal. More please, Harrison.

  • Chris Ward (UK), Songster Leader at Canterbury corps in the UK is a talented musician, and it has been good to see his first brass publication a couple of years ago in a foot tapping march entitled Happy all the day (US 430, publ. 2015). Let's hope we see some more from his pen.

  • Gavin Whitehouse (Aus-USA) is a gifted musician and has contributed a good amount of vocal and brass music to journals on either side of the Atlantic. He knows good brass scoring and I really hope we continue to see him produce more for the SA brass band world.

  • Alan Williams (UK) recently joined the SA's Music Editorial team in the UK, and has already penned some arrangements for the Scripture Based Songs journal. He's an able musician so I am sure we will see more from him in the future.

Now, let's take a look at the ten I have chosen as amongst the most promising emerging brass composers we have today.

1. ANDREW BARRINGTON (USA) b. 1973

Andrew Barrington

photo courtesy of aokmusicandarts.com

First published piece: What the Lord has done for me (AIES 2007-3-4, publ. 2007)
Stand out piece: Lily of the Valley (AIES 2009-2-2. Publ. 2009)

A fourth-generation salvationist born to SA officer parents, Andrew Barrington presently serves The Salvation Army as the Divisional Music Director of the AOK (Arkansas & Oklahoma) Division in the USA Southern Territory. For ten years he has been writing exciting music for that Territory’s American Instrumental Ensemble Series journal.

Of his published pieces, I think his setting of Lily of the Valley is my favourite. It’s clever, quirky and like most of his music, classily delivered. Now, much of his published works to date are short (2-3 mins), functional pieces. But I have a feeling Andrew is versatile enough to write for larger ensembles. For example, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine Lily of the Valley as a set of variations, or his Horn Solo On Solid Rock to have been extended and expanded for full band score. Well done Andrew. Keep that creative music coming.

2. NOEL BROOKS (CANADA) b. 1972

First published piece: Born for You (ABJ 240, publ. 2005)
Stand out piece: as above

Noel Brooks, a salvationist at London Citadel corps, Ontario, has had several works published by the SA in Canada, the USA and UK, and is now beginning to see his music performed outside of the movement too. So appealing and accessible is his music, the chances are you will have played one of his works withyour corps band.

All his music has a touch of class about it, and whilst God be with you (MLB 17, publ. 2012) has been received to wide acclaim, it’s Noel’s first published work Born for You (ABJ 240, publ. 2005) which stands out for me. It is simply beautiful. More please, Noel.

photo courtesy of noel brooks

3. SAM CREAMER (AUSTRALIA) b. 1985

photo courtesy of rhiannon creamer

First published piece: He Hideth my Soul (NJS 1003, publ. 2010)
Stand out piece: For the World (JSC, publ. 2017)

For most readers, the name Sam Creamer will need no introduction. A salvationist at the Carindale Corps in Brisbane, since 2010 Creamer has been wowing the SA brass band world with music from the swing and rock genres. But don’t label him as ‘contemporary’. His recent setting of the tune ‘Wells’ is a classic, Hymn Tune Setting that all bands will be glad to get their hands on.

A stand out piece? For me it’s For the World which was written in 2015 for the Melbourne Staff Band 125th anniversary celebrations. It encapsulates the various styles Creamer has become well-known for, but also demonstrates he is a proficient and flexible writer.

4. IAN FELTWELL (UK) b. 1966

First published piece: Reasons Why (GS 2050, publ. 2007)
Stand out piece: Nothing but thy blood (TS 1234, publ. 2012)

Ian Feltwell is presently serving as Songster Leader at Nuneaton Corps (incidentally, where composer Andrew Mackereth is Bandmaster).

Since 2007 we have seen Ian's compositions develop. It's his ideas that most impress me and increasingly, he is able to deliver them in an appealing, accessible package which I know SA bands have appreciated. Nothing but thy blood would be my pick from Ian's output. It's an accomplished setting of a wonderful tune.

Thanks for the music, Ian. Keep going!

photo courtesy of ian feltwell

5. ANDREAS HOLMLUND (SWEDEN) b. 1979

photo courtesy of andreas holmlund

First published piece: Can Christ count on you? (ScanBrass 2007-02, publ. 2007)
Stand out piece: What a wonderful day (unpublished)

Since 2007 Andreas Holmlund has served as Bandmaster of the Stockholm Vasa Corps Band. In 2016, he won a composer’s competition in his native land with a march, "In Honour of King Carl XVI Gustaf" which was written for the celebration of the Swedish King's 70th birthday.

Checking the publications list, it is clear that for the past ten years Andreas has been regularly providing music for the Norwegian SA's ScanBrass journal. However it is more recently, with the International Staff Band beginning to feature his works, that his music is becoming more well-known. My pick of his works, What a wonderful day (as yet unpublished) is a laid back, Count Basie-style swing setting of the Sidney Cox song 'O, what a wonderful, wonderful day'. It's really classy, and well delivered.

6. FRED MBESI (USA, b. 1993)

First published piece: n/a
Stand out piece: Radiance (unpublished)

Fred, a product of the Royal Oak corps, Michigan, is an enthusiastic SA musician. Having now completed his college education at Asbury University, where he was under the watchful eye of James Curnow among others, Fred is working in a regional music role for the SA's Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware Division.

I have been keeping an eye on Fred's compositions. Like others in this list he has great ideas, and I am enjoying see the fruit of those ideas in music which is appealing to listen to and good to play. Radiance is a catchy 4-minute overture that puts a smile on your face.

I'm looking forward to seeing Fred's music in the journals. It will only be a matter of time.

photo courtesy of fred mbesi

7. JARED PROELLOCKS (AUSTRALIA) b.  1988

photo courtesy of jess fanner

First published piece: Turn your eyes upon Jesus (AGS 1203, publ. 2012)
Stand out piece: Here in this place (AGS 1503, publ. 2015)

Jared currently teaches Instrumental Music at Villanova College, John Paul College and Northside Christian College. He is the second composer on this list from Carindale corps in Brisbane, where he serves as Bandmaster in addition to responsibilities as Worship Team coordinator and as Deputy MD of the Brisbane Excelsior band.

In terms of his compositions, much of Jared's output in print is of the Hymn Tune Setting category, but it is all well-constructed and for somebody relatively new to brass writing, has a great deal of maturity about it.

I'd like to see Jared turn his hand to something bright and lively. A Proellocks march would be an interesting prospect. How about it, Jared?

8. RUBEN SCHMIDT (GERMANY) b. 1984

First published piece: Come thou Fount (US 393, publ. 2012)
Stand out piece: Still, still, still (TS 1277, publ. 2016)

Ruben attends the Solingen corps, Germany along with his wife and daughter. 

Since 2012 we've been enjoying Ruben's music in print, and I think he represents one of the SA's most promising talents. Of the piecesI have seen, Marching to Glory is probably the most technically challenging. But I think I would opt for Still, still, still - a setting of the traditional Austrian carol - as one of Ruben's most convincing works. 

His music is still developing, but I am sure that with the continuing support of SA music departments we will see much more from Ruben in the future.

photo courtesy of ruben schmidt

9. MORGAN JUEL STAVIK (NORWAY) b. 1980

photo courtesy of facebook.com

First published piece: Abide with me (ScanBrass 2004-03, publ. 2004)
Stand out piece: Still, still, still (TS 1277, publ. 2016)

Okay, so Morgan Juel Stavik has been published for 13 years, but to me he has only recently established himself as a true brass band craftsman. Listen to his velvety setting of Deep Harmony (ABJ 25, publ. 2007) with its alternative sounds from the jazz idiom, or his very clever work Variations on a theme of Bramwell Coles (ScanBrass 2011-04, publ. 2011) which takes the chorus The world is needing us into brilliant, original new lands.

His music may not be to everybody's taste, but if you want something different for your band I would highly recommend you look at the ScanBrass archives and sample the music of this talented composer. Alternatively, you can view his complete catalogue online at https://morganjuelstavik.wordpress.com

10. CRAIG WOODLAND (CANADA) b. 1975

First published piece:  Don't doubt him now (GS 2034, publ. 2005)
Stand out piece: as above

We congratulate Carindale corps, Brisbane for producing two composers on this page, but we also need to acknowlege London Citadel corps who have gifted the SA band world with both Noel Brooks and Craig Woodland. An accomplished cornet soloist, Craig serves as Deputy Bandmaster at the corps.

Like Morgan Juel Stavik, Craig Woodland has been published for a number of years (10 to precise), yet we haven't seen too much from him in print of late. A piece of music to pick? For me it's the cornet solo Don't doubt him now - a setting of a song that has its roots in Canada as it was written in 1989 by Len Ballantine as part of the musical Beyond the Stars. It's a fabulously touching song but it's brilliantly arranged by Craig and has made a wonderful addition to the repertoire of competent soloists. 

photo courtesy of (I can't remember - if it's yours, let me know!)

INVESTMENT & SUPPORT

Composition - be it music, paint, photography or whatever - could be defined as 'something created from within for the benefit of another'. As such, composers depend on feedback - which hopefully comes in the form of affirmation and encouragement and if they are to progress, then they need to be nurtured. My view is that as a movement we haven't always affirmed, encouraged and nurtured as well as we should. I know for a fact that most of the writers mentioned in this article are supremely committed to the Army and freely offer their gifts and skills for the sake of the Gospel, but my worry is that some of these emerging composers have already 'fallen through the cracks' as it were; in some cases we have not afforded our best to them.

My hope and prayer therefore is that the Army will continue to increase investment in its writers, lyricists and all those who create and gift their work to the Kingdom via the SA, especially those starting-out on their creative journey. I pledge my personal support to all emerging composers and hope that those with platform and influence in these circles will do likewise.

WORDS OF THANKS

Finally, I would like to say thank you to all those who have helped me with this article - your feedback has been appreciated. Also I say thanks to the composers mentioned here. My hope and prayer is that you will continue to develop and use your gifts for the purposes of God's Kingdom. Composition is really only a very small part of a much bigger process that begins - and ends - with God: In the beginning He gives and then hopefully, at the end of it all, He receives.


Martin Cordner
October 2017

 

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