Netherlands - Day 4 (final)

Posted by Martin Cordner on Friday, February 1, 2013 Under: events & engagements

So we come to Sunday 25th January, our last day at the Brass Weekend. This was the morning where we'd top and tail the four pieces one final time ready to run them in the afternoon. Not in a public concert, but in the intimate setting of the rehearsal room. 
After breakfast there was one last opportunity for sectional rehearsals, and this time members of the ASB were on hand to bolster the ranks. This was just what we needed in the cornet sectional. Another couple of hours would have been ideal but within 30 mins, things were really starting sound good. Credit to the players, some of whom would never seen the like of Festival Series music at their corps.

After the group rehearsals we had final worship. More along the lines of a Sunday meeting, the Territorial Field Secretary led the proceedings. I conducted the ASB in a setting of Jesus, be the Centre plus a few hymn tunes - very nice. Leanne gave a prepared testimony and delegates participated with spontaneous testimony and prayer. The preaching drew upon the story of Paganini's violin - how that wonderful instrument sat unused after its master has departed. The application being that each of us can only reach our true potential in the hands of our master.

Sunday morning worship 

After lunch Leanne and myself were invited to speak on the role of SA brass bands so we spoke about worship and witness and then I gave a concluding presentation on my hopes for the future of SA banding. A transcript of that talk is here

We then moved into the final rehearsal. We drew breath, puffed out our chests and went straight into the four pieces. South Shields Celebration is not an easy march to master and was lumpy in parts, but by the end had great energy. Divine Communion is a special piece and it was great to lead. Though we could never realistically achieve anything near a pp, the music was sweet-sounding and after playing it, we corporately gave thanks to God for the gift of Arthur Gullidge.

Bulla's Lift up your voice is a piece I never thought I would like, simply because I feared that the revered and much-loved hymn tune St Francis could lose its sense of dignity within a rock context. However, in leading the piece I've come to like it - very much in fact. What jumps out at me is the economy of score. It's the work of somebody who knows what they're doing; it's a professional arrangement and an impressive one at that. We found the groove quickly and the convincing ending we worked on came good. 


Then it was time for the finale - Music of Thanksgiving. We invited the percussion section to be brave in the opening bar and they didn't disappoint. The band delivered the opening section with the vibrancy and energy I'm certain the composer would look for. 

Then into the first slow section we waded with its sweet melody which comes back again and again. It's tough to sustain this music but the band did well. The next minor key allegro variation is technically demanding but again, the players did well and we kept it together with some nice moments of light and shade coming through. 

After that it was the infamously torturous soprano solo which our player Jörgen handled with aplomb. That section is relatively short-lived and gives opportunity for most of the band to rest. Just as well because the last section gets loud and full on. The band handled the changes in tempo and dynamics well and before we knew it we where at the end - a fabulous final chord. Spontaneous applause erupted, along with a few audible cheers and sighs of relief. We had achieved! 


This was the perfect way to conclude the weekend: in formation, in the band room, instruments to the lips. It was the reason we had come together; to learn about brass music, to thank God for the opportunity and to play music for His glory. I'm sure everybody shared the same profound sense of accomplishment, fellowship and worship that I had. It was a special moment.


Eventually words of thanks were said and we got on our way. Upon leaving the building we noticed that the snow had melted away. As I noticed a transformation in the world outside, I prayed that there had been a transformation for those on the inside too. It was a privilege to play a small part in the lives of these people. 

Leanne and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Olaf Ritman, the Amsterdam Staff Band board and the Army's leadership of the Netherlands and Czech Republic Territory including music co-ordinator Roel van Kesteren and the Territorial Commander Commissioner Hans van Vliet. In putting the weekend together all have demonstrated courage and commitment and have collectively broadcast a message that they are prepared to invest in brass bands in this way, and importantly - the people who comprise the bands too.

You know it's easy for special guests. They do their thing and then walk away. The real work has to be done by those who remain behind; and there's a particular mantle that falls heavily on SA bandmasters and leaders in the Netherlands, those with platform and influence. I pray that they will work hard and plan hard to make brass bands a useful and effective medium in that country. Leanne and I thank God for the opportunity to share in this event and look forward to hearing about the about progress made in days to come.

Goodbye from the Netherlands! 

In : events & engagements 

Tags: netherlands "brass weekend" bulla downie gullidge "south shields celebration" 
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