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“Gift for His Altar”

NYSB Future All-Stars Weekend 2015

This year marked the 12th Annual New York Staff Band Future All-Stars Weekend (FAW, for short). The PENDEL Division was proud to have 10 young people accepted to this great weekend of opportunity. The purpose of FAW is to grow young musicians both musically and spiritually, while giving them the opportunity to play alongside members of the NYSB (New York Staff Band), a premier Salvation Army Brass Band.

Fifty young people from all over the USA Eastern Territory, from Maine to Puerto Rico, gathered together at the Star Lake Conference Center in Bloomingdale, New Jersey for the event. Friday afternoon was busy with registration and fellowship as the delegates got to know one another. When we gathered for our first rehearsal together as the FAW Band (made up of the delegates and all of the NYSB members), no one was quite sure what to expect musically. As we rehearsed William Himes’ “Big Little Fugue,” the band seemed to get used to playing with one another very quickly. The evening was full of rehearsing, fellowship, and a great time of devotions spent with Territorial Youth Secretaries Majors Philip and Jody Lloyd.

 Our theme for the weekend was “Gift for His Altar,” the title of a particularly powerful Salvation Army chorus and brass band piece. One of the most special parts about this annual event each year is the inclusion of “Prayer Partners,” where NYSB members are thoughtfully placed with delegates to have times of prayer, devotion and sharing. Many special friendships have been made over the years because of this.

 After some much-needed sleep after rehearsing until 11 PM the night before, it was time for Saturday to begin. The morning was spent in FAW Band rehearsals as well as sectionals, broken up by some more devotions with Majors Lloyd. This year in particular placed a special emphasis on sectional rehearsals, where entire sections of the band rehearsed separately, led by the appropriate NYSB member. This worked out remarkably well, allowing for less “stopping” during rehearsals to isolate and rehearse “trouble” sections of pieces. The afternoon provided some more rehearsal, followed by free-time for the delegates to fellowship with one another.

Before dinner, we were blessed to have a master class led by members of the Academy Brass Quintet, some of the top brass players within the West Point Academy Concert Band. Not only are the musicians of this chamber ensemble outstanding in ability, but they are top notch people as well. Following dinner, we were able to listen to an inspired recital they put on for us, featuring several arrangements by Staff Sergeant Andrew Garcia, an active Salvationist and former member of the NYSB, as well as being a past FAW delegate himself. Items featured during this recital ranged from patriotic, jazz, and even Salvation Army music arranged for this event. The most powerful moment was when the quintet played Staff Sergeant Andrew Garcia’s arrangement of “The Quiet Heart,” which left us all quite breathless. The rest of Saturday evening passed by in a blur, full of rehearsals to get the rest of our pieces just right for our Finale Concert on Sunday.

 Our Sunday morning church service was one that will stay with each one of us, full of praise and pardon, joy and meditation. Particularly special were the moments of testimony, “jump-started” by the Holy Spirit. Major Phil Lloyd brought the word of God to us, emphasizing how we must learn to live our lives with an attitude of giving and selflessness. This is how we can be gifts to His altar, by showing others the joy in serving Jesus Christ, our King. Ending our service in our prayer partner groups was a great way to solidify recommitments and decisions that many of the young people were making in regards to their faith. These moments are exactly why events such as the Future All-Stars Weekend are so important for the development of our young people.

 The Finale concert was held at The Salvation Army Montclair Citadel Corps, and provided a wide variety of music that had been rehearsed over the weekend. Including Eric Ball’s “The Old Wells,” all the way to Paul Sharman’s new piece “Inclusion” meant that the spectrum of music for this concert was quite large indeed, with something for everyone to enjoy. Other pieces included were James Curnow’s “Saints of God,” William Himes’ “Big Little Fugue,” Wilfred Heaton’s “The Golden Pen,” Ray Steadman-Allen’s “Spirit,” Kevin Larsson’s “On We March,” Martin Cordner’s appropriately written “Future All-Stars,” a vocal arrangement of Bruce Broughton’s “Alone Yet Alone,” and of course our main piece for the weekend: Leslie Condon’s “Gift for His Altar.” The Academy Brass Quintet once again blessed us with several pieces throughout the concert, and were a highlight for those who came to the concert. The Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division had a particularly proud moment as FAW delegate Ian Wettlaufer (Lancaster Citadel Corps) gave his testimony during the concert. Listening to the ways in which God has used Salvation Army programs and music in this division to impact his young life really puts into perspective the reason why we do all of this.

 After the concert, I had the opportunity to talk with several young people at the weekend representing this division. Christian Clarke, a member of the Pottstown Corps, said this about his experience:

“My experience at Future All-Stars was amazing. It is an experience that I would give my left leg for! It is a place to make friends, play music, and get closer to God. I love Future All-Stars and hope to keep going for years to come.”

Marissa Riley, a member of the Carlisle Corps, was able to share this testimony about the weekend:

“My experience at future All-Stars every year is always life changing. Usually at Future All-Stars I’ve gone through a very hard year of school, and am just not very happy with God. But once I play that music and am around God-loving people, it helps me to get back on track. The devotions and the church service is something that moves me so much! I will be forever thankful for Future All-Stars and everyone that is a part of it.”

 We pray that those young people who attended this weekend will not only continue to grow musically within their own corps and divisions, but most of all that they will continue to know and claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and desire to know Him more each day. We pray that they will continue to learn what it means to be a “Gift for His Altar.”


Pendel Delegates - 2015 Future All-Stars

Solo Cornet
Katie Cleveland - East Stroudsburg
Oyinda Alliyu - Phila. Citadel

1st Cornet
Benjamin Clarke - Pottstown

2nd Cornet
Matthew Spencer - Reading

Solo Horn
Brielle Jordan - Phila. Citadel

2nd Horn
Marissa Riley - Carlisle

1st Baritone
Arren Boyd - Phila. Citadel

Joshua Laidlaw - Levittown

Bb Bass
Christian Clarke - Pottstown
Ian Wettlaufer - Lancaster Citadel