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A Perfect Storm? – Who Knew?
The New York Staff Band at the Philadelphia Kroc Center
September 22-23, 2012

Report by Dr. Harold Burgmayer

In some ways it may have been a perfect storm. The instruction and interaction with the Pendel youth musicians; working with the newest beginners of the Philadelphia Kroc Center, known as “the Joyful Noise;” a world class female wunderkind tuba soloist in Carol Jantsch; the Kroc Sunday morning worship experience, including the enrollment of over fifty soldiers and adherents; a packed concert audience, ranging from the newest soldiers and youth musicians to major donors and advisory board members, former staff bandmaster Derek Smith, and even the former Philadelphia Orchestra principal trumpet (and teacher of Derek Lance) Frank Kaderabek, who we discovered is a member of the Kroc Center and exercises there on a regular basis. Who knew?

Workshops with the Pendel Brass, Prep and Youth Bands
Upon Saturday’s mid-morning arrival, New York Staff Band members joined the youth musicians of the Pendel Division, from the youngest Prep Band to the Youth Band and Pendel Brass, who had already begun their rehearsal day. The sounds of sectionals reverberated throughout the building’s hard surfaces of wood, stone and glass, piquing the curiosity of the steady stream of Kroc Center employees and members who had come to exercise or take classes. We learned that membership at this Kroc Center now exceeds 10,000. Later, each band was brought together in combined band rehearsals. For just their second rehearsal day of the season, all the groups, including the fine choral ensembles, were already playing some difficult selections at a high standard.

Kroc “Joyful Noise” Music Program
One of the Eastern Territorial initiatives, with the opening of the Kroc Centers, is the establishment of Salvation Army music ensembles and instruction as an outreach to the community into the Kroc Corps. This past spring the Kroc Center’s “Joyful Noise” music and arts program was initiated by Philadelphia Regional Music Director Ronda Atwater, who is also a soldier of the Kroc Corps. Ronda brings to this initiative not only her skills as a music educator and her love of children, but also her love for Salvation Army music as a lifelong second generation Salvationist. She was among the remnant of the Philadelphia Germantown Corps who formed the nucleus for this Kroc Corps. Staff band members coached the “Joyful Noise” beginners in “Classics in Brass,” which they were thrilled to present on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, accompanied by the New York Staff Band to sustained, appreciative applause. One enthusiastic “Joyful Noise” instrumentalist put it this way, "We played with the New York Staff Band!  They sounded pretty good with us playing too!"

Mini-Concert
After the morning and afternoon of rehearsals, all four musical ensembles joined together in the now two-year-old Kroc Worship and Performing Arts Center for a mini-concert by the staff band. Some “family” features included Lori and Caleb Laidlaw (mother and son team) playing the cornet duet Wonderful Words. Chris Ward played a soprano solo which had been written by Peter Graham a generation earlier for his dad, Deputy Bandmaster Gordon Ward. Caleb was recognized for his stellar musical and leadership development, receiving the 2012 Pendel Brass Alumni Award following his duet.

A Lady Tubist
A highlight of the Saturday afternoon concert was the interview and subsequent performance of a Piazzolla tango by the Principal Tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Carol Jantsch. Carol, with her congenial spirit and petite femininity, defies any stereotypes of tuba players. She told us of her “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, as a 20-year-old junior at the University of Michigan, to be picked from a field of 200 and to come to Philadelphia to audition with 59 others for the one open Tuba chair in the Philadelphia Orchestra. As sometimes happens, no one was taken on in that round of auditions, but based on a recording of Carol playing a violin concerto, she was invited back some weeks later to play with The Philadelphia Orchestra for a two month trial stint, under Simon Rattle, such warhorse pieces as “Bruckner Seven.” In her words, “I got to skip school to play with The Philadelphia Orchestra.”

Now six years later, Carol Jantsch has established herself as one of the foremost tuba players in the world.  She is the only female in the world holding such a position in a major orchestra, and is teaching at Curtis, Temple, Yale and the Manhattan School of Music. Carol’s breath control and consummate musicality stole our hearts. (and took our breath away!). On the Sunday afternoon concert, Carol performed the three movements of the first concerto ever written for tuba – the Vaughan-Williams Tuba Concerto. The hush in the room for her version of the classic Carnival of Venice variations was met with thunderous applause and her encore response was Allen Vizzuti’s trumpet piece—Cascades.

Kroc Worship Service
Speaking as the host, I am not certain that the staff band members may have been prepared for what we might call the intensity (and perhaps length, at almost 2-1/2 hours long) of the Sunday morning worship at the Kroc Center. There was pageantry in the processional of the new soldiers to the South African favorite Marching in the Light, as well as gospel choir and dance renderings by Kroc Salvationists. There were moving testimonies by the new enrollees, and a sincere formality in the enrollment of the newest junior soldiers to the oldest soldier well into her senior years. The enrollment concluded with a touching consecration song, I’ll Not Turn Back, accompanied by the staff band, and again led by Ronda Atwater. One of the new soldier enrollees remarked, "I will forever remember marching into the chapel and singing as the band played.” 

Lights out!
The staff band’s selection for the morning was Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood. This performance will probably live on in staff band folklore because, as the band moved into the concluding presentation of Lord, You Know That We Love You, the lights in the house suddenly went out. (Some have it happening on the word “power.”) All one could see was the soft glimmer of Dick Baker’s battery-operated stand light as the band played for a good ten seconds in darkness. (Ron continued to conduct, even though no one could see him!) The emergency lights came on just a few bars from the end and applause (of amazement, perhaps) ensued as the piece drew to its triumphant conclusion. One Pendel Brass member put it this way, "Can you believe the power went out and they kept on playing!  That is a level of musicianship that I want to aspire to!"

The power outage gave Colonel Maynor in his sermon an opportunity to use his open air voice, as he paced up and down the aisles and even up into the band. An appeal was made by the Kroc corps officer Captain Dennis Young, first for salvation, and then to make a public declaration of intent to become a member of the Salvation Army Kroc Corps by coming to the front. Those who came forward were met with sincere applause.

Lunch, in the day-lit Kroc gym, disguised the fact that the power outage had affected a large area of Philadelphia. The Fire Marshall arrived, suggesting that we would have to vacate the building and abort the benefit concert which was to start at 3:00. Folks were already arriving for what would be a packed house. Since it was a gorgeous September afternoon, Bandmaster Waiksnoris considered the possibility of an open-air concert on the beautiful Kroc grounds. The Fire Marshall relented and the concert began a bit late, but still with the entire building operating on emergency lights, so no microphones, projected images and minimal lighting.

Benefit Concert
The staff band, now center stage, gave sterling performances of War Cry, Temple 125, Leidzen’s classic None Other Name, I’ll Walk with God, as well as negotiating the sometimes treacherous accompaniments for tuba soloist Carol Jantsch. Without power to show the words for the congregational song, former staff bandmaster Derek Smith was asked to conclude the first half of the program by conducting the beloved Rosehill march. Just as intermission commenced, the first glimmer of lights resuming was met with some applause, which increased as more and more lights came on. Bandmaster Harold Burgmayer led the staff band in his march Birthplace, which had been written for the Philadelphia Kroc opening two years before. A video promoting the Kroc “Joyful Noise” beginner brass program thanked the audience for their support with their attendance. The staff band then presented lighter fare, like All You Need is Love and Valero, featuring drummer Bob Jones, before concluding with Fire in the Blood, Stars and Stripes Forever and Rock of Ages.

Saturday, September 22 Photos

Sunday, September 23 Photos

 

 

 

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