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131st Annual Festival with Amsterdam Staff Band

April 21, 2018

The New York Staff Band celebrated their 131st Annual Festival with the Amsterdam Staff Band.  Following a week of engagements throughout the Eastern Territory, the Amsterdam Staff Band shared the stage in the beautiful Westside Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, NJ.

Each band was in great form…..the New York Staff Band recently returning from their tour of Japan in mid-March and the Amsterdam Staff Band having visited seven divisions while on tour in the Eastern Territory.  The unique fellowship that Staff Band’s share around the world was clearly visible as both bands came together for a massed band rehearsal prior to the Festival.

It was an exciting evening of music that was live-streamed around the world.  The New York Staff Band took the stage opening with the world premiere of “Proclamation” by Tom Davoren who was in the audience that evening.  A beautiful arrangement of “Be Still” (Finlandia) by Dr. Dorothy Gates, solos by Matthew Luhn (trombone), “When I Survey” and Aaron VanderWeele (euphonium), “Harlequin” and finally the scintillating, “Russlan and Ludmilla” followed by the NYSB Composition winning piece, “Fearless” by Andrew Wainwright.

Immediately following the Amsterdam Staff Band brilliantly presented “Kerygma” by Steven Ponsford, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” by Ruben Schmidt and  “Disciples at Sea” by Olaf Ritman, the Amsterdam Staff Bandmaster.  Exciting solos, “New Horizons” with Trombone Soloist, Edwin Outhuijse and Euphonium duet, “My All to God” by soloists, Michael Rosenquist & Simon Smedinga brought the individual band’s programs to an exciting conclusion.

Following a brief re-set of the stage, both bands came together to present the heart racing, quick tempo march, “Triumphant Prospect” by Olaf Ritman.   Eric Whitacre’s  beautiful choral composition, “Sleep”  arranged by Andrew Poirier for brass band displayed the  wide contrast of dynamics that a large brass band can attain.  “High Over All” by Sam Creamer, “I Know Thou Art Mine” conducted by former Bandmaster Ronald Waiksnoris and the legendary “Song of Courage” by Eric Ball brought the evening to a close.

The New York Staff Band’s traditional vocal closing, “Rock of Ages” was sung by both bands with the second verse sung in Dutch. A wonderful close to a wonderful concert together.

Karen Shaffstall, NYSB First Cornet