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16th Future All-Stars Weekend Reports

By Caroline Wajda, Schenectady Citadel, NY

MARCH 22-24, 2019 — Top young brass musicians gathered in Bloomingdale, NJ, in late March for what has become a Star Lake Camp musical tradition: Future All-Stars Weekend (FAW). The annual brass initiative, which has met at the Lodge and Conference Center for the past 16 years, is a great time of musicianship and fellowship between the participants and members of The New York Staff Band (NYSB).

This year, 57 Salvationists traveled from as far away as Canada, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico for the March 22-24 gathering. Sponsored by the Green Family Foundation, the event is a unique opportunity for aspiring musicians to receive instruction from NYSB members, some of the best brass players in America. This experience not only improves participants’ own musicianship, but helps seed excitement for brass band ministry in corps throughout the territories in North America. At a time when interest in brass band music is growing nationally, The Salvation Army keeps its focus on Christ. Each member is assigned a prayer partner, as well as a musical mentor, for the weekend.

The musicians took a break from their nine hours of rehearsal to hear a concert by the NYSB and featured this year’s special guests, Beth Cooper-Malovance and Michelle Baker. Beth is currently principal cornet for both the Chicago Brass Band and The Salvation Army’s Chicago Staff Band. Michelle, who, until recently, played French horn for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York, also conducted a master class. Each played a solo, accompanied by the NYSB on Saturday evening. Beth premiered Martin Cordner’s “Faith Pursuit” and Michelle played Dorothy Gates’ solo, “Imaginings”. The pair also played solos at the Future All-Stars Finale Concert Sunday afternoon at the Montclair, NJ, corps.

The Sunday Finale concert opened with “Let There Be Light” by Steven Ponsford, followed by Martin Cordner’s “Future All- Stars”. Beth Malovance then played “Faith Pursuit” (Martin Cordner) followed by Michelle Baker performing “The Water is Wide” (arr. Brant Adams), and “A Time For Peace” (Peter Graham). These solos were musical highlights, as were the exciting rhythmic pieces “Jubilo, Jubilo” (Martin Cordner) and “Barbarian Horde” by Hans Zimmer (arr. Sandy Smith), led by Simon Morton, who serves as the Divisional Music Director of the New Jersey division, and NYSB Deputy Bandmaster. Phillip Rayment’s upbeat “All Nations” was fun to play as was the singing lead by Band Chorus Leader, Aaron Harris in singing Harold Burgmayer’s “Renewal”. This was followed by testimonies from two Future All-Stars, Berlensie Chery (EPA), and Malachi Reynolds (SWO). Berlensie Chery testified that her faith in Christ has been strengthened as she applied to colleges this school year. She said she learned that, although hard work is important, ultimately our future is in God’s hands. Malachi Reynolds spoke about the need for sincerity in our words and actions. In his devotional, Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere cited baseball’s Ted Williams to stress the importance of discipline in regard to spiritual, as well as musical, growth.

The band then played the classic meditation, “Lord, With My All I Part” (Richard Phillips), and Steven Ponsford’s “The Day of the Lord”, before closing with the NYSB’s traditional benediction, “Rock of Ages.”

By Liz Hawkins, Chapel at Worthington Woods Corps, OH

Future All-Stars is a weekend I personally look forward to all year long. It’s a time when I can get together with friends from all over the Eastern Territory and make beautiful music as my form of worship. It’s an experience I wouldn’t want to miss and is a wonderful event.

The first rehearsal we had was on Friday night. We were able to introduce ourselves to everyone in our section and just get a feeling for how the music was to be performed. Throughout the weekend we became more and more into the music, learning its significance and becoming more accurate with technique. Each day there was time for devotions. Once the devotional thought was given we would break off into our small groups and discuss what was shared. During the devotionals, we learned different ways that we could connect with God. The one that stood out to me the most was how we can use the song book for a part of our devotions. Taking any song in the song book and making even just a line of the song something that you meditate on for the whole day, week, or even month. Using the songs is just an easier way for me personally to connect with the scripture and dig deeper.

Future All-Stars Weekend is also one of my favorite Army events due to the determination and maturity of everyone around me. This year, FAW 2019, was my second year attending and I truly can’t wait for the years to come. With there being a smaller group of people compared to Territorial Music Camp, I feel more of a connection and I feel more comfortable with sharing my faith. For me it’s a time of great music and fellowship. I always love working with the members of the Staff Band because they have so much experience to share and help us to grow musically.

We wrapped up the weekend with the finale concert that takes place at the Montclair Citadel in Montclair, New Jersey. We usually get there about an hour before the concert starts so we can get set up and take the official Photograph. The funniest part about taking the picture is that everyone is always confused about which way we are going to hold our instruments for the photo! After the picture is taken, we rehearse the march in. Once the setup is complete, we relax, say “Hi” to those that came to see us, and prepare for the concert. Finally, the concert begins and we give our all to the music and do our absolute best to make it great for the Lord. During the concert there are testimonies given by students who share their stories and how their faith has helped them get to where they are now. At the end of the weekend we all take with us great memories. Future All- Stars is such a great time and I wouldn’t want miss it.

By Julianna Gerard, Oshawa Temple, CAN

This is my third year as a future all star, and every year I come home knowing that I’ve grown as both a musician and as a Christian. The weekend is full of amazing worship, music, and time with friends that together create an unforgettable experience for us all. In years past I’ve been fortunate to meet new friends that I was happy to see again this year! I wish I could go back and do the whole weekend over again.

Our days were busy that’s for sure! We spent a lot of time rehearsing as a big group with the members of the New York Staff Band. I feel so blessed to get to play alongside these amazing players – the amount of talent and commitment is crazy. Equally, as amazing, is the experience of getting to play with the Staff Band was the amazing music that we played. My favorite pieces were “The Day of The Lord” by Steven Ponsford, “All Nations” by Phil Rayment, and “Jubilo, Jubilo!” by Martin Cordner. The pieces were challenging, but I felt so fulfilled after learning them. I realized that not every Future All-Star gets the experience of playing this high level of music on a regular basis. What a rich learning experience for us all.

One of the highlights of the weekend for me was the master class with Michelle Baker. It was really cool to hear about where her career as a musician has taken her. She showed us different techniques for breathing and how to support your sound when playing, and she even brought a few of the Future All Stars up to play their instruments! After the Future All-Stars played, Michelle gave them some feedback and tips on how to improve. It was awesome to see the changes that her instruction made right then and there for each player.

Over the weekend, we were all placed into prayer groups with a member of the Staff Band. In my small group this year, we had deep conversations about life and our personal faith. There was a wonderful feeling of trust right away within our group, which really helped me to feel more comfortable talking about my experience with God. We spoke about giving our all to God and how everything that we do should be done with and through Him. The small groups added an important spiritual aspect to this incredible weekend of music.

Ministry through music is such an important aspect of the Salvation Army and this weekend was a clear example of that. I spent 3 incredible days learning and growing in faith through music with many young salvationists from all across North America. We were all there for the same reason: to glorify God through our talents. It was so exciting to see many other like-minded young Salvationists all striving for the same goal. I’m thankful to God for such a powerful weekend and for the people that I met who impacted me. I pray that God continues to work through this outreach ministry of the NYSB.