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Commissioning Weekend 2018 Report

New York Staff Band – Commissioning Weekend 2018                      

June 15-17, 2018

The New York Staff Band concluded its 2017/18 season in Hershey, Pennsylvania for the Commissioning weekend of the Eastern Territory’s “Messengers of the Gospel” session of cadets. While the final “duty” event for the band, preceding a lengthy summer break, Commissioning weekend festivities typically provide an optimistic and galvanizing conclusion to the band’s long season.

Kicking off the weekend was the annual Commencement service for the graduating session of cadets. Here, an ensemble from the band serves to provide preliminary music and a complimentary tunes to support the formality of the occasion. Congregational songs “All Hail the Power” and “We Have a Gospel to Proclaim” were featured during the service. In addition, the weekend’s special guests (Colonels Douglas and Colleen Riley – Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women’s ministries, USA West) were introduced and immediately provided impactful ministry insights and biblical teachings.

The weekend’s theme, “This Is My Story,” was the titular mainstay of each gathering and meeting that would take place. Saturday morning saw over 2,000 people attend the annual Star Search Territorial Finals for music and creative arts. Indeed, it was a chance for young people to tell their story through music and creative arts offerings. Children, aged 8-21, compete in various solo and group-based brass, vocal, piano, dance, guitar and drama disciplines. Many NYSB personnel participate, organize and direct traffic throughout the arduous undertaking that is Star Search. This year saw more competitors, throughout a wider spectrum of competing categories, than ever before.

After a short dinner reprieve and perhaps a few chocolate bars, the Saturday evening festival was upon us. The lone preliminary number presented by the Staff Band was Andrew Wainwright’s new composition – Fearless. As it has been featured throughout the band’s second half of the season, Fearless was the winning selection from the NYSB’s first composer’s competition. Referencing the theme, “This Is My Story,” the evening festival was chock full of video testimonials from individuals who have triumphed over challenging circumstances, dances from various corps groups, dramatic presentations from the TAM (Territorial Arts Ministries) team and wonderfully prepared musical selections from the newly appointed Eastern Territorial Staff Songsters.

Sunday morning at Commissioning is usually a deeply reflective and emotional setting for many involved and attending. Dorothy Gates’ new contemplative setting of Be Still was presented as a preliminary opener – a most fitting selection for the occasion. For the offertory, the band presented Kevin Larsson’s They Shall Come from the East. Expertly woven, this timeless tune slowly progresses to a relentlessly passionate and tremendously uplifting conclusion of the original melody. While the piece was well received, the sudden impact on the spirit of the morning service was more profound.

As is customary each year at Commissioning weekend, the Staff Band gathers together for a brief luncheon, celebrating the efforts and service of the band throughout the past year. As well, it is a time to celebrate and recognize new members joining the band and honoring those who are departing from years of stellar service with the band. This year the band welcomed newcomers Mackenzie Dalrymple (1st Horn), Noah Rife (1st Cornet) and Robert Myers (Percussion). With great appreciation and distinction, the band recognizes Karen Shaffstall for 10 years of service. Also, the band welcomes back Major Stewart Dalrymple (Soprano Cornet) and Lieutenant Jonathan Quatela (Solo Cornet) to the band’s ministry. Never to be taken for granted, marking the official last gathering of the band each season, bandsmen stood together to sing Rock of Ages, as a vocal benediction. At this time the band recognizes and applauds those spouses and family members who graciously support the ongoing ministry and commitment of each bandsmen.

To open the Appointment Service with great excitement and anticipation, the New York Staff Band played two brand-new works – Tom Davoren’s Proclamation and Joel Collier’s Thy Matchless King. In proper manner, the poised and pointed entrance of the session flags was underpinned by Leslie Condon’s march Celebration. In case there was any mistake, marching orders were loud and clear for all to hear – the cadets were sent packing and the band played on. As a sendoff and in back-to-back fashion, the band sizzled through the classic and iconic Montreal Citadel and Red Shield marches.

The NYSB remembers a successful season, one full of incredible encounters, exciting concerts and deeply meaningful ministry opportunities. With eyes looking forward, there is little doubt that the band will continue to strive to reach new heights, impact more souls and play God’s music for the whole World to hear.

Ryan McCrudden, NYSB Euphonium