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NYSB & Cory Band Concert Highlights

NOVEMBER 2, 2019 – The New York Staff Band was absolutely thrilled to host the world’s #1 ranked brass band, the Cory Band, for their first EVER concert in New York City at the Centennial Memorial Temple. We had a blast getting to know the members of Cory, and to be able play alongside them for a few pieces was fantastic! There were people that attended the concert from far and wide – here are some of their thoughts on the concert experience:

It was a fantastic way for us to end our USA tour. The welcome we received from the NYSB was warm and enthusiastic, the venue was breathtaking, and the musical friendship and camaraderie – led by the tireless Derek Lance – will be remembered by all at Cory for a very long time. Additionally, to be able to play our Romeo and Juliet set for the very last time (we probably did it 20 times in 12 months) with Bernstein’s Somewhere, a few miles from where West Side Story was set, was fabulously poignant. A brilliant night!

Although I have never been a member of the Salvation Army myself, I have many close friends that are, and I have had a close connection to the SA for some time now.

It was therefore a great honor to hear that we’d be performing with the NYSB on the last night of our USA tour, in the Centennial Memorial Temple in New York. The concert was every bit as special as I expected. An almost packed house, many of whom flew thousands of miles just to watch the concert, were treated to a set from each band, before joining forces for the last three items. I actually think I knew more people in the audience at that concert than any other that I’ve played in, ever! It was the perfect way to finish a brilliant tour and I know this concert will live long in the memory of everyone from Cory.

We were made to feel so welcome by all members of the NYSB and it was such an honor to join them on stage for part of the concert. A fantastic venue and such a warm, friendly audience really made this concert the icing on the cake for our USA tour.

Superlatives are hard to come by to describe the joint venture of the NYSB and the Cory Band. Besides the spectacular playing to an appreciative, expectant brass band audience, I appreciated the wide range of selections, ranging from Latin and swing to more tradi- tional and avant-garde brass band literature. A highlight was the imaginative “Romeo and Juliet” programming by the Cory Band. And what a treat to experience “live” a brass band test piece played at the highest level!

As soon as I heard that the NYSB would share the stage with Cory Band, in my opinion the best brass band in the world, I decided to travel to NYC all the way from Amsterdam. So it was with great anticipation that I visited the concert and what a treat it was! Both bands were in excellent form and the program had all that a brass-lover could wish for! Great to see so many new pieces played by NYSB. I am looking forward for these pieces to come available for other bands to play. And also a great and entertaining program played by Cory. Some very fine and effective arrangements by Philip Harper! And of course a very special treat to hear Titan’s Progress (Hermann Pallhuber) live, the piece which made them UK’s National Champions (again) some weeks earlier. Maybe the biggest highlight was to meet so many familiar faces from our Salvation Army family! It’s such a privilege to be a part of that worldwide community. Next time we will just have to organize a get-together without a concert so that we have enough time to catch up! All-in-all the trip was more than worth it!

Part of English (actually Welsh!) modern day folk-law is the saying ‘I was there!’. Legend has it that for momentous events such as a great sporting occasion or royal wedding, the number of people who claim ‘I was there’ by far outnumber the actual statistics of the crowd that gathered and, by association, claim some sort of special privilege at having witnessed events first hand. Bragging rights I think they call it!

The joint concert by the NYSB and Cory bands was such an occasion. There was indeed a great gathering to hear quality music, brass playing at its very highest level, from the opening bars of “The Proclaimers” to the closing bars of the massed band items. We heard new music from NYSB (great sound guys!) and contest standard performance of the titanic test piece from London by Cory. I heard both performances of Titan’s Progress, and quite remarkably, would observe that the one in New York was (even) better than the Nationals winning performance in London.

The audience was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of North American banding and beyond. The atmosphere reminded me a little of that in London at the pre ISB120 concert when NYSB and ISB combined at Cadogan Hall…a buzz of excited anticipation permeated the atmosphere. And we weren’t disappointed in the least.

Congratulations Bandmaster Derek Lance, congratulations NYSB and thank you, Cory.
I was there! Can we do it again please… soon?!!

I don’t often do things on impulse – but the chance to visit New York City again and take in the Cory / NYSB concert was too good to pass up!! What a terrific evening! NYSB on great form with a program of mainly new music, while Cory were just incredible! Having heard Titan’s Progress 20 times last month at the RAH, their performance in New York was even more remarkable- particularly with Philip Harper’s totally engaging introduction!! By the time we’d relived Romeo & Juliet and Chris Thomas wowed us all with his sublime playing of Bernstein’s Somewhere, the crowd were on their feet cheering wildly!! Music making of the highest calibre from the two best bands either side of the pond!!

It is always a special occasion when two bands of the profile of the New York Staff Band and Cory come together, particularly when it is the very first time in history that the bands have joined forces. One thinks back to times when The International Staff Band shared the stage with Black Dyke, and more latterly the NYSB with Black Dyke, also at Centennial Memorial Temple, occasions that still remain vivid in the memory. This concert, featuring the world’s number one ranked band and one of The Salvation Army’s finest bands, was very much in that category, and the fact that audience members traveled from as far afield as The Netherlands, the UK, Canada and from across the United States bears testament to that. Suffice to say this was an occasion that we will still be talking about for many years to  come. On a personal note it was a real honor to have the NYSB play two of my pieces, ‘And Can it Be?’ and ‘Rhapsody on St Francis’ and I would like to sincerely thank the band and Bandmaster Derek Lance for their fine renditions of both works. Let us hope it is not the last time we get the opportunity to hear these two great bands together!

What a spectacular evening with the New York Staff Band and the Cory Band – two premier bands uniting on the stage! It was a night that delivered a wide variety of music that touched each individual attending the concert. The high standard of musical performance was evident! The full house at Centennial Memorial Temple auditorium was blessed by the NYSB’s high level of proficiency and ministry, and once again, the message of God’s love was delivered through music and the spoken Word. It is a night that will not be forgotten. I am grateful to Philip Harper and the Cory Band for their willingness to share in the evening and to share their superb musicianship with the USA Eastern Territory.

It was a privilege to attend the fantastic NYSB/Cory combined concert – a once in a lifetime experience. I especially enjoyed the Cory Band’s innovative weaving of Romeo and Juliet’s literary magic through various superbly-presented musical presentations. Amazing! Our NYSB spoke volumes in its artful rendering of scriptural truths through music. Thank you for keeping the main thing – the main thing. (It is, of course, my humble opinion that “trombones make the band,” and they once again did not disappoint.)

Having been a Salvation Army musician my entire life, it has been my joy to attend performances over the years by some of the best brass bands and soloists on the global stage. However, the recent joint concert of the NYSB and Cory Band was in a class all by itself. What we witnessed was, indeed, the finest brass band music available, performed by the world renowned NYSB as well as a stellar and flawless musical feast by the undisputed best brass band in the world, Cory Band. Yes, the music quality was stunningly awesome. But what helped to make the evening magical was the ease with which each band delivered on their musical mission statement. It was incredibly moving to not only hear various brass band compositions played at the highest level by the NYSB, but it was a spiritual blessing for the NYSB to support their musical ministry by highlighting the lyrics and scripture references upon which each piece was based. Cory then took the stage and left the audience in raptured amazement as the band provided a reprise of their award winning performance of the musical composition “Titan’s Progress” which won them their most recent National Brass Band Championship. And if that were not enough for a band geek such as myself, it was a thrill to enjoy Cory Band as they weaved the story of Romeo and Juliet through a series of spectacular musical offerings. To say that this evening will remain musically unparalleled for a lifetime is an understatement. My life has been the richer for attending this spectacular evening provided by such talented musicians. I salute two of the finest bands around!!

A large contingent of Canadians made the trip down to New York City for this concert. A chance to hear the world’s top ranked band in person was not to be missed! With that said, it was a treat to also hear the NYSB on the night. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them sound better. They were tight and balanced with repertoire that played to their numerous strengths. If they were nervous about sharing the stage, they clearly didn’t show it. Most importantly, the message behind the music never took a back seat. Well done to BM Lance and band!

But the main attraction was the Cory Band. The musical direction and commentary from the inimitable Philip Harper was worth the price of admission alone. They gave us the best of what
we could ask for…a blistering test piece worthy of championship victories, and
an entertainment program that held the audience in rapt attention. There was just so much to enjoy. Virtuosity, reverence, frivolity, excellence. There can be no shortage of adjectives to describe their performance.

The night ended with the glorious sounds of the combined bands playing the iconic Les Condon piece, The Call of the Righteous. For me, this was one of the best band programs I can recall attending. It had something for everyone – both the brass band aficionado and the average listener. I’m so glad that I made the trip. Kudos to the men and women of the NYSB for continuing to push the boundaries with innovative programs, guest artists and repertoire!

Thanks to the continued efforts of the
New York Staff Band to bring the Gospel and high quality music to a new and diversified audience, a huge crowd came together to hear brass banding at its best in New York City.

The NYSB presented itself well with high energy well performed new music.

The Cory Band showed why they are considered the number one brass band in the world. Together as massed bands they made a glorious sound not to be forgotten any time soon.

Cory’s conductor, Philip Harper, is a polished communicator both verbally and more importantly with his ability to elicit sound colors of every hue from his masters of brass performance.

I was pleased to hear Cory’s performance of “Titan’s Progress” the recent test piece from the National Championships of Great Britain. Their controlled, confident and powerful performance showed me the secret to winning…Great players!!

Their Romeo and Juliet segment featured those great players. Most notable to me were Hellen Williams on flugel and Chris Thomas on trombone. Just incredible exponents all around.

It was good to see friends from the UK and Amsterdam and around the USA had made the trip to hear the concert.

A special night for sure. What’s next?

The NYSB were on vital form with some great musical offerings by Andrew Wainwright. The Cory Band were everything you would expect from the World’s #1 brass band. A prize-winning performance of “Titan’s Progress” – with which they had just won the UK Nationals – and a spellbinding set based on Romeo & Juliet in the concert style perfected by Philip Harper. What bands! What a night! Bravo to all concerned.

You know how they say,“never meet your heroes…”? Well, this concert proves the exception to the rule.

Being a superfan of the NYSB, how could I miss the opportunity to hear them in concert with the world’s #1-ranked Cory Band? We scooped up tickets as soon as they were available, and made the trip
to New York for the weekend. We came with some friends, but were absolutely astonished by the number of fellow Canadians in the audience who also
made the trek.

NYSB was simply awesome. I have great admiration for the band and what they do. And BM Derek Lance especially, for his ability to put together an accessible program for all in the audience… and the band aced it like the pros they are. We were treated to some truly brilliant performances of outstanding new works, including one from the pen of Cory’s own Philip Harper! For SA banding, I believe this is vital: for this brass band medium to be sustainable in our organization, we need to ensure we’re meeting the audience on their level, and BM Lance and the band crafted the perfectly balanced show, with literally something for everyone. Much respect to you all!

For the second half, Cory Band put on a showcase, starting with the test from their latest victory, “Titan’s Progress”. For me, being a “band nerd”, they could have simply played it and I’d have been thrilled… but MD Harper took the time to explain the origin of the work, and it made it come alive, almost as a soundtrack to the story he shared. That level of care about sharing the music is rare, but it’s so worth it to the audience. The band then presented a version of their Band of the Year-winning “Romeo & Juliet”-themed concert, and spared absolutely nothing. This was peak banding on display, and despite the rigors of international travel and touring, these folks gave us an uncompromising, 150% performance. What a privilege to hear!

During the“third half”, the two bands came together to play some massed items, and literally blew us all away. Enter the Galaxies? Call of the Righteous? Could you pick a better set-list? I think not.

Final result? A 15 out of 10. Absolute zero disappointment. Total satisfaction. Standing “O’s”, all around. No let-down.

We’ve met our heroes. They’re awesome.

What an evening! One that will remain
on the memory for a long long time. On every level, this was an event to celebrate. It was unashamedly entertaining but just as important there were moments to reflect, to aid worship and to give thanks. The New York Staff Band and their leader, Derek Lance, are to be congratulated for the foresight and courage to put such an evening together. Their own contribution was really good and their choices excellent. The Band is playing so well – big sound, great end players, super ensemble, great players around the stands and a real sense of style. They are enjoying a true purple patch and long may it be so.

And then there was The Cory Band. There was no sense of contest as both complemented each other so well. But at the moment, Cory seem to be on another planet. Winners in every competition during 2019, they played the fiendish

Test piece – Titans Progress. If it was 18 minutes long, it didn’t seem so as Philip Harper’s explanation was really enlightened and made the time go so quickly. Even Mrs T enjoyed it! The standing ovation after it was deserved as was the ovation after Romeo and Juliet. Pure entertainment and fantastic playing, as good as I have ever heard and excellent narration. No- one will forget Chris Thomas’s solo, or Tom Hutchinson’s magnificent playing, or Helen Williams’ sublime flugelhorn, or Ian Roberts soprano, or Glyn Willliams’ Romeo, or the classy baritone of Stephen Kane, Ailsa Russell’s stylish tenor horn or the huge bass sound, or…or….or…..!!! I could just go on and on!

Put simply, it was a magnificent evening on every level that no one wants to judge it. We all left the Temple in an elated and excited mood but did not feel the biting cold of the New York air!

How great too to see such a large international crowd. I – and many others – flew over especially and it was worth every penny and I would do it all again next weekend if Cory were in town!

Thank you NYSB and thank you Derek for creating such a lifetime memory. Like so many others, I can say ‘I was there!’