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NYSB Visits Puerto Rico

The Music….The Message….It All Came Together

New York Staff Band visit to Puerto Rico

February 16 – 19, 2017

The New York Staff Bands visit to Puerto Rico began with a smooth flight from JFK to San Juan with us arriving at our hotel at 2:00 AM.   The excitement of traveling from winter weather to beautiful Puerto Rican sunshine dismissed any sense of being tired.

We departed on Friday, the 17th, to the San Juan Central Corps for a brief rehearsal, dinner (rice and beans!) and then to Old San Juan for an outdoor concert .  The evening was beautiful, the view of the harbor at sunset breathtaking and the crowd enthusiastic.  The Puerto Rico and Virgin Island Youth Band, led by the Divisional Music Director Richard D. Lopez and Ricardo Colon, Music Director at the Guayama Kroc Center, presented an exciting concert prior to the playing of the New York Staff Band.  These young people are evidence of the hard work and concentrated effort of the music leaders in this Division.  They are practicing to become the very best musicians possible with undeniable enthusiasm and joy in making music. They were also our BEST cheerleaders for every piece we played!

The New York Staff Band presented a concert following the Youth Band’s presentations.  Some of the highlights for this outdoor concert were Redhead’s “Fanfare of Praise”, “Crossbearers” by Martin Cordner, “Hallelujah Parade” by Kevin Norbury and “Hold That Fort” by Creamer.  The Spanish flavor of music was heard through the playing of “Malaguena”, “Conga” and “El Cumbanchero”.  Soloists Chris Ward playing “La Califfa”, Brindley Venables playing “This is My Story” and Aaron VanderWeele playing, “In Christ Alone” presented beautiful melodies as well as sharing the Salvation message.

Saturday saw the New York Staff Band doing one of the things we enjoy the most……teaching and working with young musicians from the Youth Band and the Fortissimo program.  We all met at the Guayama Kroc Center bright and early to do workshops in the morning and afternoon.   Topics, i.e. “How to Properly Warm-up”, “How to Build a Practice Routine”, “Fundamentals of Percussion” were a few of the subjects covered.    A late afternoon concert featuring music by Olaf Ritman, “Triumphant Prospect”, Matt Luhn playing “The Guardian” by Peter Graham and Marcus Venables’ “I Surrender” rounded off the day.

Sunday morning found the band at the San Juan Central Corps for worship.  Lt. Colonel James LaBossiere, Executive Officer, lead the band in a time of devotional preparation stressing the understanding and need for “love” with each other….for our new friends in this Division and most importantly, for the Lord.  Major Eric Rodriguez, Divisional Commander spoke from God’s Word and the band demonstrated the contrast of music for worship by playing the beautiful solo by Ryan McCrudden, “When He Cometh” to Robert Redhead’s “Corpus Christi”.

The ministry of the New York Staff Band in Puerto Rico will long be remembered but knowing that “The Music…..the Message…..all came together confirms our mission was accomplished.

Karen Shaffstall (NYSB, First Cornet)