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The Salvation Army’s New York Staff Band has built a reputation as one of the world’s best brass bands. The band’s mission has remained virtually unaltered since it was established by then National Commander Ballington Booth in 1887: to bring public awareness to the work of The Salvation Army, to support fund raising efforts and to provide a model of ministry and music making. The Southwest Ohio Northeast Kentucky Division (SWONEKY) was able to witness that the New York Staff Band (NYSB) still adheres to this mission statement during the band’s visit on May 16 – 18, 2014.

After an early flight and a safe arrival in Cincinnati on Friday, May 16, the Band was treated to a great lunch at the world famous Montgomery Inn, a Cincinnati favorite restaurant known as the rib king. After a quick stop to “freshen up” the Band boarded the bus and headed to the Dayton Kroc Center for a concert that would honor the men and women who have served their country in the United States military. The concert was opened by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by local Salvation Army Jr. Solder, Eric Hawkins. Other highlights of the evening included the playing of a local favorite, the march “Camp SWONEKY” . Also featured was the piece “Leidzen Montage” which featured soloists Gordon Ward, Derek Lance, Timothy Ward, Dorothy Gates, Ryan McCrudden, and Simon Morton. To honor those who served in the U.S. military, the band played “Armed Forces Salute”, “American Rhapsody”, and “God Bless America”.

Despite chilly temperatures and a few rain showers on Saturday morning, the Band ventured out to Winton Woods Park to play an outdoor concert. Although the crowd may have been small, those that braved the elements enjoyed the concert and received free tickets to attend the concert on Saturday evening. After the concert the band journeyed to the Crestview Presbyterian Church in West Chester, Ohio, which would be the location for the remainder of activities for the day.

In the afternoon, about 40 young people from the SWONEKY Division were involved in workshops and instruction by members of the NYSB. The culmination of this event was the young people joining with the NYSB and playing “Fanfare and Celebration” by James Curnow.   For young people who live over 600 miles from New York City, having the opportunity to receive instruction and play with members of the NYSB gives great encouragement and inspiration. While the young people were receiving instruction, some members of the Cincinnati Brass Band, and adult musicians from Corps in the division joined with the remaining members of the NYSB and participated in a reading band. The afternoon concluded with a massed band rehearsal with the Cincinnati Brass Band in preparation for the evening concert. Corps Bandmasters and other guests joined the two bands for dinner.

The Saturday evening concert was a joint concert by the NYSB and the Cincinnati Brass Band which plays under the leadership of B/M Anita Cocker Hunt. B/M Hunt is also the SWONEKY Divisional Music Director.   The NYSB once again featured its soloists in “Leidzen Montage” by William Himes, and also played “Phoenix” by Peter Graham, “Easter Glory” by Leslie Condon, “Skydance” by Martin Cordner, and “Wondrous Cross” by Philip Wilby. The Cincinnati Brass Band premiered two pieces “My Country” by Dorothy Gates and “Rejouissance” by James Curnow who was in attendance at the concert.   The two bands combined for three massed band pieces concluding with “Wall of Sound”. The evening was concluded with the NYSB Chorus singing “Rock of Ages”.

The culmination of the weekend was the combined Cincinnati Corps Holiness Meeting held at the Cincinnati Citadel Corps. The NYSB led the worship time and the Band’s Executive Officer Lt. Colonel Kenneth W. Maynor brought the message. Highlights of the morning were the testimony time and the enrollment of 6 new Senior Soldiers. After lunch the Band hurried off to the airport to have a two hour delay and arrive safely at Newark Airport around 9:00 p.m.

This was a weekend that had been in the planning stages since 2011. Truly the Band was a model of ministry and music making. Thank you to the division and divisional leaders, Majors Larry & Janet Ashcraft for all the planning and hospitality shown during our time together. Perhaps the success of the weekend can be summed up by these words from the music director at Crestview Presbyterian Church:


Thank you for the privilege of hosting both bands this weekend! I think it was one of the most spectacular musical events we’ve witnessed in the Crestview facility, at least since I have been here.

When I say spectacular, I am thinking of all of the weekend events including the 1:30 MINI-concert for the children and chaperones. In addition, I was greatly impressed with the teaching time in the classrooms, the quality of instruction, followed by the students getting to play with the band members. That must have been tremendously exciting and memorable for them, and the piece actually sounded good as well! The concert was beyond our expectations! . . . I was also particularly impressed with the NY Staff Band Announcer and how he positioned the pieces from a scriptural-ministry position”.