The second weekend away of the year was to the Rock Ferry Corps. The last time the band visited the Corps was in 1991 and from that occasion only one piece of music was to be repeated during the weekend, Leslie Condon's 'The Present Age'.
The venue for the Saturday evening festival was the former Oxton Congregational Church, a Grade II-listed building that has been labeled the 'Gateway to Birkenhead' because of its commanding position. For almost two decades the building lay derelict but, having spent over £1.25million on the restoration of the building, it was reopened as a place of worship for the Wirral Christian Centre and what a great place for the ISB to present its varied programme of music. The ISB's featured soloists were shown great appreciation in the prolonged applause given to them at the end of their performances of 'Scottish Folk Variants' (Euphonium Solo - Derick Kane) 'Synergy' (Cornet Duet - Kevin Ashman & Carl Nielsen) and 'Soul-Full' (Flugel Horn Solo - Richard Woodrow) but yet again the most prolonged applause of the Saturday festival seemed to be for the playing of 'Fire In The Blood' a new work written for the ISB by Paul Lovatt-Cooper. The finale piece proved to be dramatic and powerful and tested the acoustics of the church to its extreme and the dynamics of the band to its limit. Following the appreciation of the audience, calm and tranquility was restored in the beautiful church setting with the choice of encore, 'A Celtic Blessing' a recent arrangement of a traditional Celtic melody by Erik Silfverberg.
The Sunday morning meeting and afternoon festival were held in the Rock Ferry Salvation Army hall, both were very well attended and it was great to meet up again with former ISB horn player Bill Binns. In the afternoon festival the ISBs soloists were Carl Nielsen (Cornet Solo - 'Crossroad') and Jonathan Evans (Euphonium Solo - 'The Conqueror'). A highlight for many was the ISB playing of Leslie Condon's 'The Present Age' but the congregation really 'lifted the roof' in their appreciation after the playing of a Kevin Larsson arrangement of 'They Shall Come from the East' given the musical 'Lion King' treatment and featuring Ashley Durrant and Rob Hayward on Djembe Drums. During the weekend the band was supported by the Rock Ferry Songsters and Youth Singing Group. The ISB Executive Officer, Major Noel Wright, led worship in his own unique style! It was another good weekend away with the ISB, sharing worship and fellowship with the friendly Corps folk of Rock Ferry. We hope that our visit will have blessed, encouraged and inspired all who came to share with us during the weekend.
The ISB made a visit to Bournemouth to play a concert on the Wednesday evening of the Territorial Youth Band course. This concert in the ballroom at the Carrington Hotel was for the students of the course and guests from the local area. The band presented a programme of music from its current concert repertoire plus three items of music that are to be featured on future 2012 recordings: 'Seal Lullaby' (Philip Cobb solo CD), 'Wonders Begin' (1960s CD) and 'Stars of the Morning' (Kenneth Downie CD). Although there is no formal link between these two groups, the ISB shows a keen interest in the TYB and takes its role as mentor and nurturer of young Salvation Army musicians very seriously. It was a thrill for the ISB to see the 80 members of the TYB, and a particularly special feature of the evening came with the opportunity to perform three items with them: 'Alderney', 'Flow Gently Sweet Afton' and 'They Shall Come from the East'.
During the month of February the ISB continued its recording projects at St Jude-on-the-Hill Church, London. Scarves, gloves and pullovers were much in evidence around the band when it met to record three more tracks for former member Phil Cobb's second solo album and the final track for an album of music by Kenneth Downie. Among the visitors to the session was film composer, Andrew Pearce who has written 'The Maestro - Concertino for Trumpet and Band', commissioned by Philip Cobb who will be recording it with the band at a future date.