Quite often in life there are times when words just can't explain the sheer impact that something has on us. Boundless 150 was one of those events where it's near on impossible to describe to anyone who didn't attend how special this week in The Salvation Army's historic calendar was.
All we can say that as a band, we were extremely privileged to play our small part in such a spirit filled week that ultimately gave all the praise and glory to our Lord.
The band met at the O2 Arena and after a rehearsal with musicians from around the Army world found itself centre stage in the Boundless Theatre, a purpose built concert venue, commencing the evening with Kevin Larsson's popular arrangement of They Shall Come from the East. It was certainly well selected music to not only stir the hearts of the capacity crowd but also to facilitate the entry of our international musicians for the evening, the Angola National Band, the South American East Territorial Band, the Pasadena Songsters and Youth Chorus and the Waverley Timbrels.
To share the stage with such spiritual passion and musical excellence will make this concert certainly something the band will remember for many years to come. Each musical group took its place centre stage throughout the evening and shared its unique style with the enthusiastic audience.
The ISB’s major work for the evening, written by Steven Ponsford was Music of a Legacy. The cleverly crafted music captures many snippets of Salvation Army classics through the years and a fitting way to celebrate the heritage of Salvation Army brass band music at the commencement of the anniversary celebrations.
On Wednesday lunchtime, the band was all in position in the main O2 Arena and was enthusiastic to be rehearsing for the Opening Session entitled A Joyful Army. On many previous Wednesday evening rehearsals at THQ the band had put a lot of hard work into rehearsing music especially written for Boundless, and it was finally our chance to see the opening sequence take shape. Many of the arrangements for the evening were written by Captain Martin Cordner and it was not only a privilege to be playing his music but also to be the first ever brass band to play in the O2 Arena. Martin’s arrangements were certainly exciting and exhilarating to play and we want to publically thank him for all the many hours he has spent writing such outstanding music.
Following several hours of rehearsals it was time for a short break to grab some refreshments before being back in the main Arena to commence the evening session. The arena was buzzing with anticipation as the Band played Martin Cordners Lightbringer which features the founder’s song O Boundless Salvation. The whole evening was a real celebration of praise and the Army’s history was depicted through music, flawless choreography and included a total of 600 representatives from each Salvation Army territory. It was a real privilege for the band to be part of the first main session at Boundless and to celebrate that we are indeed A joyful Army.
For the next few days many of the band were able to engage in the whole Congress experience without having any ISB responsibilities while some of the band had to reluctantly return to normal life. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the band was back together in the main arena preparing for Sunday’s Session An Army of Integrity.
An excited crowd filled the Boundless Theatre ready for our afternoon concert. Many items from our current concert repertoire were featured and gained an enthusiastic response from the audience. Solo items from Derick Kane, Stephen Williams and Richard Woodrow were received with great appreciation and Paul Sharman’s cornet quartet Fuego highlighted the technical excellence of the solo cornet section (Carl Nielsen, Paul Sharman, Gavin Lamplough and Nicola Redhead).
Music of a Legacy had its second hearing of the Boundless Congress and it was a nice touch that Staff Bandmaster Dr Stephen Cobb invited the composer Steven Ponsford to take to the stage and receive his own applause from the audience and band.
Paul Lovett-Coopers popular piece Fire in the Blood was the only choice as our final item, that’s if the band wanted to get out of the Boundless Theatre in one piece. This piece has always been a crowd pleaser and has featured as our finale for 4 years since it was written for ISB120. A stand ovation at the end left us in no doubt that people still love hearing this wonderful and exhilarating piece of music.
After the concert, many of the band were able to meet up with friends and family and attend the evening session once again in the main arena A Youthful Army. After the Benediction had been pronounced, a particular highlight for some members of the ISB was to be part of an intimate group witnessing William Himes conducting the Chicago Staff Band for the very last time before his retirement. These are very special moments in the life of the Chicago Staff Band and we thank the band for allowing us to part of this historic event. We, as a band would like to wish William Himes the very best for his retirement. God Bless you Bill.
It was once again a real honour for the band to participate in the final session An Army of Integrity on Sunday morning. Our involvement took the form of some pre-session music alongside a number of other musical groups, and during the session the playing of Eric Balls The Kingdom Triumphant. The congregation stood in recognition as General Andre Cox admitted William B. Flynn of Pasadena Corps & Envoy Iris Jones of Merton Corps to the Order of the Founder. In a similar way to the previous evening, after the Benediction had been pronounced there was another special moment when Bill, known to many of the current ISB, conducted us in the Festival March Celebration.
With the morning showers out of the way and the sun shining through, the ISB headed away from the O2 Arena and out to Horseguards Parade to lead the march down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. For the majority of the band this certainly had many similarities to the march that concluded ISB120 4 years ago, however there wasn’t even a hint of “been there done that” from anyone, we were all excited and encouraged by the crowds that had already gathered. Flanked by Foot Guards of the Household Division the ISB promptly started the march with Flag of Freedom and made its way towards Buckingham Palace. Marching down the Mall is something you can never get tired of, and once again it was a great opportunity for the band to witness to those that lined both sides of the Mall.
After we had marched to the Victoria Memorial we formed up to play whilst waiting for the next band to get within earshot. It was fantastic to have “front row seats” and see the all the other groups marching past behind their countries flags.
Boundless 150 will live in the hearts of us all for many years to come and all we can do is give God abundant, boundless glory for the many opportunities the ISB have to witness through our music making.