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4BR interview Derick Kane:
Principal Euphonium - International Staff Band of the Salvation Army

Derick Kane is a lovely man to interview – modest, unassuming, generous and with a very genuine love for his music and commitment to his beliefs. This however makes it a little difficult to get him to be critical about anything other than himself, as he is a man who knows exactly what is important to him.

Ask him about his family, his commitment to the Salvation Army or the people he holds with personal high regard and his praise is fulsome and genuine; yet ask him about his achievements, his brilliance as a player and the fact that no one we asked had a bad word to say about him and you get a very understated reply indeed. Winston Churchill once said of Clement Attlee that he was a modest man, who had much to be modest about – Derick Kane is a modest man, who has much to be proud, even dare we say it, boastful about. That he doesn’t, says a great deal about what type of man Derick Kane is.

Born in Hamilton, Scotland 46 years ago, Derick comes from a very committed Salvationist family - his father, now in his 70’s, was, and still is a trombone player in the local Salvation Army Band and his mother was a member of the local Salvation Army Corp songsters. He began playing on the tenor horn at the age of 8 and made the lifelong move onto the euphonium at the age of 9. “It was a natural move for me” he told 4BR. “The tenor horn didn’t quite suit me and the euphonium seemed to be the natural progression. As soon as I started to play it, I loved everything about it and it gave me the opportunity to play a more active part in the life of my local Salvation Army Corp with the rest of my family.”

Derick made his performance debut at the age of 10 at the 1966 Scottish Congress playing the solo “The Priceless Gift” – he says, “It went OK I think, although I was very nervous!” From then on however, his progress was rapid and in 1976 he moved to London where he worked at the Trade Headquarters of the Salvation Army in the department that stocked the organisation with supplies of all sorts around the world.

“I was lucky enough however to join the International Staff Band that year after a vacancy arose in the euphonium section. I was invited for an audition with Bandmaster Colonel. Ray Bowes and had to undergo a quite strenuous audition of sight-reading, part playing, solos etc. Once again, I was lucky enough to be accepted!”

Luck shouldn’t come into it, as Derick was appointed Principal Euphonium of the ISB – a hot seat if ever there was one, and so begun a 26 year period of playing with one of worlds best brass bands. Derick also moved jobs and started work in the PR Department of the Salvation Army at the International Headquarters in St. Paul’s, London.

The move to London meant that Derick also joined the local Bexley Heath Corp of the Army, a move that has led him to become a Leader and Bandmaster and a Choir Leader for the past 14 years. The family commitment has also been maintained with Derick’s wife, Hazel also a dedicated member, and his son, Stephen taking up the reins with the euphonium in the band.

”Being a member at Bexley Heath has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever been involved in. Playing in church services, leading the choir and attending rehearsals takes up a lot of time, but it is a commitment that means so much to me. Added to my commitments to the ISB it means that it is very nearly a full time job in itself – but it means so much to both myself and my family.”

Derick has amazingly also had the time to undertake a Music Degree between 1989 and 1992 and is now Head of Music at a school in Dartford in Kent. This move out of the Salvation Army hasn’t made any difference to his commitment to the ISB though and this still means on average 6 or 7 weekends a year on tour, a new CD recording every year, and performances with the band at big Salvation Army events, events that has seen him travel to the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and just about every country in Europe.

”The ISB is seen as one of the Salvation Army’s greatest assets. When I first joined we would rehearse three lunch times a week as well as on a Wednesday night as most of the members worked for the organisation. Today it is a three-hour rehearsal on a Wednesday night, as most members no longer work for the Army. The standard however has just got better and better though, and the players are fantastic instrumentalists and musicians. Stephen Cobb is an outstanding musician in his own right and it has meant that I have had to work harder and harder at my playing to keep up!!”

His standard of playing however has been universally recognised as of the highest class for many, many years. In 1991, he was awarded the British Bandman’s prestigious “Euphonium Player of the Year” award, which was marked with a special presentation at Fairfield Hall in Croydon as part of the ISB’s centenary celebrations. He maintains that standard with a strenuous practice regime as well.

”I try to practice every day if I can. I actually enjoy practicing and have followed the same sort of routines over many years. I even took my euphonium on holiday to Greece with me and managed to get at least half an hour a day in next to the pool!”

The practice certainly pays off for him though as he performs a solo item at every ISB concert and has been fortunate enough to have many of the very best composers in the Salvation Army write new demanding works especially for him. “I have been very lucky to have a number of new works written for me by some great composers such as Ray Steadman Allen, Richard Phillips and David Catherwood. They make great demands on me as a player, but all the works have special meaning for me as a committed Christian.”

Over the past 25 years or more, Derick has seen many changes in both the way the Salvation Army has opened its doors and also how playing standards have changed. “Things were very different when I first joined the ISB all those years ago”, he said. “The repertoire was so very different, although the music was always so satisfying to play and the technical demands were very different. Today’s players both in the Army and in brass bands in general are simply amazing technicians. I’m constantly amazed at the likes of Morgan Griffiths, David Childs, David Thornton etc – what fantastic players they are and great lyrical players too.”

”I was brought up with a great admiration for the likes of Trevor Groom, John Clough and Lyndon Baglin and then through the emergence of players such as Robert and Nicholas Childs and Stephen Mead. The standard today is the highest I have ever heard.”

So how long can this great player continue on playing then? “As long as I enjoy it, I will continue to play the euphonium and play the music I love the most – music with spiritual meaning, the music of the Salvation Army. I‘ve started to enjoy conducting more and more though and recently took part in a Salvation Army Summer School that had over 130 students aged between 18 and 30. It culminated in a concert in Sheffield, and the experience was a tremendous one.”

It says much that Derick Kane puts just as much into his playing as he does with overall commitment to the Salvation Army – now grooming the new generation of players who will keep the standard flying high. Derick Kane has been an inspiration to many players and members of the Salvation Army since he first ventured onto the euphonium all those years ago. Lets hope he continues to play for as many years as he so wishes – the joy he has given so many people will mean that no one will begrudge him doing something for himself for a change.

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