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Chicago Staff Band

Sounds of the Seasons 2017
Bandmaster: Dr. Harold Burgmayer
Featuring: Canadian Staff Songsters
Edman Chapel
Wheaton College, Illinois
Saturday 25th November

A fine audience gathered for this concert combining the Chicago Staff Band with the newly reformed Canadian Staff Songsters, led by Major Len Ballantine.

And a warm welcome greeted Dr. Harold Burgmayer and the CSB as they took to the stage to perform Kevin Norbury’s festival march ‘The Proclaimers’ which set the tone for an evening of fine music-making.

Stark contrast

Wilfred Heaton’s challenging duet ‘Wonderful Words’ featured Peggy Thomas and principal cornet Beth Malovance. Heaton’s humour and masterful scoring were evident for the listener to enjoy, and provided a stark contrast as the CSB played Kevin Larsson’s ‘Shout Aloud’ featuring a collision of Hollywood with an 1880’s melody, ‘I’ll Shout Aloud Throughout the Land the Praises of our God’.

In their first trip outside of the Canada and Bermuda Territory, the Canadian Staff Songsters captivated the audience throughout the evening with their phrasing, tonality and message.

In their first trip outside of the Canada and Bermuda Territory, the Canadian Staff Songsters captivated the audience throughout the evening with their phrasing, tonality and message.


‘Make His Praise Glorious’, ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ and ‘Go down, Moses’ were delivered with panache and excellent sense of musical line, crafted with such care by Major Ballantine.

Tom Davoren’s ‘Living Power’, based on the hymn ‘Lord, for the Years’ was written for the Enfield Citadel Band in 2016 and brought freshness to the words of Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith, whilst Olaf Ritman’s haunting setting of ‘When I Survey’ was performed with consummate ease by principal trombonist Brett Tolcher.

The Canadian Staff Songsters then shared two items; first showcasing the tenor voice of Steve Cooper in ‘Take Me Back Medley’, followed by the exciting Richard Phillips setting, ‘Sing for Joy’, before the CSB shared a finely structured performance of Paul Sharman’s ‘Inclusion’, and the Songsters performed ‘Go Forth in His Name’.


The jazzy, choreographed setting of ‘Go Tell It’ from the CSB was executed with ease and fluency to open the second half before the congregation joined in a new arrangement of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ - the introduction to a section of Christmas music including ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, ‘Star Carol’, ‘I Wonder as I Wander’ and ‘Good King Wenceslas’.

To close, Dr. Burgmayer’s large scale tone poem ‘Kurios’ was a real tour de force, retelling the narrative of the crucifixion and the ultimate victory in the resurrection of Jesus through the impressions of those who witnessed these events, carrying through to a finale, uniting the combined forces of the Canadian Staff Songsters, Chicago Staff Band and the congregation in singing ‘Crown Him with Many Crowns'.

In a fitting conclusion, the two groups combined for Ballantine’s uplifting arrangement of ‘More than Wonderful’ and the enjoyable ‘New York, New York’ style sing-along to ‘He’s got the Whole World in His Hands'.

Dr. Jonathan Corry

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