LCFB in Belfast

Liverpool and the Mersey, the birthplace of much of Britannia’s mighty navy including the first two Ark Royal aircraft carriers, and once described as “the Gateway to the new world” greeted  the  LCFB’s  intrepid answer to Eddie Stobart, Don Jenkins and Mel James.  It was a June Friday evening, the promenade at New Brighton looked deserted, the sky was grey, the horizon even darker and the sea a vast foaming maelstrom. No wonder, the efforts of  those before us in escaping this dreadful place, would we too, be successful in reaching our new world.

After a rather lively crossing we reached the calm waters of Belfast Lough in the small hours of Saturday morning and were met by our friends from Sydenham Corps . We soon arrived at Sydenham Halls and after unloading our  cargo of uniforms , instruments, sheet music, percussion paraphernalia  etc we were  taken to a rather swish hotel for a good Irish breakfast. During the day our Irish friends busied themselves ferrying the rest of the band from the airport to Belfast. By late Saturday afternoon we were set up and ready to go, but first a welcome tea and more Irish hospitality.

The evening festival was well attended and included Salvationists and friends  from neighbouring Corps. The programme featured music from our current CD in addition to some more recently rehearsed repertoire. It was also a delight to have the voices of Sydenham Songsters to give some contrast to the programme. Our usual soloists were featured including Dave Thomas, cornet, Chipaenacas, Jim Rogers, Flugel, Through the Fair, Phil Fisher, Horn, Capriccio Brillante , Ken Stones, Euphonium,Valse and Don Jenkins, Trombone, Londonderry Air. Brian Huke provided the vocals to Bill Broughton’s up beat version of Now I belong to Jesus. Morley Calvert’s ever popular Canadian Folk Song Suite was well received at the close of the first half of the programme

In the absence of our Executive Officer, Major John Martin provided the Bible Reading and Comment. It was good to have John with us for the weekend in his many roles, executive officer, second horn, and a very able piano soloist, thank you John. Sydenham’s Corps Officer, Captain  Martin Cordner is a friend of the band from earlier times and kindly composed the Festival Arrangement Call of the Gospel for the band to feature on its CD. It was fitting therefore for Martin to conduct the band for this arrangement.

All to quickly the festival drew to a close and it was time to meet new friends as we shared their hospitality over night.

Sunday activities commenced with a corps prayer meeting led by our band sergeant Alan Garratt. It was good to share thoughts and prayers together. There were indeed some precious moments.

Major John Martin led the Sunday Morning Meeting, his theme “ Defining Moments” drew on the story of the Prodigal Son. Colin Ambrose opened in prayer and interview testimonies featured  Gwen Yendall and Andy Thomas.  The band contributed In the Love of Jesus (Ken Downie) and Mid all the Traffic Arr. Martin Cordner.  It was also good to hear the Singing Company.

Following a splendid traditional Sunday lunch at the halls, the Sunday Afternoon Festival was soon upon us.  Memories of BBC “Bandstand “ programmes  were  recalled with the opening  Soldiers in the Park.  The congregation sung heartily Sound the Battle to the  arrangement by Ray Bowes.

An apt choice by the visitors from London was a Mini Fantasia on a “London”Theme  by Robert Collinson.

There were further instrumental solos , to recall two in particular, Alan Garratt, former principal cornet, played the Cornet Solo Misty and Anthony Smith played the Baritone in Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Donegal Bay. Sadly only days before our trip to Belfast, our principal baritone, Howard Bowes, had health problems which prevented him coming to Belfast. Howard is now “on the mend” and we thank Anthony for joining us at such short notice.

Through the Fair for Jim Rogers  is a flugel horn  solo based upon a  traditional  Irish tune arranged by  Sydenham’s  Singing Company Leader Chelsea Pascoe… Jim played the solo on Saturday evening…. and this afternoon the band invited Chelsea to conduct them in the march, The Army Spirit (Ian Clarke).

There were contributions also from the Songsters and the YP Band. After the Bible Reading and Comment by Major John Martin, the band played David Catherwood’s song arrangement Come Home.  Three lines in the Red Book…what a gem.

The band’s closing piece was no.6 in the Festival Series, George Marshall’s Army of the Brave.

Tea followed and then transfers back to the airport.

It had been a great weekend, the band wish to express their thanks to the people of Sydenham for their warmth and kindness and pray that the weekend was a source of blessing and encouragement to everyone .

The van and its occupants arrived back in Liverpool safely on Monday morning!

Be sure to check out the various videos from the weekend on the band’s YouTube channel