Salvation Army and banders

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by tubafran, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Every now and again a thread appears on tMP (see Besson thread) which then brings out some open anti-Salvation Army feelings. Why do some people have such views? I'm looking for an explanation and not offering this thread as a further opportunity to slag them off.

    Killamarsh are visiting Scotland in May and we have been invited to play a concert at the Motherwell Salavation Army hall - tickets are being sold locally and all funds raised are going to them. Our visit is being organised by a band member who took up banding there and also first met his wife there some 25 years ago. Having listened to some superb SP&S music played at Butlins recently we have bought a number of pieces for inclusion in our programme in Scotland - Joy, Peace & Happiness, In Perfect Peace, Procession to Covenant and Mid All the Traffic.

    Now, at our last rehearsal we ran through this music in preparation for our concert and as we've already put aside half the programme we had a 100% rehearsal on SP&S music.

    We had a couple of guest players at the rehearsal and the comments from both were fairly negative - "I thought we were going to have a pray at the end of the practice" and another comment to the effect that they weren't particularly keen on SA music.

    I personal find that kind of intolerance of others difficult to understand - the majority of our band clearly agreed with the fact that this music was excellent and they had no problems with our including it in our programme - some of this music will be in our other concerts this year, not just the SA one.
  2. postie

    postie Member

    Totally agree with you Francis I don't understand the negativity when the Salvation Army is mentioned. I sometimes think that people are worried that the army want to try and convert everyone which is not the case at all.
  3. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    The prayer at the end comment could easily have been a joke, I have certainly used the fact we are in an SA hall as an excuse to make a wise crack about religion. Fortunately all the salvo's take it in the way it is intended.

    As for the SA music comment, thats fair enough. I doubt they know every piece in the SA catologue though so should be a little more careful when making genralisations.

    I think the SA should be utilised more by us general banding folk. Raunds have a fantastic relationship with the local SA and have a mutually beneficial relationship with them. GUS has had a tremendous amount of salvationists in the ranks over recent years and they were great players and great people.

    This sort of generalisation and intollerance simply highlights individuals ignorance and lack of open mindedness imho. It is also as discriminative as racism.
  4. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    There is also a history of some animosity between the SA and the contesting world. Until just a few years ago, the SA would not allow their bands to play "outside" music, and would not sell their music to "outside" bands. There was also an SA regulation that prevented someone from playing in both an SA band and a "band that competes for prizes". This "secretive" practice led to much distrust of SA motives when things were finally opened up.

    It's interesting to me that here in the US, where the SA was never quite as closed about bands as in Britain, that there is much less apprehension about the SA being involved in the brass band community as a whole.

    Disclaimer: I am an active SA bandsman and a fourth-generation Salvationist. These are my own views and do not represent any sort of official position.
  5. FlugelD

    FlugelD Member

    Personally, I don't care if someone's a Salvationist, Sikh, satanist or ssss... something else, as long as they respect my (lack of) religious belief.

    As for music, does it matter who it's published by? If it's well-written, enjoyable for player and audience, etc., who cares?
  6. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I don't necessarily think that people are anti-Salvation army, but perhaps any negative comments come from a general ignorance (myself included) of what goes on.

    Another point, which has been touched on in other threads, is the perception that the SA (in the guise of World of Brass) have been quite agressive in their marketing strategies of late and some people I have spoken to have felt that the SA is trying to 'take over the brass band world'. Whether or not this is justified is beyond my own area of knowledge, but I think that there are a growing number of older bandspeople who feel resentful that the SA, who until not so long ago kept itself to itself, have now decided to expand their operations (publishing, recording etc.) beyond its own boundaries. There was a time when SA bandsmen were discouraged from playing with non-SA bands and the more modern approach may be seen by some as hypocritical.

    My own opinion is this; if the Salvation Army wish to expand their operations, then fine. Perhaps the SA could be accused of backward thinking over the years and is now trying to redress the balace. I can understand the SA wanting to expand, as the numbers on a Sunday morning are just a fraction of those 50 years ago. For an organisation to thrive, it must move with the times and if that means aquiring a foothold in the wider world of brass banding, they can only be accused of optimism.

    IYOUNG Member

    We have invited a local SA band to be part of our two main centenary celebration events in 2006.

    I have been along to rehearsals with them and a nicer bunch of people you could not wish to meet.

    the music i have played has been a breath of fresh air

    I would suggest the non SA band world could learn an awful lot.

  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Chuffed if I know. Although I don't identify at all with the mission of the SA as I'm not religious, the SA strikes me as one of the few religious organisations in the world that actually practises what it preaches i.e. they get out there and help the disadvantaged and the homeless without any of the cod-piety or holier-than-thou pomposity of some of the more "mainstream" churches. In banding terms, the SA have contributed an enormous amount to the development of band music. Of course Eric Ball, but I also believe Edward Gregson, James Curnow, Peter Graham, Bramwell Tovey and many others had their introduction to banding from the SA.

    If there is resentment that the SA in the form of World of Brass are seen to be "taking over", maybe we should consider the fact that there are no other willing buyers and without them we would perhaps now be lamenting the loss of the Bandsman?
  9. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I can understand a certain amount of suspicion, even hostility among non-SA folks. The dictum "soul-saving music is the music for me" (made by William Booth, I think) has been highly influential in the type of music published by the SA. This notion could be embarassing for those who are not evangelical, let alone anti-religious. If the music is well written and offers sufficient technical challenges to players, I think some of the old barriers might be broken.

    (I was a member of the SA, but am currently a member of the Presbyterian Church.)
  10. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    I guess you mean me!
    I have nothing but respect for the SA`s influence on mainstream banding.
    Journey into Freedom still has the power to make me glassy-eyed and does "reach me" in a spiritual way I guess.
    But the SA used to be a wonderfully benign influence on my hobby, now they`ve replaced Eric Ball and Dean Goffin with World of Brass, Trevor Caffull, and Christmas messages from the SA`s UK Territorial Director in the British Bandsman!
    I understand I am probably in the minority.....the SA` s ever increasing tentacles in my hobby, however well meaning just bothers me.
  11. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    You all need to spend more time listening to radio four. They had a very good series on the history of the Brass Band about two years ago which would have answered all your questions Francis. Sally Army Bands and Works Bands have an animosity going back many years.Sally Army bands took a dim view of works bands,virtiouso's,contests and indeed any form of frivolity that could be construed as vain and self regarding. The Sally Army had a clearly defined role for its bands which was the antithisis of everything the works Bands stood for. Self glorification was frowned upon, as was indiviualism or virtuosity, the Sally Army band was all about selfless dedication to the cause, through anonymous team work within the band.

    This attitude extended to such stupidity as having their own instruments manufactured to a different pitch to ensure that works bands could not mix with Sally Army bands, and of course their own music.

    This kind of dog poo has fallen by the wayside I am glad to say in more recent years.......sounds like progress to me!

    Hey Fran! I charge extra for tambourine work by the way.

    Praise the Lord!
  12. Communicator

    Communicator New Member

    As a former Salvation Army bandsman (about 15 years) who has just come back in to playing after a long break ( Now with an 'outside' band ) I have read all the comments in this thread and am a little confused.

    Are those people who, shall we politely say, do not like the S.A. band world saying then when a piece of music is put in front of them that was written by a Salvationist they refuse to play? I doubt it. Many, if not all, bands people wil no doubt at some point in their playing career have played something that has had some sort of Salvation Army influence. In fact I seem to think that a few S.A. pices have been used as contest test pieces.

    For many years now their has been a long running traditional link between the S.A. and the national championships in the form of a festival ( S.A. version of a concert for the uneducated ) on the finals weekend which involves one of the top S.A. bands and one of the top 'outside' bands. Again, are those people saying that they would not play if their band was to take part? Again I doubt it.

    There has been a lot of very good music written from both sides of the fence that is now being passed across that same fence and I think both sides are better off for it.

    ( No longer an active Salvationist )
  13. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Well yes, because Salvation Army bands primary purpose is to help spread the Gospel. The works bands would be to entertain and win contests.

    So then why are such virtuosic solos as Clear Skies, Wondrous Day, and Concertino for Trombone and Band? I wouldn't call them anonymous.
  14. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Because you can't spread the Gospel if no one is listening. Solo items are audience-pleasers, and give the soloist an opportunity for personal witness.

    It was also recognized early in the day that, if SA musicians were to be prevented from going outside the fold then a full range of music of various levels of difficulty and type were required.

    For me, I much prefer the way things are now, or at least the way things are going. I much prefer to be able to participate in the larger brass band world to being in an insular corner of that world. I am concerned a bit that the SA is moving toward too commericial a model in their music publications, in that many of the publishing decisions seem to be made based on how many copies can be sold to "outside" groups as opposed to the music utility for the mission, but on the whole things are better now than they were before.

    Disclaimer: I am an active SA bandsman and a fourth-generation Salvationist. These are my own views and do not represent any sort of official position.
  15. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    Salvationists in banding used to inspire and challenge me with their music, now they seem obsessed with selling me something!
    I am glad that the SA`s change of direction does not meet with the universal approval of current salvationists.
  16. Growler

    Growler Member

    I haven't been in this banding malarkey long, so dont be too harsh to a young un, but surely the SA have done a lot of good for what banding is really about, the music and enjoyment! If they didnt want to mingle with us non SA folk then so what? People still enjoyed themselves and played good music, each to their own! Some of the most beautiful pieces of music written for brass band have been composed by Salvationists, from my own experience "Share my Yoke", and ive got an absolutely fantastic recording by Dyke of "Shine as the light" by Peter Graham, inspired by the death of one of his salvationist colleagues, thats sure to move even the most grumpy, toothless old bandsman (you know who you are!:tongue: :tongue: :tongue: ), so even though they might get on the nerves of some people, be thankful for the glorious music the SA have given brass banding as a whole, thats what its all about after all!
  17. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Kirmat. Do you not listen to Fodens because they have a courtois connection? Do you not listen to players that are contracted to various instrument manufacturers for fear of them saying how good the instrument is? Do you honestly take pleasure in the fact something like the SA has taken a change of direction causes some split opinions within the movement? Do you honestly think your opinion is going to encourage others to listen to ensembles like the ISB who are never anything but inspiring for the way they play music?

    Seems like your sweeping generalisations are going to cause you some problems in banding. Cant wait to see your band finish a concert with Shine as the light and watch you sit the instrument on knee as its Salvationist.
  18. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Is that really true?

    I wouldn't claim to be sufficiently an expert so as to dispute your allegation, but I would be surprised if it were so.

    When I was growing up in the SA, many bands were in the process of converting from 'high' pitch to 'low' pitch, however my understanding was that it was more to do with military band pitch rather than a difference between SA and non-SA bands?

    I am willing to be corrected ...
  19. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    I don`t quite know what point you are trying to make, but I do reserve the right to constructively criticise whom ever I please even if it upsets the pro-salvo sensibilities of people like yourself.
    The actions of the mods re. the Besson thread yesterday left me under no illusion that there is bias amongst this forum`s administrators toward the commercial activities of the SA, but I can live with that!
    Anyway back on topic!
    I love SA music and indeed played in a concert last night which featured two SA pieces by Michael Phillips and Barrie Gott.
    Wilf Heaton is my favourite composer..Toccata and Contest Music - brilliant stuff!
    Why can`t the SA be criticised Steve and more importantly why are my knees salvationists!
  20. Just a short one. The Salvation Army have the greatest works and band composers to live :) I can listen to both though. If you took away the chance for SA to play non sa I think we'd miss it a lot less than if you were denied the chance to play SA works.

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