Profile Night has been a staple event in the Greater New York (GNY) Division for thirty-six years and has celebrated composers from all parts of the world. Legends that have been featured in the past include Eric Ball, Ray Steadman-Allen, William Himes, Kenneth Downie and so many more. If you look at the list, it is a virtual who’s who of Salvation Army composers.
This year, David Catherwood from Belfast, Northern Ireland was the featured composer. David has had a lifelong interest in arranging and composing and had his first piece published in the Festival Series in 1979. Since then, over forty compositions have been published in The Salvation Army’s wide range of band and vocal journals. In addition to his works published by the SA, he has a substantial number of choral settings published In the USA by Warner Brothers, Alfred Publishing Co., Shawnee Press and Hal Leonard.
The Greater New York Youth Band and Chorus were the featured groups for the evening and they were supported by the Railton Chorus (Divisional Singing Company) and a massed singing company of over 150 voices. In addition to these groups, the night featured two guest soloists, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Andrew Garcia, now the Principal Trumpet of the West Point Band and Ryan McCrudden who is the Principal Euphonium of the New York Staff Band.
The night opened up with a world premiere of the march “On This Day.” This new march was led by B/M Gordon Ward and features the tune How Firm a Foundation and provided a very inviting start to the evening and set the tone for what was to be a very good night. Following a congregational song and a few introductions, Andrew Garcia, came to the stage for his first solo performance.
“Blessings” was originally written for the GNY Divisional Music Director and NYSB Principal Cornet, Gordan Ward. Andrew Garcia, a lifelong Salvationist and former member of the GNY Youth Band and New York Staff Band came to the stage in his United States Army Dress Uniform. He certainly looked like he was ready for business and his playing did not disappoint. “Blessings” has a large collection of notes and Andrew had no problem taking care of each and every one. Although he played this solo on trumpet, his lovely cornet sound was ever present.
The second soloist for the evening, Ryan McCrudden was featured on two contrasting items. Ryan first joined pianist Lily Finikin for “Spirit of Life.” This is a very delicate and exposed solo and Ryan handled all of its intricacies without any problem. This solo is not played very often but should certainly make its way into the repertoire of any euphonium soloist. Ryan was also featured on “When I Remember” later in the program. This was the perfect item to display Ryan’s superb technique and dexterity. He is making a name for himself in his role with the New York Staff Band and should start being seen as a guest soloist around the world.
The GNY Youth Chorus, led by Gavin Whitehouse took the stage for the first time on “Day by Day.” This piece in particular displays Catherwood’s ability to write a great tune. The Youth Chorus sang beautifully and this was one of the highlights of the evening.
The Greater New York Massed Singing Company took to the stage and sang their only solo item of the evening, “Look Through Any Window.” This large group of very excited young people did a fine job, led expertly by Lily Finikin.
SSG Garcia was next joined by the Principal Cornet player of the GNY Youth Band, Harrison Lubin. “Forward” was originally written as a cornet solo for B/M Gordon Ward but was re-written as a duet for the Belfast Temple Band’s visit to the Scottish Congress in 2007. This piece, much like “Blessings” provides the soloists an opportunity to get around the instrument rather quickly. It was certainly interesting to hear this item as a duet but seemed to work very well in this new format. Both Harrison and Andrew handled all the notes with ease and it was a great addition to the night’s program.
The GNY Youth Band and Chorus were on display for the next two items in “Known to You” and “My Jesus I Love Thee.” These two melodic pieces showed off both groups’ ability to play and sing in a melodic style with a wonderful group sound. Catherwood has a striking ability to write sensitive music that stirs the heart and soul. In a day when most composers are constantly writing things that are higher, faster and louder, David (especially with these items) shows how effective music can be when presently simply.
The grand finale for the evening, “So We Lift Our Voices’” featured the Massed Singing Company, Railton Chorus, Youth Chorus and Youth Band. David Catherwood took to the podium for this piece and led all the groups. This provided a perfect end to the evening and was a great celebration of all that is happening in the Greater New York Division. All in all, there were over 250 musicians featured from all parts of the division, and that was wonderful to see.
Congratulations to David for a wonderful night of God honoring music and to B/M Gordon Ward and his team for organizing this great event and for remaining consistent through thirty-six years of Profile Nights.