EASTERN TERRITORY STAFF SONGSTERS
The Eastern Territorial Songsters (ETSS) is a choir of pastors and members from The Salvation Army church community. Members are drawn from choirs in Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Ohio and along the eastern seaboard from Delaware to Maine. The choir is 30 men’s and women’s voices strong, with rhythm combo accompaniment, who sing in a variety of musical styles. The singers are volunteer Salvation Soldiers with diverse vocal backgrounds, a conviction for teaching and leading church ensemble singing and a long-term commitment to ministering in The Salvation Army.
Appointed to service by Eastern Territory leader Commissioner Lawrence R. Moretz in 2005, the songsters have accompanied many well-known preachers as they traveled in the Army’s USA northeast region including The Salvation Army’s international leader General Linda Bond and past leader General Shaw Clifton. The choir has shared programming with The Salvation Army’s International Staff Band, New York Staff Band and Canadian Staff Band, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, trumpeter Chris Jaudes, Christian pop song-writer Ken Medema and many regionally known church artists.
The songsters have enjoyed instruction and retreat under the pastoring of S/L William Rollins (ETSS director/conductor 2005-2012), Salvation Army International Staff Songster conductor Captain Len Ballantine, Salvation Army International Staff Band and Staff Songster conductor Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Bearcroft, worship leaders Colonels Robert and Gwenyth Redhead and Asbury College choral professor Dr. Beatrice Holz. The songsters have presented a varied and diverse vocal repertoire. It is not unusual to find the choir sing hymn tune arrangements, gospel stylings, patriotic tunes or masterworks of the liturgical genre. ETSS released their first CD, “We Feel Like Praisin’ Him”, in the summer of 2007 and their second “It Is Good” in the summer of 2010.
In its brief existence, ETSS has spent time ministering with many diverse corps songster groups, divisional youth choirs and Eastern Territory vocal workshops. The ETSS has been able to demonstrate vocal repertory, workshop vocal technique, present and worship with choral music. In every exposure with Salvation Army Corps songster brigades, ETSS has witnessed vital and effective corps ministry regardless of the size and ability of those groups. ETSS has had wonderful personal fellowship with each choir member with which they have shared and witnessed a wonderful ownership and support by corps for their songster brigades. ETSS has witnessed effective God honoring worship led by even the smallest of Salvation Army choirs.
NEW YORK STAFF BAND
The New York Staff Band represents the finest in Christian brass band performance. Holding the distinction of being the first ‘staff band’ in Salvation Army [SA] music history, the NYSB meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards of musical practice and Christian ministry expected of such a model group. When the band released its first 33-rpm ‘long play’ [LP] back in 1957 under Staff Bandmaster Richard Holz, it was heralded as ‘America’s Foremost Brass Band.’ The liner notes stated boldly: “From the ‘greatest city in the world’ comes one of the greatest bands of the world. The description of the band by a leading New York music critic over 70 years ago–“amateur musicians who play like professionals”–can easily be underscored and endorsed in the second decade of the 21st century. The NYSB has been and continues to be a trailblazer in SA and brass band music making.
The band’s corporate attitude is not ‘professional’ in the modern sense of that word. Rather, while truly outstanding in performance, their approach is that of the ‘amateur’ in its original sense—one who loves what they pursue in art, rather than an approach to one’s music as a ‘job.’ It is worth emphasizing here that throughout its’ illustrious career, the NYSB has been and continues to be a fully volunteer musical organization. Each member gives freely of their time and effort while in the band, all in addition to their regular ‘day job.’
The band continues to be motivated by their love of Christ, the essential ingredient in potential staff bandsmen when the group first formed under Commander Ballington Booth in the spring of 1887. That motivation they link to their desire and their calling to lift high the Gospel message.
This band focused on Christian mission does not get bogged down in matters of protocol, social status, or the latest fad. The NYSB is just as comfortable playing at an Adult Rehabilitation Center or local SA community center as it is at a fancy dinner honoring donors to the SA, or giving sacred concerts in some of the world’s finest venues and with the finest musicians. Their music making serves as an arm of the Salvation Army’s compassionate ministry while keeping true to the highest purposes of sacred music—giving praise and glory to God.
For those interested in the wider impact of this band in places where the band proclaims the Gospel, this selective listing of famous locations where the NYSB has featured–in several multiple times–can provide an encapsulation of their global impact. New York locations dominate, but far-flung concert halls are added to provide perspective: Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Buckingham Palace Forecourt, Carnegie Music Hall, Disney World, Madison Square Garden, Metropolitan Opera House (NYC), The National Auditorium (Washington, D.C.), New York Central Park Mall, Roy Thomson Hall (Toronto), Royal Albert Hall (London), Sydney Opera House (Australia), Town Hall (NYC), United Nations, USS Arizona Memorial (Pearl Harbor), Wall Street (NYC), World’s Fairs, Yankee Stadium, Yuinchokin Hall (Tokyo).
The band has visited the United Kingdom more than eight times, toured Europe and Scandinavia on multiple occasions, traveled several times to the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, been across the border into Canada on more than 20 occasions, and performed coast to coast in the USA. In all of this, added to a pace-setting, unprecedented series of recordings, they have played a major, significant role in the nurturing and encouragement of the worldwide brass band community and especially the music program of The Salvation Army. NYSB Website
Unbound exists to create music that unites worshipers, proclaims the truths found in God’s Word, inspire and train Salvationist musicians and focus the cannon of music produced by The Salvation Army.