A small audience gathered at the hall as band practice on 9 June took on an Australian flavour. Australian Salvation Army composer, Major Howard Davies took the baton to lead most of the practice, mainly rehearsing pieces composed by himself (at the bandmaster’s request).
Major Davies was in the UK with his wife Sheena for the ISB120 celebrations and said he was looking forward to the Hadleigh120 celebrations also, as he had been asked to lead worship for that event. The Davies’s were in Hadleigh as the guests of their friends Majors Bob and Berta Draper prior to visiting friends and family in Wales and Scotland.
“It’s really great being here; I am enjoying my trip,” he said, “but I am looking forward to going home so I don’t have to live out of a suitcase.”
Before turning to the music, Major Davies said it had been 35 years since he served in London on the Music Editorial Department at IHQ and that now, five years after retiring, plays trombone in the band at Warragul Corps near Melbourne and in the Melbourne Veterans Band of which he is executive officer.
The Australian link was reinforced by the guest appearance of Melbourne Staff Bandsman Jonathan Still on Solo Horn, less than a week after the MSB performed a great programme at Hadleigh. Jonathan is the nephew of Band Secretary Brendan Still. . Major Davies greeted Jonathan and explained that Jonathan’s dad Kevin plays in the same corps band as him. Jonathan expressed his gratitude to CCG Clifton Pell who taught him to play many years ago
Having just heard the band warm up under Bandmaster Ken Hillson, Major Davies complemented the band on the quality of playing and took over the baton. He launched into conducting the flugel solo: It Is Well With My Soul, played by Alex Campbell. As he had written the piece he was able to tell the story of how it came about and explain some of the nuances he was trying to achieve. This was the pattern for all of his compositions that he conducted that evening. which included the chorus arrangement I Love You Lord, the song arrangement He Found Me and a very recently published cornet solo, All The Ways God Has Shown, which he claims he has not heard played before. The soloist was Keith Johnston.
The major also conducted three other pieces: Bearcroft’s march True Courage, Silfverberg’s selection The King and Churcher’s arrangement of the song You Raise Me Up.