Birmingham Citadel Band had the privilege of playing at Birmingham’s wonderful cathedral in the city centre. The occasion was a celebration of the fantastic work of the Rotary Club. Rotary International is an organisation founded in 1905 and now has branches all over the world. It is a secular organisation open to all persons regardless of race, colour, creed, gender, or political preference. There are more than 32,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. And so, against this backdrop, Birmingham Citadel Band were invited to participate in this celebration along with the Anglican Cathedral Choir and a gospel choir from Handsworth in Birmingham.
The current president of the Rotary Club in Birmingham is the Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander of the West Midlands Division, Major Samuel Edgar. Major Edgar had organised the event and a large crowd gathered to enjoy the diverse music.
After opening the afternoon with Gullidge’s “Emblem of the Army”, the band, under the leadership of Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharmand, featured pieces which suited the grand acoustic of the cathedral. Ray Bowes’ arrangement of “Abide with Me”, Ray Steadman-Allen’s “Holy, Holy, Holy” and Donald Osgood’s transcription “How Sweet the Sound (French)” were amongst the pieces which were particularly well received by the congregation. They also gave a fine performance of Robert Redhead’s “Reflections in Nature” as the cathedral enhanced the timbre of the band.
The band also accompanied the congregational singing and the afternoon concluded with a special arrangement for this celebration by Principal Cornet Gavin Lamplough of the hymn tune “Melita”.
The words of the Rotary Hymn “Eternal God we look to Thee that true and steadfast we may be” fit perfectly to the melody more commonly associated with the words “Eternal Father strong to save”.The congregation sang with great gusto to the band’s accompaniment and the declamatory style of the final verse left everyone with the words “And grant that we through Rotary ways may lead the world to better days, when hatred war and strife shall cease and all the world shall know thy peace” ringing in their ears as they left the cathedral. Whether we are members of the rotary or not, the sentiment of the song should be an inspiration to us all.