As snow fell on icy roads, 64 young people from all over the country made their way to the lodge at Star Lake Camp for the 4th annual Future All-Stars Weekend. As the young musicians arrived, they reunited with friends and members of the New York Staff Band (NYSB) and Commissioners Lawrence R. and Nancy A. Moretz, territorial leaders. The warm greetings filled the lodge with excitement and anticipation.
As a member of the NYSB, I arrived with a bit of anxiety, knowing that I was going to stand as an example to the young people who were attending. I would be an example not only of of musicianship but also of spirituality. I thought, "What a great responsibility!"
From the start, I noticed the sensitivity and dedication of the Future All-Stars and I was completely amazed by their attitude of readiness. It didn't take long for me to realize that I could learn as much from them as they could from me.
This was my second year participating in this event as a staff bandsman. Last year, I was assigned to help in the kitchen. No complaints there—I absolutely love that ministry. However, I felt that I missed out on the relational aspect of the weekend. This year, I was assigned to play in the Future All-Stars Band. What a great experience (and workout)!
The band played a broad spectrum of pieces that ranged from "Exultate" by Kenneth Downie to Bramwell Cole's "Divine Pursuit." The weekend stretched the All-Stars both mentally and physically with challenging music and many hours of rehearsal. I believe that the All-Stars lived up to the challenge, and I was inspired by their determination.
I am grateful to have had the experience of getting to know some of the young people this year. Playing in the band and having two of them as prayer partners (Hi Allison and Brittany!) really allowed me to learn about their faith, where they are in their walk with the Lord, and their love of music.
The participants ranged in age from 13 to 18 and came from different walks of life. Some came from out of the country. In the midst of the differences, there are two commonalities that brought them together—their love for both the Lord and Salvation Army banding. There is a sense of unity and oneness when playing in a brass band, and it is emphasized on weekends such as this. Having the chance to witness the talent of the All-Stars gave me hope knowing that the future of Salvation Army banding is in great hands.