Rader shared the following devotional thoughts with the younger musicians of the Hempstead Band on the eve of the New York Staff Band's Anniversary Concert.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.—Colossians 3:16
I never played in the staff band, yet it has had a profound impact on my life. In 1948, when I was just 10 and my father was the divisional young people's sergeant (DYPS) in Newark, I found myself in the balcony of the Centennial Memorial Temple (CMT) for a staff band concert.
I had yet to be introduced to Puccini and Wagner (officers' children did not attend symphony concerts). This was the pinnacle of musical sophistication—the ultimate musical experience—and a lofty summit it was. It is just about 60 years ago, and I am there in my mind—the music still washes over me and enters into my soul!
Looking down from the balcony, I saw the bandsmen as distant figures, but they were all larger than life to me. I would eventually come to know them all, but the aura of band membership remained—they were heroes—their chairs were pedestals! The impression made then and reinforced in myriad subsequent performances was indelible—lifelong. The band and its music became a part of me.
The post-WW2 band
On that particular day in 1948, Brigadier William Bearchell had the baton (1945–1951). Roland Schramm was playing Eb cornet (he would later be my boss at Booth Memorial); Ed Lowcock, Jim Henderson, and Walter Orr were on cornets; Dick Holz was on flugel; Al Swenarton, Fletcher Agnew, Tom Gorman, and Ralph Miller were on horns; Milton Kippax was on euphonium, Floyd Hooper on baritone; Arthur Craytor was first chair trombone; Brigadier Charles Mehling played second; and John Sarer pumped the bass trombone slide with a long extension lever. Vincent Bulla and Frank Fowler played bass, and Rowland Hughes played the bass drum.
The next year (1949) Bill Riley (our bandmaster in Tremont who led the whole band to Hempstead when it opened in the 50s) replaced Hughes on drum. Walter Squibb joined the trombones in 1950 and the young, dashing Charles Olsen took his seat with the basses. Bill Slater became bandmaster (1951-1955) and the young Raders joined the Cincinnati Citadel Band under Bandmaster Russell Nance.
Olof Lundgren joined the cornet section in 1951—Slater was still bandmaster. Arthur Anderson joined the trombones in last chair, and Charlie Olsen left for military service. Joe Toft and Wilfred Cooper joined the basses.
In 1952, Ed Lowcock was still playing "Lover of the Lord." In 1953, there were three Lundstens in the band—Bill on flugel, Eric on horn, and Bob on baritone. Fred Dockendorf joined the baritones.
In 1954, our family moved back to New York and I joined the Temple chorus and listened to the band every Friday night. Dick Holz and Vernon Post were now deputy bandmasters and both played solo cornet. Jim Abram and Vernon Post joined the cornets, along with Bill Riley on 1st and John Waldron on 2nd. Fred Dockendorf moved to 2nd trombone and Artie moved up. Charlie was back from the military and joined Frank Fowler. Ray Wilson was corralled into playing the bass drum.
New B/M in '55
In 1955, Dick Holz inherited the baton (1955–1963) and his front row was Walter Orr, Jim Abram, Vernon Post, and Olaf Lundgren. Al Swenarton reigned over the alto section, and Don Ross and Bill MacLean joined the baritones. The basses were Bulla, Olsen, Cooper, and Fowler—it would be the big man's last year.
In 1956, Ed Lowcock reappeared in the fifth chair with Fred Jackson, Bill Riley, Ralph Miller, and Al Avery in the second row. It was the year that George Hyatt established the first Salvation Army youth band under David Moulton in the Metropolitan Division, and Artie Anderson tried to get the Metropolitan Melodaires going. The Army was not quite ready for the dance band format and sound, including—for the first time—brushes on the snare! It was also the year that many of us went to Asbury College, where the first Salvation Army student band coalesced spontaneously within two hours of arriving on campus.
In 1957, Ray Wilson got his wish, and Artie Moulton relieved him of the drumsticks. Kippax retired and Bob McNally became the euphonium soloist, with Don Ross in second chair. Artie Anderson was now the trombone soloist, after premiering Leidzen's "Concertino" to a noisy commissioning audience. He was joined in second chair by Bill North, another jazz player who had a wonderful conversion experience; Arthur Craytor and John Sarer—the old timers were providing gravitas.
In 1958, Clifford Millward, our first chair player in the 1950 Cincinnati Citadel band and the first Salvationist I knew to enter a music conservatory, was sitting in the band between Vernon Post and Walter Orr. Billy Schofield and Al Avery were playing horn, and Ivor Rich was sitting next to Charlie Olsen.
What a grand history! Can you imagine that this was all before the venerable Tom Mack joined the band, and before the days of Vernon Post (1963–72), Derek Smith (1972–86), Brian Bowen (1986–92), and Ron Waiksnoris, who became bandmaster in 1992 and like many of his predecessors, moved from the solo cornet chair to the podium?
These are some of my recollections from the days when I was your age. You couldn't listen to the band without being blessed and thrilled, without feeling a kind of pride, and without thanking God for the giftedness of Army composers and musicians.
There was never a time when I would have qualified to play anything in the band, but there was never a time that I did not hold the bandsmen in awe—taking pride in the band as though I were connected to it in some way.
The music became more difficult. A whole generation of prolific and talented composers was growing up, and the technical proficiency of the performers—many extraordinarily gifted and formally trained—was increasing apace.
I suspect that when the band plays in worship services and in concerts around the world, there are still young people whose eyes are big and round, whose ears are tingling with delight, and whose minds and hearts are drinking in the music in ways that will change them forever. I believe that the band can be an instrument of the Holy Spirit to reach and touch both the receptive and the resistant.
There is no music like Army music because it is infused with spiritual life—words that speak of hope—scriptural truths that promise deliverance underlying its musical themes. It is an out-breathing of divinely inspired music. As each instrument within the band has its own voice, so the whole band conveys a message to my heart—as though it were the voice of God.
Surely the band is a channel by which meaning is conveyed amid the noisy and chaotic anti-music of our age. The challenge, of course, is to ensure that we always have a clear message and are not so much focused on impressing critics or demonstrating personal virtuosity as on speaking clearly in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs—in our lives as in our music.