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Brass band ready for annual Spring Festival

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Music man: bandmaster Warren Jones

“More than the music, you remember the fun.”

Warren Jones grew up in the Salvation Army and learnt to play through the ministry’s music programmes.

“Things like the pranks — that’s what stays in my mind,” he said.

“We’ve always had music camp, which has taken place at Ports Island, Paget Island and Warwick Camp, where the young people learn to play brass instruments.

“You might have had a person in camp that was a little irritating. One year we had such a camper and that camper woke up in his bed in the water on South Shore on the beach, quite disconcerted.”

Whether or not he took part will remain a secret.

Mr Jones, 57, will lead the Salvation Army’s Divisional Band at their 20th Annual Spring Festival of music on Saturday.

The ministry has been brass banding for more than 100 years — the sound is now synonymous with the Salvation Army.

Founder William Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and pulpit in the 1800s, and instead used music to spread his message.

Mr Jones told Lifestyle: “At the time, brass banding in London was extremely popular, so he used brass bands as a means to ministry.

“The bands would march in the streets playing the popular tunes of the day, which would draw people out of the bars, but they would find the words had been changed and religious words had been put to the songs.”

All Salvation Army musicians dedicate themselves and their instruments to the church, he added. His instrument is the euphonium — a small tuba of tenor pitch — although he majored in classical guitar at college.

“To get my degree, I had to learn all instruments,” he said.

He returned as music teacher at Warwick Academy from 1980 to 1990, then at the Berkeley Institute from 1990 to 1992.

He became bandmaster for his church band and then in 1995, was asked to become the official bandmaster of the Salvation Army’s Divisional Band, a combined band of the four churches here.

He has led the band in performances across the island and also in Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua and the United States.

“We have tried every other year to do a ministry trip somewhere,” he said.

“This is our main ministry event, every year. It takes quite a lot of work to put it together.”

His team of deputies, executive directors and fellow bandmates provide music for a host of events.

“We’ve got everybody from construction labourers to teachers, accountants and police detectives and, when they’re not doing their day jobs, they’re practising,” he said.

The band’s second CD will be released on Saturday; it covers a decade of music.

“Over the years we’ve had several guests,” Mr Jones said.

“We’ve brought in bands from overseas, we’ve used local vocalists, percussion labs — a wide variety of guests over the years.”

On Saturday, the band will premiere new music dedicated to one of the Salvation Army’s leading composers, David Knight.

“Our music is written by Salvationists and, many years ago, had to be put through a council before it could be played,” Mr Jones said. “[Knight] was the first Bermudian to be published by the Salvation Army and has music printed in our journals.

“In Bermuda he’s known as Mr Music.”

United Dance Productions will also perform on Saturday.

The festival takes place at 7.30pm at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. Patron tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple. General admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at Salvation Army churches or by calling 292-0601. Buy The Isle of Angels at Music Box, $15.

Crowd pleasers: the popular Salvation Army Divisional Band performing at last year’s Spring Festival