19 August 2023

Territorial Music School 2023: Holiness and harmony!

A group photo of all of the delegates of Territorial Music School 2023.
The whole school | Picture: Martin Davis

Delegates Joel Drury (Peterborough Citadel) and Hannah Carr (Norwich Citadel) share their experiences of this year’s TMS and Alan Williams (Music Editorial, THQ) reports on the Final Festival.

Joel Drury

William Booth College, while mostly known for training officers for the UKI Territory, has an alternative use: Territorial Music School. From 23 to 29 July, the college played host to over 80 young Salvationists for a week of music-making, spiritual development and little sleep.

The week comprised traditional brass band and vocal main studies, where young band members and singers learnt a wide repertoire, from Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘The Holy War’ to Len Ballantine’s ‘Celebration Morning’. Alongside this were a contemporary worship group, A Chorus, timbrels and a musical theatre group performing a whistle-stop tour of Sister Act.

Every morning saw worship in the Assembly Hall. This is symbolic to any Salvationist as, at the back of the hall, the flags of past sessions of officers – including my grandparents, Lieut-Colonels Pat and Keith Howarth! – remind us of the Salvationists of the past 100 years and, at the front of the hall, ‘the mother of all mercy seats’ as it is affectionally known, where those same officers signed the Officer’s Covenant to dedicate their whole lives in service to God.

The week’s theme was Wholly Holy and we delved into what it means as young Christians to be wholly available to God. In Army banding, we talk about the ‘words behind the music’, as this is what sets us apart from other bands. At the midweek festival, Paul Sharman’s band played Peter Graham’s ‘To Boldly Go’, which features the song ‘I’ll Not Turn Back’. The lyrics to this say: ‘I’ll not turn back, whatever it may cost,/ I’m called to live, to love and save the lost.’

As we found out during the week, we are called by God to serve, to be wholly holy and available for him to use. We went back to our home corps and communities with newfound knowledge and new friends – and to find more sleep.

A photo shows young people playing brass instruments during a practice at Territorial Music School 2023.
Day three – band rehearsal | Picture: Martin Davis

Hannah Carr

For many young Salvationists, Territorial Music School is instrumental in both spiritual and musical growth, and this year was no exception.

Each day was filled with worship and main study rehearsals. Students could also engage in secondary options, choosing between sport, discussion, timbrels, worship band, Sing to the Lord Choir and practice techniques, with A Chorus and A Band completing the itinerary. Evenings were filled with entertainment such as games and quiz nights – that proved to be very competitive! – before concluding in vespers led by different delegates.

The week’s theme, Wholly Holy, encouraged everyone to submit every aspect of their lives fully to God. Each morning, Captain Callum McKenna (William Booth College) brought familiar Bible stories to life as he taught us what it means to be wholly forgiven, wholly whole and wholly loved. Later in the week he challenged us to become wholly involved and wholly available.

These topics were explored in cell groups, giving delegates a chance to discuss and unpack their thoughts with their peers. On Thursday evening, worship, music and testimonies combined with Callum’s words to challenge those of us who might feel ‘spiritually stuck’ to submit ourselves to God and his perfect plan.

Saturday’s final festival was a celebration of talented youth making music for the glory of God, all at an exceptional standard. After the contemporary worship team kickstarted the evening with sung worship, brass fanatics were spoilt for choice. Highlights from the vocal option included Andrew Blyth’s ‘The Stillness’ and Stephen Pelley’s new arrangement of ‘In the Secret of Thy Presence’. The A Chorus also blessed listeners with ‘In All I Do’. Throughout the evening, the musical theatre option performed extracts from Sister Act, which demonstrated talent and professionalism in all its elements.

The week was filled with laughter and encouragement, while challenging and inspiring us all.

Photo shows a group of young people performing on the William Booth College platform during Territorial Music School 2023.
Midweek festival. | Picture: Martin Davis

Final Festival report: Alan Williams

Arriving 45 minutes early, I entered the rear doors of the Assembly Hall to find a bustling crowd. Family and friends of delegates and other supporters of Territorial Music School were busy catching up and trying to find the best seats in readiness for the week’s final festival.

It soon became apparent that very few seats were unaccounted for. Indeed, the gathered number was so large that there soon arrived emergency chairs to make new rows to the rear.

The atmosphere was one of excited anticipation.

After a welcome from the Territorial Music School’s director, Dr Stephen Cobb – in which we learnt that delegate numbers had increased by 45 per cent from last year – the congregation joined the contemporary worship main study group in sung worship. We then experienced a brilliantly executed blended worship item, ‘Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here’, featuring the whole school, including contemporary worship, brass and choral elements.

What followed was an encouraging and inspiring display of worship. Twenty-six items allowed each delegate to display the time and effort they had invested during the week, guided with skill and care by their excellent leaders – each of whom, along with the pastoral and administrative staff members, should be thanked and congratulated.

The programme featured a careful balance of music – old and new, serious and light. The delegates were able to stretch themselves to play Paul Sharman’s ‘Quest’, Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘The Holy War’ and Leslie Condon’s ‘Song of the Eternal’, along with new music from Sam Creamer and Paul Sharman, and to sing words by Albert Orsborn and Richard Slater with new music, written especially for the week, by Andrew Blyth, Andrew Wicker and Alan Williams. A recent and popular addition is the musical theatre main study, who wonderfully performed, in five parts, a reduced version of Sister Act.

Captain Callum McKenna – the week’s spiritual director – gave us cause to reflect, before Andrew Maycock’s beautiful and recently published song ‘In All I Do’ reminded us that we should show heart and compassion in all we do for God.

This really was a celebration, with high standards of music-making set and pursued by the delegates in an obvious expression of shared faith and purpose.

It has been impossible to mention every item, so if you would like to enjoy the final festival’s full programme and support these remarkable young musicians, I encourage you to download the live recording from SP&S.

Listen to the Final Festival

Download available from SP&S for £9.99.

Download the TMS 2023 album

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