23 November 2023

Leslie Condon in concert: A wonderful tribute

Andrew Blyth

A photo of the International Staff Band and the International Staff Songsters in concert at St John’s Smith Square, London.

Andrew Blyth reviews a concert held at St John’s Smith Square, London, to mark 40 years since Leslie Condon was promoted to Glory. 

It is a sign of great respect and admiration of their worth that a person’s impact is still widely appreciated many years after their passing. Such is the case with Major Leslie Condon, a Salvation Army officer, family man and respected composer of brass and choral music. 

It is 40 years since Major Leslie was promoted to Glory. To mark this anniversary, the International Staff Band and International Staff Songsters joined with a specially invited quintet and soloist Isobel Daws to present a tribute to his music and ministry. 

The concert was held at St John’s Smith Square in central London and not even Storm Ciarán could stop a capacity congregation from attending. The people gathered were eagerly anticipating music of the highest quality, both in terms of performance and spiritual content. They were not disappointed. The ISB and ISS opened with ‘Celebration’ and ‘A Song of Praise’ respectively. Both are inherently Salvation Army works and bring a smile and sense of pride in belonging to such a wonderful Movement. 

Throughout the evening the two groups brought their quality and musicality to such numbers as ‘The Present Age’, ‘The Call of the Righteous’, ‘Hymn to Christ’ and ‘The Love of My Lord’. These works were all well known by those gathered but they were given a respect and treatment that made them a joy to hear once again. Isobel Daws was the trombone soloist for the evening and her reading of ‘Song of Exuberance’ was of the highest quality, along with excellent support from the ISB. 

Special mention must be made to the quintet who played ‘Festivity’. This work, originally written in quintet form and premiered in 1972, was performed by musical luminaries Philip Cobb, Tom Nielsen, Isobel Daws, Stephen Williams and Dudley Bright – who was part of the original quintet in 1972! It was a stunning performance and, for many, a highlight of the evening. Along with the music there were two tributes: Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill and Val Parkhouse, Major Leslie’s daughter, brought personal and heart-warming insights into his life and ministry.  

Trevor Caffull, managing director of Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd, expertly compèred the evening and spoke of the event being a celebration of Major Leslie’s life and ministry, even though the loss of him is still felt by many 40 years on. ‘Celebration’ was certainly the right word for this wonderful evening remembering a wonderful musician and Salvation Army officer. 

Written by

A photo of Andrew Blyth.

Andrew Blyth

Music Editorial Manager, THQ

Watch on demand

The Present Age: A Tribute to Leslie Condon is available to watch on wobplay.com, with subscriptions starting from £9.99 a month.

visit wobplay.com

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An online radio station for everyone linked to The Salvation Army.

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