Sydney Youth Band celebrates decade of unique service
21 November 2012
Lieutenant-Colonel David Godkin, The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory Secretary for Personnel, experienced one of the best days of his life in Papua New Guinea. It occurred while he was on tour with the Sydney Youth Band in 2009.
Thousands of Papua New Guineans had gathered to watch the band play at a marketplace in the highlands town of Goroka. The hour-long performance held the huge crowd captivated. Lieut-Colonel Godkin, a former Sydney Youth Band executive officer and spiritual mentor, recalls the moment as transforming for the band. “This was the band’s vision come to fruition,” he says.
While the PNG tour was a landmark moment for the band, it has now reached another milestone, celebrating its 10th anniversary “Bonanza” concert on 17 November at Sydney Congress Hall.
Guest vocalist Rebecca Raymond, who performs regularly with the Melbourne Staff Band, flew from Adelaide to sing on the night, stunning the audience with her vocal ability.
The highlight of the evening was watching the band play Ancient of Days, accompanied by a video display of the PNG tour. Mid-song, the band stopped playing to listen to the audio of PNG children singing the chorus of Ancient of Days.
In between performances by the Sydney Youth Band, a number of members shared how God has impacted their lives through being part of the group. Allan, who plays bass, gave his testimony and then concluded the evening with a surprise marriage proposal to his girlfriend Lorinda, who replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Formed in 2002, the Sydney Youth Band was a joint idea of now Lieutenant Peter Gott and Salvationist James Hill. The pair approached Lieut-Colonel Godkin about forming a brass band exclusively for young people aged 13 to 30.
“We felt that there was a need amongst the young people to be stretched in their faith and in their abilities that they weren't able to get at that point in their local corps,” explains Lieut Gott.
While the Sydney Youth Band is formed under the Sydney East and Illawarra Division, it is open to anyone who is able to attend monthly practices. Band members come from as far as Canberra, Shellharbour, Gosford and right across Sydney.
At the band’s first rehearsal, 70 enthusiastic young people turned up at Bankstown Corps. Apart from travelling to PNG, the band has toured across the territory and most recently to Tamworth, Gunnedah, Port Macquarie and Canberra.
For the past 10 years, the Sydney Youth Band has maintained a missional focus. Lieut-Colonel Godkin it is much more than just about playing quality music.
“Just the way they interact with people when they’re doing a concert, just the rapport they have with the crowd. There’s a real energy they get from being together,” he says.
Former Territorial Creative Arts and Music Director, Graeme Press, initially led the Sydney Youth Band. In 2005, the direction of the band fell to James Hill who remained in the role until the conclusion on the PNG tour in 2009.
The band is now under the musical direction of Josh Mann, who has been with the group since its inception. He is supported by a leadership team of Jono Lang, Josh Godkin, Daniel Evans and Kieran Bedwell.