|Bandmaster Courtney Bosanko - 1950-1964|
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The festival which marked the retirement of Bandmaster Mountain also saw the commissioning of Courtney Bosanko ALCM. He was a member of a well known Salvation Army musical family, his father being the retired BM at Bargoed, and his brother BM at Cardiff Canton. In early life he was greatly influenced by his mother's Godly example and was converted during his school days. In his teens he played solo euphonium in the Men's Social HQ Band, under the leadership of Col. Arthur Goldsmith, and at the age of 21 was commissioned bandmaster at Walthamstow. After two years he transferred to Salisbury where he served as BM for 17 years.
During the war he was bandmaster of the 7th (Haytor) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and was congratulated by Field Marshall Alexander upon the performance of his band in Rome. He held very sacred the fundamental principles of S.A. banding. In writing to a friend in 1943 he stated that he had rededicated his life to God some three years before on the eve of going into Tunisia.
A personal relationship with God is the thing that matters and my relationship today is stronger, richer, deeper, firmer than ever before. A little musical ability is only one of the many things needed to be a bandmaster.
With experience gleaned from 19 years as bandmaster and expertise acquired from Col. Goldsmith's instruction he soon proved his capabilities as a band trainer with an ability to give confidence to those who doubted their own abilities and to extract extraordinary performances from ordinary players. The band was soon much in demand with engagements being requested up to two years in advance.
First campaign 'under new management' took the band to Paignton, for the weekend of 31st March/lst April, 1951, and later that year they travelled to Wolverhampton. The Saturday evening festival was in fact held in the Friend's Institute, Sparkbrook and consisted of a Symphony of Brass shared with Sparkhill band and songsters, plus Tottenham band. Boscombe contributions included The Valiant Heart, King of Kings, The Great Physician and Reg Tubbs' soprano solo An Irish Melody. Rita Green and Deputy Bandmaster James Williams also rendered solos.
Weekend campaigns were plentiful in the next 3 years, with visits being made to Staple Hill, Catford, Bargoed (twice), Maidstone, Nottingham Memorial Halls, Canton and Blackheath, the latter visit being marked by
not only the outstanding musical abilities of the bandsmen but also by their spiritual deportment.
Later campaigns took the band to Reading, Gloucester, Maidstone, Salisbury, Leighton Buzzard, Cheltenham, Hendon, Worthing, Watford, Cambridge, Luton Temple, Newton Abbot, Trowbridge and Bargoed (for the third time). The regular visits to Bargoed - the bandmaster's home corps, immortalised in his march of that name - coincided with the Annual Rhymney Valley Festival, and the band was always well received. Most of these campaigns were memorable not only for the quality of the playing but also for the spiritual impact which regularly resulted in seekers, with 15 being recorded at Canton alone.
Following his retirement to Boscombe in July, 1954, General Albert Orsborn readily accepted invitations to special with the band, and in the next few years accompanied them to Exeter, Ipswich, Regent Hall, Croydon and Bristol Easton. Referring to Boscombe as 'My Band', he not only proved to be inspirational in his leadership of meetings and band spirituals but also a tremendous source of encouragement to each bandsman.
Festivals were regularly held at Boscombe, often in partnership with other local bands such as Poole, Winton, Sholing and Portland. On occasion festivals were given at surrounding corps, sometimes by the full band, sometimes by a dozen or so of its members. Among the unusual engagements, the band was called upon to accompany the singing on Monday, 23rd May, 1955 for the dedication of the site of the Punshon Memorial Church, and also to participate in the Ringing Bournemouth evangelistic campaign held in a tent in Iford, July, 1958.
In June 1962 the band was honoured by a second appearance in the Royal Albert Hall at the Bandmasters' councils festival. As in 1949 they shared the platform with Coventry City Band and the ISB, with Tottenham Citadel being the other guests. A report by Michael Kenyon details Boscombe's performance:
The tone poem When they Crucified my Lord (Ray Steadman-Allen) was an
ambitious choice by Boscombe Band
(Courtney Bosanko) and the dramatic qualities of the music were not always made apparent. For the band's second item, a
spirited rendition was given of a Soderstrom march Army of God, a choice from the American
Band Journal and not from the extensive repertoire of Band Journals published in London.
Although not appealing to Michael Kenyon's tastes, the playing of the band was generally considered to be very good, but perhaps the first piece was unsuitable for the occasion.
Fisherman's Walk bandstands were attracting ever greater crowds, and the repertoire was increased significantly from Bandmaster Mountain's 50 to over 114 items by 1961. Band songs and timbrel displays were now regularly featured and attractive glossy brochures were produced to include details of band history and personnel. Each programme concluded with the benedictory song Oh how good to trust my heavenly father.
Summer openairs came under much scrutiny from holidaymakers and a photograph taken of the band on one such occasion was published in the Musician (11th October 1952). Particular attention was drawn to the good points that it illustrated - people listening; the smart appearance of the band; careful, efficient spacing; excellent deportment; high standard of playing and impressive witness.
Monday night openairs were an important summertime engagement, often attracting large crowds - especially when General Orsborn was involved. The editor of the Musician visited Boscombe to record not only the meeting itself, but also some background of those participating in it, and this resulted in a four page spread. (large file - 1.7Mb)
Following the success of the 1947 tour, it was with great enthusiasm that the band accepted the opportunity for a return visit to Holland on 12th May 1961. The Musician report by Bandsman Harry Cutler gives further details.
A large company of relatives, comrade soldiers and representatives of other corps in the area gathered at Bournemouth Airport on the Friday evening to bid 'God speed' to Boscombe Band when it left for its tour of the Netherlands. The men were delayed for an hour when an engine fault was discovered after they had boarded the plane, but eventually Rotterdam Airport was reached and the unforgettable sight of the city's lights made the delay seem worthwhile.
Greeted by the Field Secretary (Lt. Colonel Philip van Dalen) and Major J.B. Hoevers, the bandsmen proceeded to Hague Congress Hall where, at 11.30pm, Dutch comrades waited to greet them.
The first festival of the tour was given in Scheveningen Prison, following which the visitors united with
Hague Congress Hall Band (Dick Kruyt) for an openair meeting and experienced grand fellowship with the men.
In the evening the Boscombe bandsmen were happy to meet former Divisional Commander, now Chief Secretary for the Netherlands, Colonel Frederick Holland, who offered the territory's official welcome. Items included Army of the Brave and Melodies of Schubert and the congregation was quick to show its appreciation of the contributions made by Bandsmen Reg Tubbs (soprano: Maoriland) and Robin Andrews (trombone: Count Your Blessings), and Deputy Bandmaster Maurice Brotheridge (cornet: Happy Day).
Sunday, May 14th : Lt. Colonel Gladpootjes conducted the holiness meeting at Hague Congress Hall and the address was given by the Lt. Colonel Bramwell Mason. In the afternoon the band gave a programme in the 'Doelen Hall' at Delft and the Divisional Commander presided. Returning to the Hague, openair activity was followed by the salvation meeting led by Major Hoevers and addressed by Major Bertram Wells (CO at Boscombe); the day ended triumphantly with five seekers at the Mercy Seat.
Monday, May 15th : The day was spent in Rotterdam; a tour of the famous harbour was organised in the
morning and free time in
the afternoon gave the men opportunity for sightseeing. For the evening festival the spacious Rotterdam Congress Hall, seating
800 people, was filled to capacity. Band items included The King of Kings; it was a
special pleasure to meet Bandmaster Voorn of that corps.
Tuesday, May 16th : The band travelled to Enkhuisen, on the Zuider Zee. This delightful little seaport maintains much of its old-world character and many of the 10,000 inhabitants came to see the British band. A reception was accorded the visitors by the Burgomaster, and later three local bands combined to march the Boscombe men to the church where the evening festival was attended by nearly 1,000 people. The Territorial Commander (Lt. Commissioner William F. Palstra) presided.
Wednesday, May 17th : The journey to Alkmaar took the band through the most rural part of Holland and, on arrival, the men were shown over a milk, factory where they we entertained to lunch. It was interesting to see the traditional Dutch costumes still worn in this area. The festival here too, created much interest.
Thursday, May 18th : The fine weather continued as the bandsmen set
out for Wageningen, where they were greeted by the Divisional
Commander for East Netherlands (Major Kruisinga). In the afternoon they made their second post-war pilgrimage to the Oosterbeek
Military Cemetery, near Arnhem. The Chief Secretary (Colonel Frederick Holland) presided over the festival in the Junoshof. The
corps numbers thirty soldiers, with no band, but the town band was on parade in honour of the occasion.
Friday, May 19th : The day started with a visit to the Orange Nassau Sanatorium at Wageningen, where the band played to the patients. Arriving later at Almelo, the bandsmen were entertained to tea at the town hail by the civic authorities before being marched to the church by the band attached to the Baptist community and the corps band. Both these sections revealed a high standard of musicianship. Pieces played included Melodies from Schubert; Bandsman Graham Coote was the cornet soloist in Wondrous Day and Bandsman Robin Andrews (trombone) played The Eternal Quest.
Saturday, May 20th : The men appreciated the presence of the Burgomaster as they left by coach for Groningen where, on arrival, they marched through crowd lined streets to the town hall to be received by the civic authorities. Later they were the guests of the Divisional Commander for North Netherlands (Major C.A. Verviaal).
In the afternoon a festival was given at the prison and the visitors were impressed by the words of
appreciation, spoken in English
by one of the prisoners. Later the bandsmen marched to the Harmonic Concert hall for the evening festival attended by more than
1,000 people who comprised a most appreciative congregation. Bandsman Reg Tubbs, who has been the soprano cornet player at Boscombe
for twenty four years, was the evening's soloist.
Whit Sunday May 21st : Boscombe Band appreciated more fully the meaning of the Pentecostal story this morning for, although the languages spoken differed, the Salvationists were all with one accord in one place. Major J.B. Hoevers led a powerful holiness meeting and Brigadier Bertram Wells (CO at Boscombe) gave the address. Three corps in the area united for this meeting, which commenced at 9.30am, and Groningen Congress Hall Songster Brigade took part.
The afternoon programme was presented at Leeuwarden, in Friesland, and once again the large congregation gave the visitors a warm reception. The corps band, which entertained them to tea, possesses a brigade of drums, six of its members being women, and it was good to hear them. The responsibility for the Bible messages in each programme was shared by Lt. Colonel Bramwell Mason, Brigadier Wells, Band Sergeant William Legg and Assistant Band Sergeant Cyril Taylor.
An open-air meeting in the market place, attended by several hundred people, preceded the salvation
meeting, in the newly decorated hall, which commenced at eight o'clock. It was well after 10pm when the band sang the Army
doxology. Major Hoevers again led the meeting, in which Leeuwarden Songster Brigade participated, and the IHQ Representative
(Lt. Colonel Mason) gave the address.
Monday, May 22nd : The final day of the tour commenced with the longest journey - over the great dam separating the North Sea and the Zuider Zee, and the bandsmen were glad of the opportunity to express their thanks to Major Hoevers, whose excellent organisation and genial personality had added greatly to the effectiveness of the campaign, and the coach driver, who spoke of the impression for good which the men had imparted.
On arrival in Amsterdam the bandsmen were the guests of the Territorial Commander. The Belle Vue, a hall seating 1,500 people, was crowded for the afternoon festival, the congregation proving to be among the most enthusiastic of the tour. For the final meeting the band was privileged to take part in the commissioning of the cadets of the 'Soldiers of Christ' Session in the famous Concertgebouw. Pieces played were Army of God and Constant Trust.
The Juliana Church, which was the venue for the evening's programme, possesses a fine organ and the bandsmen
appreciated the organist's gesture in agreeing to play for them.
Tuesday, May 23rd
The tour completed, the Boscombe bandsmen left in the early morning rush hour for Schipol Airport. They appreciated the fact that Lt. Commissioner Palstra, Colonel Holland and Lt. Colonel Philip van Dalen (Field Secretary) were there to bid them farewell. Many memories of the ten-day campaign remain: those members of the band who took part in the previous visit to the Netherlands in 1947 noted the wonderful recovery made by the people of the country since then, a tribute to their tenacity and technical ability.
These qualities are reflected in the Salvationists, whose hospitality and kindness were
so generously given to their British comrades. The morning devotional periods, held while travelling to appointments, were times
of rich blessing and a deep sense of gratitude results from the fact that four of the five seekers during the initial weekend's
activities were new to the Army.
Soon after their return, the Air Safaris' "Viking" aircraft in which they had flown was to he seen in a local scrapyard, where it had been purchased for £100 following the demise of the airline.
Under Courtney Bosanko's leadership the band was frequently asked to broadcast for the BBC, the first programme being transmitted on 6th September 195l on the west of England Home Service. Featured items were Indomitable, Moments with the Masters, Harold Walker's cornet solo Oh had I Jubal's Lyre and The Light of the World.
The Temperance hall in Haviland Road acted as the studio and recordings were often made in front of an audience, with some of the earliest programmes being broadcast live. For each of the next 4 years the band contributed at least one programme to the 'Band Night' series, which was compered by Keith Hamilton-Price.
An unusual broadcast was transmitted on 26th February 1955, with 'Listen to the Band' featuring a shared programme by Boscombe and Cardiff Canton bands, their Bandmasters being brothers.
During the period of his bandmastership, Courtney Bosanko had a band numbering between 40 and 45, and he was unable to accommodate all those wanted to join the section. A floating system was introduced whereby bandsmen unable to command a regular place would step in for those who were sick or on holiday. After floating for 3 or 4 years in some cases a permanent place could often be found following the transfer or retirement of another member.
Such retirements occurred between 1952 and 1955 when the band said farewell to four stalwarts who had given exampiary service: Harold Walker, Will Rice, Percy Cutler and Bill Andrews.
Harold Walker played his last cornet solo at Poole on 19th February 1955 and his rendition of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto proved that even in his fifties he was still one of the Army's leading cornetists. Such was his stamina that even after a hectic hand practise he would continue to play for 20 minutes or so, often testing, out the latest cornets supplied through the Bandmasters music shop. He has even been known to carry through a musical festival as the only solo cornet. Not only was he an excellent cornet player, but he was equally at home with his Bible. His heart warming messages and thought-provoking Bible talks were very much appreciated by his fellow bandsmen, and had been responsible for leading several people to Christ.
For 10 years he had also held the position of Deputy Bandmaster and it was mainly due to his faithfulness in this respect during the war years that he was able to hand over a worthy combination to Bandmaster Herbert Mountain.
When giving his testimony upon retirement, Bandsman Walker said
If I had my time over again I would do exactly the same. I could not do better for I have done my very best. My spiritual experience is better, today than it has ever been, and I retire a happy man.
The retirement of Will Rice marked the end of an era for the band as he had shared with Frank Antell a partnership of 40 years on Boscombe's Bb bass section. In fact, between them, they had devoted 100 years to Army banding.
Percy Cutler retired after 42 years service as a bandsman, the last 18 years being a non-playing librarian and Band Secretary. Known for his meticulous organisation, he was responsible for arranging much of the band's campaign to Holland in 1947, plus the tours of the North of England and Channel Islands. He had previously been a founder member of Boscombe YP Band.
For more than twenty years Bandsman Bill Andrews of Boscombe was unable to hear a note of musio played by the band, owing to severe deafness and throughout that time he had to rely solely on the conductor's beat. For 28 years he played solo euphonium, following an earlier spell on cornet, and before the deterioration of his hearing had served as Deputy Bandmaster.
At the time of Bill's retirement in 1956, his son Robin was already making a name for himself as a trombone soloist being regularly joined in the bandstand and festival programmes by a variety of soloists who included Percy Smith (trombone), Doug Lawrence (cornet), Band Sergeant Hector Main (Concertina), John Beale (piano), Geoff Otter and Bob Allison (vocal), Deputy Bandmaster Reg Tubbs (soprano), Chris Parker (euphonium) and Norman Cutler (elocution). In later years three additional cornet soloists were featured - Maurice Brotheridge, Glyn Bosanko and Graham Coote - a1so a trumpet player with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
The retirement of Bandmaster Bosanko in January 1964 closed the chapter on probably the busiest period in the band's history. During his 13 years leadership the hand had travelled extensively, being highly complimented on its spiritual deportment, fine singing and top quality playing, which more than once had been described as 'precise and soulful'.
He had not only maintained the standards set by his illustrious forbears at Boscombe, hut had taken the band to greater heights of achievement, proving himself to be an excellent band trainer.
Quite apart from his Salvation Army activities, Courtney Bosanko founded a band at Boscombe Secondary (later Beaufort) School, and also served as Music Master at Oakmead School. His services to banding were later recognised by his award of the MBE in June 1975.
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