Mission and music at Christmas – how World of Sound and World of Brass are helping to share the uplifting sounds of The Salvation Army

On 27th March 2020, in the early, tumultuous days of the first national lockdown, Territorial Commander, Commissioner Anthony Cotterill shared a message on one of his videos. He said: "The whole world is coming together perhaps as it never has before, as we all have to live and cope with the pandemic that is around the world at this particular time. It’s a good reminder to us that we’re not alone and that we are all in this together and together we’ll find our way through this, in these days."

He went on to urge us to start singing: “I think singing is a game changer… my encouragement to you, to go on singing, to find the songs within us.”

Singing, as well as playing and performing, is at the heart of The Salvation Army.

In this blog, we look at mission and music at Christmas and how two parts of our SP&S Music division (our recording, production and record label services of World of Sound and World of Brass) are helping people to sing, perform, and hear the uplifting sounds of The Salvation Army.

Resources for Worship
Like many places of worship this year, The Salvation Army moved almost entirely online for a period of time. Even though restrictions on attending services have been lifted, online services are continuing for those who are still self-isolating or not able to attend in person.

Since September, our World of Sound and World of Brass teams have been working with The Salvation Army’s Music Editorial Department to create a huge Advent and Christmas resource for Corps (churches) across the UK. The impressive music and video resource entitled ‘Celebrating Christmas with Music Editorial’, launched in November and is available freely to Corps.

Adam Goldsmith, World of Sound Recording Manager, explains: “While Salvation Army Corps across the UK would usually welcome up to a couple of hundred worshippers in person, several thousand people continue to view services online. This means that Corps Officers have to think about planning online services each week, on top of everything else they do. This resource will help make it easier to select and download different music tracks and videos to be a part of these online Christmas services.  We’re looking forward to continuing to work with The Salvation Army in 2021 to provide similar resources for the rest of the Christian calendar.”

The resource includes piano, brass and vocal solo performances; piano underscores for bible readings; illustrated videos; carol accompaniment tracks with words to sing along – everything for a traditional, yet modern, service which has the sole purpose of engaging with people in Corps and at home. The team have been helping to select tracks, record, edit and produce finished files ready to download from sps-shop.com.

Online Nativity, International and Charity Performances
World of Sound has been working on three other ambitious Christmas projects: an online nativity play; an international collaboration spearheaded by Stockport Corps and featuring performers in Uganda, Canada and Australia; and a virtual concert for Maggie’s cancer care charity.

The nativity called “No Zoom at the Inn” has been created by The Salvation Army’s Music and Creative Arts Department (known as MACA). It features two ensemble songs and several solo items written specifically for the nativity and involves 66 children from across the UK. Melissa Dee, Producer and Engineer, is working closely with MACA and explains: “MACA posted a Facebook invitation asking children to audition for the nativity. They then held online Zoom rehearsals over several days. Children had to go away, film and perform the songs at home and send their videos in.”

Melissa was sent all the audition tapes to review, edit and produce final footage that will be a part of the virtual nativity.

No Zoom at the Inn premieres on Facebook this Saturday 19th December at 3pm and you will be able to watch it from MACA’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8-Z-bBapJEs1kNn9Jc4bA

World of Sound is supporting another Christmas project driven by Stockport Corps. Working with Melbourne Staff Band, the Canadian Staff Songsters, and the Uganda Territorial Music Brigade, the team has provided audio and visual editing services for a performance that went live on YouTube earlier in the month.

This was a complicated project as lockdown restrictions meant that the groups in Australia and Canada had to record individually – resulting in over 240 individual video and audio files being sent. Melissa Dee said: “We have to line up every individual audio track and the video footage and decide how to make the most of it; ensuring everyone has their moment to shine. Our job is to create an overall finished film of high-quality that gives the viewer an amazing experience.”

While Covid rules in Australia and Canada means groups cannot perform together, it is permitted in Uganda. As you can see above, World of Sound created a wonderful montage of the varying performances.

You can watch the full musical video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqonD9ns2BI&feature=youtu.be

Daniel Lock, World of Sound’s Audio and Video Editor, has also been working on another exciting Christmas project for Maggie’s cancer care charity.

Daniel was the Dubbing Mixer for their virtual Christmas concert, Carols in the Kitchen, which features a newly commissioned piece by Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, plus readings by celebrities including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall who is the patron of the charity. Classic FM will feature some of the songs over the Christmas period.

You can watch the virtual concert here: https://www.maggies.org/get-involved/find-event/events/carols-in-the-kitchen/

The Sound of The Salvation Army
The above projects are just some of SP&S Music’s work which encompasses recording, publishing and record label services, as well as wobplay - the new digital streaming platform which launched earlier in the year. wobplay is a subscription service specifically aimed at the brass enthusiast;  it contains an entire back catalogue and exciting new material.

You can find out more on the wobplay website: https://wobplay.com/ 

Finally, but by no means least, The Salvation Army launched its Christmas Concert 2020 which features footage from previous live concerts as well as some recent messages from celebrities. Our World of Sound team helped record and produce the original live concerts and Richard Phillips, SP&S Music General Manager, played a central role on-stage.

Richard Phillips, pictured above, performs on stage as pianist for the event, accompanying special guests and the International Staff Songsters, as well as composing one of the songs performed.

The editing for this special 2020 edition was produced by colleagues at The Salvation Army, with the team providing audio remixes, and arranging copyright permissions for many of the songs.  

The online concert features special messages from HRH Princess Eugenie, Dame Judi Dench, Anita Dobson, Jason Donovan, Charlie Green, Aled Jones, MBE, Nathaniel Parker, Jodie Prenger, Craig Revel-Horwood, Pam Rhodes, Juliet Stevenson, CBE and Rudolph Walker, CBE.

World of Sound also recorded and produced the Farrington’s Junior School choir performance of Away in a Manger.

Why not take time between Christmas and New Year to watch the concert?

You can view it here and share the link with family and friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNLpgWdK4is