Since 1887 the New York Staff Band of The Salvation Army [SA] has maintained the highest standards of musical practice and Christian ministry. As one of the nation’s oldest, continuous musical ensembles, the NYSB has rightfully been heralded as ‘America’s Foremost Brass Band.’ The band’s honored status as the first staff band in SA history is matched by its excellence in musical performance and in its role as a trailblazer in repertoire, programming, and service. While the band performs at a level music critics consider professional, all members of the band are volunteers, none receiving payment for their participation, even though many members have studied at some of America’s finest music schools and conservatories. Each member gives freely of their time and effort while in the band, all in addition to their regular ‘day job’ as either employee of the SA or as a member of the SA clergy.
Throughout its history the band has continued to interact with contemporary culture by featuring outstanding guest soloists in their festivals or concerts. In just the past few years these have included world-class groups such as The King’s Singers who joined them in Carnegie Hall for their 125th anniversary concert. Other recent guests include the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, contemporary Christian recording artists Michael W. Smith and Sarah Groves, brass phenomenon James Morrison, and the respected symphony conductor, Bramwell Tovey.
The band continues to be motivated by their love of Christ. That motivation they link to their calling to lift high the Christian Gospel. Their music making serves as an effective arm of the SA’s compassionate ministry while the band also keeps true to the highest purpose of sacred music—giving praise and glory to God.
Beyond the confines of the SA, the NYSB’s interactions with culture stand as testimony to its’ consistent engagement and Christian witness. Throughout its history the band has embraced new methods in order to face the ever-changing nature of society. Whether setting the pace in the early days of radio and TV, or continuing to use electronic media to enhance their ministry through outstanding recordings, the NYSB participates at the forefront of the interaction between the sacred and the secular.
The role of the NYSB in supplying fine new music to the worldwide brass community has been incalculable. Among its’ renowned list of ‘Composers in Residence’ have been Erik Leidzén, Stephen Bulla, Peter Graham, Brian Bowen, Kevin Norbury and, Dorothy Gates. Additionally, representative composers with close associations who have also provided excellent, pacesetting works: Ray Steadman-Allen, Emil Soderstrom, Wilfred Heaton, James Curnow, Bill Broughton, Bruce Broughton, and Joseph Turrin.
The NYSB ranks among the most widely traveled groups in band history. They have toured the United Kingdom more than ten times, toured Europe and Scandinavia on multiple occasions, traveled several times to the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, been across the border into Canada on more than 20 occasions, and performed coast to coast in the Western Hemisphere.
–Dr. Ronald W. Holz O.F., Ph.D.
Derek Lance, Band Master
Derek Lance was appointed as the Bandmaster of the New York Staff Band on September 1, 2016. Prior to this appointment he had been a member of the band and featured as a soloist for 14 years. Derek is currently employed in the Music Department of The Salvation Army’s Territorial Headquarters in West Nyack, NY where he is the Territorial Music Secretary.
Prior to working for The Salvation Army, Derek was a member of the trumpet section of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. During his time there, he was the Principal Trumpet of the Concert Band and was featured multiple times as a soloist.
Derek has had the privilege of studying at two of the finest music conservatories in the world, the Juilliard School in New York City and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At these institutions, he had the opportunity to study the trumpet with Mark Gould and David Bilger. As an orchestral musician, he has performed under such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Otto-Werner Mueller, Christoph Eschenbach, Mstislav Rostropovich, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Yuri Temirkanov and Sir Simon Rattle, and with such groups as the New Jersey Symphony and the New York Philharmonic.
As a Salvation Army musician, Derek has been blessed to minister in music around the world with many fine Army bands. As a soloist, Derek has been featured with the Amsterdam Staff Band, the Boscombe Citadel Band, the Montclair Citadel Band, the PenDel Brass, the Hamilton Temple Band, the Canadian Staff Band, the Greater New York Youth Band, and the New York Staff Band.
Derek and his wife, Lorena, attend the Spring Valley Salvation Army Corps in New York with their daughters Isobel and Caroline where he is the Corps Sergeant Major.