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TRAVELLING HOME

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Tonight the band will travel back to the UK, We have just spent some time in Helsinki, eating, site seeing and sharing in Fellowship together. Some went to see the Sibelius monument others the Cathedrals and notable sights in the capital.

The Van is loaded with instruments and everyone’s luggage. It will leave in front of the main band on the overnight ferry to Stockholm. It won’t stay in front for very long as it will be Wednesday before it arrives home!

There is much more to tell and we will find the time to tell the reader more and to thank the many people who made this tour possible. But for the time being however these bulletins will wait.

THE BAND WENT SHOPPING!

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The public Relations Department of the Finnish Salvation Army launched their annual ‘’Kettle’’ appeal today and used the band as its publicity hook. With live feeds and recording they used the band to hang their publicity on.

The band gave a 2 hour concert in a huge and impressive shopping mail. Complete with its own band stand and central lobby area it was ideal for us. We used mainly lively music but included Prelude on Finlandia and Ascalon as well since these have very strong Finnish links.

This was no ordinary outing as we might engage in in the UK. Shoppers were visibly moved, a crowd gathered, no one walked straight past. Many photos were taken as the band played below its very own Neon lights banner announcing who we were. Some local Salvationists were also there.

This ministry will go on for a long time as people view the links and as the PR department use the footage and photographs to promote their Christmas appeal.

Because of the nature of this appeal the band actually played Christmas music as well during the concert, for many this may have been the earliest they have ever played Christmas, as someone was heard to say from the band “”there are 12 days of Christmas but none of them are in November’”! That said there were literally hundreds of shoppers that took in our message and appreciated our playing. A Job well done.

Not even the loss of a passport could detract from the occasion (it was eventually found!).

Readers may like to follow this link to what was a live feed at the time and view The Shopping Trip!

https://www.facebook.com/Pelastusarmeija/videos/1710825465608949/

CONGRESS IN TAMPERE

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A relaxing evening was spent in Kotka and we are grateful for the help and support we have received from The Sokos Hotel group as we stayed in their Hotel Seurehune in the city centre. At least most did as 6 of them spent the night in a Finnish log cabin, deep in the forest beside the Baltic Ocean, some remain unsure as to whether that was bears growling or Phil McMonegal Snoring! Or maybe he was getting some late night practice in on his tuba? We may never know!

The coach set off for Tampere Sunday morning and arrived simultaneously with the instrument van in time for delicious Pizzas and a swift setting up of the platform.

What a lovely hall they have in Tampere and the folk there were so welcoming and friendly. The Captains at the corps spoke perfect English and were able to translate everything for us to the good number of people gathered for this area get together. Major John Rees (all the way from Australia to take care of the 1st cornet part for us) along with introductions from John Hanchett gave a moving and challenging message to all present using the Music of Dean Goffins ‘Light of The World’’ and the painting by Holman Hunt as his inspiration. The bands playing of The Light of The World drew an audible response at the end and more than one person said they had been moved to tears. It is inspiring as well as humbling when the bands music is used by God in this way.

The whole Congress meeting can be viewed here on UTube.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trU4Dak3p9Y

The Finnish territory is a small one with not too many soldiers and it was a principal aim of the band to encourage them in their work and to inspire them to do greater things for God and The Army. It may have only been a tiny gesture from us and we may never know its worth but we so sincerely pray Gods blessing on it in the hope that someone in Tampere today moved closer to God as a result.

A swift return trip to Helsinki amid the most atrocious conditions of rain and spray on a very busy motorway saw us arrive back at the Sokos Hotel in Central Helsinki that we stayed in on the first night. Leaving just enough time for a walk around town for some of the younger members and to contemplate the consequences of a lost passport. However as they say, tomorrow is another day!!

We also said goodbye to our coach driver for the tour Pekka Laaksonen. Pekka has proved to be such an asset to us, always helpful and willing to go the extra mile (literally in some cases!) We were very fortunate to have his services.

A MARITIME FESTIVAL!

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The city of Kotka has much in common with Portsmouth, it is a maritime city built principally on an island so it is fitting that it is home to Finland’s Maritime Museum.

This is no ordinary museum and the modern architect designed building is one fit for kings. Its high vaulted ceiling swirling around in its timber clad surface had superb acoustics. Boats on exhibition were re-arranged to give a concert area for the band. The crowd exceeded expectations and extra seats from all over the establishment had to be fetched in to accommodate them.

The audience proved especially receptive and welcoming and the event proved to be very rewarding for the band. Most in the congregation had no idea about the Salvation Army previously and in a country where the Lutheran and Orthodox Churches are almost the only recognised churches, it was a real privilege to bring our church to the notice of the good folks of Kotka and show them through our music just what we are about.

A special vote of thanks should go to Sirkka kotola who organised the concert and introduced the band as Chairperson of The Friends of The Museum.

This concert was held in what has to be one of the most unusual venues the band will ever play in and it is difficult to convey the grandeur of the building and the friendliness of its design. All the bandsmen will cherish the memory for a long time and we thank God for the privilege of being the ones who brought The Salvation Army to so many for the first time.

A MASTER CLASS!

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After a relaxing night in the hotel and a great breakfast the band made an early start t for the Town Hall in Kouvola. Once again we found the acoustics to be superb and the Town Halls concert hall so wonderfully appointed.

John Hanchett had been allocated the task of leading a master class or workshop on brass playing. 4 contrasting pieces were used in a rehearsal type of environment. Evelyn Glenny’s A little Prayer was first up, followed by the march To Regents Fare then the Dean Goffin classic Light of the World and to round things off and in complete contrast El Es Senor.

John included advice and exercises on breathing as well as some technical exercise. We were joined by several Finnish locals for the 2 hour rehearsal who informed us afterwards they had learned much, one talked about learning for the first time about full value to notes and the importance of phrasing.

After a light lunch provided by Kouvola Corps we headed for Kotka and our next concert.