50 years of brass
Greetings To The BBSA On Its Golden Jubilee

K.Th August (Convener for church music)

Praise God in his sanctuary;
Praise Him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him with the sounding of brass instruments
Praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing
Praise him with the strings and flute
Praise him with the clash of symbols,
Praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
- Ps 150

The BBSA is 50 years old-long live the BBSA! The date of origin takes us way back to 1951 - the post WWII period. A time shortly after the Nationalist Government came into power (1984), which would herald in the draconic dehumanizing system of Apartheid for all the native people that would be disenfranchised. Yet, it was a time of natural human indigenous initiative when lay people came together to unite and consolidate the brass band work in our Church. The spirit of the time was one of innovation. If only people could have had equal opportunities also in the civic and political sphere, what a prosperous country ours would have been. But the greed and devilish pride of the white man deterred the political aspirations of the native people of our land for another 44 years. What a destructive and foolish denial of human potential, human energy and God-given talent, not so much on the micro but on the macro of our nation's existence. Yet, with organizational foresight like that of the pioneers of the BBSA beacons of hope and human dignity and self-worth were established, which cultivated visions and aspirations in spite of oppressive systems devised by evil forces. God provided people of stature and vision to his Church and our nation!

Since those early humble beginnings, the BBSA has grown from strength to strength. Dedicated and visionary leadership has been the motivation behind much of its successful history. From the early military fingerings to the continental system, the improvement of the technical skills and the quality and care of the instruments, the personal discipline and spirituality of the players, the regular weekly practice sessions and organizational loyalty - all these elements contributed in molding a formidable task force of whom the Church grew progressively very proud. The many brass band leaders in the local settings played their role amicably well, for in their dedicated and endless efforts they secured the future of the BBSA by training the next generation of players.

Less we forget our predecessors in the pre-BBSA phase let us recall some of them while so respecting all those whom we cannot mention here: Our indigenous brass band history goes back to the year 1859 when for the first time the students brass band of the teachers seminary added luster to the New Years Eve services. The brass band of the Kweekskool of 1920 further built on this honorable tradition. I remember faces on photo of that time with Revv. Hennie Ulster (Bandleader), D.M. Wessels, F. Lottring, S. Philander, A. Hans and D. Joorst. Other well-known surnames in church music circles of that time were Uithaler, Weber, Louis, Jantjies, Apollis, Simbaba, Habelgaarn, Februarie, Wildschut, Paulse, Otrell, Ravell, Jason, Fourie, Beukes, Nefdt, Van der Linde and Jonas. These early Kweekskool pioneers carried the brass band banner into all the corners of our church.

The Moravian brass band players also played a prominent role in furthering the cause of brass band work outside the Moravian Church circles. We remember and laud leaders like br. J. Joemath in the Elim / Bredasdorp area; in Cape Town there was br. C. Liedeman who was the leader of the Cape Peninsula Brass Band; in Atlantis there was br. Marshall and Boetie Groenewald in the Athlone Brass Band; in District 6 there was Oom Fer Abrahams. In Port Elizabeth there were brs. Kiewietz (Fairview) and Hitzeroth in Salem. These were some of the pre - and post WWII leaders who build on the Kweekskool foundations stones.

A person that was played a major role in the period just after 1968 was Rev. Karl Schiefer who was mainly responsible for the revolutionary change from the military to the continental fingerings all over the BBSA. The person who actually introduced the continental fingerings to the Moravian Church was Rev. Martin Schultz who wrote a guide for the Brass bands in the P.E area in 1967. During the Balie era (brs. Rudi and Mike were the first presidents of the BBA) annual music festivals were organized, which bonded the players together and improved the quality for music and discipline. This era also resulted in the first overseas tour, which was further intensified by BBSA and various Brass bands in Germany. Today the Brass band, apart from the ministers and the partnership groups, is our best ambassadors on the European continent. We laud them for the quality of music and witness to the Moravian spirituality.

I have always been involved with brass band work ever since my 9th year and later with the BBSA. I was privileged in having had the opportunity to introduce the absolute system at Elim. My involvement with the BBSA, as the coordinator of music within our Church since 1988, just intensified my interest and ministry in the respect. It has been a pleasure working closely together with the executive on organizational and music level. Their expertise, commitment, administrative ability, organizational skills and loyalty to the Church are very commendable. The music festivals, which have always been the flagship events of the brass band fellowship, were utilized to worship God, to minister to the audiences in brass music and song, as well as exhibiting and building the organization.

The BBSA has rendered players of national and international caliber: Not only do we find BBSA players today in the Navy band, the Correctional service Band, the Military Band, in the City and National Symphony Orchestras, in ensembles at the universities of UPE, UCT and US, but also in overseas orchestras.

Now we find ourselves in the Jubilee Year, with Christopher Appel as president and Tyron Hitzeroth as vice-president. They are blessed with a strong and positive organizational culture with the BBSA, on which they can depend and build for years to come. The dedicated band leaders has seen to it that many young players have come through the ranks to take up the batten and carry the flame high for years to come. The BBSA has a future! And a very promising one at that! It enjoys a strong and healthy financial position. Over the years, the BBSA could invest in and has equipped the bands with good subsidized instruments. This enabled not only the Church councils, but also the individuals and parents of young players to buy instruments at affordable prizes. May we never forget that, as was the case with those humble early beginnings on our Mission Settlements, when the fingerings had to be written on the music sheet and the time of old damaged instruments, even still today with all our sophistication, we belong to the age old tradition of humble Moravians who have the ultimate aim to vision to "make joyful (brass) sounds to the glory of Good" and to uplift God's people spiritually as we worship him our God as the sunrises on Easter morning till the "trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more?!"

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50 years of brass