Published on Thursday, 14 January 2010 19:29
Written by Bruce Gale
There are currently (July 2011) 33 members in the Brass Band Jenderal (BBJ), with ages ranging from 12 to 32. All come from very poor backgrounds or single parent families. Until very recently, all the players were also current or former members of the William Booth Salvation Army boys home in Medan, Indonesia. However, in February 2010 we admitted our first female member (Friska) after she passed the entrance test. In July 2011 Friska left for Jakarta to enter the Salvation Army's Training college for officers (pastors).
There is also a 17-member junior band.
No-one gets special privileges.
There very few formal rules. However, failure to attend band practice without an acceptable reason can result in (usually temporary!) loss of membership. The band also maintains a philosophy of strict equality of rights. No one gets special treatment or privileges because of his age or ability, not even the leaders!
The membership of the band has varied over the years as new members come in and older ones leave. Here is a list of members as of July 2011:
Corps Officer: Major Pastika
Music Director: Dr Bruce Gale
Bandmaster: Danias Karosekali
Soprano: Yunus Marbun %
Solo Cornet: Putra Imanta Karosekali #, Jastis Bago, Ganda Sinaga, Nobuala Halawa +
1st Cornet: Esron Tumaggangor, Pekni Eli Warae, .Iuventius Telambanua, Esron Tumanggor
2nd Cornet: Tommy Laia, Yasahati Laia
Flugel Horn: Nogarisno Laia
1st Horn: Doddy Sutanto Tampubolon #
2nd Horn: Friska Weni, Karlinus Laia
1st Baritone: David Hartawan #, Dedi Agusta Purba
2nd Baritone: Alman Marbun, Irfan
1st Trombone: Yudhykana Laia, Yohannes Morry #
2nd Trombone: Sekhi Athur Halawa, Eko Saputra Simbolon
Euphonium: Erjoin Marbun @, Berri Saptian Purba
Bass Eb: Lasnointer Marbun #, Rokky Tarigan, Fernando Kaloko, Manatar Sigalingging
Bass Bb: Semro Manatap Sirait, William Stefi Waruhu
Percussion: Charles Kaloko #, Sabarman Laia
@ = Deputy Bandmaster
# = Section Leader
+ = Band Sargeant
% = Librarian
The photograph below was taken in Medan in early November 2005, a couple of weeks before the band began the Malaysia/Singapore tour. I am in the front row (centre). On my right is the superintendent of the Boys Home at the time (Major Spener). His wife is on my left.
Things were quite different when we first began. Here is a photograph taken around 1987, showing the pioneer members of the band. At that time the band had only been in existence for a few months, so we could only play a few simple hymn tunes. Notice the absence of a tuba. I hadn't been able to obtain one at that point, so I got the euphonium player (extreme right) to play the tuba part instead.
The band relies heavily on donations.
The arrangement served our needs for about a year until the Kuala Lumpur Salvation Army in Malaysia donated an old one. In fact, almost all the band's first instruments were provided by the Malaysians. Since then, most of our instruments (all second hand) have been donated by well-wishers in the Salvation Army in Singapore and Australia. Over the years, I have also bought quite a lot myself. I am on the left of the photograph holding the baton.
Our first bandmaster (remember, I live in Singapore and can only travel to Medan every three or four months) was Posma Hutabarat. He was later sponsored to a local university by Michael Hall (a Briton who also had an interest in the band). Posma is now a fully qualified medical doctor living in Java. Did I mention that these boys were smart? Here is an early photograph of him:
For more pictures, go to the BBJ photo album.