International Staff Songsters to tour the USA and Canada

The International Staff Songsters (ISS), the premier choir of The Salvation Army, will bring their Songs of Love tour to the USA and Canada in April 2024. They will sing a varied setlist of praise, hymns, classical songs and contemporary choral music to inspire audiences.

Based in London, England, the songsters have a unique role at the forefront of Salvation Army vocal music-making in the United Kingdom and around the world. The group of 35 men and women use the power of music and song to share God’s love and to bring people and communities together.

Their repertoire includes music by composers from The Salvation Army and artists such as Bob Chilcott, Mark Hayes, John Rutter and Eric Whitacre. The ISS performs each Christmas at London’s Royal Albert Hall and regularly sings in cathedrals and concert halls, and leads vocal workshops in schools, correctional facilities and Salvation Army corps and centers.

The ISS is conducted by Dorothy Nancekievill who is an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London. Previously, Dorothy was head of a church school (Farringtons School in Kent) and the director of music at Wells Cathedral School.

The ISS was founded in 1980 to inspire people with “heart songs.” Profits from recordings and performances support the work of The Salvation Army.

Each songster is an active member of their own corps. They volunteer their time and travel from different parts of England and Wales for weekly rehearsal in central London.

One of the newest members of the ISS, Tom Grimshaw, 26, is a fundraiser for a veterans’ mental health charity. As well as volunteering with the ISS, Tom is the deputy songster leader and plays euphonium in the band at Norwich Citadel. He also leads a youth chorus of 50 young people from across the East of England.

“It is a privilege to be part of the group and actively participate in music ministry,” said Tom. “I have seen God working in amazing ways and connecting with a wide range of people through music: people without any faith who have attended concerts at the invite of a friend; prisoners from some of the many prisons the ISS has visited; people who have not attended church for many years; medical staff in hospitals who have heard an ISS recording being played by a patient. The list goes on.

“In the same way, I hope our tour will be one that is filled with worship and praise for our awesome God, and which encourages people to get involved in music ministry,” he said. “Most importantly I pray that our music will have a lasting spiritual impact on everyone who listens.”

Ruth Unwin from the Alton Corps in the southeast of England has been a member of the ISS since it started in 1980 and is returning for her seventh North American tour with the songsters.

“I remember fondly the incredible warm welcome and generous hospitality the songsters have received on our previous Canadian and American visits,” she said. “These have been wonderful opportunities to visit these amazing countries, share the gospel message and form so many lasting friendships.

Referring to the concert in Toronto in April that concludes the spring tour where the ISS will join the Canadian, USA Eastern and Central territorial staff songsters, Ruth said, “Our 2024 tour will be unique as we join in ministry with our fellow North American staff songsters, sharing our passion for vocal ministry and its future within The Salvation Army. I pray that God will use our songs to encourage, challenge and bless.”

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