Major Leslie Condon, FTCL, LMUS. TCL
Evacuated from West London as a schoolboy, Leslie Condon left a bomb damaged city for the more gentle life of Norfolk. At Fakenham, he became aware both of the Love of God and the power of music. His natural aptitude was quickly revealed and he revelled in his new found proficiency first on the cornet and later on euphonium. As a National Service wireless operator, serving in the RAF in a remote spot on the Persian Gulf he became aware of a powerful conviction that his life should be fully dedicated to God and the proclamation of the Christian Gospel. He entered the International Training College as an Officer Cadet in 1950. Following a year as Assistant Cadet Sergeant-Major, he was commissioned and appointed to Linton and West Wickham and within the year he and Lieutenant Ruth Mitchell were married and began serving together in corps in the Eastern Counties.
Lieutenant Leslie Condon’s first published music was a Triumph Series march 'Duke Street', and this, along with other promising written material led to his appointment to the International Music Editorial Department. Within a very short time his all-round musical ability became obvious. His appointment to the International Staff Band (where he served with distinction for 17 years) saw him featuring as Vocalist, Eb Bass Soloist and a very acceptable public speaker. His compositions were becoming equally well known as further studies led to his becoming a Fellow of the Trinity College, London, and a holder of that college's diploma in Music Theory.
Major Condon was therefore able to bring to his responsibilities as National Bandmaster experience, expertise and a warm personality that ideally suited his new appointment. For four arduous years he travelled the length and breadth of the British Territory, often by motor cycle, conducting rehearsals, leading spiritual meetings and week end campaigns, an ideal apprenticeship for his next appointment as National Secretary for Bands and Songster Brigades, before returning to the Music Editorial Department as its Assistant Head.
Away from the office he was a devoted husband to Ruth and a dedicated father and grandfather - a true family man. His unstinting service as Bandmaster at Woolwich, Upper Norwood and Croydon Citadel as well as his role as Deputy Bandmaster of The International Staff Band indicated his commitment. He was blest with unbounded energy accepting many additional assignments in the interests of Army musicians of all ages, people who he loved and respected beyond words. But his special concern for Salvationist youth took him to music camps throughout the world in addition to his genial presence and leadership at the British events where young people crowded into his classes.
A thorough musician, Leslie’s mind and whole being was full of unique melodies and lovely harmonies, which, when he found time to transfer his inspired thoughts to manuscript was done with remarkable speed and technical accuracy. He was a gifted composer who could express himself articulately on a broad canvas in both brass and choral music, but was equally skilled to create a simple plaintive melody.
Gifted beyond most yet willing by daily dedication to present that talent back to God in a way that was 'beyond the call of duty' Major Leslie Condon fittingly, died 'in harness', at the end of Croydon Citadel Band's Centenary Year: a year that had seen his presentation to Her Majesty the Queen at the Borough's centenary festivities, and in which he had conducted his new work, 'Fairfield Fantasia, at the band's centennial festival. He would not have wished it otherwise.
A glance at a list of the music of Major Leslie Condon can only reveal a minute part of the character of such a genuine example of 'a Christian Gentleman'. Talented yet without bravado; full of fun and gentle wit whilst upholding a strong personal discipline; a fund of funny stories (mostly true) whilst fearlessly expressing his strong convictions never bored his listeners whilst explaining either intricate matters of musical theory or deeply felt Christian truths, Leslie Condon remained for all of his life dedicated to expressing through his example and preaching as well as his musical skill what he understood of the Love of God as seen in the Gospel of Jesus.