NCV Music Councils 2006

For the first time in several years, the National Capital and Virginia Division of the Salvation Army sponsored a Divisional Music Councils. Held 25 - 26 February 2006 at Camp Happyland in central Virginia, the Councils featured the Pendel Youth Band, Chorus, Timbrels, and Mime Troupe. On Sunday, 27 February, the Pendel groups participated in worship meetings at the Arlington Citadel Corps.

Friday – Sounds of Salvation

The weekend began with a festival on Friday evening where all of the groups from Pendel contributed. Entitled Sounds of Salvation, the concert opened with the Pendel Youth Chorus, conducted by Cathy Hayes, singing Jubilate Deo, ably accompanied by Captain Margaret Davis on piano, Jon Burgmayer on cornet, and Darien DiSilvio on percussion. Following words of welcome from the National Capital and Virgina Divisional Music Director, Bandmaster James Anderson, the Youth Band played Vanguard (Norman Bearcroft).

The next item was a cornet duet featuring a father-and-son combination, David and Jon Burgmayer, who played The Crusaders (Terry Camsey) accompanied by the band. Another Pendel unit was introduced, the Mime Troupe (led by Major Bessie Babbitt, who performed to I Can Only Imagine, recorded by the popular contemporary Christian artists, Mercy Me. The Youth Band demonstrated some musical flexibility by playing a transcription of a classical work, Mozart’s Sonata No. 11 for Piano (arr. Terry Camsey). As with all Salvation Army musical sections, there is a strong spiritual element to the Pendel youth groups, and this was evidenced by several personal testimonies from the young people, the first of which was Bethany Babbitt.

Following Bethany’s testimony, the Youth Chorus again sang, this time presenting two items, Prepare! (Leonard Ballantine) and Joy Webb’s moving devotional song Come Into Our World. The Youth Band continued the theme with Stephen Bulla’s song arrangement My Father’s World. Another testimony followed, this time by Eric White. The congregation was given the opportunity to paricipate in a congregational song, led by Captain Margaret Davis and accompanied by the band, the familiar hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (arr. Dr. Harold Burgmayer).

Following some announcements from Bandmaster Anderson regarding the activities for the next day, the concert continued with an item by the Pendel Youth Timbrels, Westbourne, accompanied by the Youth Band. The band then played an arrangement by Paul Curnow of the the well-known contemporary gospel song Step by Step. Next was another testimony, this one a short but moving one from Jeff Eisenhart, who spoke about his spiritual trials after the loss of a close friend. The mime troupe returned, this time performing with the chorus, to the song This Day (arr. Press). Captain Davis then brought a devotional thought.

The concert concluded with another item from the Youth Band, The Great Crusade (Ray Steadman-Allen), and another item from the Youth Chorus, Praise His Name (Hampton). The chorus item was again backed by members of the band, David Burgmayer on cornet and Darien DiSilvio on percussion. Following a benediction, the Youth Chorus sent the audience off by singing Nolan’s Irish Blessing.

Saturday – Massed Groups – Clinics – Praise Concert

Many of the audience from the Friday evening concert stayed overnight at Camp Happyland, where they were joined the next morning by many others. The morning began with breakfast in the camp Dining Hall, after which a Massed Band rehearsal was held in the camp chapel. For those attendees who did not play instruments, Captain Greg Shannon held a vocal clinic in the main rehearsal room of the Music Conservatory building. Attendance for both was impressive, with more than 60 players in the massed band, including the Pendel Youth Band musicians, members of the National Capital Band, and players from various corps bands around the division. After these sessions, the groups came together to form a Massed Chorus nearly 130 members strong, which was conducted by Cathy Hayes.

After the rehearsals for the massed groups, the assemblage broke into individual workshop groups, with small groups in various places all over the camp. Both performance and programming classes were offered, with instructors from both the Pendel and NCV divisions participating. This was a good time of learning and instruction benefitting everyone who took part.

At 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, the finale of the Music Councils, “Let There Be Praise”, featured the massed band and chorus, along with the Pendel and various National Capital and Virginia performing groups. After an opening congregational song and an invocation by Captain Kelly Igleheart (Executive Officer of the National Capital Band), the afternoon began with the Massed Band playing First Light (Harold Burgmayer), conducted by Bandmaster Aaron Harris. Because of the large number of musicians participating in the massed ensemble, the conductor was placed in the center with players all around. The next item was from the Pendel Youth Band, Andrew Mackereth’s Walking in the Light. Next up was the Norfolk Songsters, who sang My Help. This was followed In My Heart There Rings a Melody (arr. Anderson), played by the Alexandria Citadel Band.

Captain Margaret Davis has a fine, classicly-trained soprano voice, and she demonstrated this by singing Puccini’s aria O Mio Babbino Caro during the concert, followed by the Pendel Youth Chorus presenting an entertaining arrangement of What a Wonderful World. Next up was the National Capital Band, the premier musical group of the National Capital and Virginia Division, who played Winchester Revival (Kenneth Downie). The Massed Chorus gave a stirring performance of the song Don’t Let the Devil (Graeme Press), after which the drama/mime group Blessed from the Portsmouth Corps performed to I’ve Got My Mind Made Up.

The NCV Divisional Youth Chorus was next, singing the popular song People Need the Lord (Nelson/McHugh, arr. Tom Fettke). Following this was the performance of a relatively new group in the division, Skyline Brass, conducted by Captain David May. Made up of members of corps in the Skyline Drive region of the Blue Ridge, this small group made a good showing, playing Finlandia (arr. James Cheyne). Two more of the NCV youth groups participated next, the timbrels performing a drill to Stephen Bulla’s march Land of Freedom accompanied by the NCV Divisional Youth Band, and then the band playing To a God Like This (John Larsson, arr. Ian Robinson) as a feature item of their own. Getting out of the brass mode for a while, the audience was delighted by a soldier from the Tidewater area of the division who played a violin solo.

Moving toward the end of the program, the Alexandria Citadel Songsters brought the audience back to the recent Christmas season with Jesus, What a Wonderful Child/Emmanuel (arr. Mauldin). Another band followed, this one the Norfolk/Tidewater Area Band, who played the selection Bless Me. Another item by the Massed Chorus was next, Before the Cross (Gregson), again ably conducted by Cathy Hayes. The Divisional Commander for the NCV Division, Lt.-Col. William Crabson, gave a short devotional thought. The festival concluded with the final item by the Massed Band, a medley of contemporary gospel songs arranged by Kevin Norbury, God With Us, conducted by Bandmaster James Anderson.

Sunday – Morning Worship at Arlington Citadel

Although the Music Councils officially ended with the festival on Saturday afternoon, the Pendel groups stayed in the Washington area through Sunday, conducting Sunday morning worship services at the Arlington Citadel Corps. All of the Pendel groups contributed to the service. The band items included St. Peter, This Is My Father’s World, and Rejoice Ye Pure In Heart, as well as backing for the congregational songs. The mime and dance troupe performed This Day, with Tyneisha Menginie as a featured performer. The Youth Chorus reprised a couple of items from the weekend performances, What a Wonderful World and An Irish Blessing, which was used as the benediction.

Spiritual influence from the Pendel young people was evident throughout the service, with spoken introductions to each item, a personal testimony from Ian Mudge, and their general demeanor during the service. The message of the morning was brought by Major Andrew Murray.

Following the service, the Pendel groups were joined by soldiers from the Arlington and Alexandria Citadel Corps at the Northern Virginia Adult Rehabilitation Center for lunch before boarding their coach for the trip back to the Philadelphia area.