Weekend in Harrisonburg
The National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) visited the Blue Ridge area of Virginia on the weekend of 21 – 23 April 2006, participating in the Brass Festival hosted by James Madison University on Friday evening, performing concerts at a shopping mall in Harrisonburg, Virginia on Saturday morning and at the Central United Methodist Church in Staunton, Virginia on Saturday evening, and conducting worship services on Sunday morning at the Salvation Army hall in Harrisonburg.
Mention must be made of several substitute players who joined us for the weekend. Because of various and sundry reasons, several regular NCB members could not be present. Providing able service in their place were Bandmaster Robert Snelson (solo cornet), Major Mike McDonald (flügelhorn), Mark Baker (trombone), Bandmaster Ron Smith (trombone), and Vernon Morris (Bb bass). Major Suzanne Barrington, who retired from the NCB last year, made a return appearance on second horn. Special thanks go to Ann Kovarik, a student at James Madison University and a member of the JMU Brass Band, who agreed to help out on second cornet, essentially sight-reading our entire repertoire.
Friday, 21 April 2006
The weekend began with in a somewhat inauspicious fashion, as the coach company sent a smaller vehicle to transport the band, rather than the full-size coach normally used. Although there was enough room for the band to ride in the coach, it did not have enough space for the equipment. Bandsman John Reeves volunteered to drive the equipment using the truck that had transported it to the rendezvous point, the Fairfax Corps building. Despite getting a late start while all of this was worked out, the band still arrived in Harrisonburg nearly on time.
The JMU Brass Festival was hosted by the JMU Brass Band and its conductor, Kevin J. Stees. Stees, who is Professor of Low Brass in the college music department, has built the JMU group into one of the best brass bands in the United States, evidenced by their close (0.2 points) second-place finish in the Championship Section at the 2006 North American Brass Band Championships. The National Capital Band participated in this year’s Brass Festival at Stees’ invitation, performing a full concert on Friday evening, 21 April 2006. Other featured performers at the Festival included cornet virtuoso Allen Vizzutti, The US Marine Band Tuba-Euphonium Quartet and the US Army Band Brass Quintet.
A large crowd was present at Memorial Hall (formerly the Harrisonburg High School), a venue recently transferred to the university. Bandmaster Anderson chose to begin the National Capital Band’s concert with the contrasting items, the march Sovereignty (Brian Bowen), followed by Leonard Ballantine’s beautiful arrangement of the American folk song “Shenandoah”, ’Mid All the Traffic. The band showed its versatility with the swing-style Since Jesus, also arranged by Leonard Ballantine.
The performance continued with Major Tony Barrington, who played The Ransomed Host (Ray Steadman-Allen). The art and simplicity possible with a hymn tune arrangement was ably demonstrated with Erik Leidzén’s classic setting of What a Friend. Another feature item followed, Peter Graham’s exciting cornet duet Quicksilver, with Noel Morris on soprano cornet and Deputy Bandmaster Ian Anderson on Bb cornet. The first half ended with an appropriate item for a concert less than a week after Easter, Christ Is Alive (Kenneth Downie).
The second half started as the first half ended, with a composition from the pen of Kenneth Downie, this time the recently-published march Winchester Revival. The third feature item of the evening again brought Ian Anderson to the fore, playing Caprice for Cornet (William Himes). The contemplative arrangement Shekinah (Kenneth Downie) and the contemporary God With Us (Kevin Norbury) followed, with the concert concluding on a triumphant note with A Psalm of Praise (James Curnow).
Saturday, 22 April 2006
In the late morning, the band made a short trip from their hotel to the Harrisonburg Mall, where they played a program approximately an hour in length. Despite a rather rainy weather outlook, there were many shoppers at the mall and the band was heard by several hundred people. Items included Washington Salute 125 (Stephen Bulla), the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes) played by Ian Anderson, Since Jesus (Leonard Ballantine), Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Armed Forces Salute (Stephen Bulla), ‘Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine), Bringing in the Sheaves (William Himes), What a Friend (Erik Leidzén), Onward Christian Soldiers (arr. Gordon Langford), God With Us (Kevin Norbury) and On the King’s Highway (Erik Leidzén).
In the evening, the band traveled to the nearby city of Staunton, Virginia, for a concert at the historic Central United Methodist Church. Although the audience was smaller than expected, the concert was warmly appreciated and many good contacts were made for the local Salvation Army corps in Staunton. The first half of the concert mirrored the first half of the Friday evening concert, with the addition of a congregational song, Crown Him with Many Crowns (arr. Charles Skinner) and also a personal testimony from Ian James Anderson. Following the intermission, the band started off the second half with Washington Salute 125, followed by Caprice for Cornet. The band’s Executive Officer, Captain Kelly Igleheart, gave a Scripture reading and a short devotional, followed by Shekinah and God With Us to end the performance.
Sunday, 23 April 2006
The band conducted the Sunday morning worship service at the Harrisonburg Corps, supporting the speaker for the morning, Lt.-Colonel William Crabson, divisional commander for the National Capital and Virginia Division. The band played several preliminary items, including Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren” (James Curnow), ‘Mid All the Traffic, and God With Us. Featured items during the service included the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus and Life’s Consectration (James Curnow). Spiritual participation from members of the band was also evident, with a personal testimony from David Delaney and Scripture read by John Reeves. The service, and the band’s performances for the weekend, ended with a postlude, The Blessing (William Himes).