On the weekend of 3 – 4 March 2007, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) journeyed to the New River Valley in southwestern Virginia. The weekend marked the dedication of a new building for the New River Valley Corps, based in Christiansburg. Although this area is a part of the National Capital and Virginia Division, the band has not often played in the Valley.
Following an early-morning departure from the Fairfax Corps, the NCB arrived in Christiansburg in time for an excellent lunch prepared by the local Salvationists, and then made a short journey to the New River Valley Mall. A one-hour concert was scheduled, beginning at 2:00 pm. Items included Sovereignty (Brian Bowen), Since Jesus (Leonard Ballantine), What a Friend (Erik Leidzén), Armed Forces Salute (Stephen Bulla), God With Us (Kirkland/Fettke, arr. Norbury), ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine), Blessings! (Nick Simmons-Smith), and Motondo (Donald Osgood). Three items featuring soloists from the band were also programmed: Major Tony Barrington, euphonium – The Conqueror (Ray Steadman-Allen); Chris Dennard, flügelhorn – Sweet By and By (Leonard Ballantine); and Noel Morris and Ian Anderson, soprano and Bb cornets – Quicksilver (Peter Graham). Although only a few people stood and listened to the entire concert, the mall management estimated that several hundred heard at least a portion.
After checking into the hotel, the band was treated to dinner at a local restaurant, then went to Faith Christian Church on Phlegar Street in Christiansburg, the venue for the evening festival. This church is linked to the Salvation Army in the area, and especially to the Army’s new building, which was previously owned by the church. The evening festival began with Sovereignty, followed by an invocation by the pastor of Faith Christian Church, Clyde George. God With Us and The Conqueror were next, with Lt.-Colonel Barry Swanson (on his first – and last – trip with the NCB, as he has received orders for transfer to International Headquarters) gave a personal testimony. After another sparkling performance of the cornet duet Quicksilver, the first half of the program came to a close with Bandmaster Anderson’s tone poem The Words of the Amen, which will be the title track on the latest NCB recording.
The band got the second half of the program moving with Donald Osgood’s march Motondo, followed by the swing-style Blessings!. The host church was represented by vocal soloist Rosa Eberle, who sang Above All. Deputy bandmaster and principal cornet Ian Anderson presented Ray Bowes’ lyrical Rhapsody for Cornet and Band, just before the band’s Executive Officer, Major James Allison gave a Scripture reading and brief lesson. This led into the flügelhorn feature Sweet By and By and the evening’s final item, Dudley Bright’s tone poem Confrontations, which features the well-known song by Stanley Ditmer, “I’m In His Hands”. The benediction was given by New River Valley corps officer Major John Blevins, and the NCB offered Winchester Revival (Kenneth Downie) as a postlude.
On Sunday morning, the band was treated to a fine country breakfast at the Corps building, complete with musical entertainment from a friend of the corps. Spirits were high despite a severe cold snap which led to slippery roads and some snow flurries – a marked change from the pleasant weather on Saturday.
Usually, when the band does a weekend trip, the entire Sunday morning service is done by the band. On this trip, however, because of the dedication of the new building, the band played a supporting role. Preliminary music included Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren” (James Curnow), Take Time . . . (Kenneth Downie), and God With Us. The service included participation from the New River Valley corps officers, Majors John and Diana Blevins, members of the local Advisory Board, and divisional leaders Lt.-Colonels William and LaVern Crabson. Band contributions during the service included Blessings! and In Light We Walk (Stephen Bulla), along with accompaniments for congregational songs, which include William Himes’ arrangement of O Boundless Salvation. Another Himes work, The Blessing, was played as a postlude.
With some regular members unable to join the band on the weekend, several people generously came in to fill empty seats. Bethany Mikles (horn) and Patrick Morris (trombone), who are reserve members of the band, were both able to attend the weekend. Others brought in for the event included Darryl Crossland on solo cornet and Art Henry on solo horn.