The National Capital Band made a long-awaited visit to Richmond, Virginia on the weekend of 21 – 22 February 2009. Preparation for this event began the previous Christmas season when fliers were handed out to those who listened to small Salvation Army ensembles throughout Richmond. Those who came to see the NCB during the ministry weekend were not disappointed.
Saturday 21 February
On Saturday, the band gathered at the Church Hill Outpost (co-located with the Richmond Boys and Girls Club), where they took part in a service commencing about 12:15 p.m. Lieutenant Sheed Tarnue, the officer in charge of the outpost, led the meeting, speaking about cleansing our lives and how having Jesus will make such cleansing possible, including a fascinating illustration using a stained cloth and two large jugs of water. There were about 50 church members, many of them young children, in attendance, who were delighted to hear a full brass band. Participation by the NCB, which was under the direction of the Deputy Bandmaster, Major Dan Proctor, included Shine, Jesus Shine, Lord, I Lift Your Name On High, and Sousa’s classic patriotic march, The Stars and Stripes Forever.
The main event of the weekend was a concert at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia. This was the NCB’s second visit to this church in as many years. With Bandmaster Anderson in front of the band, the concert opened with To a God Like This, followed by the rousing march Rolling Along (William Himes). This march, written for the Flint Citadel corps in Michigan, includes a number of jingles from historic automobile advertisements.
The first soloist of the evening was 16-year-old Kevin Downing, principal trombone, who played the variation solo Count Your Blessings. Kevin’s performance, which showed a musical maturity far beyond his years, was enthusiastically received by the capacity audience. The next item was the arrangement The Lord is Gracious, with principal cornet David Delaney providing a beautiful performance of the daunting melody. Delaney was also featured, along with Chris Dennard and David Mersiovsky, in the next item, the cornet trio The Veterans.
The Salvation Army has established a School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond area, headed by Bandmaster Matt Sims, the area music director (and bass trombone for the National Capital Band). Students from school, which meets in three different Salvation Army locations around the area, had been preparing for a performance with the NCB for several weeks, and their presentation was prefaced by a a video showing some of these preparations. Their “big moment” was performing Classics In Brass with the National Capital Band. This piece, arranged by William Himes, features snippets of well-known classical music, finishing with the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The children received a standing ovation from the audience of over 750 people, including the band which had accompanied them. It was a remarkable end to the first half of the program to see these children, some of whom had only been playing their instruments for a few weeks, perform so well in front of such a large audience.
Following the intermission, the band opened the second half of the concert with In Good Company (Dudley Bright), an interesting arrangement pairing the Tudor melody “Pastime in Good Company” (attributed by some to Henry VIII) and the contemporary Christian song “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”. Children from the Richmond Area Command were again featured in the next item, as the timbrel brigade performed to the march California (Emil Söderstrom). The young men of the NCB then showed their vocal skills with the jovial and humorous item Men of the Chorus, ably accompanied on piano by Maria Mathieson. The trombone section was featured in Wonders Begin (Ray Steadman-Allen).
The program then turned to a more contemplative mood, with Kenneth Downie’s beautiful and moving piece, The Father’s Blessing, associated with the words “God be with you till we meet again.” Bandmaster Anderson gave a powerful and moving devotion, remining the audience and the band that there is only one God and one Way to heaven.
The final section of the program, as has become somewhat of a tradition with the National Capital Band, featured patriotic items, beginning with God Bless America (Irving Berlin, arr. William Gordon). The band next played Stephen Bulla’s Armed Forces Salute, a medley featuring the songs of the five United States armed forces. Current and former members of each service in the audience were invited to stand as their song was played, and were enthusiastically greeted by the crowd. The concert concluded with The Stars and Stripes Forever, which concluded with audience rising to their feet to clap along with the band, which turned into a standing ovation following the conclusion of the march.
The audience for the concert was lively and receptive, and was strong in number, almost filling the large church hall. They appreciated the music of the National Capital Band and the participation of the children from the School of Performing Arts was a great topic of conversation after the concert. But the most important aspect of the NCB’s ministry was to play music with the purpose to glorify God and bring a message to the members of the audience.
Sunday, 22 February
On Sunday, the National Capital Band took part in the morning service at the Richmond Citadel Corps. The meeting began with some light and thoughtful preliminary items, concluding with Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren” (James Curnow). Contributions by the NCB during the service included Standing Somewhere In the Shadows and Bound For the Promised Land. The congregation was also treated to a vocal duet by Wendy Hood and Christina Anderson. Following the message of the morning, given by the NCB’s Executive Officer, the service concluded with the band and congregation joining in O Boundless Salvation. As the congregation started to make their way home the band sent them off with the march Rolling Along.
The whole weekend was a great success for the Richmond Area Command and its School of Performing Arts. The National Capital Band ministered to over 1,000 people combined and during the difficult economic times, it is felt that this ministry was vital to the people of Richmond and central Virginia. The band hopes to return to the area for a Christmas engagement and again sometime in 2010.