Monthly Archives: April 2010

Worship Service at Solomon G. Brown Corps

This is the third of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

The finale of the National Capital Band’s Bravo Brass! Weekend was a worship service on Sunday, 11 April 2010, at the Solomon G. Brown (Southeast) Corps in Washington, DC. Located in the heart of the Anacostia neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant of the city, this is the newest corps building in the metro area, with the corps occupying two floors of a five-story building, with the rest of the building occupied by paying business tenants, an innovative arrangement for a Salvation Army building.

The members of the band were greeted by the corps officer, Lieutenant Michal Chapman as they arrived for the Sunday holiness meeting. The platform area of the sanctuary is not large enough for a full-size brass band, so the NCB set up to one side. As with the rest of the weekend, Bandmaster James B. Anderson was unable to be present, being out of town for medical treatment. Conducting duties for the meeting were shared between Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner.

The band began with some preliminary items, including James Curnow’s Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren”. Following a welcome and announcements by Lieutenant Chapman, the Corps Sergeant-Major, George Beu, accepted the tithes and offerings. As an offertory, the band presented the trombone feature I Will Follow Him (arr. Goff Richards).

The National Capital Band is blessed with many versatile musicians, and the NCB Praise Team (Captain Amy Reardon, vocals; Captain Rob Reardon, keyboard; Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims, bass guitar; Keith Morris, drum kit; David Delaney and David Mersiovsky, trumpet; and Kevin Downing, trombone) led the congregation in the contemporary worship songs Hosanna! (Paul Baloche/Benton Brown) and You Are My King (Billy James Foote). The congregation was also given the opportunity to sing with the full band using Charles Skinner’s arrangement of Crown Him with Many Crowns.

The program then took on a more devotional character, with a personal testimony given by David Mersiovsky, a prayer chorus (“Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”) and prayer led by Noel Morris, the congregational song “And Can It Be” using the William Himes arrangement entitled Amazing Love, and a Scripture reading given by David Delaney.

The Scripture reading was followed by Delaney’s sensitive rendition of the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes), a fitting introduction to the message of the morning given by the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison. Major Allison, in his usual relaxed manner, was effective in presenting the Gospel message, as evidenced by the several seekers who came forward during the time of commitment.

Before the final congregational song, O Boundless Salvation (arr. William Himes), Major Allison called Bandmaster Anderson, who was in Houston, Texas, for medical treatment. In one of the most moving experiences in the recent history of the band, all present were privileged to have the bandmaster participate in the singing of the concluding song and give the benediction from a hospital thousands of miles away. We learned later that Bandmaster Anderson was in the day room, with several other patients present, during this time, and that he, in his usual bold fashion, sang along and prayed aloud without any sign of embarrassment or timidity. The meeting ended with a prayer for Bandmaster Anderson given by the band chaplain, Captain Mike Harris, and the postlude, Rolling Along (William Himes).

As the band concluded this special ministry weekend, contributions by several guest players were acknowledged, including Darryl Crossland and Steve Sutton on cornet and Dr. Richard Holz on Bb bass.

Bravo Brass!

This is the second of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

As a part of their Bravo Brass weekend, the National Capital Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) joined with The Dominion Brass (Conductors Steve Kellner and Ben Roundtree) for a concert at McLean Presbyterian Church, on 10 April 2010.

The Dominion Brass, founded in 2002, is a large brass and percussion ensemble made up of professional musicians and music educators from the Washington, DC area. Its mission is to glorify God through music and to support other ministries and charitable organizations through concert performances. Since its founding, the ensemble has played several concerts annually and raised over $30,000 for various local, national and international ministries and charities.

The concert began with The Dominion Brass on the stage, where they started with Joyful, Joyful (arr. Steve Kellner) as a congregational song. This was followed by a arrangement by Ben Roundtree of The Power of the Cross. The next item was the premiere of an extended work composed by Steve Kellner, Variations on “O Worship the King”. This well-known hymn was presented in five movements, representing a variety of musical styles: Fanfare, Little Fugue, Song without Words, Celtic Dance and the closing Theme and Finale.

One of the great composers for choir in the twentieth century was Randall Thompson. His classic choral work Alleluia has been skillfully transcribed for brass choir by Steve Kellner, and this was the next work presented by The Dominion Brass. Contrasting with this symphonic chorale was the next item, There Is Power in the Blood, featuring the six-member trombone section of The Dominion Brass. Arranged by Ben Roundtree in a classic jazz format, this piece was greeted with long and loud applause.

The final item was the Finale from Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Organ Symphony”, arranged by Phil Snedecor. The McLean Presbyterian Church has recently installed a new organ, and it was an excellent benefit to the concert to have the church’s organist, David Bading, participate in this presentation.

During the intermission, the platform was reset for the National Capital Band. Unfortunately, Bandmaster James Anderson was unable to attend the events this weekend for medical reasons, but Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner filled in admirably in the Bandmaster’s absence. Two Dominion Brass members, Phil Franke (euphonium) and Dana Landis (trombone) helped out by filling in for Kellner and Sims respectively.

The National Capital Band began its portion of the program with two pieces composed by Leslie Condon, Celebration and Song of Exuberance. The latter, one of the more difficult trombone solos in the Salvation Army repertoire, was given an excellent rendition by Kevin Downing, the NCB’s principal trombone. The third item was William Himes’ joyous Cause for Celebration.

The concert then turned from the contemporary rhythms and harmonies of William Himes to a item by a composer who may be considered the origin of all sacred brass music, Giovanni Gabrieli. An innovator often credited with the first significant use of dynamics, massed instrumentation and antiphonal effects, Gabrieli’s music is still appreciated and admired despite being composed some 400 years ago. Steve Kellner provided the arrangement of Canzon Septimi Toni No. 2, with the National Capital Band as “choir one” on the stage and The Dominion Brass split on either side of the audience to provide the antiphonal effect.

Returning to more contemporary music, the next item was Peter Graham’s Renaissance. For this item, The Dominion Brass filled the choir loft behind the National Capital Band, joining in the majestic final section as the piece concludes with the emphatic statement “May Jesus Christ Be Praised!”.

For the finale of the concert, everyone in the hall was included, with both bands, the church organ, and the audience combining for Crown Him with Many Crowns (arr. Charles Skinner), providing a fitting conclusion to the concert.

Clinic at Alexandria

This is the first of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

Ninety “budding musicians”, representing eight corps – Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Montgomery County, Prince George’s and Solomon G. Brown (Southeast) – were treated to classes and a performance session with the National Capital Band on Saturday, 10 April 2010.

The event kicked off at 10:00 am in the sanctuary, with a devotional thought from the NCB’s executive officer, Major James Allison. This was followed by a fascinating and informative session on proper breathing techniques conducted by Dr. Steve Kellner. The the participants were assigned to a number of masterclasses, each with at last one member of the NCB. In fact, every room in the building that could be used for a class was used, and some had to be conducted in the corps’ social services offices next door.

Following the masterclasses, the corps groups that would be performing in the grand finale concert of the clinic were given time to rehearse. During the rehearsals, a pizza lunch was set up in the corps parking lot, as the weather was fine, although a bit windy. Then everyone headed back into the building for the grand finale of the clinic, a mini-concert featuring the NCB and several groups from individual corps music programs.

The only space large enough to hold all of the musicians and their instruments was the gymnasium. The sound of 120 brass musicians (90 clinic participants and 30 members of the NCB) all warming up at the same time was, quite simply, enormous. In the absence of Bandmaster James Anderson, who was unable to be with the band on this weekend because of medical treatment, conducting duties were split between deputy bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner. The NCB got the finale off to a fine start with Cornerstone (Andrew Mackereth) with Steve conducting, followed by words of welcome from Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and an invocation from Major Allison.

The first group to perform was the youth band from the host corps, Alexandria Citadel, under the direction of Dave Downing. They presented the old classic Jesus Shall Reign (Vernon Post), a piece which many of the members of the NCB remembered as having been used when they were members of a corps youth band.

Next, all of the musicians joined together for a rousing rendition of William Himes’ Muffins Rhapsody, with Matt Sims conducting the NCB and David Delaney leading the assembled participants. The youth band from the Fairfax Corps then performed Duke Street (William Himes), led by Scott Bedio.

The NCB continued the program with Jesus Loves Me, using the well-known arrangement by Bandmaster Anderson. The next group to perform was a combination of players from the two Maryland corps represented, Montgomery County and Prince George’s. Under the direction of David Delaney (bandmaster at Montgomery County), they presented When the Spirit Says Sing.

Over the last three years, under the inspired direction of Bandmaster Matt Sims, the Richmond Area Command has developed the School for the Performing Arts, which now has about 120 students with instruction at three locations. Many of the members of the Richmond Citadel youth band are beneficiaries of this excellent program. With Matt conducting, the youth band presented Down the Street (Erik Silfverberg). Then, 10-year-old Angela Li presented the cornet solo Whiter than Snow with David Carter accompanying on piano.

The final item from the NCB during the mini-concert was I Will Follow Him, featuring the trombone section. As a grand finale to the clinic sessions, all of the assembled musicians again gathered, this time playing another special item by William Himes, Classics in Brass. Major Allison closed the proceedings with a benediction.