Traditionally, the National Capital Band ends each season with a dinner for the members and guests. In 2010, the dinner was held two weeks early because the last event of the season is a ministry trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania at the end of May. This year’s dinner was held at Maggiano’s in the Tysons Galleria. Notable events on the evening included the award of Bob’s Big Note, a farewell presentation to Captain Mike Harris, and the announcement by Bandmaster James Anderson that he is retiring at the end of this season.
This was not the first time that the annual dinner had been held at Maggiano’s, and as always, the food was excellent. Stuffed mushrooms, fried mozzarella covered with fresh marinara, and two types of salad began the meal. There were three main courses, served on large platters so that each diner could partake of each if they wished, including roast pork, beef with peppers, and lasagna. The desserts were special, with a rich chocolate cake and a surprising light cheesecake.
The dinner began with the band and guests singing the blessing (’Be Present at Our Table, Lord”) to the tune “Duke Street”, with some rather complex harmony. Since the focus of the dinner is fellowship, there was not much of a program, with only a few scripted events.
One of the traditions of the National Capital Band is the annual award of Bob’s Big Note. Begun by long-time Band Secretary and principal cornet Bob Goodier at his farewell dinner in 2000, the Note showcases a member of the band who has exhibited Christian faith and commitment to the band during the season, without being in the forefront. The Note itself is a simple brass paperweight in the shape of a musical note. One important feature of the award is that the current holder chooses the next recipient - there is no involvement by the Band Board or leadership in the selection.
The current holder of the Note was Dave Downing. After Mike Harris gave a brief description of the history of the Note, Dave presented the Note to David Mersiovsky.
Band Chaplain Captain Mike Harris is one of the veterans of the National Capital Band, having served for several years before entering the ministry and again after being appointed to the Fredericksburg Corps. He and his wife have recently been appointed as corps officers in Hickory, North Carolina, and Bandmaster Anderson presented him with a special framed print of a three-part painting created by former band member Laura Boutchyard.
One of the traditional moments at the Band Dinner is a speech by the bandmaster. Bandmaster Anderson began with a reprise of the highlights of the past six seasons, including the trip to New York in the spring of 2005, the visit to the Great American Brass Band Festival in Kentucky, recording The Words of the Amen, the visit to Michigan and the tour of Switzerland and France in 2007, the recent recording sessions for the upcoming Christmas album, and the many ministry weekends the band has undertaken under his leadership. He then announced that he will retire at the end of the season, relinquishing both the leadership of the National Capital Band and the position of Divisional Music Director.
To conclude the dinner, executive officer Major James Allison gave a devotional thought and thanked the members of the band and their families for the commitment shown during the past season.