From Strength to Strength
A capacity crowd gathered in the hall at Alexandria Citadel on the afternoon of Sunday, 18 July 2010 to salute Bandmaster James B. Anderson and Christina Anderson. On the platform, the National Capital Band, enhanced by a number of former players and guests, provided the musical backing for the event. With the title “From Strength to Strength”, the afternoon was a praise-filled celebration of the impact that these two Spirit-filled people have had during their eighteen years of ministry in the United States.
Bandmaster Anderson is well-known for composing quality marches. Under his direction, the National Capital Band presented two of them, The Pioneers and Life in the Spirit (which he described to the band during the sound check as his attempt at composing a “spiritual march”), as preliminary items.
Major Kelly Igleheart, divisional commander for the National Capital and Virginia Division, who was the chairman for the afternoon, welcomed the large audience and guests. He then led the assembly in a congregational song, The Drumbeats of His Army (words by Henry Burton, music by James Anderson).
The Andersons arrived in the USA on 4 July 1992, Jim having been hired by Lt.-Col. Jack T. Waters to be the Divisional Music Director for the Texas Division. Fittingly, the first person to speak in tribute was Colonel Waters, who described the process by which Bandmaster Anderson came to be employed by the Salvation Army in Texas. This was followed by an item from the band, Bandmaster Anderson’s selection Our God Reigns.
Former Chaplain of the National Capital Band, Captain Mike Harris, who returned from his new appointment in Hickory, North Carolina, for the event, offered prayer. This was followed by the second tribute, from Major Travis Israel, who was the corps officer at Dallas Temple when the Andersons came to Texas in 1992. Major Israel described how the Andersons and their children immediately became involved soldiers of the corps, notwithstanding their busy schedules, highlighting the ministry aspect of their service.
Kevin Norbury’s arrangement of contemporary Christian songs, God With Us, is a favorite of Bandmaster Anderson’s. After being in the NCB repertoire for five consecutive seasons, it usually evokes some groans of protest from the band when put on a program, but on this occasion it was entirely fitting as the next item on the program. NCB principal trombone Kevin Downing gave the next tribute, representing both the young musicians of the division and the members of the National Capital Band. He described Bandmaster Anderson’s encouragement from his first youth band rehearsal, where he had not yet learned to read treble clef, through his present place as the trombone soloist for the NCB as he prepares to enter the University of Maryland music program in the autumn.
The congregation was given an opportunity to stretch a bit with the next item, the congregational song Our God Reigns, using Bandmaster Anderson’s arrangement. The song was led by Bandmaster Nick Simmons-Smith, current Territorial Music Secretary for the USA South, who mentioned that he was not attending the event in his official capacity, but rather as a friend of the Andersons. Bandmaster Simmons-Smith also recounted how, as a young musician, he was hired by Bandmaster Anderson to work in the music department in Texas, finding himself teaching at a music event in Mexico City two weeks after arriving from England, as the Texas music department often traveled south of the border to provide music support to the Mexican Salvationists.
Dr. Richard Holz, retired Territorial Music Secretary, gave the next tribute. Dr. Holz brought Bandmaster Anderson to Territorial Headquarters after his time in Texas, where he served as the first Territorial Music Education Director. Dr. Holz emphasized Jim’s strength and experience as an outstanding music educator, building on his experience in the schools in Scotland.
The first surprise of the afternoon provided, appropriately, a bit of Scottish flavor to the afternoon. Noted vocal soloist Marjory Watson, who lives in Scotland, was the guest at the music conservatory in the Carolinas, and extended her stay in the US in order to be at this event. Accompanied by Maria Mathieson (also a native of Scotland), Marjory sang the great Scottish ballad My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose, with Christian words as the second verse.
Christina Anderson served as the Divisional Gospel Arts Director during the past six years. Major Donna Igleheart, who worked closely with Christina at the beginning of this time, gave a heartfelt tribute to her contributions to the work and the ministry of the divisional youth and music departments. Christina was also presented with a plaque commemorating her service in the NCV Division.
The Anderson’s three children – Lois, Esther and Tim, were all present for the afternoon, and the next item featured the entire Anderson family performing Bandmaster Anderson’s treatment of The Gentle Voice, with Jim, Tim, Lois and Esther singing with Christina at the piano. Prior to the performance, the children gave a short presentation, humorously describing the family meeting just before they moved to America, and presenting a short poem written for their father.
Next came one of the more poignant moments of the afternoon, especially for the members of the National Capital Band. When Bandmaster Anderson was 15 years of age, he made his first brass band arrangement, of the well-loved song Jesus Loves Me, which was published in the Triumph Series a few years later. This was the final piece which he conducted as the Bandmaster of the National Capital Band. Their were few dry eyes among the players at the conclusion of the music.
The retirement ceremony for Bandmaster Anderson was conducted by Major James Allison, who has worked closely with him for the past several years as the Executive Officer of the National Capital Band. The Anderson children held American and Salvation Army flags (both the corps flag from Alexandria Citadel and the National Capital Band flag) as a backdrop. Major Allison, in recanting the major events of Jim’s life and ministry, emphasized again and again that at every turning point, “no one knew” the future impact, but that “God knew”. It is evident that the hand of God has guided Jim’s life and career, and this was made clear in the long list of achievements recounted by Major Allison. Jim was presented with a plaque commemorating his 18 years of service as an employee of the Salvation Army and with a framed baton for his six years as Bandmaster of the National Capital Band.
Bandmaster Anderson gave an impassioned response, detailing his view of his journey to this place. He particularly emphasized his time as a Divisional Music Director, both in Texas and in the National Capital and Virginia division. Several of those who spoke in tribute earlier in the program had mentioned Jim’s predilection to stop in the middle of a rehearsal, remove his glasses and proceed to give a strong Gospel message. At the end of the response, he did this, bringing back vivid memories for those who had been on the receiving end of these messages.
Following his response, Bandmaster Anderson formally passed the baton to Bandmaster David Delaney, who succeeds him as Divisional Music Director. Bandmaster Delaney then passed it on to Dr. Steve Kellner, who will serve as the Bandmaster of the National Capital Band.
Next was the second surprise of the afternoon. Bandmaster William Himes felt compelled to compose a piece for Bandmaster Anderson’s retirement. Although he was not able to be present for the event, he worked into the early morning hours on the preceding Wednesday to complete the composition. The piece, entitled This I Know, is dedicated “To my friend, James Anderson, for his faith and courage.” It combines the song “Jesus Is the Sweetest Name I Know” (which Jim has said has been of great help to him through his recent medical struggle) with quotes from Jim’s arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me”. After the National Capital Band played this item, Bandmaster Simmons-Smith presented Jim with a framed page of the score.
Now-retired Bandmaster Anderson was not given an opportunity to rest for the remainder of the program, as Josh Webb gave up his chair so that Jim could take his place in the tuba section. The event concluded with yet another of Jim’s marches, Goldcrest, followed by the congregation singing O Boundless Salvation, with multiple flags waving as the band accompanied the singing using William Himes’ arrangement.
Captian Ken Argot, corps officer of Alexandria Citadel, where the Andersons have been soldiers for the past six years, gave the benediction. The National Capital Band, in a final tribute to the outgoing bandmaster, played On the King’s Highway, a march composed by the first leader of the NCB, Erik Leidzén, as a postlude.