Monthly Archives: September 2010

Annual Band Retreat 2010

“New Beginnings” was the theme for the annual Family Camp for the National Capital & Virginia Division this year, and the same spirit carried through the following weekend (10 – 11 September 2010), when the National Capital Band gathered at Camp Happyland for their annual Band Retreat. With a new bandmaster, Dr. Steve Kellner at the helm and seven new players joining the band this season, the band is indeed experiencing “new beginnings”.

The Band Retreat has been the first official engagement of each season for the NCB for many years. It is intended as a time to perform organizational tasks, read through the upcoming repertoire, and set the band up both musically and spiritually for their mission. This year, Bandmaster Kellner instituted significant changes in the schedule of the retreat, with more emphasis on the spiritual and social aspects of the group.

Rehearsal sessions were reduced from 90 minutes to 60, but were increased in number from three to five. After each rehearsal session, the band broke into four groups, with each member (and family members who were in attendance for the retreat) participating through each group in a round-robin fashion. The groups, using materials provided by the Band Chaplain, Captain Rob Reardon, were so effective that the rehearsal sessions on Saturday were further shortened to allow more time for them. These devotional group sessions set the band on firm spiritual footing for the upcoming season. After the final rehearsal session on Saturday, Major James Allison, the band’s Executive Officer, led a short service of consecration which ended with most of those present kneeling in prayer at the recently-dedicated altars in the Happyland chapel.

Musically, the band was introduced to the new repertoire. Bandmaster Kellner has chosen a number of challenging items this year, and with only two items retained from the previous season, intense rehearsal is to be anticipated. Highlights of the repertoire include the prelude and fugue Arise, My Soul, Arise (Dean Goffin), Bruce Broughton’s The Good Old Way, the sublime and powerful meditation Serenity (Eric Ball), Variations on “O Worship the King” composed by Bandmaster Kellner, and Martin Cordner’s energetic Let Everything Praise!.

The National Capital Band is fortunate to have some outstanding young players, including principal cornet David Delaney, 27, and principal trombone Kevin Downing, 18. This season’s repertoire includes major solo items for both of them, with Bandmaster Kellner choosing two complementary works, based on spirituals, by Ray Steadman-Allen. These are the cornet solo Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals and Fantasy for Trombone on Spirituals.

As with most years, a few members of the band were unable to attend the retreat because of work or other commitments. Three former members of the band returned to help fill in these gaps: Sam and Stephanie Funkhouser, on euphonium and horn respectively, and Rick Potter on E♭ bass. Their participation in both the rehearsals and the group sessions enhanced the quality of the weekend.

Personnel News - September 2010

The National Capital Band begins the 2010 – 2011 season with several personnel changes and additions, including a new bandmaster and seven new players.

The most significant change is in the leadership of the band, because of the retirement of Bandmaster James Anderson at the end of last season. Dr. Steve Kellner has been appointed bandmaster, moving from the principal euphonium seat. As a result, Captain Amy Reardon moves into the principal euphonium chair and Ian Chaava moves from first baritone to euphonium.

The band also said farewell to band chaplain and principal tuba Captain Mike Harris at the end of last season as he and his wife were appointed to command the corps at Hickory, North Carolina. Moving into both of these roles is Captain Rob Reardon. Joining the band on E♭ bass is Tamar Murray, who is a student at Montgomery Blair High School, where she is a member of the marching band.

On the low end of the tuba section, John Reeves went on leave of absence for military service during last season and will be unavailable for about 18 months. Filling in for John is Scott Bedio, who was a member of the NCB in the early 1990’s. Scott has been active as an instructor with the Divisional Youth Band and is a member of the Fairfax Corps Band.

Kathleen Jensen and her family recently moved to the Washington area from Atlanta. She joins the National Capital Band as principal horn, with band sergeant Dave Downing moving to first horn (at his own request).

The trombone section, already one of the band’s strengths, has been fortified with the addition of Josh Sears. Josh was a member of the Divisional Youth Band for several years before leaving for studies at Louisiana State University. He has returned to the Washington area after two years at LSU and joins the NCB on first trombone. In addition to his brass band experience, Josh has spent the past few summers as a member of the world class Crossmen drum and bugle corps, based in San Antonio, Texas. The Crossmen are perennial contenders for the Drum Corps International championship, having qualified for the finals 22 times in the past 36 years.

The cornet section also welcomes additional members, on both the front and back row. Last season, the band operated with only three solo cornets for most of the year. Joining the front row this year is Demarr Woods. A graduate of the University of Maryland music program and now a music teacher in Baltimore, Demarr has been a staff member at the NCV Summer Music Conservatory and has played with the NCB on several engagements on a temporary basis in the past few seasons.

On the back row, Ruth Choi comes in on second cornet. Ruth, who is 14, is the youngest current member of the band. She joins her sister, Ellim Choi, and her cousins Esther and Sam Kim, who joined the group in previous seasons.

Finally, Emmanuel Gonzalez joins the percussion section. Emmanuel, who is originally from Venezuela, is an accomplished kit drummer. He is employed at the Arlington Citadel Corps.