The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) presented a Christmas Concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Richmond, Virginia, on 4 December 2010. This was the band’s second visit to the church for what has become an annual concert in Richmond.
Organized by Bandmaster Matt Sims, Music Director for the Salvation Army in Central Virginia (also the deputy bandmaster and bass trombonist of the NCB), the event drew an audience of more than 600 people. As the audience members entered the church, they were prepared for the experience by a brass ensemble of students from the School of Performing Arts, a Salvation Army program directed by Bandmaster Sims. The ensemble, despite cold conditions, played carols outside the main entrance to the church.
The concert kicked off with Fanfare on “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, composed by Bandmaster Kellner. The concert took the form of a dialog, with the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison, reading passages of Scripture related to the story of Christmas between the band items.
A special feature was the participation of a select chorus of students from the School of Performing Arts (it not being possible to have all 120 or so students participate because of the limitations of the church hall). They sang a medley of Christmas favorites accompanied by an ensemble from the band.
The band’s only soloist for the afternoon was soprano cornet Noel Morris, who played Stephen Bulla’s O Holy Night. Other items from the band included another Bulla work, The Proclamation of Christmas; For Unto Us a Child Is Born (arr. William Gordon) from Handel’s “Messiah”; Coventry Carol (Robert C. Schramm); the Trepak and March from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (both arranged by Keith Wilkinson); Little Drummer Bolero (arr. Steve Kellner); and Leonard Ballantine’s swing arrangement of Go Tell It.
Major Allison gave a brief devotional thought, and announced an initiative to raise $100,000 to continue the School of Performing Arts program. Proceeds from voluntary donations (tickets to the concert were free) placed in kettles in the church lobby were applied to this effort. Captain David Worthy, area commander for Central Virginia, offered acknowledgements and thanks to the church staff and the NCB, before the band sent the audience home “tapping their toes” with Erik Leidzén’s classic Christmas Joy.
The National Capital Band would like to thank a few players who joined us for this concert to fill in for absent members: Jim Squirrel and Dean Sims on solo cornet, Jan Sims on horn, and Melinda Ryan on E♭ tuba.