On Monday evening, 4 February 2013, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) was privileged to have well-known composer and conductor James Curnow as guest conductor for its rehearsal.
Curnow is one of the most well-known active Salvation Army composers, and has also published many works for concert and wind bands. In the Washington, DC area to supervise the recording of a demonstration CD for the American Instrumental Ensemble Series, he graciously agreed to come to the city early in order to conduct the rehearsal. The band is featuring two of his works in its concert repertoire this season, the devotional selection Guardian of Our Way and the extended work The Great Salvation War.
The guest conductor handled the entire rehearsal, beginning with taking the band through some of his Tone Studies for Band. The next item was the song arrangement O How I Love Jesus. Insights given by the composer as the band rehearsed this simple yet profound piece enhanced the meaning for the members of the band.
He also took the band through the to items from their concert repertoire mentioned above, spending nearly half the rehearsal time on The Great Salvation War. As with any piece of descriptive music, the understanding of the meaning of the work by the players is crucial to an effective performance, and Curnow’s descriptions of the various motifs and themes used throughout this extended work gave this understanding to the band.
At the end of the rehearsal, the band had a brief lesson in sight-reading as the guest took us through his composition Emblems, which many of the members of the band had never seen before this rehearsal.
In addition to the guest conductor, the band also welcomed back former member Bernie Dake, who is now a member of the music department staff at Territorial Headquarters in Atlanta. Bernie was also in town for the recording sessions to be held later in the week.