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Dave Downing 1945 - 2017

Dave Downing

We are sad to mark the passing of an outstanding person and musician, Dave Downing. Dave was a member of the National Capital Band for 45 years.

Dave and his wife, Karen, came to the Washington, DC, area in 1969, just after Dave had finished a tour with the US Army in Vietnam. Both coming from a Salvation Army background, they began attending the Prince George's Corps (and later the Alexandria Citadel Corps), and both joined the National Capital Band. Through the years, Dave played baritone, euphonium, and principal horn, as well as serving several terms as the band sergeant and chaplain. At the corps, Dave served in several leadership positions, including bandmaster, corps sergeant-major, Sunday school teacher, and youth band leader.

In 1979, Dave was struck with a massive heart attack at the age of 34. Despite having severe damage to his heart muscle, requiring him to have a defibrillator implanted in his body, and eventually to have a heart transplant, he remained a vital member of the corps and the NCB. Throughout his medical difficulties, he retained a strong Christian witness and a sense of dignity and honor. A few years after having his transplant, he was diagnosed with cancer. The surgery for this new affliction caused his face to be partially paralyzed, and even though he was unable to play a brass instrument for several years, he remained the NCB band sergeant, faithfully coming to rehearsals and engagements.

In 1992, Dave and Karen adopted an infant from Bolivia, Kevin. They nurtured him into an intelligent, gracious person, who is incidentally also extremely talented, being a virtuoso trombonist. As with everything he did, Dave took a very active role with his son, helping to develop his intellectual, spiritual, and musical abilities.

In email to members and friends of the National Capital Band, Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner called Dave "one of our Mount Rushmore figures, both musically and spiritually." His presence will be sorely missed, but his influence on the Salvationists of the National Capital Area and elsewhere will continue through those of us who were privileged to know him.

A Musical Offering (2014)

A Musical Offering (2014)

A Musical Offering (2014)

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The first recording by the band under the direction of Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner, A Musical Offering features works by ten composers who all have been members of the National Capital Band, from Erik Leidzén (“band instructor” when the band was founded in 1925) to current members of the group.

Tracks

1 Praise Him (Stephen Bulla)   3:00
2 My Jesus I Love Thee (Kevin Downing)   4:31
  Spiritual Fantasy (Douglas Court) Joel Collier, euphonium soloist 11:56
3       I. All God’s Children Got Shoes    
4       II. Balm in Gilead    
5       III. Joshua Fit the Battle    
6 The Call (Erik Leidzén)   4:55
7 River Quest (Stephen Bulla) Kevin Downing, trombone soloist 6:52
8 Camp Happyland (James Anderson)   2:59
9 Rest (Kevin Norbury, arr. Dorothy Gates) David Delaney, cornet soloist 3:35
10 The Children’s Song (Robert Schramm)   1:57
11 I Bow Adoring (Joel Collier)   3:19
12 Joyful Warrior (Steve Kellner)   3:43
13 The Risen Savior (Paul Kellner)   2:07

Let Us Adore Him (2010/2012)

Let Us Adore Him (2012)

Let Us Adore Him (2012)

This the the band’s second offering of Christmas music, following Christmas Presence (1992).

Recorded in January 2010, this is the final recording conducted by Bandmaster James Anderson before his untimely death in October of that year. Indeed, he was undergoing a very aggressive treatment program when the recording was made as he waged a valiant and inspiring battle against the cancer the eventually took his life. The National Capital Band dedicates this recording to Bandmaster James Anderson, with love, respect, admiration and affection. Auld Lang Syne, Jim.

Tracks

1 Fanfare on “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (Steve Kellner)   1:44
2 The Joy of Christmas (Robert Redhead)   5:22
3 The Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-20) Narrated by James Anderson 2:39
4 I Wonder As I Wander (Ray Bowes)   3:38
5 Feliz Navidad (Dorothy Gates)   3:52
6 Ding Dong Merrily on High (Douglas Court) Steve Kellner, euphonium soloist 3:09
7 Still, Still, Still (James Curnow)   3:44
8 The Shining Star (Peter Graham)   3:40
9 Shepherd’s Surprise (Kenneth Downie)   1:49
10 Fanfare Jubiloso (James Curnow)   2:06
11 Nowell (Andrew Mackereth)   2:07
12 Christmas Idyll (Kenneth Downie)   4:32
13 Season’s Greetings (James Anderson)   3:35

A Musical Offering: The Children’s Song (Robert Schramm)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

In the late summer of 1961, Robert C. “Bob” Schramm came to Washington, DC after joining the United States Air Force Band. He also took up the principal euphonium chair in the National Capital Divisional Band (as it was then known) and was appointed as Deputy Bandmaster, a position he held until his retirement from the NCB in 1998. The association between the Schramm family and the National Capital Band continues to the present day, now extending to the third generation, with six members of the family having played in the band for a combined total of over 90 years of service.

Several of Schramm’s compositions have been published, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. His most well-known work is The Children’s Song, published in the Festival Series in 1975. Although this piece has been recorded several times by bands around the world, including the International Staff Band, this will be the first time that the National Capital Band has recorded it.

Originally intended as a challenge piece for a music camp (although never actually used at that camp), the piece weaves together two melodies associated with the words by Cecil Frances Alexander:

All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful:
the Lord God made them all.

The tunes used are “Royal Oak” (Martin Shaw, late 17th century) and “Bright and Beautiful” (William Monk, 1887). The entire piece is in a light, playful style, with the melodies being passed throughout all sections of the band. Although short in duration, less than three minutes long, it is a challenge for the band, with many short solo passages and features handing lines from one instrument to another.

A Musical Offering: Camp Happyland (James Anderson)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

Bandmaster James Anderson is widely recognized as a master of the art of the march, perhaps the finest Salvationist march-writer of the past few decades. During his six-year term as Divisional Music Director for the National Capital and Virginia Division, Bandmaster Anderson spent many days at Camp Happyland. Although it has been over three years since his untimely death, his spirit and ministry still resonate throughout the camp, particularly on the divisional music and arts weekends, where hundreds of students and staff fill the camp with music.

It is therefore fitting that the National Capital Band should include one of Bandmaster Anderson’s final compositions on this recording – a march, of course – entitled Camp Happyland. Although he had already been diagnosed with a terminal illness at the time it was composed, this piece embodies the ebullient and bold spirit that he showed throughout his life.

The march is built around the 19th-century song “There Is a Happy Land”, with words by Andrew Young:

There is a happy land, far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day.
Oh, how they sweetly sing, worthy is our Savior king,
Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye.

A Musical Offering: The Call (Erik Leidzén)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

Over the next two weeks, as the band approaches the recording sessions, an article on one of the items selected for the recording will be posted each day. We begin with the oldest composition, The Call, by Erik Leidzén, who was involved in the formation of the National Capital Band in 1925.

The Call, written in 1923, features the songs “Softly and Tenderly” and “What Will the Answer Be?”. Leidzén, even at a young age, had already begun to develop the advanced harmonics, use of chromatics and tone colors which characterize much of his brass band writing. The Call was considered by the Salvation Army music publishers to be too “modern” for use, and the piece was not published until 1952, nearly thirty years after it was composed.

The piece opens with a somewhat turbulent motif, leading into the first statement of “Softly and Tenderly’, representing Christ’s call to the sinner to “Come home”. This is then joined by the question “What will the answer be?”, as a response is requested. The two tunes are skilfully woven together as the music builds in intensity and then fades away at the ending with the final question represented by the second tune.

Leidzén’s association with the group that became the National Capital Band (then called the Washington Headquarters Band) began at the group’s inception in 1925. When Senior-Captain Ernest Holz, who was the commander of the small National Capital Division (at the time, consisting of only five corps), decided to start a divisional band, he turned to the headquarters in New York for assistance. In response, Leidzén was named the “Band Instructor” for the group, traveling from New York to Washington once a month by coastal steamship. For about five years, this was a regular pattern, as Leidzén assisted Bandmaster Walter D. Needham in starting up a tradition of musical excellence in the Washington area.

In the photograph below, taken in 1926 (the earliest known photograph of the band), Leidzén is on the right of the front row, with Bandmaster Needham on the left and Sr.-Captain Holz in the center.

The earliest known photograph of the National Capital Band, taken in 1926.

Parade and Concert in Richmond

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) traveled to Richmond, Virginia on 7 December 2013, participating in the Richmond Christmas Parade and playing a carol concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the afternoon.

This was the first time that the full band marched in the Richmond Christmas Parade. In previous years, small ensembles have taken part. The parade is a major event, with several hundred thousand spectators lining Broad Street along the 2.5-mile route.

After the conclusion of the parade, the band went across town to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the venue for the annual Richmond carol concert. This concert has been held at the church for the past several years. The band arrived in good time after the parade, setting up and having a box lunch before the afternoon concert, which began at 2:45 pm.

The concert opened with Christmas Prelude (arr. Rieks van der Velde), which features the carol “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. The audience was invited to sing along with the band for this item. After words of welcome and an invocation from Major Tim Carter, Central Virginia Area Commander, the concert continued with two contrasting items. First was the Troika from “Lieutenant Kije” (Serge Prokofiev, arr. Andrew Blyth). This was contrasted with Christmas Time Is Here (Vince Guaraldi, arr. Stephen Bulla), which is familiar from the classic Charlie Brown Christmas television special.

Next was another opportunity for the audience to participate, with a medley of carols, including “Deck the Halls”, “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”. This was followed by a performance by students from the Salvation Army’s School for the Performing Arts, led by Sara Elliott. The first half of the concert finished with a Christmas march, The Carollers (Richard Holz).

Following the intermission, the band brought things back to motion with Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén). Major Donna Carter, Central Virginia Coordinator of Women’s Services, read Scripture from John 1:1–14. The band played Silent Night, a new arrangement by a member of the band’s bass section, Kate Wohlman. This led into a devotional given by the band’s Executive Officer, Major Andrew Kelly, entitled “The Life-Light”, using the Scripture text read earlier.

The band’s final item of the concert was Christmas Finale (Paul Lovatt-Cooper). Just before the benediction given by Major Tim Carter, the audience finished the afternoon, joining with the band in another medley of carols, including “Joy to the World”, “The First Noel” and “Away in a Manger”.

The band was scheduled to perform another carol concert the following afternoon, in Fairfax, Virginia, however, this event had to be canceled on account of hazardous winter weather conditions.

The Words of the Amen (2007)

The Words of the Amen (2007)

The Words of the Amen (2007)

Tracks

1 Winchester Revival (Kenneth Downie) 3:40
2 Take Time . . . (Kenneth Downie) 4:21
3 God With Us (Fettke/Kirkland, arr. Kevin Norbury) 5:50
4 Rhapsody for Cornet and Band (Ray Bowes) Ian Anderson, cornet soloist 8:04
5 Confrontations (Dudley Bright) 9:45
6 Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson) 2:39
7 The Conqueror (Ray Steadman-Allen) Major Tony Barrington, euphonium soloist 6:34
8 The Blessing (William Himes) 6:40
9 What a Friend (Erik Leidzén) 2:14
10 The Words of the Amen (James Anderson) 11:37
11 Sovereignty (Brian Bowen) 4:10

Turning Point (2001)

Turning Point (2001)

Turning Point (2001)

Conducted by Bandmaster Lars-Otto Ljungholm, this recording features four soloists and the title track, which includes a narration by General John Gowans.

Tracks

1 Rosehill (Albert H. Jakeway) 3:12
2 I Love You, Lord (Laurie Klein, arr. Howard Davies 4:29
3 Celestial Morn (Leslie Condon) Tom Bratten, tuba soloist 9:26
4 The Living God (Dorothy Gates) 5:30
5 Sound Out the Proclamation (Eric Ball) 6:23
6 Dearest Name (David Catherwood) Major Tony Barrington, euphonium soloist 6:38
7 All That I Am (William Himes) 6:47
8 The Lamb (Dorothy Gates) Dorothy Gates, trombone soloist 5:12
9 To Regions Fair (Norman Bearcroft) 8:32
10 Turning Point (Dorothy Gates) General John Gowans, narrator 8:32
11 I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes) Ian Anderson, cornet soloist 3:08
12 Deep River (William Broughton) 3:28
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