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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: 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.

Winston-Salem Ministry Weekend (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third of a series of three articles on the National Capital Band’s ministry weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) traveled to the Triad area of North Carolina for a ministry weekend, 8 – 10 November 2013. The band participated in the kettle kick-off for the Winston-Salem Area Command, performed two concerts at area churches, held a youth clinic with students from the Salvation Army’s Academy of Music and Arts, and supported a Sunday morning worship service where all three of the area corps joined together.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

United Holiness Meeting

On Sunday morning, the band returned to the Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club, where a united Holiness Meeting, with all three of the area corps combined, was held in the gymnasium. The band played a preliminary set, including Colne (Thomas Rive), Laudes Domini (arr. Eric Ball), In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie), Lobe den Herren (arr. Eric Ball) and Praise Him! (Stephen Bulla).

After a welcome from Major James Allison, area commander, the flags of the three corps were brought into the hall as Joel Collier sang They Shall Come from the East accompanied by the band. The song was chosen because of the diverse nature of the corps in the command, with services being conducted in English (Washington Park), Spanish (International) and Korean (Kernersville).

Contributions from the National Capital Band included All Hail the Power (arr. Himes) and In Christ Alone (both as congregational song accompaniments) Are You Joyful? (Dudley Bright), The Call (Erik Leidzén) and Here at the Cross (James Curnow). The Kernersville Songsters sang Sing to the King.

Major Andrew Kelly, executive officer of the National Capital Band, gave the message of the morning. The meeting ended in grand style, with the NCB and the congregation joining in O Boundless Salvation, using William Himes’ stirring arrangement with a special tag (provided by Bandmaster Kellner) at the end leading into “Heavenly Gales” and concluding with “Praise God, I’m Saved”.

Following the benediction, the band closed their time in Winston-Salem with a postlude, the march Keep Singing (P. C. Rivers).

The National Capital Band would like to thank several players who joined us for all or part of the weekend, including Charlie Fisher (trombone), Chip Seiler (cornet), Jamie Hood (cornet) and Eugene Fitzgerald (horn). The band was especially delighted to be joined by former NCB member Captain Mike Harris (tuba) on Friday and Saturday. Captain Harris was a member of the band for a number of years both before and after attending the School for Officers’ Training in Atlanta, and is now, with his wife, commanding the Army’s work in the Hickory, North Carolina, area.

Winston-Salem Ministry Weekend (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second of a series of three articles on the National Capital Band’s ministry weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) traveled to the Triad area of North Carolina for a ministry weekend, 8 – 10 November 2013. The band participated in the kettle kick-off for the Winston-Salem Area Command, performed two concerts at area churches, held a youth clinic with students from the Salvation Army’s Academy of Music and Arts, and supported a Sunday morning worship service where all three of the area corps joined together.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Music Clinics and Demonstration Concert

On Saturday morning, the band traveled to the Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club for a day of music clinics from the Academy of Music and Arts. The Academy is an intensive after-school program for young people (ages 8 – 18) wishing to develop their musical talent. Over 40 students were present for the clinics.

The clinics began with all of the participants gathered in the gymnasium for Dr. Kellner’s “breathing and buzzing” clinic. Following this, the group was split into several classes, by instrument and skill level, with one or two members of the National Capital Band assigned to each class. These individual sessions lasted for an hour, after which the clinics broke for lunch.

Trombone class during music clinics in Winston-Salem

Trombone class instructed by Major Andrew Kelly (far left) and Kevin Downing (far right)

After lunch, the three bands from the Academy (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) were given time to rehearse in preparation for an afternoon demonstration concert with all three groups and the National Capital Band. The concert opened with the NCB playing Praise Him! (Stephen Bulla). The Beginner Band, conducted by Court Wynter was up next, presenting the hymn tune “Boston”.

While the Beginner Band took their seats in the audience and the Intermediate Band, conducted by David Zuniga, came into the band formation, the NCB played Keep Singing (P. C. Rivers). After the Intermediate Band’s selection had concluded, the concert continued with Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes), again played by the NCB.

The Advanced Band, under the direction of Steve Sutton, was up next. Remarkably, every player in the band is a student in the Academy of Music and Arts – there are no adult “ringers”, with the exception of the soprano cornet. Their first item was the march Brazil 75 (Leonard Ballantine). This was followed by the NCB’s principal euphonium, Joel Collier, who presented the last movement of Spiritual Fantasy (Douglas Court), “Joshua Fit the Battle”, accompanied by the NCB.

The highlight of the concert was the Advanced Band’s presentation of one of the classics of Salvation Army brass band literature, Brian Bowen’s meditation on Psalm 23, My Comfort and Strength. This is a challenging work even for experienced bands, and, although the performance was perhaps not as polished as one by a staff band, it was remarkable for its musicality, poise and impact on the audience.

The afternoon concert concluded with two items where the students combined with the National Capital Band. First, the members of the Advanced Band joined in Christmas Joy (as had been done during the previous night’s concert). Then, all of the students were featured in William Himes’ Classics in Brass.

First Annual Jack Sutton, Jr. Music Festival

After the conclusion of the music clinics, the National Capital Band made the short trip to the First Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, the venue for the evening concert. This concert was named for Jack Sutton, Jr., a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board from 2001 – 2010, who passed away on 27 November 2011. Sutton was a deacon at First Presbyterian. It is intended that this festival become an annual event featuring a Salvation Army brass band.

After setting up in the theatre-style sanctuary, the band had some relaxation time at the church. They were then treated to a catered dinner, generously provided by the Sutton family.

The program for the concert was the same as for the Friday night concert, except that The Call was replaced by In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie). As on Friday night, the Advanced Band from the Academy of Music and Arts played in the foyer before the concert. The drum line, under the direction of C. J. Powell (who is a member of the drum line staff at Winston-Salem University), “played in” the National Capital Band as they took the stage.

Major James Allison, area commander, made a special presentation to the Sutton family at the opening of the concert, acknowledging Jack Sutton, Jr.’s service to the Salvation Army and to the community at large. On stage for the presentation were Betty Sutton (his wife), Betsy Hoppe (his daughter), Jack Sutton III (his son) and Peter Sanderson (his first cousin).

Also featured during the concert was the Singing Company from the Kernersville (Korean) Corps. This singing company was the winner of the divisional singing company competition this past spring and represented the North and South Carolina Division at the territorial singing competition in June 2013.

Winston-Salem Ministry Weekend (Part 1 of 3)

This is the first of a series of three articles on the National Capital Band’s ministry weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) traveled to the Triad area of North Carolina for a ministry weekend, 8 – 10 November 2013. The band participated in the kettle kick-off for the Winston-Salem Area Command, performed two concerts at area churches, held a youth clinic with students from the Salvation Army’s Academy of Music and Arts, and supported a Sunday morning worship service where all three of the area corps joined together.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The weekend began early on Friday morning, with the majority of the band members meeting at 6:30am at the Fairfax Corps to meet the coach. Following stops to pick up more members in Fredericksburg and Richmond, the band arrived at the hotel in Winston-Salem just after 1:00pm. Major James Allison, area commander for Winston-Salem, and several other officers of the command were on hand to greet the band and had box lunches ready to go.

After a quick lunch, the members of the band changed into their uniforms and headed for the nearby Hanes Mall to participate in the Winston-Salem area Kettle Kick-off. The band formed up in the parking lot and marched down the outside of the mall from one end to the other, accompanied by officers from the corps in the area, with local news cameras rolling. After completing the short march, the band divided into six ensembles, each supporting a kettle placed at one of the mall entrances. After playing at the kettles for about an hour, the band returned to the coach and left for Central Triad Church, the venue for the evening concert.

The band had an easy time setting up on the stage at the church. Following a sound check, the church provided an excellent meal before the evening concert. As the audience came into the hall before the festival, the Advanced Band from the Winston-Salem Salvation Army’s Academy of Music provided music in the foyer of the church. Another of the performing groups from the Academy is a drum line, who commenced the concert with an item and then “marched in” the National Capital Band as they took the stage.

The band’s first item was Praise Him! (Stephen Bulla), followed immediately by Joyful, Joyful (Steve Kellner) with the audience joining in song. Major James Allison, area commander for Winston-Salem, gave a welcome and introductions. In his previous appointment as General Secretary for the National Capital and Virginia Division, Major Allison served as the Executive Officer for the National Capital Band for six seasons. His first act in his new appointment was to invite the band for this ministry weekend. The program continued with Dudley Bright’s lively arrangement Are You Joyful?

The band’s only soloist of the evening was principal euphonium Joel Collier, who played Spiritual Fantasy (Douglas Court). Originally written for Bandmaster Kellner, the solo features three movements based on African-American spirituals, including “I’ve Got a Robe”, “Balm in Gilead” and “Joshua Fit the Battle”. The virtuoso performance by the soloist led to extended applause from the appreciative audience.

One of the major events at Central Triad Church during the year is the live presentation of a drama entitled The Lost Shepherd. This 2-hour drama is staged during the Easter season (seven performances in 2013) and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Salvation Army. Pastor Leroy Kelly presented Major Allison with $1500 during the concert. In addition, a free-will offering was taken with all monies received going to the Salvation Army. During the collection of the offering, the band played Keep Singing, ending the first half of the concert.

Following an intermission, the band started off the second half with James Anderson’s modern classic march Goldcrest, followed by Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes). In recognition of the upcoming season, the next item was Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén), with the Advanced Band coming up on the stage as the they joined the National Capital Band for the march.

Major Andrew Kelly, executive officer of the National Capital Band, gave a short devotional thought and introduced the next item. Originally written in 1923, The Call is one of Erik Leidzén’s most intense works. Built around the well-known tune associated with the words “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling”, the piece then asks the ultimate question, “What will your answer be?”.

The final item of the concert was another piece based on spirituals, Peter Graham’s Seize the Day. Following a benediction by Major Allison, the band sent the audience on their way with a postlude, The Risen Savior (Paul Kellner).

Central Triad Church was kind enough to produce a video recording of the entire concert. You can view excerpts from the video on the National Capital Band’s YouTube channel.

National Capital Area Soldiers Rally

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) supported a Soldiers Rally sponsored by the National Capital Area Command and held at Alexandria Citadel Corps on Sunday, 6 October 2013.

The rally was preceded by a mini-concert from the band. In keeping with the theme of the event, this consisted of marches and other upbeat items, including: Camp Happyland (James Anderson), Greenock Citadel (Kenneth Downie), Keep Singing (P. C. Rivers), Goldcrest (James Anderson) and Praise Him! (Stephen Bulla).

Following words of welcome from the National Capital Area commander, Major Lewis Reckline, a Scripture presentation featuring young people from the Landmark (Korean) Corps was given. The praise band from the Montgomery Country Corps added energy to the evening with three songs, How Great Thou Art, Hosanna and Forever Reign.

The meeting continued with a prayer by Major Janice Fitzgerald (Fairfax Corps) and the taking of an offering by Lieutenant Trey Jones (Alexandria Citadel). The divisional goal for World Services giving for this year is $959,000. The divisional commander has challenged to division to raise the addition $41,000 to make the total an even $1 million, and the offering from this meeting was put toward that challenge. The band played Are You Joyful? as an offertory.

Major Jacqulyn Reckline led the congregation through a testimony time, in between verses of the old war song “Gird on the Armor”. This was followed by a Scripture presentation featuring youth from the Fairfax Corps.

The message for the evening was brought by Lieutenant Michael Good, corps officer of the Solomon G. Brown Corps in southeast Washington. His message was challenging and thought-provoking for everyone at the rally, showing a maturity of spirit beyond his experience of only four months as a commissioned Salvation Army officer.

The evening concluded in rousing fashion with O Boundless Salvation, with the band playing William Himes’ arrangement, Major Curt Sayre (Montgomery County Corps) leading the congregation and Major Alan Gonzalez (Arlington Hispanic Corps) handling the traditional waving of the Army flag. After a benediction by Lieutenant Shalanda Jackson, as the congregation moved into the corps fellowship hall for a reception following the meeting, the band “played them out” with Wilfred Heaton’s classic festival march Praise.

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