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National Capital Area Command Soldiers Rally

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) was privileged to support a Soldiers Rally sponsored by the National Capital Area Command. The rally was held at the Montgomery County (Maryland) Corps on Sunday, 30 September 2018. Special guests for the evening were the comedy duo Bean and Bailey.

Bradley Bean and Jackson Bailey have been performing as Bean and Bailey since 1999. They have been frequent contributors to Salvation Army events over the years.

Bean and Bailey’s mission is to bring clean, wholesome humor to audiences across America. According to Bean, “Laughter has the power to bring unity to groups of people, as well as healing to individuals who are hurting. It is such a blessing to us when we see this happen at our comedy show.” Bailey states, “I may not be the sharpest spoon in the drawer, but I do know the Bible is true when it says that ‘laughter is a good medicine’.”

The band began the rally with some preliminary music, including Motondo (Donald Osgood), 10,000 Reasons (arr. Steve Kellner), and Greater Things (also known as Tampa 125) (Steve Kellner). After words of welcome from Montgomery County corps officer Lieutenant Carmen Owens and opening remarks by Area Commander Major James Hall, Major NaKisha Carr, corps officer at the Solomon G. Brown Corps, led the congregation in “Stand Up and Bless the Lord”, accompanied by the band.

A collection was then taken, during which the band presented their feature item for the evening, Alan Fernie’s arrangement of Onward, Christian Soldiers. Then Major Hall introduced the special guests for the evening, Bean and Bailey. The comedy set was entertaining and uplifting, including among other things some light-hearted takes on the Salvation Army slogan “Doing the Most Good” and several “roasts” of Major Hall.

The rally ended with another congregational song, “Power in the Blood”, led by Corps Sergeant-Major John Reeves of Alexandria Citadel Corps. Captain Alvaro Porras, corps officer of Arlington Corps, gave a benediction. The band topped off the night with the rousing march Camp Happyland (James Anderson) as a postlude.

NCB Retreat 2018

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) began its 2018–2019 season in traditional fashion with a retreat held at Camp Happyland in central Virginia. As usual, the retreat served as both a musical and spiritual foundation for the season. Spiritual matters were covered in breakout sessions, with attendees divided into three groups. Prepared by Band Sergeant Major Jim Shiels, the materials this year centered on the book Christ at the Door by Commissioner Phil Needham. The band also had a number of rehearsal sessions, reading through the new repertoire for the upcoming season. The retreat ended with a service of consecration led by the band’s Executive Officer, Major Chris Flanagan.

The band was happy to welcome a couple of visitors for the retreat. Tim Burleigh is a key member of the Divisional Youth Band who unfortunately is located too far from Divisional Headquarters to attend NCB rehearsals. The Band also welcomed former member Ruth Hayes for the retreat.

The band also welcomes several new members as the season begins. Kathleen Jensen returns to the band as principal horn after a few years’ absence. Three others join as they are “called up” from the Divisional Youth Band. Yadhira Ramirez comes in on first horn, Julie Flores on first baritone, and Hansam Jang on bass trombone. The new additions require some adjustments to their sections. Jason Collier moves from solo horn to first horn, Major Leisa Hall from first horn to second horn, Sarah Bryk from first baritone to second baritone, and John Adams from bass trombone to E♭ bass.

Sadly, a new season also means that some members of the band cannot return for various reasons. The band acknowledges the service of Wilber Hernandez (enlisted in the United States Marine Corps), Captain Karl Dahlin (appointed to the Salisbury, North Carolina Corps), and Jeff Schultz (relocated to Florida).

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.

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