Ministry Reports

2010 Community Appreciation Christmas Concert

The 2010 Community Appreciation Christmas Concert, featuring the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner), was held on 12 December in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to the band, the concert also featured youth soloist Sharolyn Hyson, the DC Metro Timbrelists (Director Elsie Morris), and the Robinson Singers (Director Michael Horanski). The concert was sponsored by the National Capital Area Command of The Salvation Army, led by Majors Steve and Wendy Morris. The master of ceremonies for the evening was John Schriffen, a reporter for NBC 4 television.

The concert was the tenth in the annual series, which began in 2001 as a means of expressing thanks to the Washington metro area for their generosity during the relief efforts after the attack on the Pentagon on 11 September. As always, no admission was charged, and the concert featured several opportunities for the audience to join in singing with the band.

The concert opened with Fanfare on “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, composed by Bandmaster Kellner. The congregation was then invited to sing this carol with the band, using an arrangement by William Himes as accompaniment. Major Steve Morris then gave an invocation and introduced John Schriffen as the master of ceremonies. The band continued the festival with The Proclamation of Christmas (Stephen Bulla).

One of the traditions for the annual Christmas Concert, begun by the late Bandmaster James Anderson, is to have a “junior soloist” on the program. This year, Sharolyn Hyson, an elementary school student at Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, and also a participant in the Salvation Army’s Alexandria School of the Performing Arts, sang Sleigh Ride (Mitchell Parish/Leroy Anderson). Her performance of this challenging song generated a standing ovation from the audience.

After the band presented Go Tell It! (Leonard Ballantine), the Robinson Singers were next on the program. The Singers are a choir from the Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, led by Mr. Michael Horanski. For their first set, they sang Carol (Neighbors, on This Frosty Tide) and then gave an outstanding and beautiful a capella rendition of There Will Be Rest (Frank Ticheli).

The audience was again given the opportunity to sing with the band, with Christmas Sing-Along (William Himes). This was followed by another arrangement by Bandmaster Kellner, Little Drummer Bolero, which blends the “The Little Drummer Boy” with Ravel’s Bolero.

Another traditional item on the Christmas Concert program is a performance by the DC Metro Timbrelists. This group is made up of performers from several of the corps in the Area Command, and is put together especially for the concert. This year, they performed a drill to the classic Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén), with the audience expressing loud approval.

Next, the concert turned to a quieter phase. Noel Morris is one of the longest-serving members of the National Capital Band, with almost all of his 27 seasons being on soprano cornet. The only instrumental soloist of the evening, he played Stephen Bulla’s arrangement of O Holy Night. This was followed by another carol for all, Silent Night, which led into an inspirational message from Major Steve Morris.

The band continued the program with For Unto Us a Child Is Born (Handel, arr. William Gordon) and then the Robinson Singers returned for two more songs. The first was John Rutter’s glorious Candlelight Carol, sung with outstanding balance and sensitivity. The final item from the choir again showcased their a capella skills, as they sang Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi/Philip Kern) from the familiar “Peanuts” television specials.

The concert ended with a last opportunity for the audience to join in, with Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. Major Steve Morris thanked John Schriffen and the other participants and offered a benediction to close the evening.

Christmas in Richmond

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.

Fredericksburg 125

On the weekend of 6 – 7 November 2010, the National Capital Band made the short journey to Fredericksburg, Virginia to help celebrate 125 years of Salvation Army work in that city. This was the first ministry weekend under the direction of Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The first Salvation Army meeting in Fredericksburg was held on Sunday, 29 November 1885 at Hayden Hall, 700 Princess Anne Street. The first event of the weekend was the unveiling of a plaque affixed to that building commemorating the event (permission for which was graciously extended by the current occupants, the law offices of Murray Van Lear and Paul Scott). A small ensemble from the band supported the unveiling.

The full band then gathered at Hurkamp Park, in the center of downtown Fredericksburg, for a short outdoor concert. Despite a rather chill wind (and a bird who “targeted” a member of the bass section), the band presented a light program to a small but enthusiastic group of listeners. Items included:

  • Goldcrest
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • God’s Children
  • O, How I Love Jesus
  • Fill the World with Music
  • Teach Me
  • Come, Thou Almighty King
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Down the Street

The band then went to the venue for the evening concert, Spotswood Baptist Church, where they had a sound check and rehearsal, followed by a meal provided by the Fredericksburg Corps.

The evening festival, with several hundred persons in the audience, started off with two contrasting items, Goldcrest (James Anderson) and The Prayer Meeting (Bruce Broughton). The audience was then invited to stand and sing, the song being “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”, with an accompaniment arranged by Bandmaster Kellner. The executive officer of the National Capital Band, Major James Allison, made some introductions and gave an opening prayer.

After the introductions and prayer, the program continued with another work by Bruce Broughton, The Good Old Way. This was followed by the only soloist of the evening, principal trombone Kevin Downing. Despite only being 18 years of age, Kevin, who is a freshman majoring in trombone performance at the University of Maryland, is already an accomplished soloist, as he showed with his performance of Fantasy for Trombone on Spirituals (Ray Steadman-Allen).

For many years, the suite has been a favorite form in Salvation Army compositions. The next item on the program, Shout Salvation (Robert Redhead), is a fine example of the form written in the mid-1970s. Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims conducted the band for this item. The final piece of the first half was Power and Glory, a transcription (by Bandmaster Kellner) of a march by John Philip Sousa. This march, which features the well-known hymn tune “Onward, Christian Soldiers” in the trio, is one of very few works in which Sousa used a melody that he had not composed himself.

The second half started with Motivation (William Himes), conducted by the deputy bandmaster. This was followed by the major work of the evening. Commissioner Sir Dean Goffin is one of the giants of Salvation Army music. He demonstrated his mastery of classical forms with his treatment of the familiar hymn tune “Darwalls”, the prelude and fugue Arise, My Soul, Arise. Associating the tune with words by Charles Wesley, this is sacred music of the highest order.

Arise, my soul, arise
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on his hands.

Captain Matt Satterlee, corps officer, gave a short presentation on the 125th anniversary of the Fredericksburg Corps. This was followed by a New Orleans-inspired jazz item, Lord, Lord, You Sure Been Good to Me (Eric Alexander).

During the weeks immediately preceding this ministry weekend, Major Dan Delaney, father of principal cornet David Delaney, and Bandmaster James Anderson had been promoted to Glory. Major James Allison, in his devotional thought during the concert, told the story of the song “It Is Well with My Soul”. Bandmaster Anderson’s family was singing this song at his bedside at the moment that he passed away. Following Major Allison’s talk, the band played Eric Ball’s masterful arrangement of this melody, Serenity. It was an emotional performance for many in the group, as this same arrangement had been used at Major Delaney’s funeral just a few weeks before.

The concert concluded with a modern expression of praise, Martin Cordner’s Let Everything Praise.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

After spending the night at nearby Camp Happyland, and being treated to a hot breakfast provided by the camp caretakers and staff, the band returned to Spotswood Baptist for the early service. The band played a mini-concert beginning at 8:30 am, with the service proper starting at 8:55. Items in the mini-concert included Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Be Thou My Vision (Steve Kellner), Serentity (Eric Ball) and In Christ Alone (Martin Cordner).

During the service, the band provided the accompaniment for congregational songs, and presented James Curnow’s arrangement of Come, Thou Almighty King. As this was the Sunday before the Veteran’s Day holiday (11 November), the church choir and the band joined for a medley of the songs from the five United States armed services, composed by the director of instrumental music at the church, Robert Farmer, with orchestral parts transcribed for brass by Bandmaster Kellner.

After the service at Spotswood Baptist, the band made a quick break-down and exit, traveling to the Fredericksburg Corps for the holiness meeting there. Again, the band played a few items before the meeting, including Jesus Loves Me and Be Thou My Vision. The band conducted the entire service, accompanying the congregational songs and playing Serenity and In Christ Alone as special items. Joshua Webb read Scripture, and Elizabeth Schramm gave a personal testimony detailing her experiences at the World Youth Conference in Sweden during the past summer. Major Allison gave the sermon, and the meeting concluded with the congregation and band joining in “O Boundless Salvation”. As a postlude, the band played the same march with which the weekend began at Hurkamp Park, Goldcrest.

Worship Service at Solomon G. Brown Corps

This is the third of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

The finale of the National Capital Band’s Bravo Brass! Weekend was a worship service on Sunday, 11 April 2010, at the Solomon G. Brown (Southeast) Corps in Washington, DC. Located in the heart of the Anacostia neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant of the city, this is the newest corps building in the metro area, with the corps occupying two floors of a five-story building, with the rest of the building occupied by paying business tenants, an innovative arrangement for a Salvation Army building.

The members of the band were greeted by the corps officer, Lieutenant Michal Chapman as they arrived for the Sunday holiness meeting. The platform area of the sanctuary is not large enough for a full-size brass band, so the NCB set up to one side. As with the rest of the weekend, Bandmaster James B. Anderson was unable to be present, being out of town for medical treatment. Conducting duties for the meeting were shared between Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner.

The band began with some preliminary items, including James Curnow’s Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren”. Following a welcome and announcements by Lieutenant Chapman, the Corps Sergeant-Major, George Beu, accepted the tithes and offerings. As an offertory, the band presented the trombone feature I Will Follow Him (arr. Goff Richards).

The National Capital Band is blessed with many versatile musicians, and the NCB Praise Team (Captain Amy Reardon, vocals; Captain Rob Reardon, keyboard; Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims, bass guitar; Keith Morris, drum kit; David Delaney and David Mersiovsky, trumpet; and Kevin Downing, trombone) led the congregation in the contemporary worship songs Hosanna! (Paul Baloche/Benton Brown) and You Are My King (Billy James Foote). The congregation was also given the opportunity to sing with the full band using Charles Skinner’s arrangement of Crown Him with Many Crowns.

The program then took on a more devotional character, with a personal testimony given by David Mersiovsky, a prayer chorus (“Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”) and prayer led by Noel Morris, the congregational song “And Can It Be” using the William Himes arrangement entitled Amazing Love, and a Scripture reading given by David Delaney.

The Scripture reading was followed by Delaney’s sensitive rendition of the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes), a fitting introduction to the message of the morning given by the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison. Major Allison, in his usual relaxed manner, was effective in presenting the Gospel message, as evidenced by the several seekers who came forward during the time of commitment.

Before the final congregational song, O Boundless Salvation (arr. William Himes), Major Allison called Bandmaster Anderson, who was in Houston, Texas, for medical treatment. In one of the most moving experiences in the recent history of the band, all present were privileged to have the bandmaster participate in the singing of the concluding song and give the benediction from a hospital thousands of miles away. We learned later that Bandmaster Anderson was in the day room, with several other patients present, during this time, and that he, in his usual bold fashion, sang along and prayed aloud without any sign of embarrassment or timidity. The meeting ended with a prayer for Bandmaster Anderson given by the band chaplain, Captain Mike Harris, and the postlude, Rolling Along (William Himes).

As the band concluded this special ministry weekend, contributions by several guest players were acknowledged, including Darryl Crossland and Steve Sutton on cornet and Dr. Richard Holz on Bb bass.

Bravo Brass!

This is the second of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

As a part of their Bravo Brass weekend, the National Capital Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) joined with The Dominion Brass (Conductors Steve Kellner and Ben Roundtree) for a concert at McLean Presbyterian Church, on 10 April 2010.

The Dominion Brass, founded in 2002, is a large brass and percussion ensemble made up of professional musicians and music educators from the Washington, DC area. Its mission is to glorify God through music and to support other ministries and charitable organizations through concert performances. Since its founding, the ensemble has played several concerts annually and raised over $30,000 for various local, national and international ministries and charities.

The concert began with The Dominion Brass on the stage, where they started with Joyful, Joyful (arr. Steve Kellner) as a congregational song. This was followed by a arrangement by Ben Roundtree of The Power of the Cross. The next item was the premiere of an extended work composed by Steve Kellner, Variations on “O Worship the King”. This well-known hymn was presented in five movements, representing a variety of musical styles: Fanfare, Little Fugue, Song without Words, Celtic Dance and the closing Theme and Finale.

One of the great composers for choir in the twentieth century was Randall Thompson. His classic choral work Alleluia has been skillfully transcribed for brass choir by Steve Kellner, and this was the next work presented by The Dominion Brass. Contrasting with this symphonic chorale was the next item, There Is Power in the Blood, featuring the six-member trombone section of The Dominion Brass. Arranged by Ben Roundtree in a classic jazz format, this piece was greeted with long and loud applause.

The final item was the Finale from Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Organ Symphony”, arranged by Phil Snedecor. The McLean Presbyterian Church has recently installed a new organ, and it was an excellent benefit to the concert to have the church’s organist, David Bading, participate in this presentation.

During the intermission, the platform was reset for the National Capital Band. Unfortunately, Bandmaster James Anderson was unable to attend the events this weekend for medical reasons, but Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner filled in admirably in the Bandmaster’s absence. Two Dominion Brass members, Phil Franke (euphonium) and Dana Landis (trombone) helped out by filling in for Kellner and Sims respectively.

The National Capital Band began its portion of the program with two pieces composed by Leslie Condon, Celebration and Song of Exuberance. The latter, one of the more difficult trombone solos in the Salvation Army repertoire, was given an excellent rendition by Kevin Downing, the NCB’s principal trombone. The third item was William Himes’ joyous Cause for Celebration.

The concert then turned from the contemporary rhythms and harmonies of William Himes to a item by a composer who may be considered the origin of all sacred brass music, Giovanni Gabrieli. An innovator often credited with the first significant use of dynamics, massed instrumentation and antiphonal effects, Gabrieli’s music is still appreciated and admired despite being composed some 400 years ago. Steve Kellner provided the arrangement of Canzon Septimi Toni No. 2, with the National Capital Band as “choir one” on the stage and The Dominion Brass split on either side of the audience to provide the antiphonal effect.

Returning to more contemporary music, the next item was Peter Graham’s Renaissance. For this item, The Dominion Brass filled the choir loft behind the National Capital Band, joining in the majestic final section as the piece concludes with the emphatic statement “May Jesus Christ Be Praised!”.

For the finale of the concert, everyone in the hall was included, with both bands, the church organ, and the audience combining for Crown Him with Many Crowns (arr. Charles Skinner), providing a fitting conclusion to the concert.

Clinic at Alexandria

This is the first of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

Ninety “budding musicians”, representing eight corps – Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Montgomery County, Prince George’s and Solomon G. Brown (Southeast) – were treated to classes and a performance session with the National Capital Band on Saturday, 10 April 2010.

The event kicked off at 10:00 am in the sanctuary, with a devotional thought from the NCB’s executive officer, Major James Allison. This was followed by a fascinating and informative session on proper breathing techniques conducted by Dr. Steve Kellner. The the participants were assigned to a number of masterclasses, each with at last one member of the NCB. In fact, every room in the building that could be used for a class was used, and some had to be conducted in the corps’ social services offices next door.

Following the masterclasses, the corps groups that would be performing in the grand finale concert of the clinic were given time to rehearse. During the rehearsals, a pizza lunch was set up in the corps parking lot, as the weather was fine, although a bit windy. Then everyone headed back into the building for the grand finale of the clinic, a mini-concert featuring the NCB and several groups from individual corps music programs.

The only space large enough to hold all of the musicians and their instruments was the gymnasium. The sound of 120 brass musicians (90 clinic participants and 30 members of the NCB) all warming up at the same time was, quite simply, enormous. In the absence of Bandmaster James Anderson, who was unable to be with the band on this weekend because of medical treatment, conducting duties were split between deputy bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner. The NCB got the finale off to a fine start with Cornerstone (Andrew Mackereth) with Steve conducting, followed by words of welcome from Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and an invocation from Major Allison.

The first group to perform was the youth band from the host corps, Alexandria Citadel, under the direction of Dave Downing. They presented the old classic Jesus Shall Reign (Vernon Post), a piece which many of the members of the NCB remembered as having been used when they were members of a corps youth band.

Next, all of the musicians joined together for a rousing rendition of William Himes’ Muffins Rhapsody, with Matt Sims conducting the NCB and David Delaney leading the assembled participants. The youth band from the Fairfax Corps then performed Duke Street (William Himes), led by Scott Bedio.

The NCB continued the program with Jesus Loves Me, using the well-known arrangement by Bandmaster Anderson. The next group to perform was a combination of players from the two Maryland corps represented, Montgomery County and Prince George’s. Under the direction of David Delaney (bandmaster at Montgomery County), they presented When the Spirit Says Sing.

Over the last three years, under the inspired direction of Bandmaster Matt Sims, the Richmond Area Command has developed the School for the Performing Arts, which now has about 120 students with instruction at three locations. Many of the members of the Richmond Citadel youth band are beneficiaries of this excellent program. With Matt conducting, the youth band presented Down the Street (Erik Silfverberg). Then, 10-year-old Angela Li presented the cornet solo Whiter than Snow with David Carter accompanying on piano.

The final item from the NCB during the mini-concert was I Will Follow Him, featuring the trombone section. As a grand finale to the clinic sessions, all of the assembled musicians again gathered, this time playing another special item by William Himes, Classics in Brass. Major Allison closed the proceedings with a benediction.

Covington Ministry Weekend

On the weekend of 20 – 21 February 2010, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) traveled to Covington, Virginia, to support the celebration of the dedication of a new Salvation Army building.

Covington is a small city in southwestern Virginia. The Salvation Army “opened fire” there in 1926 and purchased a building on Highland Avenue at that time. Over 80 years later, this building was still in use, despite having been obsolete for decades. The new building dedicated on this weekend is the first phase of three planned segments, with a chapel and gymnasium still to be built. The campaign to make the progress seen so far has been quite long and difficult, with many of the other corps in the National Capital and Virginia Division contributing toward the effort, as well as donations from local businesses and individuals in Covington and the nearby town of Clifton Forge.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Unlike many of the weekend engagements undertaken by the National Capital Band, this one did not feature a Saturday evening concert. Instead, the band supported the local Salvation Army’s appreciation dinner for Advisory Board members, donors and members of the community who supported the campaign to build the new facility. The band arrived in Covington early in the afternoon and members were able to spend a couple of hours relaxing at the hotel before going to the Covington Baptist Church for the dinner. Some time was spent in setting up, as the room was quite small for a band of this size, but a satisfactory arrangement was made. The band then ate dinner and returned to the formation as the guests began to arrive.

As the dinner guests came in, the band provided some music, including Cornerstone (Andrew Mackereth), God Bless America (Irving Berlin, arr. William Gordon), My Tribute (Andrae Crouch, arr. Kevin Norbury) and Cause for Celebration (William Himes). Captains Karl and Janice Dahlin, corps officers for Covington, gave some words of welcome, which were followed by an invocation given by the chairman of the Advisory Board, Reverend Bill Hartsfield.

As the guests were served, the band continued with Bugler’s Holiday (Leroy Anderson), featuring David Delaney, David Mersiovsky and Chris Dennard. Other items in this segment included Swedish Folk Song (arr. Peter Graham), What a Friend (Erik Leidzén) and another time through My Tribute, especially requested by the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison.

Two special feature items were presented by the band during the dinner. The first, I Will Follow Him (from the movie “Sister Act”) featured the trombone section (Kevin Downing, Maria Mathieson, Ellim Choi and Matt Sims). The second required the men of the band to showcase their vocal talents with the light-hearted Men of the Chorus (accompanied on piano by Christina Anderson).

Most of the officers on the divisional staff were present for the event, including the Divisional Commander and his wife, Majors Mark and Alice Bell. The Salvation Army in Covington has struggled financially for many years, as the region is not strong economically and the needs are great. During this a considerable debt from the local corps to Divisional Headquarters has built up, as the headquarters covered operating expenses that could not be met by the corps fund-raising efforts. In a move that surprised everyone in the room, Major Mark Bell announced that all of the debt which had been carried on the books from the Covington Corps to Divisional Headquarters was cancelled – $61,000 for the local thrift store and $129,000 for the corps operations. He also presented a check for $10,000 to the corps officers, the first $2,500 of which was earmarked to stock the corps food bank used to help those in need of nutritional assistance, and the rest to begin operations in the new building “in the black.”

The campaign to raise the funds to build the first phase of the project in Covington was long, again owing the to economic condition of the surrounding area. The building being dedicated on this weekend was only the first phase of the project, with a chapel and gymnasium also planned. In another surprise, Major Bell also announced that the remaining work on building the chapel, estimated to cost $205,000, would also be financed by Divisional Headquarters.

One of the guests at the dinner was the Mayor of Covington, Stephanie Clark. In addition to being a civic leader, the Mayor is an evangelical Christian. She had heard the band playing My Tribute during the dinner, and asked if she could sing with the band before she made her remarks to the gathering. So, for the third time, the band played this piece, with the Mayor contributing soulful and powerful vocals. The band played another feature, Dance Like David (Andrew Mackereth) before the end of the dinner. Following special remarks and a challenge to the Covington community to complete the project by building the gymnasium, Major Allison, Major Bell and the rest of the Salvationists present joined the band in leading the congregation in O Boundless Salvation, using William Himes’ excellent arrangement as the accompaniment.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

On Sunday morning, the members of the band formed up near the old corps building on Highland Avenue, with members of the divisional staff and the Covington corps. They stepped off sharply on a march of witness through the streets, marching from the old corps building to the new, a distance of slightly less than half a mile. Marching to old favorite hymn tunes such as “All for Jesus” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers”, the parade ended in the small parking area in front of the new building, with the band playing the classic march Golden Jubilee and then the assembled Salvationists saluting as the Covington corps flag entered the new building for the first time.

Since the chapel portion of the project has not been completed, the Sunday morning service was held in a multi-purpose room in the new building. The room lacks a platform, but the holiness table and Mercy Seat from the old corps had been transferred and placed at the front of the room, and there was just enough room on the side to set up the band formation.

The band opened the worship with some preliminary music, including Be Thou My Vision, Jesus Loves Me and ’Mid All the Traffic. During the meeting the band featured Swedish Folk Song as an offertory, and members of the band formed into a chorus to sing The Saviour’s Name (Clarke, arr. Ballantine).

Several testimonies were given by officers who had been associated with the Covington corps over the years, including Major Eric Roberts and Major Linda Sloan. The most moving of the testimonies was that of Major Jim McGee, who described coming to Covington as a railway worker, becoming saved in a watchtower on the rail yard, finding the Salvation Army as a church and eventually becoming an officer. Corps Sergeant-Major Robin Hall also spoke eloquently about her long association with the corps, and was named “Soldier of the Year”. Mike McCulley of the Covington Corps contributed to the meeting by singing Who Am I?.

Major Mark Bell gave a challenging message, which was followed by the band and congregation joining for O Boundless Salvation, with Bandmaster Anderson stepping away from the band for the last verse to wave the Corps flag in the traditional salute associated with the Founder’s song. The band played Washington Salute 125 (Stephen Bulla) as a postlude.

This ministry weekend, while not a typical one for the National Capital Band, was a rewarding one as the band supported one of the smaller corps in the division during an extremely important weekend for both the corps and the city of Covington.

2009 Community Appreciation Christmas Concert

The National Capital Area Command held its annual Community Appreciation Christmas Concert, featuring the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson), on Sunday, 13 December 2009.

Other performers included mezzo-soprano Sara Dell’Omo, junior soloist David S. Carroll, the DC Metro Timbrelists led by Elsie Morris and The Singin’ Eagles of C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School led by Steve Aiello.

Held in the auditorium of the historic George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, a capacity audience of nearly 400 persons were present for this year’s concert. Following words of welcome from the Area Commander, Major Steve Morris, the National Capital Band began the evening with Fanfare Jubiloso (James Curnow). This was followed by the first of several “carols for all”, O Come, All Ye Faithful (arr. Willcocks, trans. James Anderson). Major Wendy Morris then gave an invocation. The concert continued with the band’s performance of On Christmas Day (Stephen Bulla).

For the past several years, it has been the tradition at this event to feature a junior vocal soloist, to sing Away in a Manger. This year, the soloist was Daniel Carroll, whose parents are officers at the Harbor Light Center in Washington. Following his excellent performance, Daniel was interviewed by Bandmaster Anderson and given the opportunity to lead the congregation in a verse of the song.

The National Capital Band has a number of talented soloists, and the next item, Leroy Anderson’s well-known trumpet trio, Bugler’s Holiday, featured three of them – David Delaney, David Mersiovsky and Chris Dennard. Their performance was met with much applause from the audience.

For the past several years, this event has featured mezzo-soprano Sara Dell’Omo, who is a featured vocal soloist with the US Marine Band and White House Orchestra (“The President’s Own). Her first contribution to this year’s concert was the medley Season of Christmas (Stephen Bulla), which includes the songs We Need a Little Christmas, Pine Cones and Holly Berries and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Following Silent Night sung as a congregational carol, the next guest performers were introduced. For the past two years, the National Capital Band has partnered with the Warrenton Chorale for a concert in the autumn. The director of the chorale, Steve Aiello, is a school music teacher, and for the Christmas concert this year the “Singin’ Eagles” of C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School were invited to participate. Looking sharp in their green vests and purple bowties, the young vocalists presented two items in their first set, Christmas A-Comin’ (Carl Strommen) and The Animal’s Lullaby (Cynthia Gray).

The National Capital Band continued the program with Feliz Navidad (José Feliciano, arr. Dorothy Gates). It has been a feature of the annual Christmas concert since the beginning to have a timbrel group made up of performers from various Salvation Army corps in the Washington area. This year they performed a routine, accompanied by the band, to Peter Graham’s march The Shining Star.

Another item which has become an audience favorite during the annual concert is singing The Twelve Days of Christmas. With the band accompanying (using Bandmaster Anderson’s transcription of the John Rutter arrangement), the audience is taken through all twelve days, with a surprise accelerando on Day 12 that prompted some mock anger on the part of bandmaster. Following this, the concert was brought back to a somewhat more serious mood with Sara Dell’Omo’s second offering, O Holy Night, and Robert Redhead’s suite The Joy of Christmas presented by the band. This led into an inspirational message from Major Steve Morris.

The choir returned with Laudamus Te (Ruth Elaine Schramm) and Play for Me a Simple Melody, which concluded with three different lines being sung at the same time, an impressive performance for any choir, but made more so by the fact that this choir is made up of students 12 years old and younger. A final congregational carol, Hark the Herald Angels (arr. Willcocks, trans. Anderson), finished the concert and the National Capital Band’s executive officer, Major James Allison, gave the benediction. As the crowd departed, the band presented Season’s Greetings (James Anderson) as a postlude.

Christmas Joy in Richmond

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) traveled to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, 5 December 2009 for a concert entitled “Christmas Joy”.

Despite some rather nasty weather, with rain and a threat of snow, the members of the band arrived in good order at the church at noon, with the concert scheduled to begin at 2:45 pm. The first order of business was a lunch, provided by the Salvation Army Womens’ Auxiliary. The the band set up and did some sound checks in the sanctuary. While the church is a beautiful place, it was somewhat difficult to adjust to the nearly 6-second reverberation time.

By the time that the concert began, nearly 800 people had gathered to listen, despite the increasingly wintry weather. In addition to the National Capital Band, the concert featured young musicians from the Richmond area. The Salvation Army in Richmond has established a School for the Performing Arts, under the direction of area music director Bandmaster Matt Sims, and the fruits of that program were evident in the fine performances of the youth band (conducted by Bandmaster Brad Ford) and the youth chorus (conducted by Bandmaster Sims). A group of four timbrelists from Richmond presented a routine to the march Christmas Joy, accompanied by the National Capital Band.

Other highlights of the concert included the classic Leroy Anderson trumpet trio Bugler’s Holiday, performed with style by David Delaney, David Mersiovsky and Chris Dennard, and the band’s performance of the suite The Joy of Christmas (Robert Redhead). As with many Christmas concerts, the audience joined in several times to sing carols. The most notable of these was The Twelve Days of Christmas (arr. John Rutter, trans. James Anderson) with Bandmaster Anderson’s usual showmanship with a large accelerando on Day 12, and then reminding the audience that they must “watch the conductor!”

By the end of the concert, snow was falling outside, but this did not detract from the message conveyed to the enthusiastic audience by the National Capital Band and the other participants in the event.

Warrenton/Culpeper Ministry Weekend

For the second successive year, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) traveled to Warrenton and Culpeper, Virginia, for a ministry weekend. The weekend included a joint concert with the Warrenton Chorale (Director Steve Aiello) on Saturday afternoon and Sunday services at the Culpeper United Methodist Church (Pastor Randy Orndorff).

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The NCB made the relatively short journey to Warrenton late Saturday morning, arriving around noon at the concert venue. As the band had performed a similar concert with the chorale at the same church last year, the setup was quick, allowing plenty of time to rehearse the joint items.

An estimated audience of 125 persons were in place at 3:00 pm when the “Almost Christmas” concert began with the NCB playing Kenneth Downie’s festival march The Joy-Bringer. The audience and chorale joined with the band in the hymn May Jesus Christ Be Praised (arr. Michael Kenyon), which was well-received despite Bandmaster Anderson’s inadvertent elimination of the link between the first and second verses. Larry Yeager, associate pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church and a member of the Chorale, gave the invocation.

The band continued the program with Cause for Celebration (William Himes), followed by two items from the chorale, following the “almost Christmas” theme, Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella and Bethlehem, of Noblest Cities, both arranged by Howard Helvey. The festive atmosphere was sustained with the band’s performance of the ebullient Dance Like David (Andrew Mackereth).

The National Capital Band’s principal trombone, Kevin Downing, who at 17 years of age is an emerging virtuoso, gave a fine performance of Leslie Condon’s difficult solo Song of Exuberance. The first half of the concert concluded with the chorale joining the band in Bandmaster Anderson’s composition Our God Reigns and the band’s major work of the afternoon, Renaissance (Peter Graham).

Following the intermission, the band started off the second half with Andrew Mackereth’s march Cornerstone, conducted by the deputy bandmaster, Matt Sims. The chorale sang When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. John Rutter) before the band brought the concert to a more contemplative mood with James Curnow’s Pastorale (The King of Love My Shepherd Is. The band’s executive officer, Major James Allison, was unable to travel with the band for the weekend, so the band chaplain, Captain Mike Harris, gave a short devotional at this point in the concert.

The choral returned to Christmas music with two more carols, The First Noel (arr. Dan Forrest) and Carol of the Bells (arr. Peter Wilhousky), with the first verse of the latter presented with “doot” being used instead of the lyrics – an entertaining performance.

The concert concluded in triumphant fashion, with Dudley Bright’s Paean followed by the band and chorale again uniting with one of the most recognized of all musical items, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, conducted by Steve Aiello. To conclude the concert, the audience was again asked to join with the band and chorale in Crown Him with Many Crowns (arr. Charles Skinner).

Following the concert, the band shared an excellent meal with the chorale and then moved to Camp Happyland, where they spent the evening in rest and relaxation.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Again reprising last year’s trip, the band arose early on Sunday morning, arriving at Culpeper United Methodist Church at 7:00 am to set up, with the first of three services scheduled to begin at 8:00. Again, as the band had been to this church a year ago, the setup was relatively quick. The church has three services, of which the band participated in the first and the third. In the absence of Major Allison, Captain Rob Reardon graciously accepted the challenge of preaching in all three of the services, doing an admirable job speaking on the stewardship of family. Despite some issues with the church’s audio-visual system in the first service, the services were moving and effective, and the band was again blessed to be a part of the worship at this church.

Before each of the two services in which they participated, the band provided preliminary music with Fanfare and Allegro on the Doxology (Steve Kellner), ’Mid All the Traffic (Leonard Ballantine) and Endless Praise (William Himes). During the service, the band provided accompaniment for the congregational singing and played feature items, including God Bless America (William Gordon) in honor of Veterans’ Day and Wilfred Heaton’s masterful arrangement of Just As I Am. Following the services, the band “played out” the congregation with Cornerstone.

The most moving moment of the worship services was the playing of a new arrangement by Bandmaster Anderson of the contemporary Christian song, There Is a Savior, in memory of Kelsey Orndorff, the daughter of the pastor of Culpeper United Methodist Church. When the band visited the church last year, they learned that the pastor’s daughter had been killed in an automobile accident just a few weeks before, in fact, that weekend was the first time that the Pastor Orndorff had returned to the pulpit after the tragedy. The band had a profound impact during last year’s visit, and when he learned that the band would be returning this year, Bandmaster Anderson undertook to compose this arrangement.

Following the worship services, members of the band were treated to a lunch at a local Italian restaurant, arranged by former NCB member Joe DeMato.

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