Tag Archives: Alexandria

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.

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.

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.

Stockholm South Citadel Visit to Washington

Monday, 10 April 2006, saw the Stockholm South Citadel Band of the Salvation Army visit the Washington, DC area. The one-day stopover in the Nation’s Capital was part of a 10-day tour in which the band traveled from Connecticut to Florida. Now under the leadership of Bandmaster Lars-Otto Ljungholm, the Swedish ensemble has a long history of musical and spiritual excellence.

Beginning the day in Philadelphia, where they had performed on Sunday evening, the Stockholm band journeyed by coach south to Washington, unfortunately becoming snared in some of the area’s infamous traffic, arriving in the city some hours later than originally planned. However, they were still able to play an outdoor concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial, at the western end of Washington’s monumental core, at the schedule time of 3:00 pm. Despite the travel difficulties, the band managed to arrive at the Memorial just at the time they were to begin playing and quickly set up and get going. The weather was good, and there were large crowds on the National Mall, with many people sitting on the steps in front of the Memorial to listen to the band.

Despite their late arrival, the band was able to get in a full 45-minute set at the Lincoln Memorial, and made many contacts with listeners. Bandmaster Ljungholm chose a mixture of music, including several solo items, including a cornet quartet, a cornet solo, Swedish Melody, played by Kalle Ljungholm, and a moving performance of I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked (arr. Peter Graham) by principal trombone Lars-Oskar Öhman. In fitting style, the band ended their performance with an exciting rendition of Wilfred Heaton’s classic march Praise. The fine weather and fine playing of the band made for an enjoyable afternoon in the heart of Washington.

Following the concert at the Lincoln Memorial, the Stockholm South Citadel Band made the short journey across the Potomac River to Alexandria, Virginia, where the local Salvation Army Citadel was the venue for the evening festival. Prior to the festival they were joined by members of the National Capital Band for a meal. The National Capital Band has strong ties with the Stockholm group, as Bandmaster Lars-Otto Ljungholm was a member of the National Capital Band for 13 years, many of them as principal cornet and the last four as Bandmaster. The NCB also featured Deputy Bandmaster Ove Ericson on a 5-day “mini-tour” of the southern US in autumn 2001.

The Alexandria Citadel hall was filled over capacity (extra chairs being set out even as the band entered to begin the concert!) as the band presented a Festival of Music. Bandmaster Ljungholm chose to begin the evening with a new work by a young composer in the band, Anders Beijer. Entitled The Water of Life, the march is the title work on the band’s latest recording. This was followed by vocal soloist Magnus Ahlström, who sang Sverige (Sweden). Lars Ohman and Kristin Ljungholm presented selected Scripture passages, followed by an invocation. The hosts for the evening, Major Tony Barrington (corps officer at Alexandria Citadel) and Lt.-Colonel William Crabson (Divisional Commander) spoke briefly after the prayer.

A running feature throughout the concert was the use of video clips to introduce the band and some of the soloists. The first of these clips were shown at this time, followed by Ove Ericson’s playing of the cornet solo Life’s Pageant (Terry Camsey). As usual, Ove showed great sensitivity and skill in his performance, which was followed by a video message from the Mayor of Stockholm, Annica Billström. Continuing in a Swedish theme, the band next presented a classical transcription, Overture from “Joan of Arc” (August Söderman), conducted by the retired Bandmaster, Torgny Hanson, who also arranged the piece.

The concert continued in the classical vein, as Magnus Ahlström returned, this time portraying Figaro as he sang the famous Cavatina from Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville”, with Göran Larsson serving as his rather unfortunate customer. Ahlstroöm, who is a professional singer with the world-renowned Swedish Radio Choir, thoroughly entertained the crowd with his rendition, which was arranged with a brass band accompaniment by Bandmaster Ljungholm.

Next up was the band’s fine euphonium soloist, Richard Kendrick, who played the old classic theme-and-variations solo The Song of the Brother (Erik Leidzén). The 2004 Swedish brass solo champion, Kendrick showed his fine abilities with this well-known work. The first half of the program concluded with Peter Graham’s challenging work, Renaissance.

The second half began with a classic Salvation Army march, The Scarlet Jersey (Ray Steadman-Allen), followed by Radiant Pathway (Leslie Condon), a tuba duet featuring Andreas Wiberg on Bb bass and Simon Friskus on Eb bass. The next item brought the concert into a more devotional mood. Erik Leidzén was a master of tone colors and moods, and the band played next one of his less-often presented meditations, The Call. This led into a short Scripture and devotional message from Major Göran Larsson, trailed by another item from Magnus Ahlström, Easter Triumph (arr. A. Holmlund), featuring the well-known song “The Old Rugged Cross”.

The final program item of the evening was a piece that has become a classic of Salvation Army brass band literature, Edward Gregson’s Variations on “Laudate Dominum”. The band showed their range and virtuosity in negotiating the numerous musical styles required to successfully perform this major work. Following an extended standing ovation, the band launched a lightning-quick rendition of Peter Graham’s Dance Before the Lord. Again faced with nearly deafening applause, Bandmaster Ljungholm called Bandmaster James Anderson to the stage, where Anderson conducted the band in the march Under the Blue and Yellow Flag (Widkvist, arr. R. Frödén). After yet another round of applause, the band finally concluded their performance, this time forming a choir and singing Lord, You Know That We Love You (Howard Davies), accompanied by a brass sextet and again featuring the voice of Magnus Ahlström.