Tag Archives: Elsie Morris

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.

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.

2005 Community Carol Concert

The National Capital and Virginia Division of the Salvation Army, based in Washington, DC, held its annual Community Christmas Carol Concert at the Westover Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, on 11 December 2005. The special guest for this year’s concert was Sara Dell’Omo, mezzo-soprano, vocal soloist from “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. The concert also featured the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James Anderson), the Swansonettes (a girls’ choir from Swanson Middle School, directed by Elizabeth Gephardt), the Hughes Methodist Church Chancel Bell Choir (directed by Marie Bunting), the Metro DC Timbrelists (directed by Elsie Morris) and a young vocalist from the Fairfax Corps of the Salvation Army, Gerson Cruz.

Sara Dell'Omo

Sara Dell'Omo

The National Capital Band opened the concert with Kenneth Downie’s Intrada on “Regent Square”, then provided accompaniment as the audience sang O Come All Ye Faithful. Following an invocation by the band’s Executive Officer, Captain Kelly Igleheart, the band continued with a Christmas march, Season’s Greetings, composed by the bandmaster.

The Salvation Army corps in Fairfax, Virginia has a strong children’s musical program, and this year a representative of that program, Gerson Cruz, was chosen to sing Away in a Manger. Gerson, who is 7 years old, was also interviewed by Bandmaster Anderson. The band played again following his solo, this time presenting Peter Graham’s Christmas Calypso.

Sara Dell’Omo was next on the program. In May 2005, she was appointed vocal soloist of the United States Marine Band, the first time in the band’s history (over 200 years) that a female soloist has been featured. Accompanied by the National Capital Band, she began with Deck the Halls, arranged by Stephen Bulla, the NCB’s principal trombone. In addition to his skills as a brass band composer, Bulla has been Staff Arranger for the Marine Band for over twenty years. For Dell’Omo’s next item, he moved to the piano, to provide accompaniment for Rise Up Shepherds and Follow (arr. Mark Hayes). Following the vocal solos, the audience was again invited to participate in singing the carol Child in the Manger.

The Swanson Middle School is located directly across the street from the Westover Baptist Church, and the girls’ choir known as the Swansonettes has been featured several times at the annual Community Carol Concert. They sang two carols, Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella (arr. Strommen) and Pat-a-Pan (arr. Davis) under the direction of Elizabeth Gephardt. The band then played their “major” work for the evening, Robert Redhead’s selection The Joy of Christmas.

Bell choirs are unique musical groups because of the great degree of coordination and timing required to produce a satisfying result. The Chancel Bell Choir from Hughes United Methodist Church was next to perform, under the direction of Marie Bunting, presenting At the Manger (Michael Helman). Another carol for all followed, this time the well-loved German carol Silent Night.

The concert took a lighter tone as the DC Metro Timbrelists, led by Elsie Morris, were next up, performing a drill to Erik Leidzén’s classic Christmas march, Christmas Joy, enthusiastically played by the National Capital Band. The was followed by The Twelve Days of Christmas, with the audience participating as the band was put through its paces by Bandmaster Anderson.

The Swansonettes returned to sing White Christmas, after which the band presented two more items, the swing-style Kings of Orient (David Ayma) and a beautiful arrangement by Stephen Bulla of Gustav Holst’s carol Mid-Winter.

The special guest of the evening, Sara Dell’Omo, returned for two more items, the first being the Wexford Carol (arr. Stephen Bulla) accompanied by the band, and then a medley composed of The Christmas Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, accompanied by Stephen Bulla at the piano.

Following greetings from the Divisional Commander for the National Capital and Virginia Division, Lt.-Colonel William Crabson (a former Executive Officer of the National Capital Band), the festival concluded with a final carol for all, Hark the Herald Angels Sing.