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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.

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.

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.

Richmond Ministry Weekend

The National Capital Band made a long-awaited visit to Richmond, Virginia on the weekend of 21 – 22 February 2009. Preparation for this event began the previous Christmas season when fliers were handed out to those who listened to small Salvation Army ensembles throughout Richmond. Those who came to see the NCB during the ministry weekend were not disappointed.

Saturday 21 February

On Saturday, the band gathered at the Church Hill Outpost (co-located with the Richmond Boys and Girls Club), where they took part in a service commencing about 12:15 p.m. Lieutenant Sheed Tarnue, the officer in charge of the outpost, led the meeting, speaking about cleansing our lives and how having Jesus will make such cleansing possible, including a fascinating illustration using a stained cloth and two large jugs of water. There were about 50 church members, many of them young children, in attendance, who were delighted to hear a full brass band. Participation by the NCB, which was under the direction of the Deputy Bandmaster, Major Dan Proctor, included Shine, Jesus Shine, Lord, I Lift Your Name On High, and Sousa’s classic patriotic march, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

The main event of the weekend was a concert at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia. This was the NCB’s second visit to this church in as many years. With Bandmaster Anderson in front of the band, the concert opened with To a God Like This, followed by the rousing march Rolling Along (William Himes). This march, written for the Flint Citadel corps in Michigan, includes a number of jingles from historic automobile advertisements.

The first soloist of the evening was 16-year-old Kevin Downing, principal trombone, who played the variation solo Count Your Blessings. Kevin’s performance, which showed a musical maturity far beyond his years, was enthusiastically received by the capacity audience. The next item was the arrangement The Lord is Gracious, with principal cornet David Delaney providing a beautiful performance of the daunting melody. Delaney was also featured, along with Chris Dennard and David Mersiovsky, in the next item, the cornet trio The Veterans.

The Salvation Army has established a School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond area, headed by Bandmaster Matt Sims, the area music director (and bass trombone for the National Capital Band). Students from school, which meets in three different Salvation Army locations around the area, had been preparing for a performance with the NCB for several weeks, and their presentation was prefaced by a a video showing some of these preparations. Their “big moment” was performing Classics In Brass with the National Capital Band. This piece, arranged by William Himes, features snippets of well-known classical music, finishing with the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The children received a standing ovation from the audience of over 750 people, including the band which had accompanied them. It was a remarkable end to the first half of the program to see these children, some of whom had only been playing their instruments for a few weeks, perform so well in front of such a large audience.

Following the intermission, the band opened the second half of the concert with In Good Company (Dudley Bright), an interesting arrangement pairing the Tudor melody “Pastime in Good Company” (attributed by some to Henry VIII) and the contemporary Christian song “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”. Children from the Richmond Area Command were again featured in the next item, as the timbrel brigade performed to the march California (Emil Söderstrom). The young men of the NCB then showed their vocal skills with the jovial and humorous item Men of the Chorus, ably accompanied on piano by Maria Mathieson. The trombone section was featured in Wonders Begin (Ray Steadman-Allen).

The program then turned to a more contemplative mood, with Kenneth Downie’s beautiful and moving piece, The Father’s Blessing, associated with the words “God be with you till we meet again.” Bandmaster Anderson gave a powerful and moving devotion, remining the audience and the band that there is only one God and one Way to heaven.

The final section of the program, as has become somewhat of a tradition with the National Capital Band, featured patriotic items, beginning with God Bless America (Irving Berlin, arr. William Gordon). The band next played Stephen Bulla’s Armed Forces Salute, a medley featuring the songs of the five United States armed forces. Current and former members of each service in the audience were invited to stand as their song was played, and were enthusiastically greeted by the crowd. The concert concluded with The Stars and Stripes Forever, which concluded with audience rising to their feet to clap along with the band, which turned into a standing ovation following the conclusion of the march.

The audience for the concert was lively and receptive, and was strong in number, almost filling the large church hall. They appreciated the music of the National Capital Band and the participation of the children from the School of Performing Arts was a great topic of conversation after the concert. But the most important aspect of the NCB’s ministry was to play music with the purpose to glorify God and bring a message to the members of the audience.

Sunday, 22 February

On Sunday, the National Capital Band took part in the morning service at the Richmond Citadel Corps. The meeting began with some light and thoughtful preliminary items, concluding with Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren” (James Curnow). Contributions by the NCB during the service included Standing Somewhere In the Shadows and Bound For the Promised Land. The congregation was also treated to a vocal duet by Wendy Hood and Christina Anderson. Following the message of the morning, given by the NCB’s Executive Officer, the service concluded with the band and congregation joining in O Boundless Salvation. As the congregation started to make their way home the band sent them off with the march Rolling Along.

The whole weekend was a great success for the Richmond Area Command and its School of Performing Arts. The National Capital Band ministered to over 1,000 people combined and during the difficult economic times, it is felt that this ministry was vital to the people of Richmond and central Virginia. The band hopes to return to the area for a Christmas engagement and again sometime in 2010.

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