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.