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From Strength to Strength

A capacity crowd gathered in the hall at Alexandria Citadel on the afternoon of Sunday, 18 July 2010 to salute Bandmaster James B. Anderson and Christina Anderson. On the platform, the National Capital Band, enhanced by a number of former players and guests, provided the musical backing for the event. With the title “From Strength to Strength”, the afternoon was a praise-filled celebration of the impact that these two Spirit-filled people have had during their eighteen years of ministry in the United States.

Bandmaster Anderson is well-known for composing quality marches. Under his direction, the National Capital Band presented two of them, The Pioneers and Life in the Spirit (which he described to the band during the sound check as his attempt at composing a “spiritual march”), as preliminary items.

Major Kelly Igleheart, divisional commander for the National Capital and Virginia Division, who was the chairman for the afternoon, welcomed the large audience and guests. He then led the assembly in a congregational song, The Drumbeats of His Army (words by Henry Burton, music by James Anderson).

The Andersons arrived in the USA on 4 July 1992, Jim having been hired by Lt.-Col. Jack T. Waters to be the Divisional Music Director for the Texas Division. Fittingly, the first person to speak in tribute was Colonel Waters, who described the process by which Bandmaster Anderson came to be employed by the Salvation Army in Texas. This was followed by an item from the band, Bandmaster Anderson’s selection Our God Reigns.

Former Chaplain of the National Capital Band, Captain Mike Harris, who returned from his new appointment in Hickory, North Carolina, for the event, offered prayer. This was followed by the second tribute, from Major Travis Israel, who was the corps officer at Dallas Temple when the Andersons came to Texas in 1992. Major Israel described how the Andersons and their children immediately became involved soldiers of the corps, notwithstanding their busy schedules, highlighting the ministry aspect of their service.

Kevin Norbury’s arrangement of contemporary Christian songs, God With Us, is a favorite of Bandmaster Anderson’s. After being in the NCB repertoire for five consecutive seasons, it usually evokes some groans of protest from the band when put on a program, but on this occasion it was entirely fitting as the next item on the program. NCB principal trombone Kevin Downing gave the next tribute, representing both the young musicians of the division and the members of the National Capital Band. He described Bandmaster Anderson’s encouragement from his first youth band rehearsal, where he had not yet learned to read treble clef, through his present place as the trombone soloist for the NCB as he prepares to enter the University of Maryland music program in the autumn.

The congregation was given an opportunity to stretch a bit with the next item, the congregational song Our God Reigns, using Bandmaster Anderson’s arrangement. The song was led by Bandmaster Nick Simmons-Smith, current Territorial Music Secretary for the USA South, who mentioned that he was not attending the event in his official capacity, but rather as a friend of the Andersons. Bandmaster Simmons-Smith also recounted how, as a young musician, he was hired by Bandmaster Anderson to work in the music department in Texas, finding himself teaching at a music event in Mexico City two weeks after arriving from England, as the Texas music department often traveled south of the border to provide music support to the Mexican Salvationists.

Dr. Richard Holz, retired Territorial Music Secretary, gave the next tribute. Dr. Holz brought Bandmaster Anderson to Territorial Headquarters after his time in Texas, where he served as the first Territorial Music Education Director. Dr. Holz emphasized Jim’s strength and experience as an outstanding music educator, building on his experience in the schools in Scotland.

The first surprise of the afternoon provided, appropriately, a bit of Scottish flavor to the afternoon. Noted vocal soloist Marjory Watson, who lives in Scotland, was the guest at the music conservatory in the Carolinas, and extended her stay in the US in order to be at this event. Accompanied by Maria Mathieson (also a native of Scotland), Marjory sang the great Scottish ballad My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose, with Christian words as the second verse.

Christina Anderson served as the Divisional Gospel Arts Director during the past six years. Major Donna Igleheart, who worked closely with Christina at the beginning of this time, gave a heartfelt tribute to her contributions to the work and the ministry of the divisional youth and music departments. Christina was also presented with a plaque commemorating her service in the NCV Division.

The Anderson’s three children – Lois, Esther and Tim, were all present for the afternoon, and the next item featured the entire Anderson family performing Bandmaster Anderson’s treatment of The Gentle Voice, with Jim, Tim, Lois and Esther singing with Christina at the piano. Prior to the performance, the children gave a short presentation, humorously describing the family meeting just before they moved to America, and presenting a short poem written for their father.

Next came one of the more poignant moments of the afternoon, especially for the members of the National Capital Band. When Bandmaster Anderson was 15 years of age, he made his first brass band arrangement, of the well-loved song Jesus Loves Me, which was published in the Triumph Series a few years later. This was the final piece which he conducted as the Bandmaster of the National Capital Band. Their were few dry eyes among the players at the conclusion of the music.

The retirement ceremony for Bandmaster Anderson was conducted by Major James Allison, who has worked closely with him for the past several years as the Executive Officer of the National Capital Band. The Anderson children held American and Salvation Army flags (both the corps flag from Alexandria Citadel and the National Capital Band flag) as a backdrop. Major Allison, in recanting the major events of Jim’s life and ministry, emphasized again and again that at every turning point, “no one knew” the future impact, but that “God knew”. It is evident that the hand of God has guided Jim’s life and career, and this was made clear in the long list of achievements recounted by Major Allison. Jim was presented with a plaque commemorating his 18 years of service as an employee of the Salvation Army and with a framed baton for his six years as Bandmaster of the National Capital Band.

Bandmaster Anderson gave an impassioned response, detailing his view of his journey to this place. He particularly emphasized his time as a Divisional Music Director, both in Texas and in the National Capital and Virginia division. Several of those who spoke in tribute earlier in the program had mentioned Jim’s predilection to stop in the middle of a rehearsal, remove his glasses and proceed to give a strong Gospel message. At the end of the response, he did this, bringing back vivid memories for those who had been on the receiving end of these messages.

Following his response, Bandmaster Anderson formally passed the baton to Bandmaster David Delaney, who succeeds him as Divisional Music Director. Bandmaster Delaney then passed it on to Dr. Steve Kellner, who will serve as the Bandmaster of the National Capital Band.

Next was the second surprise of the afternoon. Bandmaster William Himes felt compelled to compose a piece for Bandmaster Anderson’s retirement. Although he was not able to be present for the event, he worked into the early morning hours on the preceding Wednesday to complete the composition. The piece, entitled This I Know, is dedicated “To my friend, James Anderson, for his faith and courage.” It combines the song “Jesus Is the Sweetest Name I Know” (which Jim has said has been of great help to him through his recent medical struggle) with quotes from Jim’s arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me”. After the National Capital Band played this item, Bandmaster Simmons-Smith presented Jim with a framed page of the score.

Now-retired Bandmaster Anderson was not given an opportunity to rest for the remainder of the program, as Josh Webb gave up his chair so that Jim could take his place in the tuba section. The event concluded with yet another of Jim’s marches, Goldcrest, followed by the congregation singing O Boundless Salvation, with multiple flags waving as the band accompanied the singing using William Himes’ arrangement.

Captian Ken Argot, corps officer of Alexandria Citadel, where the Andersons have been soldiers for the past six years, gave the benediction. The National Capital Band, in a final tribute to the outgoing bandmaster, played On the King’s Highway, a march composed by the first leader of the NCB, Erik Leidzén, as a postlude.

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.

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.