Tag Archives: Matt Sims

Christmas Joy in Richmond

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) traveled to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, 5 December 2009 for a concert entitled “Christmas Joy”.

Despite some rather nasty weather, with rain and a threat of snow, the members of the band arrived in good order at the church at noon, with the concert scheduled to begin at 2:45 pm. The first order of business was a lunch, provided by the Salvation Army Womens’ Auxiliary. The the band set up and did some sound checks in the sanctuary. While the church is a beautiful place, it was somewhat difficult to adjust to the nearly 6-second reverberation time.

By the time that the concert began, nearly 800 people had gathered to listen, despite the increasingly wintry weather. In addition to the National Capital Band, the concert featured young musicians from the Richmond area. The Salvation Army in Richmond has established a School for the Performing Arts, under the direction of area music director Bandmaster Matt Sims, and the fruits of that program were evident in the fine performances of the youth band (conducted by Bandmaster Brad Ford) and the youth chorus (conducted by Bandmaster Sims). A group of four timbrelists from Richmond presented a routine to the march Christmas Joy, accompanied by the National Capital Band.

Other highlights of the concert included the classic Leroy Anderson trumpet trio Bugler’s Holiday, performed with style by David Delaney, David Mersiovsky and Chris Dennard, and the band’s performance of the suite The Joy of Christmas (Robert Redhead). As with many Christmas concerts, the audience joined in several times to sing carols. The most notable of these was The Twelve Days of Christmas (arr. John Rutter, trans. James Anderson) with Bandmaster Anderson’s usual showmanship with a large accelerando on Day 12, and then reminding the audience that they must “watch the conductor!”

By the end of the concert, snow was falling outside, but this did not detract from the message conveyed to the enthusiastic audience by the National Capital Band and the other participants in the event.

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.

Welcome to New Members

At the beginning of the 2009 – 2010 season, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) added several new and returning members to the roster.

With both euphonium players moving from the Washington area over the summer, the band is delighted to welcome back Steve Kellner as principal euphonium. Steve, formerly the principal euphonium of the United States Marine Band and now teaching at the Peabody Institute and University of Maryland, was a member of the band at various times during the 1970s and 1980s. He is joined in the section by Captain Amy Reardon, who played in the baritone section briefly at the beginning of the previous season. Amy serves at the Salvation Army National Headquarters with her husband, Rob, who is member of the NCB tuba section.

In the horn section, Antonio Hodges has joined on solo horn. Antonio, who lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia, is traveling a greater distance for rehearsals than any other member of the band. His commitment is greatly appreciated. Also added to the horn section is Major Linda Penhale, who came to Washington in June as the assistant divisional youth secretary, and Esther Kim, a young person who is a part of the Army’s strong Korean ministry in Northern Virginia and displayed her considerable musical talent at the NCV Music Conservatory at Camp Happyland during the summer.

Learning about the National Capital Band through a listing of recordings on the World of Brass web site, Frank Maki contacted Bandmaster Anderson and has been invited to join the cornet section. An experienced trumpet player, Frank has shown himself to be a strong presence on first cornet, despite having not played cornet previously. Paul Deafenbaugh, who joined the band midway through last season, moves from cornet to flügelhorn for this season.

In addition to the new members mentioned above, NCB bass trombone Matt Sims has been named the Deputy Bandmaster, replacing Major Dan Proctor, who was appointed area commander in Oklahoma City over the summer. Matt, hailing from Bristol, England, is the music director for the Richmond Area Command, where he has built a very strong music program in a relatively short period of time.

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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