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.