Tag Archives: recording sessions

A Musical Offering: The Children’s Song (Robert Schramm)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

In the late summer of 1961, Robert C. “Bob” Schramm came to Washington, DC after joining the United States Air Force Band. He also took up the principal euphonium chair in the National Capital Divisional Band (as it was then known) and was appointed as Deputy Bandmaster, a position he held until his retirement from the NCB in 1998. The association between the Schramm family and the National Capital Band continues to the present day, now extending to the third generation, with six members of the family having played in the band for a combined total of over 90 years of service.

Several of Schramm’s compositions have been published, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. His most well-known work is The Children’s Song, published in the Festival Series in 1975. Although this piece has been recorded several times by bands around the world, including the International Staff Band, this will be the first time that the National Capital Band has recorded it.

Originally intended as a challenge piece for a music camp (although never actually used at that camp), the piece weaves together two melodies associated with the words by Cecil Frances Alexander:

All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful:
the Lord God made them all.

The tunes used are “Royal Oak” (Martin Shaw, late 17th century) and “Bright and Beautiful” (William Monk, 1887). The entire piece is in a light, playful style, with the melodies being passed throughout all sections of the band. Although short in duration, less than three minutes long, it is a challenge for the band, with many short solo passages and features handing lines from one instrument to another.

A Musical Offering: Camp Happyland (James Anderson)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

Bandmaster James Anderson is widely recognized as a master of the art of the march, perhaps the finest Salvationist march-writer of the past few decades. During his six-year term as Divisional Music Director for the National Capital and Virginia Division, Bandmaster Anderson spent many days at Camp Happyland. Although it has been over three years since his untimely death, his spirit and ministry still resonate throughout the camp, particularly on the divisional music and arts weekends, where hundreds of students and staff fill the camp with music.

It is therefore fitting that the National Capital Band should include one of Bandmaster Anderson’s final compositions on this recording – a march, of course – entitled Camp Happyland. Although he had already been diagnosed with a terminal illness at the time it was composed, this piece embodies the ebullient and bold spirit that he showed throughout his life.

The march is built around the 19th-century song “There Is a Happy Land”, with words by Andrew Young:

There is a happy land, far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day.
Oh, how they sweetly sing, worthy is our Savior king,
Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye.

A Musical Offering: The Call (Erik Leidzén)

The National Capital Band will be in sessions for their eleventh recording, entitled A Musical Offering, on 14 – 15 February 2014. The band has been blessed since its inception in 1925 to have had a stream of excellent composers and arrangers as members of the group. All of the items on this recording were written by one of these musicians, ranging from the earliest days of the band to current members.

Over the next two weeks, as the band approaches the recording sessions, an article on one of the items selected for the recording will be posted each day. We begin with the oldest composition, The Call, by Erik Leidzén, who was involved in the formation of the National Capital Band in 1925.

The Call, written in 1923, features the songs “Softly and Tenderly” and “What Will the Answer Be?”. Leidzén, even at a young age, had already begun to develop the advanced harmonics, use of chromatics and tone colors which characterize much of his brass band writing. The Call was considered by the Salvation Army music publishers to be too “modern” for use, and the piece was not published until 1952, nearly thirty years after it was composed.

The piece opens with a somewhat turbulent motif, leading into the first statement of “Softly and Tenderly’, representing Christ’s call to the sinner to “Come home”. This is then joined by the question “What will the answer be?”, as a response is requested. The two tunes are skilfully woven together as the music builds in intensity and then fades away at the ending with the final question represented by the second tune.

Leidzén’s association with the group that became the National Capital Band (then called the Washington Headquarters Band) began at the group’s inception in 1925. When Senior-Captain Ernest Holz, who was the commander of the small National Capital Division (at the time, consisting of only five corps), decided to start a divisional band, he turned to the headquarters in New York for assistance. In response, Leidzén was named the “Band Instructor” for the group, traveling from New York to Washington once a month by coastal steamship. For about five years, this was a regular pattern, as Leidzén assisted Bandmaster Walter D. Needham in starting up a tradition of musical excellence in the Washington area.

In the photograph below, taken in 1926 (the earliest known photograph of the band), Leidzén is on the right of the front row, with Bandmaster Needham on the left and Sr.-Captain Holz in the center.

The earliest known photograph of the National Capital Band, taken in 1926.

Sessions for Christmas Recording

On Friday evening, 22 January 2010, members of the National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) gathered in the chapel at Camp Happyland to begin recording a new Christmas album.

Under the expert supervision of Grammy-nominated engineer Phil Bulla, the band recorded twelve items, finishing on Saturday afternoon. Highlights of the recording include a new piece from the pen of principal euphonium Steve Kellner, Fanfare on “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and Robert Redhead’s classic suite The Joy of Christmas.

The full list of items recorded:

  1. Christmas Idyll (Kenneth Downie)
  2. Ding Dong Merrily on High (Douglas Court)
    Euphonium solo, Steve Kellner, soloist
  3. Fanfare Jubiloso (James Curnow)
  4. Fanfare on “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (Steve Kellner)
  5. Feliz Navidad (Dorothy Gates)
  6. I Wonder As I Wander (Ray Bowes)
  7. The Joy of Christmas (Robert Redhead)
  8. Nowell (Andrew Mackereth)
  9. Season’s Greetings (James Anderson)
  10. Shepherds Surprise (Kenneth Downie)
  11. The Shining Star (Peter Graham)
  12. Stille, Stille, Stille (James Curnow)

Further information on the album, including a release date and information on advance orders, will be announced in the future.

The band would like to thank a number of players who helped out with the recording:

  • Darryl Crossland
  • Steve Sutton
  • Dr. Bethany Mikles
  • Bethany Hawley
  • Dr. Richard Holz
  • Dr.Tom Walker