Tag Archives: Washington

Christmas Concerts 2011

The National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) performed at two annual events during the Christmas season of 2011, including a concert in Richmond, Virginia and a performance at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC.

Richmond – Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Christmas concert in Richmond has become a traditional annual event. Expertly organized by Bandmaster Matt Sims, the music director for the Salvation Army’s Central Virginia area command (area commanders Captains David and Dawn Worthy), the concert has drawn a crowd of several hundred each year it has been held. This year, the concert was again held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and the master of ceremonies was popular Richmond radio personality Kat Simons, who is the midday host on Lite98.

The concert began with Kenneth Downie’s Intrada on “Regent Square”, immediately followed by a congregational carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. A Christmas Festival (Leroy Anderson, arr. Andrew Duncan) was up next. This ebullient medley of familiar carols is a classic American favorite.

Remaining in a joyous spirit, the band next presented the third movement of James Curnow’s A Christmas Triptych, “Good King Wenceslas”. Principal euphonium Joel Collier then gave a dexterous rendition of Ding Dong Merrily on High (Douglas Court).

Under the direction of Bandmaster Sims, the Richmond area Salvation Army has a strong School of the Performing Arts. A group of students from the school, augmented by some youngsters from the host church, sang Christmas Medley (arr. Steve Kellner) accompanied by the band. The first half of the program concluded with a classical note, with Farandole (Georges Bizet, arr. Richard Phillips), sometimes known as March of the Three Kings.

Bandmaster Kellner started off the second half of the program with the march medley Season’s Greetings (James Anderson) and another congregational carol, “Joy to the World”. Two contrasting arrangements were then offered. First was a contemporary arrangement of Carol of the Bells (Darrol Barry), with a jazz break inserted into the familiar pattern. Next was Erik Leidzén’s classic arrangement of the well-loved carol Silent Night. The concert continued with The Message of Christmas (William Himes).

In a glorious finale to the afternoon, the congregation joined with the band, singing Handel’s majestic Hallelujah Chorus (arr. Arthur Goldsmith). Several hundred voices and the powerful sound of the brass band joined in the spacious sanctuary, echoing for quite some time after the last chord.

Washington – Sunday, 4 December 2011

Since 2001, the National Capital Band has held an annual Community Appreciation Christmas Concert. This event, which is a “thank you” to members of the public for their generous donations throughout the year, is now organized by the National Capital Area Command (area commanders Majors Steve and Wendy Morris). This year, the event moved to a new venue, the grand ballroom of the historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel, with 500 people in attendance. Located just one block east of the White House, the Willard is the jewel of Washington hotels, frequently hosting visiting heads of state and other dignitaries. This master of ceremonies for this year’s concert was long-time Washington television personality Bob Ryan. The concert also featured the Lower School Guild from the National Cathedral School, a choir of sixty 5th and 6th-grade girls led by Tanya Coyne.

This year’s concert was dedicated to the memory of Dick Carr, who passed away in 2011 after a lengthy illness. A member of one of Washington’s major real estate and construction families, Carr was a long-time member of the Salvation Army’s Washington advisory board, and was instrumental in several of the major projects undertaken by the Army during the last twenty years, including the construction of the Harbor Light Center, the Turning Point transitional housing complex, and most recently the Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center in Southeast Washington.

The concert began with Intrada on “Regent Square” and immediately moved to a congregational carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. Other contributions from the band included A Christmas Festival (Leroy Anderson, arr. Andrew Duncan), Silent Night (Erik Leidzén), Carol of the Bells (Darrol Barry) and Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén). The audience was invited to join with the band in singing Joy to the World (arr. William Himes) and the Hallelujah Chorus (arr. Arthur Goldsmith).

The young women of the Guild contributed two excellent songs, showing musical maturity with multiple parts and complex harmonies.

In addition to the music, the concert also featured words from several community leaders and a presentation by Major Steve Morris, as he discussed the scope of the work in the National Capital Area over the preceding year.

The band would like to thank the following substitute players who stepped in to help during the busy Christmas season: Dean Sims, Jan Sims, Tim Kershaw and Kenny Brown.

Sextet at Marine Corps Marathon

On 30 October 2011, a sextet from the National Capital Band braved cold temperatures and an early-morning call time to provide music for the annual Marine Corps Marathon in the Washington, DC area. The marathon is one of the largest in the United States, with more than 21,000 participants. The sextet was positioned at the four-mile mark of the course, which winds through the monuments and historic locations in Washington and the close-in Virginia suburbs.

Sextet at Marine Corps Marathon

Sextet at Marine Corps Marathon

The sextet consisted of David Delaney (cornet), Ian Chaava (cornet), Chris Dennard (horn), Kevin Downing (trombone), Steve Kellner (euphonium) and John Reeves (tuba). They played a mixture of patriotic and Salvation Army tunes, and reported that many of the runners expressed their appreciation as they came by. The sextet was on duty for the entire race, not leaving their formation until the “straggler buses” came by at the rear of the field.

Sextet at Marine Corps Marathon

Sextet at Marine Corps Marathon

National Cherry Blossom Festival

One of the signature annual events in Washington is the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which stretches over two weeks in early spring. Part of the festival is a continuous series of concerts by various cultural, musical, dance and other groups at the Sylvan Theater, located on the National Mall just south of the Washington Monument. For the first time in its history, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) took part in the Festival as an official participant, with a 45-minute concert at the Sylvan Theater on the afternoon of Friday, 1 April 2011.

Band members (red jackets) waiting for the previous group to finish before taking the stage

Band members (red jackets) waiting for the previous group to finish before taking the stage

Unfortunately, the weather for the event was not ideal, with cold temperatures, high winds and rain. The rain had stopped by the time that the band began, but the chilly wind made it quite difficult to perform, constantly threatening to blow over the music stands (the Sylvan Theater is a bandstand, covered, but open to the wind on three sides). Despite the challenging conditions, the band played well, presenting a varied program that began with The Risen Saviour (Paul Kellner), based on the familiar hymn “He Lives”.

Although not permitted to directly present the Gospel in this setting, Bandmaster Kellner’s selections were designed to pass on the message as an expression of the cultural significance of sacred music through the years combined with a patriotic flavor, appropriate for a concert in that location. The next item on the program was William Himes’ march God and Country. This was followed by the second movement of the suite Shout Salvation (Robert Redhead), which is based on what is perhaps the most-recognized melody throughout the world, “Amazing Grace”.

Bandmaster Kellner announces an item

Bandmaster Kellner announces an item

Another Himes march, Motivation, was next, conducted by Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims. Two classical transcriptions followed, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach, arr. Leidzén) and Hornpipe from “Water Music” (Handel). The march Novarc (Stephen Bulla), which allowed the bandmaster to mention the work of the Adult Rehabilitation Centers while introducing it, continued the program. The band showed its versatility with the next item, Deep River, a swing arrangement in the style of the famous Count Basie.

The National Capital Band has always had a strong connection with the military services, having had several current and former military musicians as members throughout the years (including the current bandmaster). Stephen Bulla’s Armed Forces Salute, featuring the service songs of all of the US armed forces, is a perennial item in the repertoire and again drew an enthusiastic reaction on this occasion.

To complete the short performance, Bandmaster Kellner chose a march by John Philip Sousa, Power and Glory. While perhaps not Sousa’s most familiar work, the march is remarkable in that it represents one of the very few occurrences where he used an existing melody when composing the march – in this case, the well-loved hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers”.

Because of the timing of the event, several regular members of the band were unable to be present. The band would like to thank Malcolm Stokes, Steve Sutton, Melissa Little and Melinda Ryan for filling in for this performance. A special mention goes to Randy Jennings, who was playing his first brass band concert and first experience with the Salvation Army, sight-reading all of the music in high winds while performing as the sole percussionist.

Worship Service at Solomon G. Brown Corps

This is the third of three articles on the National Capital Band’s “Bravo Brass!” ministry weekend in the Washington, DC metro area, 10 – 11 April 2010.

The finale of the National Capital Band’s Bravo Brass! Weekend was a worship service on Sunday, 11 April 2010, at the Solomon G. Brown (Southeast) Corps in Washington, DC. Located in the heart of the Anacostia neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant of the city, this is the newest corps building in the metro area, with the corps occupying two floors of a five-story building, with the rest of the building occupied by paying business tenants, an innovative arrangement for a Salvation Army building.

The members of the band were greeted by the corps officer, Lieutenant Michal Chapman as they arrived for the Sunday holiness meeting. The platform area of the sanctuary is not large enough for a full-size brass band, so the NCB set up to one side. As with the rest of the weekend, Bandmaster James B. Anderson was unable to be present, being out of town for medical treatment. Conducting duties for the meeting were shared between Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims and principal euphonium Steve Kellner.

The band began with some preliminary items, including James Curnow’s Fanfare Prelude on “Lobe den Herren”. Following a welcome and announcements by Lieutenant Chapman, the Corps Sergeant-Major, George Beu, accepted the tithes and offerings. As an offertory, the band presented the trombone feature I Will Follow Him (arr. Goff Richards).

The National Capital Band is blessed with many versatile musicians, and the NCB Praise Team (Captain Amy Reardon, vocals; Captain Rob Reardon, keyboard; Deputy Bandmaster Matt Sims, bass guitar; Keith Morris, drum kit; David Delaney and David Mersiovsky, trumpet; and Kevin Downing, trombone) led the congregation in the contemporary worship songs Hosanna! (Paul Baloche/Benton Brown) and You Are My King (Billy James Foote). The congregation was also given the opportunity to sing with the full band using Charles Skinner’s arrangement of Crown Him with Many Crowns.

The program then took on a more devotional character, with a personal testimony given by David Mersiovsky, a prayer chorus (“Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”) and prayer led by Noel Morris, the congregational song “And Can It Be” using the William Himes arrangement entitled Amazing Love, and a Scripture reading given by David Delaney.

The Scripture reading was followed by Delaney’s sensitive rendition of the cornet solo I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes), a fitting introduction to the message of the morning given by the band’s executive officer, Major James Allison. Major Allison, in his usual relaxed manner, was effective in presenting the Gospel message, as evidenced by the several seekers who came forward during the time of commitment.

Before the final congregational song, O Boundless Salvation (arr. William Himes), Major Allison called Bandmaster Anderson, who was in Houston, Texas, for medical treatment. In one of the most moving experiences in the recent history of the band, all present were privileged to have the bandmaster participate in the singing of the concluding song and give the benediction from a hospital thousands of miles away. We learned later that Bandmaster Anderson was in the day room, with several other patients present, during this time, and that he, in his usual bold fashion, sang along and prayed aloud without any sign of embarrassment or timidity. The meeting ended with a prayer for Bandmaster Anderson given by the band chaplain, Captain Mike Harris, and the postlude, Rolling Along (William Himes).

As the band concluded this special ministry weekend, contributions by several guest players were acknowledged, including Darryl Crossland and Steve Sutton on cornet and Dr. Richard Holz on Bb bass.

Stockholm South Citadel Visit to Washington

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.