National Capital Band Opens Christmas Season

The National Capital Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Lars-Otto Ljungholm, opened the Christmas season with two annual engagements. On Saturday, December 1, the band traveled north of the Washington area to Frederick, Maryland, for a Christmas concert sponsored by the local cable television company, in support of the local corps Christmas effort. The following day, the band was in Arlington, Virginia, for a Community Carol Sing, featuring a middle school choir and honoring volunteers and others who assisted with the relief efforts at the Pentagon disaster site. Both engagements featured the vocal talents of Deborah Bearchell.

Sacred Music of Christmas

1 December 2001
Weinberg Center for the Arts
Frederick, Maryland
Sponsored by Adelphia Communications

For the thirteenth consecutive year, the National Capital Band presented a concert of sacred Christmas music in Frederick, Maryland. This event is a benefit for the local Salvation army corps in Frederick. Because of the generosity of the sponsor, the concert is free to the public. Those attending are asked to bring non-perishable food items or to donate at a kettle set up in front of the hall as the “price” of admission. The concert traditionally consists of band presentations and vocal solos interspersed with Christmas carols sung by the audience.

In acknowledgment of the recent national tragedies, the band opened the concert with Erik Leidzén’s arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner, immediately followed by America the Beautiful, arranged by the band’s principal trombonist, Dorothy Gates. The Christmas music then began with Fanfare Jubiloso (James Curnow). The audience joined in singing the carol “Joy to the World”, followed by the band’s presentation of God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen (William Himes).

Captain Andy Gilliam, Frederick Corps commanding officer, introduced the featured vocal soloist for the evening, Deborah Bearchell. Ms. Bearchell serves as the Songster Leader at the Prince George’s Corps in Maryland, and is well-known in Salvation Army vocal music circles. She has also been a member of the National Christian Choir. Her first presentation was Come Let Us Worship the King, a song made popular by Sandi Patti, adapted for vocal solo and brass band by Dorothy Gates.

The concert continued with a trio of items from William Himes’ collection Christmas Short and Suite: Angels We Heave Heard on High, Greensleeves, and O Come, All Ye Faithful. The audience again participated, singing Silent Night, followed by an intermission.

The band brought the audience back into the hall with the classic march Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén). This was followed by a more devotional mood, with the band presenting Brian Bowen’s The Suppliant Heart, a meditation on “Oh Come to My Heart, Lord Jesus”. This was followed by Candlelight Carol (John Rutter, arr. Chris Mallett), sung by vocal soloist Deborah Bearchell accompanied by the band, followed by Scripture read by the band’s Executive Officer, Major Todd Smith. Ms. Bearchell returned to present O Holy Night, accompanied by Dorothy Gates at the piano.

The final three items on the program included the audience, singing “The First Noel”, Leonard Ballantine’s big-band style arrangement Go Tell It!, and the audience and band joining again in “Adeste Fideles” (arr. David Willcocks, adapted for brass band by Edwin Wyatt).

Community Carol Sing

2 December 2001
Westover Baptist Church
Arlington, Virginia

The program for the Community Carol Sing on Sunday, December 2, began in the same way as the previous night’s concert in Frederick, with The Star-Spangled Banner (arr. Erik Leidzén) and America the Beautiful (Dorothy Gates). The congregation joined in singing “Joy to the World”, followed by two selections from the Swanson Middle School Choir, directed by Ms. Jan Edmondson. The middle school choir presented Carol of the Bells (arr. Peter J. Wilhousky) and Simply Alleluia (William Boyce).

Following the previous items, Major Todd Smith, General Secretary of the National Capital and Virginia Division of the Salvation Army, and coordinator of the Salvation Army relief effort at the Pentagon, presented a certificate to Brigadier General Bob Smolen, U.S. Army, recognizing his assistance during the September 11 tragedy and subsequent emergency work.

The program moved into a more contemplative mood, with the audience singing “Silent Night”, followed by the band’s presentation of The Suppliant Heart (Brian Bowen). This moving arrangement was followed by the Christmas story as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, read by Lt.-Col. LaVerne Crabson. The audience was then shown a short video presentation showing the Salvation Army’s response to the September 11 incidents, followed by vocal soloist Deborah Bearchell and the band performing You’ll Never Walk Alone (arr. William Himes).

The program continued with a recognition of representative community volunteeers who assisted with Pentagon relief effort. Deborah Bearchell returned to present O Holy Night, with Dorothy Gates providing piano accompaniment. The congregation participated with the band and the middle school choir in “Adeste Fideles” (arr. David Willcocks, adapted for brass band by Edwin Wyatt). The third vocal solo of the evening, Come Let Us Worship the King (adapted for brass band by Dorothy Gates) and the big-band style arrangement Go Tell It! (Leonard Ballantine) were then presented.

The concert concluded in grand style as Bandmaster Ljungholm led the band, combined middle school and church choirs, and the congregation in George Frederick Handel’s masterpiece, The Hallelujah Chorus (adapted for choir and brass band by Lars-Otto Ljungholm).

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report