National Capital Band Thanksgiving Weekend Concerts

The National Capital Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Ian Anderson, performed Thanksgiving concerts in Winchester and Alexandria, Virginia during the weekend of 23 – 24 November 2002. Special guest soloists for the weekend were Majors Norman and Lois Garcia, from the USA Eastern territorial headquarters. Several other guests also joined the band for all or part of the weekend, including Dr. Richard Holz, Music and Music Education Secretary for the [bclink id="1029" target="_blank", and former National Capital Band leaders Robert C. Schramm and Stephen Bulla.

On Saturday, November 23, the band travelled west of Washington, DC, to the picturesque Virginia town of Winchester. The concert was held at the Braddock Street United Methodist Church, located in central Winchester. In addition to the Garcias, the band was also joined by several other guests, including Dr. Richard Holz and Robert Snelson (both of the USA Southern Territory Music Department), Bandmaster Ron Smith (Divisional Music Director of the Maryland and West Virginia Division, based in Baltimore, Maryland), former NCB deputy bandmaster Robert C. Schramm, and former NCB bandmaster and well-known composer Stephen Bulla and his wife, Randi Bulla.

The band opened the concert with the A.R.C. Centennial March (Stephen Bulla), followed by some words of greeting from Captain Richard White, commanding officer of the Winchester Corps. Dr. Allen R. Felumlee, senior minister of the Braddock Street United Methodist Church, gave the invocation, which was followed by the band playing Amazing Grace (William Himes). The band’s Executive Officer, Major Todd Smith, led the congregation in singing “We Gather Together”, with the band playing William Himes’ arrangement of the tune, entitled Prayer of Thanksgiving. This was followed by another band feature, God Bless America (Irving Berlin, arr. William Gordon).

The Majors Garcia then took control of the program for the first of three “sets” during the evening. Assisted by Stephen Bulla on the piano and Norman on flügelhorn, Lois sang Bulla’s arrangement of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Norman then showed his viruosity on cornet with the variation solo Longings, again accompanied by Stephen Bulla.

The band then played a light-hearted arrangement of Bringing in the Sheaves (arr. William Himes), with some excellent slide-whistle work by percussionist James Williams near the end. This was followed by a more devotional work, David Catherwood’s arrangement of In His Presence (melody by Dick and Melody Tunney).

The Garcia”s second set had a Christmas theme, as Lois sang God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, arranged by contemporary Christian artist Michael Card. Norman Garcia contributed with the most unusual solo of the evening (after a lengthy story by way of introduction), the well-known Christmas carol “Oh, Taliban” (his title!) on a fine, but somewhat rusty, example of the crosscut wood saw.

The first portion of the program concluded with the band’s performance of William Himes’ classic selection New Frontier. The major band work presented during the concert, this piece, originally written for the dedication of a new corps building in Dearborn Heights, Michigan in the 1970s, contains several tunes, including “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, “I’ll Never Let the Old Flag Fall”, “So We’ll Roll the Old Chariot Along” and the concluding melody, “Old Hundredth”, associated with the doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”. Just before the intermission, an offering to benefit the Winchester Corps was received, with the band playing the march Light-Bringer (Martin Cordner) as an offertory.

Following the intermission, the band began with the euphonium solo Spirit of Life (David Catherwood), tenderly presented by Major Tony Barrington, NCB principal euphonium. The congregation was again invited to participate, singing the contemporary song “Give thanks with a grateful heart”. The Garcias then took control of the program for the third time. The highlight of the third act was the old standard cornet solo Carnival of Venice, played in a unique way by Norman Garcia - with one hand playing the cornet and the other the piano (at the same time), surrounded by an entertaining and comical routine.

The band concluded the concert with the Prelude on “Darwalls”, arranged by Kenneth Downie. The march Blood and Fire (Kenneth Smith) was played as a postlude.

The following night the band presented essentially the same concert at the Alexandria Citadel Corps (corps officers Majors Tony and Suzanne Barrington - both members of the National Capital Band). Minor differences in the programs were mainly because Stephen Bulla, who accompanied the Garcias on Saturday evening in Winchester, was unable to attend the Sunday concert.

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report