National Capital Band Springs Ahead

Saturday, 27 March 2004 marked the first day of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. The festival is a marker of the coming of spring to the Nation’s Capital each year. Although not an official part of the festival, the National Capital Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster John B. Jones) participated by playing an outdoor concert at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. The memorial, located on the Mall between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, is unique in that there is no large structure, but rather a series of garden sculpture settings depicting the life and career of President Roosevelt. The day saw large crowds in the area, and a group of several hundred persons passed by the band during the 45-minute performance. Following the outdoor concert, the band traveled to the Prince George’s (Hyattsville), Maryland Corps, just outside the city limits, for an evening festival.

The band began the program with an old classic march, Fighting for the Lord (Emil Soderstrom). This was followed by Ray Steadman-Allen’s arrangement of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, as a lead-in to the invocation, given by Major Tony Barrington. The band then presented Leonard Ballantine’s contemporary arrangement of the theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Joyful, Joyful. Following a personal testimony from Bandsman Herb Rader, principal cornet Ian Anderson gave a tender rendition of In the Love of Jesus (William Hammond, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen).

The band continued with Richard Phillips’ arrangement of the well-loved hymn Amazing Grace. Vocal soloist Deborah Bearchell, pianist John Snelson, and cornetist Ian Anderson joined to present Wonderful Words of Life (Ivor Bosanko). This was followed by a short devotional message from Major Ken Wilson and followed by the band playing I Know Thou Art Mine (Leonard Ballantine).

A note of American pride was introduced into the program with March Patriotica, containing several American patriotic tunes, written by Stephen Bulla. Bulla is the staff arranger of the U.S. Marine Band and served as the bandmaster of the National Capital Band from 1985-1998. This was followed by another Ballantine arrangement, of the American folk melody "Shenandoah", associated with the words of John Oxenham ’Mid All the Traffic. The newest member of the band, Maria Mathieson, gave a personal testimony following this item.

Principal euphonium Major Tony Barrington played the old theme-and-variations solo Ransomed (George Marshall). This was followed by a classical transcription, Slavonic Dance No. 8, opus 46, by Anton Dvorak, transcribed by Ray Steadman-Allen. The band concluded the concert as it had begun, with an old classic march, Arthur Gullidge’s Victorious. The benediction was pronounced by the commanding officer of the Prince George’s Corps, Captain William Criss.

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report