The National Capital Band, under the direction of Bandmaster James B. Anderson, journeyed down Interstate 95 to Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on 6 November 2004, for a weekend engagement. Richmond is a familiar setting for the band, having been the destination for several previous trips (two members of the band currently live in the Richmond area). This trip was the first engagement for the full band since Bandmaster Anderson took the baton in May 2004.
The band gathered at the Fairfax Corps on Saturday morning for the two-hour ride to Richmond, arriving at the Richmond City Command in time for lunch and greetings from the City Commander, Major Bobby Lancaster. After the meal the band reboarded the coach and began a whirlwind tour of three Richmond shopping areas. At each the band presented an open-air style concert. Two of the three concerts were at the modern-day equivalent of the town inn, the shopping mall food court. The third was at the historic Cary Court shopping center, one of the earliest examples of a “park and shop” center, dating from the 1930s. The Cary Court concert was literally on the street corner, with traffic passing by mere feet from the band formation. Three concerts in rapid succession were stressful for the equipment handlers, but, as usual, everyone in the band did their part and the transitions were handled smoothly in each instance.
As is usual with this style of performance, the band had various handicaps at each venue. At the first, the Virginia Center Commons Mall, the bandstand was slightly too small for the band, and we had intense sunlight coming through the skylights in the roof. Traffic noise and the occasional loud music emanating from a car stereo greeted us at Cary Court. Despite these problems, the band was able to effectively bring their message to hundreds of passers-by. Each concert lasted about 45 minutes, during which the band presented many different styles of music.
Music for the three concerts included (not all pieces played at each venue): Minneapolis IV (Emil Soderstrom); Onward Christian Soldiers (Sullivan, arr. Gordon Langford); Greater Things (Olaf Ritman); A Psalm of Praise (James Curnow); The Better World (Norman Bearcroft), featuring euphonium soloist Major Tony Barrington; Bringing in the Sheaves (William Himes); Armed Forces Salute (Stephen Bulla); Peter Graham’s cornet duet Quicksilver, played by Noel Morris (soprano) and Ian Anderson; another Graham favorite, Dance Before the Lord; What a Friend (Erik Leidzén); One Voice (Barry Manilow, arr. Ray Farr); and I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes), featuring principal cornet Ian Anderson.
The band was well-received at all of the venues. Several listeners commented on the playing of the band, including one retired US Army officer who thanked the band for their rendition of Stephen Bulla’s Armed Forces Salute. After each concert several audience members were engaged in conversation by various members of the band and Richmond area Salvation Army officers and soldiers. During the outdoor concert at Cary Court, percussionist Tami Hewitt, recently returned from a year of inner-city ministry in Toronto, gave a moving and challenging personal witness.
Following the three concerts, in three venues, in the space of four and one-half hours, the band enjoyed a well-prepared meal at the Richmond Adult Rehabilitation Center and retired to their hotel for the evening. On Sunday morning, a small detachment returned to the ARC to support their Sunday worship service, while the rest of the band traveled to the Richmond Citadel Corps to prepare for morning worship there. Two current NCB members are soldiers of the Richmond Citadel Corps, Chadd Gage and David Carter, who serves as the local bandmaster and pianist.
When the ensemble that went to the ARC arrived at the Citadel, the band began the morning worship with some preliminary selections, including I Know Thou Art Mine (Kenneth Downie), Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), and Prelude on “Lobe den Herren” (James Curnow). During the service, the band provided extensive accompaniments to congregational songs, including Onward Christian Soldiers (arr. Gordon Langford), Come Into His Presence (arr. Ray Steadman-Allen), Spirit Song (arr. Ray Steadman-Allen) and O Boundless Salvation (arr. William Himes).
The band also presented special music items throughout the worship service, including deputy bandmaster Ian Anderson playing I’d Rather Have Jesus (William Himes). Deborah Bearchell sang Boundless Love (Norman Bearcroft/Mark Bearcroft) accompanied by the band. The mood for the message of the morning was set with a presentation of Kenneth Downie’s meditative Reverie. Members of the NCB also contributed to the service in other ways. Band Chaplain Joe DeMato offered a pastoral prayer, Bandsman Kevin Affum read Scripture, percussionist Tami Hewitt gave a personal testimony, and Major Todd Smith, NCB executive officer and general secretary of the National Capital and Virginia Division, gave the morning message.
The musical forces of the host corps were represented by the Richmond Citadel Songsters, led by Captain Cheryl Gage (a former member of the National Capital Band, and now serving with her husband as corps officers of Richmond Citadel). Augmented by several members of the NCB, the songsters sang Lord, You Know That We Love You (Howard Davies). Following a benediction by Captain Charles Gage, the band closed the service on a triumphant note with Norman Bearcroft’s classic march To Regions Fair.
Source: Brass Crest Staff Report
Photos by Captain Sandy Hartley, except photo of Richmond Citadel by Robert Schramm