The National Capital Band (Bandmaster James B. Anderson) hosted its fourth annual Community Carol Concert on 5 December 2004. In addition to the band, this year’s event featured The Swansonettes (Director Elizabeth Gephardt), the DC Metro Timbrel Brigade (directed by Elsie Morris), and junior vocalist Francisca Idio from the Fairfax Corps. The special guest for the evening was Broadway entertainer Carol Jaudes. The venue was again the Westover Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia.
The band opened the festivities with James Curnow’s Fanfare Jubiloso. A major feature of the annual Christmas concert is participation by the audience, which commenced immediately as the band accompanied the singing of O Come, All Ye Faithful. Following an invocation by the Executive Officer of the National Capital Band, Major Todd Smith, the band again established a festive atmosphere with the old favorite march Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén).
The first soloist of the evening was junior vocalist Francisca Idio, who attends the Salvation Army corps in Fairfax, Virginia. Showing great poise, she performed three verses of Away in a Manger, was briefly interviewed by Bandmaster Anderson, and then given the opportunity to lead the congregation as they sang the last verse of the song. The band followed with a recently published arrangement of Feliz Navidad (José Feliciano, arr. Dorothy Gates). Bandmaster Anderson then introduced the special guest for the concert, Carol Jaudes, who began her performances with It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, accompanied by Stephen Bulla on piano.
Following another congregational carol (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen), the Swansonettes took the stage for the first of two sets. This group, led by Elizabeth Gephardt, is composed of female students from the Swanson Middle School, which is located directly across the street from the concert venue. They have participated in several previous Carol Concerts. Their selections in this part of the program included Angels We Have Heard on High and Melt the Winter to Spring.
In addition to her fine voice, demonstrated in her first performance of the evening, Carol Jaudes also possesses considerable skills as a dramatic actress. During the course of the evening, she presented four different characters from the Christmas story, with narration from the Scriptures provided by Major Smith. The first of these characters was Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.
Joy to the World was the next carol for the audience, which was followed by a timbrel routine by a brigade made up of members from several of the Washington area corps, under the leadership of Elsie Morris. The timbrels, accompanied by the band, performed a drill to Peter Graham’s holiday march The Shining Star. Carol Jaudes returned as the second of her four characters, Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation.
The audience again participated, enthusiastically joining in The Twelve Days of Christmas. At conclusion of this rather long carol, another character was portrayed by Carol Jaudes. This time, as The Innkeeper’s Wife, she used a couple of the bandsmen as props. The Swansonettes returned for a second set, presenting The Wassail Song and Let It Snow.
The band then offered two more selections. The first was a cornet feature from Australian composer Noel Jones, Angels from Glory. Andrew Mackereth’s sensitive setting of the tune “Forest Green”, associated with the words O Little Town of Bethlehem followed. Carol Jaudes then returned for the last of her character sketches, Anna the Prophetess.
Following the conclusion of the last character presentation, the Divisional Commander of the National Capital and Virginia Division, Lieutenant-Colonel William Crabson, offered his Christmas greetings. The evening concluded with a final carol for the audience to sing, a triumphant rendition of Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
Source: Brass Crest Staff Report
Photos by Rebekah Schramm