Steadily Forward March! in Alexandria

On Sunday afternoon, 2 October 2016, the National Capital Area Command (NCAC) held a Soldier’s Rally at the Alexandria Citadel Corps. The NCAC underwent a change of command over the summer, and this was the first rally to be held under the new Area Commanders, Majors James (Chip) amd Leisa Hall. A wide variety of music and creative arts groups from around the area were featured, anchored by the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner). The theme of the rally was “Steadily Forward March!”, with the program being divided into sections focusing on the past, present, and future of the Salvation Army.

The National Capital Band (NCB) played a short “pre-concert” before the start of the rally proper. Items included:

  • I’ll Stand for Christ (Lloyd Scott)
  • Deep and Wide (Sidney E. Cox, arr. Andrew Mackereth)
  • The Blood-Washed Army (Stanley Ditmer)
  • O Church, Arise! (Steve Kellner)
  • The High Council (Ray Steadman-Allen)

The rally proper began with the NCAC Vocal Group coming down the central aisle singing We Are Soldiers. The first section of the program was “Our Past”. Following a welcome by Major Chip Hall, the next item was a drill from the Fairfax Corps Timbrel Brigade (Leader Sandra Smith-Bedio), to Shine Down (arr. Andrew Blyth) performed by the NCB. Major Chip Hall, accompanied by his wife on piano (and himself on snare drum with brushes), presented “Songs from the Past”, teaching the congregation a couple of old-time Army choruses. The section closed out the the band playing a classic Bramwell Coles march, Danforth Citadel.

The next section, “Our Present”, opened with a praise and worship set led by the praise and worship team from the Maryland Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). The team gave a high-enery, exciting set, with both outstanding vocals (group and solo) and some stellar lead guitar work. The congregation was on its feet for both items presented in this portion of the program. Residents and alumni of the ARC program often have powerful testimonies of the saving power of God’s grace, and the rally was privileged to hear the testimony of Kenny VanFleet of the Northern Virginia ARC.

This was followed by the collection of an offering, during which the National Capital Band premiered a new theatrical work composed by Bandmaster Kellner. Entitled Didn”t Willie Ramble, the piece imagines what the funeral of William Booth might have been like if it had been held in New Orleans instead of London. Following the classic form of the New Orleans jazz funeral, it opens with a brass quartet – Noel Morris, soprano; David Delaney, cornet; Major Jim Shiels, trombone; and Dr. Kate Wohlman, tuba – slowly coming down the aisle playing a jazz version of “O Boundless Salvation”. The quartet was followed down the aisle by a “second line” of mourners, a dance ensemble led by Amerika Outlaw. This is the procession to the grave.

Once the procession reached the front of the hall, the full band played an arrangement of the tune “Promoted to Glory”, representing the grave-side service. In the New Orleans tradition, this solemn part of the funeral then gives way to a celebration of the life of the deceased. In this case, “O Boundless Salvation” returns in an uptempo version from the quartet. Then the band (singing) and soloists (Delaney and Shiels) alternate through “Didn’t He Ramble”, a staple of this type of funeral. The piece concludes with a New Orleans brass band style romp featuring “When the Saints Go Marching In” in addition to the other tunes presented earlier, with both the band and the quartet moving at high speed.

The next section of the program, “Our Future”, began with He Knows My Name, presented by the Solomon G. Brown Corps Youth Chorus. Following a short video presentation, a massed beginner band led by Dr. Kate Wohlman (music director for the NCAC), with representatives from every corps music program in the command, performed Muffins Rhapsody (William Himes), accompanied by the NCB.

Major Chip Hall gave a short message, focusing on keeping the mission and the message of the Army in balance, and giving examples of some groups that split from the Army in the early days in the United States, and how those groups have failed to flourish because that balance was not maintained.

To conclude the rally, the congregation was invited to sing along with the National Capital Band on The Day of Victory’s Coming, using an arrangement by Bandmaster Kellner, enthusiatically led by Captain Janice Dahlin. Captain Indrani Bhatnagar gave the benediction. As the congregation moved from the chapel to the fellowship hall for refreshments, the NCB “played them out” with the march Share Your Faith (Norman Bearcroft).

Brass Crest Staff Report