SASF Band Visit to National Capital and Virginia Division

On the weekend of 27 – 28 October 2018, the Salvation Army Student Fellowship (SASF) Band (Bandmaster Nathan Miller) from Asbury University visited the National Capital and Virginia (NCV) Division, with events in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

Saturday, 27 October

The first event of the weekend for the band was a concert at Camp Happyland in Richardsville, Virginia, as part of the NCV Divisional Music and Arts rehearsal, on Saturday afternoon. The band started off with the exuberant Dance Like David (Andrew Mackereth). The congregation joined in singing This Is Amazing Grace before members of the band and creative arts team joined to form a chorus under the direction of Jeff Barrington. The chorus sang The Candle Song (Graham Kendrick, arr. Stuart Watson).

The next segment featured the creative arts team. Using a story from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the books in C. S. Lewis’ well-loved series The Chronicles of Narnia, the team conveyed the message of God's redemptive power. In the story, the boy Eustace Stubbs, overcome by greed, finds himself transformed into a dragon by his greed. In his desperation to return to normal, he repeatedly claws off his dragon scales, but each time another set is revealed. It is not until Eustace submits to the lion Aslan, representing Christ, and allows him to claw away the dragon skin, that he is returned to his now altered human state.

During the creative arts presentation, the chorus sang I Stand Before Almighty God Alone (Jenny Lee Riddle and Brandon Collins). At the end of the dramatic series, the band did a “flash mob”-style item, Fred Mbesi’s arrangement of Thrift Shop, beginning with a lone tuba playing and ending with the entire band surrounding the audience.

Following another congregational song, the band presented its major work for the concert, Peter Graham’s Shine As the Light. This piece has become a staple of Salvation Army brass band literature in recent years, and features three tunes, “It’s a Great Day”, “The Candle of the Lord”, and “The Light Has Come”. The theme continued with a devotional and then the chorus singing one of the songs featured in Graham’s piece The Candle of the Lord (Joy Webb). The concert concluded in traditional fashion with a march, Fill the World with Music (Erik Silfverberg).

Following the concert, the band departed from Camp Happyland to make their way to Washington DC, where they were scheduled to play a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall at 6:00pm. Unfortunately, their bus encountered mechanical difficulties during the journey. Bandmaster David Delaney managed to quickly gather alternative transportation, including vans and buses from various Salvation Army corps in the area so that the could continue their journey.

The band’s equipment van, and a few people not traveling on the coach were able to make it to the Memorial on time. Since performances at this venue are controlled by special permits from the US Park Police, and there were instruments available, a trio consisting of Bandmaster Miller on baritone, and two members of the NCV Division music forces, Dr. Kate Wohlman (tuba) and Kevin Downing (trombone) filled the time until the band arrived.

The band finally arrived at the Lincoln Memorial around 7:15pm. They quickly got into formation and were still able to play a short concert despite their permit having expired. The weather was cool and the sun had gone down, but there were still many people in and around the Memorial. Items presented at the Memorial included:

  • Happy (Fred Mbesi)
  • The Asburian (James Curnow)
  • Dance Like David
  • Chorus – This Little Light of Mine
  • Moses Get Down!
  • Be Thou My Vision (William Himes)
  • Fill the World with Music

Sunday, 28 October

On Sunday morning, the SASF Band had a very early wake-up call, as they arrived at Gateway Park in Arlington, Virginia at 6:30am to set up for an outdoor performance. This was the day of the Marine Corps Marathon, one of the premier marathons in the United States, with runners beginning near the Pentagon and running through the monumental heart of the Nation’s Capital. The band was positioned at Mile One, and began playing as the first runners reached that point, as an encouragement and celebration of the event. They played for an hour, during which time every runner in the race, which has thousands of participants, passed that point.

The band then traveled to the Prince George’s Corps, just east of the District of Columbia in Hyattsville, Maryland, for the morning services. The service, which was entirely conducted by the SASF Band, was a close repeat of the Saturday afternoon concert. Bandmaster Miller gave an inspired devotional thought, and the altar at the front of the chapel was full as several people from both the band and the congregation knelt in prayer – a powerful sight. Following lunch at the nearby Adult Rehabilitation Center, the band began the journey back to Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Brass Crest Staff Report