The Salvation Army’s Alexandria School for the Performing Arts (ASPA) celebrated the end of the spring semester with a recital on the afternoon of Sunday, 22 May 2011. The recital was held in the Alexandria Citadel hall with a large and appreciative audience.
To kick things off, the Alexandria Citadel Band played the march Folkestone (Erik Silfverberg) before the Principal of the ASPA, Cheryl Jones-Gage, gave some opening remarks. Things then went into the program proper, as there were a large number of performances scheduled for the afternoon.
First up was the guitar class, led by Emmanuel Gonzalez. The class presented Chord Changes and Timing. A solo item, Slow Dancing in a Burning Building was offered by Rachel Argot.
Next were the first three of several piano students, instructed by Maria Mathieson. Items included Intermezzo played by Claire Huang, A Happy Song played by Eden Abebe and When the Saints played by Nicole Conord.
The ASPA teaches both instrumental and vocal music. The first vocal presentation of the afternoon was given by the Children’s Voice Class, under the direction of vocal instructor Nakia Verner. They sang Do Re Mi from “The Sound of Music”.
While most of the students in the ASPA are children, the program is also open to adults in all tracks. Mario Ashby, one of the adult vocal students, gave a fine solo rendition of I Give Myself Away. This was followed by the Adult Voice Class, who sang Amazing Grace.
As with most Salvation Army music programs, brass playing is a key component of the ASPA. The first brass soloist of the program was Natnael Adere, who played Londonderry Air. This was followed by two more piano items, The Donkey played by Sky Raye and The Magic Man played by Ermias Tadesse.
The program returned to the vocal performances. First was Castle on a Cloud from “Les Miserables” sung by Sophia Denton. Next was a vocal duet from Eden Abebe and Sharolyn Hyson, who sang Where Is Love from “Oliver”.
The Alexandria Citadel Youth Band took the stage next. Under the direction of Dave Downing, they offered the suite Play, Pray and Praise (William Himes). This was followed by two more piano performances, Robots played by Sharolyn Hyson and Rock Song played by Gregory Hyson.
Percussion instruments are an integral part of most instrumental groups. The percussion instructor for the ASPA is Keith Morris, and his student Jonathan Neville played the solo Urban Sunrise on drum kit.
As with the vocal program, adults are also included in the brass track. Lt.-Col. Suzanne Haupt and MacDonald Chaava, on horn and Eb tuba respectively, presented Sacred Song and Russian Hymn as duets. MacDonald’s son, Ian Chaava, is one of the brass instructors for the ASPA. Following his duet performance, MacDonald put down his tuba and went to the piano, where he played When Our Band Goes Marching By.
The accompaniment of congregational singing is a specialized skill for keyboard players. Part of the ASPA piano track includes training in this skill, which was demonstrated by Claire Huang, who played When We All Get to Heaven, and then accompanied the audience as they sang a verse of the song.
The final vocal soloist of the afternoon was Leah Argot, who sang Part of Your World from “The Little Mermaid”. The Children’s Vocal Class then returned with an energetic performance of I Won’t Grow Up from “Peter Pan”, with Gregory Hyson “stealing the show” with his irrepressible smile.
At the age of nineteen, Kevin Downing has already become an accomplished trombonist. The final item of the recital was his performance of Fantastic Polka (Arthur Pryor), which he recently featured in his spring jury recital as he completed his freshman year as a trombone performance major at the University of Maryland. Despite being extremely busy with studies and performances at university, Kevin has maintained his strong connection with the Salvation Army, serving as an instructor in the ASPA, playing in the Alexandria Citadel Band and as principal trombone of the National Capital Band.
After the performances, Bandmaster David Delaney, National Capital and Virginia Divisional Music Director, gave some remarks. This was followed by a recognition of the ASPA staff by Cheryl Jones-Gage and some remarks and a benediction by Alexandria Citadel corps officer Captain Ken Argot.
Source: Brass Crest Staff Report