Staunton Centennial

On the weekend of 18 – 19 February 2012, the National Capital Band (Bandmaster Dr. Steve Kellner) journeyed to the Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton, Virginia to participate in the celebration of 100 years of Salvation Army service there. The trip included a youth music workshop on Saturday afternoon, a music festival on Saturday evening, worship at the corps on Sunday morning and a Soldiers’ Rally and Birthday Celebration on Sunday afternoon. The band was delighted to be invited to participate in this event by the corps officers, Majors Sam and Mary Kay Hearne.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The first event of the weekend was a youth music clinic with students from the Salvation Army music program in the Valley. This program has been given a regional emphasis with the employment of Jason Collier as regional music director for the Valley in the fall of 2011, and this was the first opportunity for the students to showcase their skills for a visiting group. About twenty young people from the Staunton and Harrisonburg Corps participated in the workshops.

The workshop began with a group session, with Bandmaster Kellner leading everyone in a “Breathing and Buzzing” session. The group then broke into groups by instrument, with members of the NCB providing instruction and guidance to the students. After the individual sessions, the group reassembled in the corps gymnasium, where there was a short concert, featuring the Harrisonburg Junior Band playing Abide with Me (arr. Robert Redhead) and the Staunton Singing Company presenting Lord, You’re Beautiful, both under the direction of Jason Collier. Items by the NCB included two classics by James Anderson, Goldcrest and Jesus Loves Me. The highlight of the afternoon was William Himes’ Classics in Brass, with the students accompanied by the NCB.

The band then packed up and moved a short distance to Memorial Baptist Church, the venue for the evening concert. The members of the church, lead by Pastor Temple Myers, were extremely gracious and accommodating to the band, including disassembling a part of the platform in the sanctuary in order to allow the band enough room. They also provided a wonderful meal to the band before the concert. There were several large displays of artwork from young member of the community on display in the lobby of the church, as well as some historic photos of the Staunton Corps and members through the years.

The concert began in rousing fashion with The Ambassadors (Peter Graham), immediately followed by the audience joining with the band to sing Joyful, Joyful (Steve Kellner). Words of welcome were then brought by the Divisional Commander for the National Capital and Virginia Division, Major Kelly Igleheart.

The next item was the duet Quicksilver (Peter Graham), featuring Noel Morris (soprano cornet) and David Delaney (cornet). After being ably represented by the duettists, the entire cornet section was featured at the beginning of the following selection, The Power of the Cross (Paul Sharman).

The Downing family has been a key part of the ministry of the National Capital Band for over forty years. The band’s principal trombone, Kevin Downing, is the second generation of that family to play in the band. Although still a student (he is currently a sophomore majoring in trombone performance at the University of Maryland), he is already a virtuoso performer. For this concert, he performed the jazzy solo Joshua, made famous by Bill Pearce and arranged for brass band by Kevin Hayward. The solo features extreme range, a variety of styles, and an amazing cadenza, at the end of which Kevin played an entire phrase in multiphonics – playing two notes (and sometimes three) at the same time.

Kevin’s performance was followed by an example of the Salvation Army’s music program in the Staunton area, as the young players in that program joined with the NCB for Classics in Brass. The band then concluded the first half of the program with William Himes’ suite To the Chief Musician.

After a fifteen-minute intermission, the band brought the audience back to their seats with a rousing rendition of The Firing Line (Bruce Broughton), followed by a congregational song, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (arr. William Himes). Another offering from the band in this section of the program was Leonard Ballantine’s big-band style arrangement Shall We Gather.

During the second half of the program, Major Sam Hearne recognized local leaders and members of the Advisory Board of the Staunton Salvation Army. In addition, the Mayor of Staunton, Lacy B. King, Jr., read a proclamation celebrating the centenary of the Salvation Army in Staunton.

Another highlight of the second half was Ray Houser at the piano. Houser is a long-time supporter of the Salvation Army in Staunton and, despite advanced age and failing health, is still able to pound out songs on the piano in a unique country-gospel style.

The National Capital Band ended the festival with two classic items from the pen of Dean Goffin. As Bandmaster Kellner pointed out to the audience, a unique feature of Salvation Army brass music is the meditation – a piece which examines and enlarges on a tune with a strong reference to the associated words. Perhaps the greatest expression of the meditation in the Salvation Army brass band literature is The Light of the World.

The final item of the evening was another masterwork by Dean Goffin, Symphony of Thanksgiving. One of the most challenging items in the entire Salvation Army repertoire, this piece, with its classical form and style, was a fitting end to a concert celebrating 100 years of service in the local community, and was met with extended applause from the nearly 400 people in attendance.

Following the postlude, The Risen Savior (Paul Kellner), the members of the band and audience were treated to an excellent reception in the church’s fellowship hall.

The band is grateful for the assistance provided on Saturday by Dave LaBossiere, who traveled down from Philadelphia to sit in on euphonium.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

On Sunday morning, the band returned to the Staunton Corps building to support the Sunday morning worship service and a Soldiers’ Rally and Birthday Celebration in the afternoon. There was some concern about the weather forecast, as a winter storm warning had been issued for the region by the National Weather Service, but the events continued as planned.

Before morning worship, the band provided some preliminary items, including Angelus (arr. Eric Ball), Jesus Loves Me (James Anderson), Laudes Domini (arr. Eric Ball), O How I Love Jesus and Lobe den Herren (arr. Eric Ball).

The service featured the Staunton Singing Company, led by Jason Collier, presenting Lord, Your’re Beautiful, the band playing The Light of the World (Dean Goffin) and Major Mark Woodcock, a former corps officer at Staunton, who sang Till the Storm Passes By and brought the message for the morning. NCB Executive Officer Major James Allison participated by enrolling three new senior soldiers into the Staunton Corps.

The afternoon meeting began a bit earlier than planned because of the snow forecast. The congregation from Staunton was bolstered by members of the Harrisonburg Corps and the Charlottesville Corps. The band started things off with The Ambassadors (Peter Graham) and The Firing Line (Bruce Broughton). The meeting was themed “Doors of the Past, Present and Future” and featured three speakers: representing the Past, Lt.-Colonel J. B. Matthews (who was the corps officer at Staunton for the 50th anniversary celebration); representing the Present, Home League Treasurer Jean DePriest; and speaking to the Future, Major Bruce Williams (also a former Staunton corps officer).

Following these presentations, the band’s principal trombone, Kevin Downing, performed the jazz solo Joshua (Pearce/Kaiser, arr. Kevin Hayward) before Lt.-Colonel Sandra Definbaugh brought a Bible message. Lt.-Col. Definbaugh, currently appointed as the Business Manager at National Headquarters, is a Staunton native and attended the corps as a girl.

The weekend was brought to a rousing and appropriate close with the band and congregation joining in O Boundless Salvation, with a “tag” consisting of Heavenly Gales and Praise God, I’m Saved.

Following the meeting, when the outside door was opened, it was evident that the threat of snow had materialized, with two inches already on the ground and more coming down. The members of the NCB quickly packed up, grabbed the box dinners which had been provided by the Staunton Corps, and headed back to the Washington area, fortunately not hindered much by the weather, which improved considerably as they traveled north through Harrisonburg.

The weekend was a great success for both the NCB and the Staunton Corps. The corps officers and members of the Corps and the Advisory Board are to be commended for excellent planning and organization throughout the weekend, which was evidenced by the attendance for the Saturday evening concert.

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report