National Capital Band Returns to Lynchburg

For the second consecutive year, the National Capital Band journeyed southwest from Washington to the central Virginia city of Lynchburg for a weekend of performance and worship. The trip was the first engagement for the band under the direction of Bandmaster John B. Jones, who graciously accepted the leadership of the band at the beginning of February following an unexpected vacany. The venue for the weekend was Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The events began on the evening of Friday, February 20, 2004, with a special rehearsal held at the Fairfax Corps in Fairfax, Virginia. The band reconvened at the Fairfax Corps the following morning for the 160-mile trip to Lynchburg.

An audience of several hundred gathered at Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church on Saturday evening for the band’s concert. The performance was kicked off with Emil Söderström’s classic march Fighting for the Lord. Following an invocation by Major Todd Smith, the band’s Executive Officer, the concert continued with Joyful, Joyful, a contemporary arrangement by Leonard Ballantine, using the well-known theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg, Virginia

Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg, Virginia

Deputy Bandmaster and principal cornet Ian Anderson offered the first of several personal testimonies scattered throughout the concert. He then presented the cornet solo In the Love of Jesus (arr. Ray Steadman-Allen). The soloist has a special connection with this melody, as the writer of the song, William Hammond, was a long-time songster leader at his home corps of Derby Central in England. The solo was followed by a musical tribute, Stephen Bulla’s Armed Forces Salute, which is a medley of the official songs of the five branches of the US Military. A special touch was added to the work as those audience members who had served or had relatives who served in each branch were invited to stand when their branch’s song was played.

The next item on the program featured the band’s vocal soloist, Deborah Bearchell. With the band accompanying, she performed You’ll Never Walk Alone, from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel", arranged by William Himes. This was followed by an extensive time of personal reflection from Major Todd Smith. The band concluded this reflective portion of the concert with another work from the pen of Leonard Ballantine, I Know Thou Art Mine, a meditative setting of the hymn tune “Unsworth”.

The concert returned to an American theme with March Patriotica, an arrangement containing several patriotic tunes, composed by Stephen Bulla, who serves as the staff arranger for the United States Marine Band (and is also a former bandmaster of the National Capital Band). In a more relaxed mode, the band returned again to the music of Leonard Ballantine, in the beautiful arrangement ’Mid All the Traffic, based on the American folk tune “Shenandoah”. Major Christine Smith shared a personal testimony following this piece.

The last solo item of the evening was presented by principal euphonium Major Tony Barrington, who played the theme-and-variations solo Ransomed (George Marshall). This was followed by an example of the band’s technical skills in the performance of a transcription of Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8, op. 46. The arrangement is the middle section of the festival piece Melodies of Dvorak, transcribed and arranged by Ray Steadman-Allen. The concert concluded as it began, with an old classic march, in this case Victorious (A. W. Gullidge).

On Sunday, the band returned to Rivermont, joining with the congregation for two worship services. The band provided preludes and postludes, including How Sweet the Name ("French") (Ronald Tremain, arr. Donald Osgood), Love Divine ("Ave Verum") (Mozart, arr. Albert H. Jakeway) and In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie). The band’s featured item in each service was Richard Phillips’ arrangement of the well-loved hymn Amazing Grace.

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report