‘Kick off the holidays!’ with WSO Billtown Brass, Salvation Army New York Staff Band

The WSO Billtown Brass Band will perform “Kick Off the Holidays!,” with special guest, the Salvation Army New York Staff Band, as part of the Victorian Christmas event at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Williamsport Area High School auditorium, 2990 W. Fourth St. The NYSB, called “America’s Foremost Brass Band,” performed with the Billtown Brass in 2008.

The concert was one of the highlights in the history the Billtown Brass, according to Rick Coulter, the band’s music director.

“The concert attracted an enthusiastic audience of over 400,” he said. “It featured a similar concert setup, where each group performed separately and then as a combined ensemble. For the audience, this was a unique concert where a local group, with a good reputation, was able to share a program with one of the world’s great brass ensembles. For the Billtown performers, it was a special day, where we were able to experience, first-hand, the high standards that we need to aspire to daily.”

“Kick Off the Holidays!” features seasonal and popular fare highlighting the power, beauty and majesty that brass bands are known for throughout the world. Each of the 28-member ensembles will perform separately and combine for a number of selections in a rousing finale.

The Billtown Brass will open the show with “Fanfare Jubiloso” by James Curnow, which features seven carols. Kevin Henry, a local teacher and performer, is the arranger for the next selection, a contemporary setting of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

In recognition of the Veteran’s Day holiday and the contribution made by those who have served and are serving, the band will perform “Hymn to the Fallen,” the haunting music from “Saving Private Ryan.”

“One of the reason that we use the phrase ‘Kick Off the Holidays!’ is so that we can include all of the holidays found this time of year,” Coulter said. ” ‘Hymn to the Fallen’ from the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ recognizes the Veteran’s Day holiday and is our way of thanking those who have served our country through military service.”

Coulter added that “An Australian Christmas” will introduce the audience to three little-known carols and “Yule Dance,” by Philp Harper, British composer and director of the internationally recognized Cory Band, features a unique mixture of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “In Dulci Jubilo,” “I Saw Three Ships” and “Sussex Carol.” The first third of the concert concludes with the Leroy Anderson favorite, “Sleigh Ride.”

The members of the NYSB each give freely of their time and effort while in the band. The band regularly schedules travel the third weekend of each month and has visited Cuba, the United Kingdom, Europe and New Zealand. The holiday performance will include selections from the extensive repertoire in the band’s library.

William Himes, retired music and gospel arts director at the Salvation Army USA Central, wrote two of the final selections. “Amazing Grace” and “Three Kings Swing” will be included, as well as “Ye Merry Gentlemen,” arranged by Dorothy Gates, composer in residence and a member of the NYSB trombone section. And finally, Billtown trumpet soloist Dave Bailey provided an arrangement of “Silent Night” that is inspired by the well-known jazz arranger Sammy Nestico.

“The holidays and brass are a perfect combination,” Coulter said. “The beauty, majesty and power of a brass band captures all of the fun, excitement and spirituality of the season. Add to that our special guests, the New York Staff Band, and the world -class performance they will bring to the day, and this will be a concert not to be forgotten.”

Tickets for “Kick Off the Holidays,” are available at the WSO office, Robert M. Sides and at the door.

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