DANBURY – The Stokes County Arts Council will present “Christmas in Brass”, a holiday concert this Saturday at 2pm at The Arts Place with the New Danbury Cornet Band.
The group is made up of Olivia Shelton on alto horn, Brent Jones on cornet, Mike Teague on tenor horn, Andrew Young on bass horn, Stanley Scott on baritone and Steve Shelton on second baritone.
The Christmas program will include traditional favorites such as “As the Shepherds watched their flocks by night”, “Angels from the Realms of Glory”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “Jingle Bells” “,” “The Angels We Heard Above”, “The Good King Wenceslas”, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, “The Polish Carol”, “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”, “Ding Dong Merrily on High “,” The Christmas Song, “” It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas, “and” You’re a villain, Mr. Grinch. “
The restored harmony instruments are identical except for size and height, and are called “Saxhorns” after Adolf Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. They have “top-acting rotary valves” that operate by means of springs and strings, similar to a modern-day French horn. None of the original cones have survived, except for a horn bell found in the attic of a Danbury residence. The horns are on permanent loan to the Stokes County Historical Society, which funded their restoration after their discovery.
And yes, Virginia, there was an “Original” Danbury Cornet Band. In 1882, a group of Danbury citizens collected donations to purchase a brass ensemble to form a “Cornet Band.” The instruments were ordered from Ludden and Bates in Savannah, Georgia.
The group was organized by the leader of The Danbury Journalist, a Mr. JW Duggins. Important local names were among the members, including Martin, McCanless, Pepper, Taylor, and RB Glenn (a local lawyer who would be elected governor of North Carolina in 1905).
The band gave their first gig just weeks after the instruments arrived and would be invited to perform at various events in Stokes County, including graduation drills at the Dalton Institute.
The highlight of the group appears to be leading the parade in a large July 4th celebration in 1883. Commercials were subsequently taken in The Danbury Journalist listing the group as available for hire. Alas, the group was short-lived, with the Journalist lamenting in 1886, “What happened to the Danbury Cornet Band?