By Master Sgt. Steven Przyzycki
The U.S. Air Force Academy Band was recently named the top military band in the Department of Defense.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation awarded the Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands to the Academy Band and its commander, Lt. Col. Larry Lang.
This international award is the highest honor that any military concert band can receive. All applicants are required to meet very specific and rigorous eligibility criteria resulting in a very competitive process.
“The committee fully recognizes this organization reflects the highest core values of the U.S. Air Force through excellence of all content requirements. The Air Force Academy Band is to be commended for its outstanding work for not only the Air Force, but the U.S. military,” said retired Col. Lowell Graham, chairman of the Citation of Musical Excellence Committee of The John Philip Sousa Foundation.
The committee evaluated several aspects of the Academy Band’s recent work, including reviewing recordings of the band from the past year, and several DVD selections from live performances as well as from the “Summon the Heroes” project produced for Veteran’s Day by Senior Master Sgt. Larry Hill, band superintendent. Adjudicating took place at the International Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in December.
“The Howard Citation is a great honor, and it was a great finish to a great year,” said Sergeant Hill. “This past year was full of triumphs for the Academy Band as it told the Air Force story throughout the nation with unwavering dedication to our Air Force and to our country.”
The Academy Band will continue its tradition of performing throughout the world with events in 2009 scheduled across the United States and in four foreign countries.
Colonel (retired) George Howard, for whom the citation is named, served as commander and conductor of The USAF Band in Washington D.C. from 1944 to 1963. He was elected president of the American Bandmasters Association in 1956 and became an honorary life member in 1984. From 1986, he served as honorary life president until his death in 1995.