The Brazil Concert Band and the Jackson Township Community Band under the direction of Matt Huber, completed a spectacular musical tour of Washington, D.C. June 22-25, 1998. The sixty-six musicians and forty-five friends and relatives left Northview High School at 10:00 p.m. following the Sunday night performance at the Forest Park Bandshell on June 21st. Transportation was provided by Turner Coaches with drivers Dick Hess and Terry Graham taking the band as far as Breezewood, PA, and drivers Marshall Nuckolls and Ray Dilley taking us on in to Washington, D.C. Marshall and Ray did a great job. We gave them band hats and they became part of the group.
The travelers were in high spirits anticipating the musical performances and sights which awaited us. Videos proved quite popular through the night with "Brassed Off", an English movie about a brass band with characters very similar to the ones in our musical circles, "Independence Day" and, of course, "Stars and Stripes Forever", the story of John Philip Sousa.
We reached our Nation's Capitol at 12:45 p.m. Monday, June 22 and stayed downtown at the Holiday Inn Central. Melanie Huber was bus and hotel coordinator and did a magnificent job handling our 111 people, the hotel staff and the bus company. Ann Gibson took care of finances and Ann and Darlene Shepard made sure everyone had music; 60 folders each containing over 30 selections. It was all there--1,800 pieces of music. My assignment, besides organizing and directing this wonderful group of musicians, was making arrangements to perform at the Capitol Building, Congressional Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and at the Brazilian Embassy.
This trip was a year in the making, ever since we performed for the rededication of the Chafariz dos Contos Fountain in Forest Park. Congressman Ed Pease called and invited us to Washington within the week. Special permits were required from the Capitol Police, the National Park Service, and the staff from Congressional Cemetery. It was after this that I received a letter of invitation from Antonio Goncalves, Minister Counsel of the Brazilian Embassy, stating the Ambassador himself, Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima requested a performance. Lots of phone calls and e-mail!
After finally checking everyone into our hotel, the musicians and friends were on their own for sightseeing that afternoon and evening. One couldn't go anywhere without seeing a familiar face! We strolled the short distance to the White House where we saw heavily armed "men in black" patrolling the grounds of the President's home. From there, we visited the Washington Monument which just reopened after interior renovation. The night time view is awesome! Most of us dragged back to the hotel by midnight. After all, we had our first concert in the morning!