In 1973, the Valley Forge Military Academy Band received an invitation to President Richard Nixon’s second inaugural concert alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. For me, the event is more of a blur than a memory. I do recall that Ron Youngs, who is the person responsible for recording nearly all the music here on this website, recorded the inaugural concert on a 3/4″, U-matic videotape. In fact, Ron was the first person I knew with a home VCR before there even was such a thing. Since we were all on stage in DC, that give me a chance a few days later to see what we looked like on TV.
Recalling that Ron had recorded this back when it aired, I asked him if he still had the tape. Turns out that he did and because of his outstanding relationships he’s built over the years, got the tapes digitized and sent the files to me posted here, along with a video recording of the Christmas concert the band did in Baltimore. [That one will be posted soon.]
For years, I’ve been trying to find some sort of visual evidence that we were even there. I called the Kennedy Center, I wrote to PBS, who televised the concert, and to the local DC newspapers, none of which produced a single thing.
We all owe Ron a huge debt of thanks for not just what’s already posted here, but for rediscovering these video recordings from 1973 and taking the time to get them digitized for this site. Please help me thank Ron for these wonderful clips in comments the section below.
Since my memory of the event is a little vague, I encourage all of you who were there for the concert either performing or watching at home to leave your memories of the event in the comments. Perhaps together, the VFMA Band brain trust can help piece together what has always been to me one of the most extraordinary events of my lifetime.
Also, just below the Kennedy Center video, you’ll find a local news piece from an unidentified Philadelphia TV station that documents the band’s rehearsal with Ormandy in Mellon Hall. I DO remember that event and there are still photos of that rehearsal here on BandSir.com
Rich Cappo was able to ID the newscasters: “Great quality! FYI, the local newscast of the rehearsal was from WCAU TV, channel 10. The anchor was John Facenda, was quite popular in those days.