By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan
YOKOHAMA, Japan – Rear Adm. John Alexander, Commander, Task Force 70, presented the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Colonel George S. Howard Citation to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band, Yokosuka, during a concert at the Minato Mirai Concert Hall in Yokohama, Feb. 27.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music. The foundation presents the George S. Howard Citation specifically to military bands that demonstrate particularly significant high standards of musical excellence in concert performances.
“On behalf of the United States Navy, I would like to congratulate the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Yokosuka Band in winning the Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence,” said Alexander during a speech to the crowd of about 1,500. “The Sousa foundation presents a number of awards recognizing excellence in band performance both in the United States and abroad.”
Since 1988, this award has been given out more than 80 times, but only five times to foreign military bands.
The band played a two-hour concert to an enthusiastic crowd, including a march by Sousa. Alexander presented the award to the band’s conductor, Lt. Cmdr. Yoshio Higuchi, during an intermission.
“This is the first time that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band has won this award and after listening to their performance, I can see why they have earned this great achievement,” said Alexander. “We hope that, through events like this, we will continue to strengthen our U.S.-Japan relationship.”