In 1909, a series of “grand concerts” to celebrate William Howard Taft’s Inauguration featured twice the Philippine Constabulary Band. (A few years earlier, Taft served as Governor-General of Philippines and the band–Col. Henry Allen’s idea–was formed during Taft’s administration.) Here are photos of pages from the original program.
On Inauguration Day, in middle of a blizzard, the band bravely participated in the Inaugural Parade. “Notwithstanding the members of the band come from a land which is almost tropical, they were astir early yesterday morning and soon on their way through the slush and almost blinding snow to perform their duty in heading the first division that escorted the President-elect from the White House to the Capitol…”
The Evening Star wrote. The band received a very warm welcome, winning “applause through the entire route of the inaugural parade” and causing much excitement thanks to their “handsome appearance and splendid martial music.”
John Philip Sousa once said about the band, “These Filipinos play my music better than any other band I know of.” He conducted the band at the 1915 San Francisco Fair. He said, “When I closed my eyes, I thought it was the US Marine Band playing.”
The band’s conductor, Col. Walter Loving, was a former DC resident and the son of former slaves. He grew up in a DC neighborhood that is now the Gonzaga football field. He composed the “Philippine Carnival Two-Step”, the theme of the famous Manila Carnivals (1908-39).
Click here to listen to the band’s 1910 recording of “La Sampaguita”:
Click here to listen to Loving’s composition: http://www.ragtimemusic.com/songhtm/carnival.htm
Photo Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Inaugural Program: Private collection