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First-ever USAF Band Flash Mob
Col. Larry H. Lang conducts the Band's first-ever flash mob at the National Air and Space museum to kick off our holiday concert season (U.S. Air Force photo photo/released)
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Flash Mob! - A blog from beginning to end

Posted 12/6/2013   Updated 12/6/2013 Email story   Print story


by Technical Sgt. Kristin Bowers

12/6/2013 - Washington D.C. -- Nov. 26, 2 p.m.
It is rare that a large majority of the members of The United States Air Force Band are gathered in one place--but that is exactly what has happened today. It's time for the first rehearsal of the Band's first-ever Holiday Flash Mob. Some musicians are excited, some are leery--everyone wonders if the Band can pull this off. Rehearsal goes well, but nothing can be fully visualized until next week when the rehearsals move to the National Air and Space Museum. Until then, it is time to disperse for Thanksgiving--and to memorize the flash mob music, of course!

Dec. 2, 6 p.m.
The members of The United States Air Force Band are back from Thanksgiving, and ready to get in the holiday spirit with our first onsite flash mob rehearsal at the National Air and Space Museum. Some members busily work on final memorization of their music for the performance. Others marvel at the novelty of being in a museum after hours. Everyone is excited. The night progresses and rehearsal goes smoothly. Space is a bit tight with the number of performers, and many musicians wonder what they'll do if a spectator is in their place when it is time to perform. No flash mob can possibly go exactly as planned--read on to see how ours turned out!

Dec. 3, 7:45 a.m.
The National Air and Space Museum is closed, and it's time for the final rehearsal of the flash mob. After checking the sound and recording equipment, the Band successfully runs what will hopefully be a stunning performance at noon!

Dec. 3, 11:20 a.m.
Five buses arrive outside the National Air and Space Museum. Musicians file off, attempting to conceal their instruments and uniforms under civilian coats. As they enter the museum, they quickly make their way into designated "hiding spots." Many take the escalator downstairs to the parking garage below the museum. Here, musicians hand their instruments over to members of the United States Air Force Honor Guard who will keep them hidden until their exact entrance in the performance.

Dec. 3, 11:53 a.m.
The Air and Space Museum is buzzing with excitement. The United States Air Force Band members disguised in civilian coats roam the museum, acting as tourists. Observing a sign stating that there will be filming in the area, a group of tourists asks an employee what is being filmed. "Something big is happening in here in seven minutes--stick around!" the employee replies. A group of children speculate what the big surprise could possibly be. "I think they might be launching that rocket!" a young boy chimes. "Maybe we'll get to try on a space suit!" The crowd noise heightens as the clock inches closer to noon.

Dec. 3, 12 p.m.
A man walks to the center of the museum carrying just one chair and places it in an open area. Nobody seems to notice. Suddenly, one cellist removes a civilian coat to reveal his ceremonial uniform. He sits down and begins to play "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." A few close spectators turn and begin to listen. The cellist is joined shortly by the Band's commander and conductor, Col. Larry H. Lang, as well as a bassist and a handful of winds and strings who are each presented with their instrument by a member of the United States Air Force Honor Guard. The small group slowly turns into a mass of airmen musicians, each adding a new texture to the tune. From the balcony, two solo voices begin to float out over the crowds. They are joined by a host of singers lining the balcony railing. As "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" draws to a conclusion, the music changes. The tempo accelerates and as the key changes, a group of brass players in ceremonial uniforms sound a glorious fanfare from the balcony of the museum. This fanfare leads directly to a rousing rendition of "Joy to the World." The music fills the National Air and Space Museum and lights the faces of the audience members. At the conclusion of the performance, the final triumphant brass chord lingers in the museum long after the musicians have stopped playing. The audience erupts into applause.

Immediately following the performance, Colonel Lang wished spectators a happy holidays and invited them to come forward and meet the members of the band. Airmen musicians showed children their instruments, talked to tourists, and wished all a happy holiday season. One young talented girl even took a seat to play a tune on Senior Master Sgt. Eric Sabatino's harp. There was no denying it--the National Air and Space Museum was filled with the spirit of the season.

Dec. 5, 12 p.m.
Days after the flash mob, the holiday message first heard at 12 p.m. on Dec. 3, is spreading rapidly across the globe through social media networks. As this article is written, over 188,000 people have viewed the flash mob on YouTube alone. The lyrical cello melody, delicate choral voices and glorious brass harmonies all share the same message--Happy Holidays from your United States Air Force Band!

1/14/2014 1:38:54 AM ET
From the first time I met Lt - now Col - Larry Lang I knew he was a rising star. I recall his leadership of an outstanding performance in WWII Army Air Corps regalia in downtown Anchorage AK in about 1995. His talent and leadership were apparent. This performance shows he has continued to lead with distinction. Absolutely great job Larry.
Brad Peck USAF Ret., Pasco WA
1/9/2014 1:45:38 PM ET
I just saw the playback what a beautiful and elegant performance great job Thank you for your service and Happy New Year Breathtaking
12/24/2013 9:53:31 PM ET
I'm 66 years old and have never viewed such a Marvelous presentation. I made the Photo my Desktop Background and I'm playing Jesu on the PC with Foobar2000.Col. Larry H. LangGood Job Sir
H.E. Clarke III, Central PointOregon
12/19/2013 12:05:36 AM ET
I was always proud prior to seeing this video to be an Air Force vet but this has re-inforced my pride to see all these young vibrant musicians doing something that may be incorrect politically but thanks so much for your parts in making this holiday season so enjoyable for many of us former Air Force personnel. Go Blue
Jerry, Loveland CO
12/18/2013 7:40:45 PM ET
I cannot stop watching this marvelous performance. After 25 years with the Air Force this brings back the pride I have always felt. You represent what this great country is all about. God bless you and the great USA
Susan Marsh, ViolaWI
12/17/2013 2:21:06 PM ET
magnificent.....proud to bean american
myles lavelle, stony point.ny
12/16/2013 8:22:46 PM ET
That was an amazing performance - thank you so much. The Air Force couldn't ask for better ambassadors to represent the service.
Pete Larsen, Burlington VT
12/16/2013 10:05:51 AM ET
I sent this link as part of my Christmas e-card. Spectacular
Kathryn DeFazio, Pittsburgh PA
12/16/2013 9:30:41 AM ET
Thank You and Merry Christmas
Robert, NC
12/15/2013 3:17:25 PM ET
Thanks to all who worked as performers and behind the scenes to make this possible. It's a beautiful Christmas gift from the USAF Band and NASM to share with the world and the performance was flawless
Cranston Reid, Lubbock Texas
12/15/2013 3:16:58 PM ET
God Bless you all for providing such joyous tidings to us all. Your flash mob performance set such a joyous tone for the Christmas Season.
Chuck Gould, Warrenton Virginia
12/15/2013 7:13:39 AM ET
Tremendous I've watched the video repeatedly and am touched each time. Kudos and thanks to the USAF Band for an outstanding performance and gift to kick off the 2013 holiday season.
Rich Lang, Denver CO
12/14/2013 9:16:09 PM ET
What a wonderful joyful performance Made me so proud to be an Air Force vet and Air Force civilian. God bless you all for doing this
Joan, Colorado
12/14/2013 7:13:06 PM ET
Thank you thank you so much for such a lovely amazing gift. I will treasure it for the rest of my days. Absolutely stunning. Thank you again.
Christine, Clallam Bay WA
12/14/2013 5:44:57 PM ET
Amazing Merry Christmas to you all too.
karel, nv
12/14/2013 2:46:55 PM ET
I was married to the Air Force for 25 years and this last year it has been so difficult to watch as Christian Airmen and Officers have suffered persecution for upholding the values upheld by the military at the time they took their oaths of service. I salute who ever had this idea and those who pulled it off without getting their stripes and oak leaves in a serious crack. Jesu Joy indeed. AIR POWER Once a Chief's wife always a Chief's wife.
Paula Davis, Harlingen TX
12/12/2013 12:56:43 PM ET
Watched this a dozen times and it still brings tears to my eyes - BEAUTIFUL What I would have given to have been there. I was Navy but I salute the Air Force Band. Did I mention that this was absolutely beautiful
Harley B. Rider, Michigan
12/12/2013 7:59:58 AM ET
Was there the week before and what a thrill it would have been to see this in person. So happy to see it on the internet as it gave me chills. They really pulled it off beautifully. Bless those who serve and have served - thank you for your service. Whenever I see a person wearing anything to indicate service I stop them to offer thanks. Many are surprised and all are gracious.
Karen Bezman, Deerfield Il
12/12/2013 12:32:54 AM ET
I have watched this at least 6 times and I have cried each time. I am so proud to be an American. Thank you thank you thank you
Mike, CA
12/11/2013 9:47:13 PM ET
I am moved almost beyond words by this performance I have to admit that it literally brought tears to my eyes to see and hear such a beautiful rendition by our Air Force Band that gives honor to and recognizes The Lord as King during this Christmas season I wish I had been there in person and I want to thank Colonel Larry H. Lang Commander and Conductor and the members of the Air Force Band for such an awesome and soul stirring performance and video production.
Robert Hope, Macon GA
12/11/2013 7:47:36 PM ET
Loved it The music was exhilarating and captured the essence of Christmas.Made my day Thank you.
Paul Blasko, Vestal NY
12/11/2013 6:25:08 PM ET
My son just told me to view this. It was nothing short of wonderful. I wish I and my family was there.
Joe Duffin, New hampshire
12/11/2013 4:12:33 PM ET
Very nice job Very well done and in a classy tasteful manner befitting the dignity of the US military. Great idea whoever thought of that
CS, Virginia
12/11/2013 2:03:34 PM ET
Very Well Done
Fostermom27610, NC
12/10/2013 10:59:00 PM ET
This brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. You could not have picked a more appropriate medley. You have no idea how much this means to so many folks in the good ol' USA who believe in Jesus and the spirit of Christmas. Way to go USAF I along with millions am very proud of you Keep up the spirit.
Bob, West Virginia
12/10/2013 2:53:32 PM ET
Best. Christmas. Gift. EVER Thank you for awe-inspiring moving performance. Your choice of songs was especially beautiful and it brought home the true meaning of Christmas in a powerful way the mass of Christ. Thank you for your service and Merry Christmas
Jill, Michigan
12/10/2013 1:50:13 PM ET
Warren, Houston TX
12/10/2013 12:20:51 PM ET
From an Army retiree Thank you. You brought great credit upon yourselves the Air Force and the United States.
Pat Killian, Columbia SC
12/9/2013 9:23:55 PM ET
Bravo. My Sincerest Thanks for a job extremely well done.
Konrad Haskins, United States
12/9/2013 7:55:35 PM ET
While I have never served in the military as a musician I have always been amazed by the high level at which our Armed Forces bands and choruses perform. Bravo.
Tim Bowen, Atlanta GA
12/9/2013 6:54:01 PM ET
Awesome performance in every wayI don't see how with the ensemble so spread out in an echoing enclosure that you managed to keep it together so well but you didWould love to see more videos like this in the future
Steve Thomas, Dalhart TX
12/9/2013 6:23:53 PM ET
As an ex Air Force Blue suiter Go BlueOutstanding
Barry, west hills ca
12/9/2013 6:22:16 PM ET
Thank you for such beautiful music I found this very moving sharing joy is what music is all about and you have done this and so much more.
Kate, Brisbane Australia
12/9/2013 5:45:51 PM ET
A brilliantly designed and executed performance Very uplifting and inspiring May there be many more like it. Well-planned and well-publicized flash mobs could be an effective means by which American military units can send messages of joy and good will to all people of the world.
John M. Hingst, Florence MT
12/9/2013 10:17:21 AM ET
So very well done You pulled it off in typical spectacular fashion. I truly wish our family could have been there. USAF Honor Guard Band and Choir members make us all very proud. Thank you for your service and for sharing your talents. Keep up the good work
Ed, Atlanta GA
12/9/2013 10:14:09 AM ET
Inspiring glorious moving. So happy to be feeling these feelings of faith and gratitude for the men and women of our armed forces and for the message of hope in our divine origins.
John Wilkinson, United States
12/9/2013 9:52:17 AM ET
Brought tears to my eyes. Best Christmas gift of all.Fine musicians performing in the spirit of the times.
Derrick George, United States
12/9/2013 8:46:09 AM ET
very well done
dmacleo, maine
12/8/2013 7:00:32 PM ET
Wow Words completely escape me....
Steven Slone, Tyndall AFB FL
12/8/2013 11:46:58 AM ET
Merry Christmas to all God bless you for such a wonderful performance.
William, Illinois
12/8/2013 12:35:54 AM ET
First watched on Facebook and shared with others who really loved it. Watched again on USAF website and again thought the performance was fantastic and you really pulled it off. As a USAF veteran I compliment you and I am proud of Air Force Blue. By the way I used to love to march in a base parade when they had the band lead the parade. I had the chance twice at Scott and at Eielson.
Jim Winslade, Brighton Il.
12/6/2013 8:28:46 PM ET
Oh you pulled it off I received the link in the NASM update email I get regularly. This was simply awesome. I find myself watching it over and over. Incredible performance and video. And great choice of music for this joyous season Plus NASM is one of my favorite places. It all simply could not have been better. Thank you
Bill, Walkersville MD
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