On Saturday, May 6, 69 members of the Fork Union Military Academy Band and Retan Rifles competed at the 96th Annual Apple Blossom Grand Feature Parade in Winchester, Virginia. The Academy came home with two awards, the Most Outstanding Military School Band and the Most Outstanding Drum Major for the second-straight year in a row.
“This is an exhausting parade for any participant, but our cadets are a cut above the rest,” said Music Director John Warren. “Our cadets have spent multiple days over the last month and a half at three-hour practices to prepare. After an insane amount of hard work on each cadet’s part, we were able to repeat the results for the second year in a row. This shows just how far each of our cadets have come, both for our drill team and our musicians.”
The parade is a grueling two-mile march where both units march together to represent the Academy. Schools from all over the East Coast were in attendance to perform. During the parade route, the cadets must always maintain forward motion, continuously playing and spinning rifles.
Fork Union’s Drum Major this year is senior Matthew Moore. Moore is in his sixth year at the Academy and is attending the University of Lynchburg next fall to study art.
“As the Band Director and his TAC officer, I have seen Moore grow up into the amazing leader that he has become today,” said Warren. “His leadership has been instrumental in the development of each student in the band this year. On Saturday, he was able to impress the judges, resulting in bringing home the Outstanding Drum Major award, outperforming countless public and private school bands that also performed in the Grand Feature Parade. To say I am proud would be an understatement when looking at all he has accomplished over the past six years. His dedication to the Academy and to this band has pushed our reputation to a level higher than it has been in decades.”
During the weekend, not only did the Academy Band and Retan Rifles participate in this parade and win, but they were also included in the Queen Shenandoah Coronation escorting the princesses in all events and participated in the 2023 Alumni Weekend at the Academy.
“As the Director of the Band and Retan Rifles, I never imagined when I started directing last year that they would have come this far in such a short time,” added Warren. “Both groups had shrunk to almost nothing when I came back to work as a TAC officer three years ago. As an alumnus, it broke my heart. Together with every department on campus, we have given the cadets time, resources, and opportunities to perform that have nurtured each one of the cadets to achieve greatness. I’m so proud of every one of the cadets and I am excited to see what they have in store next year. If their tireless efforts have brought them this far, where can we go next? The cadets will have to answer that question.”