Bands orchestrate community friendship
OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa, Japan -- The low hum of conversations in a concert hall filled to capacity suddenly quiets as overhead lights dim and announcers introduce the conductors, marking the beginning of a unique concert.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 15th Band joined efforts with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band to perform at the 18th Annual Combined Band Concert Sept. 14 at the Okinawa Civic Hall, Okinawa City.
During the event, each band performed three musical pieces separately, followed by two pieces and the encore as a combined band.
“Combining the bands helps us connect with the whole audience and with each other,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Heather H. Song, a musician with the III MEF Band. “We can bring people together as we get closer ourselves because we have something amazing in common; the universal language known as music.”
Seeking to realize the full potential of the concert, both bands prepared tirelessly to prepare and perform to the best of their abilities, according to Song.
“Going into it, I was a little nervous because we were having rehearsals day and night,” said Song. “It turned out to be a lot of fun though, and it was very rewarding interacting with the Japanese band.”
Members of both bands also used the concert as an opportunity to grow personally and professionally, according to JGSDF Sgt. Makoto Nakazawa, a musician with the JGSDF 15th Band.
“Besides talking about our playing, we shared stories about our bands and cultures,” said Nakazawa. “The stories of the III MEF Band and their travels to other countries remind us that music is a universal language.”
Organizers of the popular concert ran-out of free tickets four days before the event, but concert organizers allowed additional guests to attend in standing-room-only areas, according to U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Justin A. Billingsley, a musician with the III MEF Band.
The event served as an opportunity to further one of the III MEF Band’s mission statements; friendship through music.
The performance brought members of the community, the Marines and the JGSDF together, building a bridge between the three communities, according to Nakazawa.
After taking their final bow, the band members now look forward to the next time the two bands can perform together, according to Song.
“The concert was definitely a fantastic experience, and I pray that I get to be a part of more combined concerts,” said Song. “I think one of the most precious things we can have is a relationship with our counterparts (from Japan).”