III MEF Band, University of the Ryukyus Wind Orchestra strengthen ties through music
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The theater was filled with the trill sounds of clarinets and flutes balanced by the low rumble of the bass drum. The notes were clear as the musicians prepared for a concert the multinational audience would not soon forget.
Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force Band and students of the University of the Ryukyus Wind Orchestra Band Club performed a combined concert March 14 at the Camp Foster Theater.
The event continued the ongoing friendly relationship between the Marines and university students. This marked the second such concert the two bands have performed together.
The III MEF Band is an important outlet into the local community, according to Gunnery Sgt. Francisco M. Gaxiola, the III MEF Band's enlisted conductor. The band often performs at community relations events, demonstrating to Okinawa residents that Marines are not just stationed on island, but are part of the community as well.
The university students were the first to take the stage. The band played Japanese musical pieces throughout its set, including a tribute to the popular Super Mario Bros. video game.
“I feel it was a very successful concert,” said Takeshi Takasaki, conductor of the University of Ryukyus Wind Orchestra Band Club. “Music is a universal language, and even though we played Japanese-style songs, everyone enjoyed themselves.”
Next, the Marines filled the theater with jazz music, including percussion and saxophone solos, which had the audience clapping along during the performance.
As the concert drew to a close, the two bands shared the stage to play together during the final set.
“Working with the (university students) during this event was a great experience for both of us,” said Cpl. David V. Kelley, a percussionist with the III MEF Band.
Although the III MEF Band and university students experienced some difficulties when communicating, sharing music helped break down the language barrier between the two bands.
“Collaborating with another band was a little struggle,” said Lance Cpl. Gaige T. Murillo, a clarinetist with the III MEF Band. “When working with the MEF Band, we are always practicing together and we know what everyone’s capabilities are. We only had two rehearsals with the (University of Ryukyus) band. Getting over that language barrier was a unique experience.”
Even with a limited amount of practice time, the Marines and university students were able to combine their talents and entertain the crowd.
“I am very happy that university students and Marine band members joined forces,” said Takasaki. “Even though we had some difficulty because we had long intervals between rehearsals, when I conducted the last song “Takarajima” (Treasure Island), I felt the unity between the two bands. It was a great success, and I felt really happy.”