University, III MEF bands share musical talents during concert
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- The University of the Ryukyus Wind Orchestra Band Club and the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band performed a joint concert May 9 at the Camp Foster Theater.
The musicians rehearsed and performed together as a way to strengthen relationships between the Okinawa and U.S. communities.
The concert performed before an audience of Okinawa and U.S. community members, featured a variety of Japanese and American music with each band showcasing different performances as a way to share the musical nuances of both countries.
“I don’t usually listen to classical music, but tonight the bands played some pieces I was familiar with, so it was very enjoyable,” said Kazuya Inafuku, an audience member and university student. “I think the friendship through music was great. I do think that music is a universal language, and it is something that anybody can enjoy. By playing together, I think they deepened their understanding of each other.”
Prior to the concert, the students and Marines shared a learning experience by practicing together. The personalities of both bands came alive during the concert as students danced on stage and one Marine even operated four instruments at once using his hands and feet.
“This is the first time we have gotten to perform a concert together, and I think that everyone had a great time,” said Gunnery Sgt. Shannon L. Farquhar, the enlisted conductor for the III MEF Band. “It’s an opportunity for our Marines to share with them what we do, and it’s an opportunity for us to learn what they do.”
The idea for the bands to perform together was presented by Yoshihide Ikemiya, a graduate of the university, who submitted the idea during a contest hosted by G-7, government and external affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. The contest invited Okinawa citizens to present ideas, which could further strengthen community relations between the Okinawa community and U.S. service members.
“I have many friends who are members of the University of Ryukyus Wind Orchestra Band Club, and they told me the band plays at various events outside the campus almost every month,” said Ikemiya. “When I heard about the contest, I thought it would be great if the III MEF Band and the university’s band could play together.”
The band members agreed that Ikemiya’s idea was a great opportunity for the Okinawa and military communities to come together.
“III MEF Band wanted to play with other musicians, so they were happy to hear about the idea for the concert,” said Ikemiya. “I wanted to promote a positive relationship between the local community and the Marine Corps, so I am really glad to see it happen.”
Although not everyone spoke the same language, the joint band was able to overcome the language barrier and make great music, according to Staff Sgt. Carlos Garza Jr., a section leader with the III MEF Band.
“The students are just like Marines because they are ready to adapt and overcome,” said Garza. “We passed out music sheets during rehearsal and needed someone to play piccolo, and students eagerly volunteered for the part.”
The musicians hope the concert will lead to future combined events, offering an opportunity to further cement the friendships started in the past few weeks, according to Garza.
“This was a great experience,” said Garza. “I’m looking forward to strengthening our relationship with the community here … and hopefully, in the near future, do more concerts together.”