Band builds partnerships through music
Members of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band perform during the Music Show of the Nations at the OVB Arena in Bremen, Germany Jan. 23 – 27, 2013.. The focus of the five-day festival was remembering veterans of all nations that fought in World War I and World War II. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)
by Master Sgt. Steven M. Przycki
2/9/2013 - BREMEN, Germany (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band joined bands from seven other nations here at the Musikschau Der Nationen (Music Show of the Nations) Jan. 23 - 27 to remember veterans of all nations that fought in World War I and World War II.
The five-day festival, which was attended by 22,000 people, displayed how music can transcend culture and help nations create valuable diplomatic effects.
Bands from Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Mexico, Sweden, Austria and Russia participated in the festival. After rehearsals, five shows were presented to capacity crowds in Bremen's OVB Arena.
Lt. Col. R. Michael Mench, commander and conductor of the USAFE Band, led the band through several songs including selections from the Broadway show "Wicked" and Louis Prima's hit "Sing, Sing, Sing." After the performance, Mench explained the diplomatic effect the band had.
"We saw the souls of the countries expressed on the marching field and what lies in each country's heart was revealed to us in the interactions of the people," he said. "This building of partnerships united all of us."
Staff Sgt. Chantelle Friedman, USAFE Band clarinetist, echoed the colonel's sentiment.
"Music has long stood as a bridge between cultures because it is common ground, the world's only universal language," Friedman said. "It was amazing to watch the camaraderie develop into genuine friendships in just five days."
Earlier in the week, Isa Nolle, organizer and director for Volksbands Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge, led a group of commanders from each band to Bremen's city cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony at the gravesite of thousands of European citizens who lost their lives during the first and second World Wars.
"It was a moving moment to lay roses on graves of German soldiers," Mench said. "The Germans haven't forgotten about those who fought and died during World War I and II and the care they provide to their soldiers final resting place is very impressive."
The U.S. is committed to maintaining strong cooperative relationships with its allies in Europe. These relationships sometimes require gradual, incremental approaches often achieved through artistic, cultural exchange.
"For some of these folks, this is their first contact with Americans, and a first impression is a lasting impression," said Master Sgt. Charles Anderson, USAFE Band trombonist and NCOIC, as he reflected on the concerts.
"Two generations from now, these people will still see us for who we are and the impact will be fantastic," Anderson said. "Through music, we are able to put America's best foot forward and we get the opportunity to learn something new as well. That is something you just cannot put a price tag on. It is invaluable."
For more information about the USAFE Band, visit www.usafeuropeband.af.mil.