Island military musicians band together for appreciation concert

| May 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
The combined-services band performs during the 29th Annual Joint-Military Service Band Appreciation Concert at the Hawaii Theatre, Saturday.

The combined-services band performs during the 29th Annual Joint-Military Service Band Appreciation Concert at the Hawaii Theatre, Saturday.


Story and photo by
Kristen Wong
Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Public Affairs
HONOLULU — “FIRE!” yelled service members dressed in formal military attire.
For a few moments, the stage at Hawaii Theatre was transformed into a battlefield as the loud boom of military band drums mimicked the sound of gunfire during the 29th Annual Joint-Military Service Band Appreciation Concert, here, Saturday.

In celebration of Military Appreciation Month and Armed Forces Day, military bands from the four main branches stationed in Hawaii, as well as the Army National Guard, merged into a musical group of more than 60 service members, providing an evening of free entertainment to the public.

Hosted by the Hawaii Theatre Center and the Honolulu Navy League, the concert included performances by the 25th Infantry Division Band; 111th Army Band; U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band; and the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band.

“These men and women (literally put their lives) on the line for us,” said Burton White, the artistic director and general manager of Hawaii Theatre. “(Because) we have a month and a day that’s dedicated to (military appreciation), we should pool our resources together and sponsor an event that highlights the month and reminds everybody, at least once a year, that the freedoms that we enjoy (come) at a great cost.”

Each year, one military branch serves as the lead band for the concert. This year, the Air Force took charge of the program. The branches managed to fit in three rehearsals before the concert.

The concert featured pieces from various eras, from “In the Mood” by Wiggy Manone, Andy Razaf and Joe Garland, to “None So Beautiful as the Brave” by Gino Vannelli.
The bands paid tribute to the 150th anniversary of Arlington Cemetery, which was established in May of 1864 in Virginia, by performing “American Civil War Fantasy” by Jerry Bilik.

Part of the concert also included a short video made in Afghanistan, giving the audience a brief taste of a military musician’s experience on deployment.

“(Bringing the services together for a concert is) a great way to show a small island community like Oahu how many services are represented on their island,” said Air Force Capt. Haley Armstrong, the commander of the USAF Band of the Pacific. “The community can’t (access) our bases, so this is a chance to really demonstrate our presence and thank them for their support.

“(Joint-service concerts are) good for our military musicians because it gives us a chance to work and train together and learn from each other,” Armstrong continued. “Each service is very different in its mission and goals, but music is universal. It is great we can use music to get together and share what our service is working on and what makes us unique.”

“(Active duty musicians) have to do the same training during the year, as well as being professional musicians, and it’s terrific,” said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Hank Stackpole, who attended the concert. “We hear sometimes from Congress why (does the military) need musicians? That’s our spirit, our song.”

During the second half of the concert, Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps musicians gathered at the front of the stage to sing each branch’s official song. Audience members who served or are currently serving stood when their branch’s song was played.

As the last song finished, the crowd gave a standing ovation, calling “Hana Hou!” to the stage, hoping for an encore.

Armstrong smiled, and agreed to play one more: “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

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Category: Community, Community Relations

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