URASOE, Okinawa, Japan -- Music is often called a universal language, and the ability to communicate for service members stationed overseas with neighbors in their host nation can be an invaluable experience.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 15th Band, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Southwestern Air Band and III Marine Expeditionary Force Band performed together March 17 during the 18th Annual Combined Concert at Tedako Hall in Urasoe City.
“Though we regularly play with the JGSDF, this is the first time for most of us to have all three bands play at the same time,” said Gunnery Sgt. Shannon L. Farquhar, the enlisted conductor of the III MEF Band. “Everyone is excited, and it is an honor to be able to perform with them.”
The concert featured a variety of performances from all the bands, including pieces of concert band music and music accompanied by traditional Japanese instruments and choreographed dances.
“Since I’ve been with the band, we’ve played three times with the JGSDF 15th Band,” said Sgt. Joshua T. Crissey, a euphonium player with the III MEF band. “We have a history working together, and we are all looking forward to putting on a good show.”
The bands coordinated with each other prior to the concert, enhancing the overall experience.
“At the beginning of the concert, (each) band performed musical works that they had rehearsed on their own,” said Farquhar. “By the end of the concert, members from each band came together to perform in unison with music we rehearsed together.”
The crowd was entertained through the bands’ charisma.
“The bands learn from each other and teach others consistently,” said JGSDF Sgt. 1st Class Sho Furusada, a band member with the JGSDF 15th Band. “Most of the time, we communicate through our mutual understanding of music. It has become a language understood by our musicians.”
The JASDF band offered a different variety of music for the concert, veering away from common concert hall movements in favor of jazz music.
“The air band’s presence for the concert really stimulated everyone,” said Furusada. “Having them play with the other bands has heightened our excitement in performing tonight.”
At the closing of the performance, the bands’ collaboration was met with thunderous applause that engulfed the auditorium.
“I had a wonderful night listening to the performances of the bands, especially the final performances with the bands combined,” said Kiyoshi Higa, a concert attendee. “We would like to see this more often.”
The bands came together after the performance to congratulate each other on their performances.
“It’s not just about having a good time or giving the audience a good performance, it’s about building relationships with the bands while learning from their experiences,” said Crissey.