USAREUR Soldiers' Chorus performs in Ukraine

By CPT Aaron Morris
USAREUR Band and Chorus

News story photo
Photo credit: Igor Bodnar
USAREUR Soldiers' Chorus performs in L’viv, Ukraine holding the American flag with the colors of the flag of Ukraine.
The United States Army Europe Soldiers’ Chorus recently completed a 10 day tour with performances in Germany, Poland and Ukraine. During this tour the Chorus performed for the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army as well as Soldiers and senior leaders from over 15 countries. The highlight of the tour was a performance in L’viv, Ukraine.

The United States Army Europe Soldiers’ Chorus participated in Rapid Trident, an annual multinational training exercise held in Ukraine. This was the first time American Soldiers had been in Ukraine since the conflict in their country began. As part of their participation in the exercise, the Soldiers’ Chorus performed a concert in the heart of the Ukrainian city of L’viv.

The concert was held outdoors at the Taras Schevchenko Monument in the city center for an audience of over 5000 people. The opening act for the Soldiers’ Chorus was the Ukrainian Presidential Orchestra who came from the capitol city of Kiev just to be a part of this historic performance.

The Soldiers’ Chorus performed a two-hour concert full of the best in pop music. From Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars; Guns and Roses to Pharrell Williams - American music and culture were on display.

The audience packed in from all directions, encircling the outdoor stage to be as close as possible to the Americans. This was the first opportunity for the people of Ukraine to connect with their American allies, and they seized the opportunity. It did not matter whether they were 8 years old or 80, all were clapping, dancing, and singing along with the high-energy show.

The performance concluded with a powerful message from the Soldiers’ Chorus that moved some in the audience to tears. CPT Aaron Morris, the producer of the Soldiers’ Chorus, came to the stage to introduce the final encore “Lean on Me”.

“There are times when we all face challenges and hard times,” CPT Morris said. “And although we may be strong, there are times we need help to carry the load. During those times we know where we can turn for help: our families, our friends, and our allies. This next song is how we feel about the great people of Ukraine.” During “Lean on Me” the Soldiers of the Chorus held a flag of the Stars and Stripes that, instead of red, white, and blue, wore the blue and yellow colors of the flag of the Ukraine. Hundreds of smartphones and cameras shot up from the crowd so that they would not forget this memory.

Following the performance, the audience spent over an hour talking and taking pictures with the American Soldiers. The Ukrainians gave gifts, hugs, and tearful smiles of appreciation.

After the stage was cleared and the Soldiers’ Chorus loaded the bus to depart, much of the audience was still there. They did not want to see the American Soldiers leave. As the bus pulled away, the Ukrainians reached their arms in the air to wave goodbye and to display American flags, keeping their eyes on the Americans until the bus finally turned out of sight.

Following the concert national media outlets in Ukraine ran the good news story of the Soldiers’ Chorus performance in the city of L’viv. While the performance may have happened in L’viv, the entire country received the message: America is here and we are with you.

Check out the Ukrainian television news piece here: http://youtu.be/CK4QLUdmVFA

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