Spring Tour 2007 : USAREUR Band in Romania and Bulgaria

By SPC Blake Helander
USAREUR Band and Chorus

News story photo
Major Andrew J. Esch Conducts the USAREUR Band in the Balkans
The US Army, Europe Band returned from a successful 7-city tour through the Balkan nations of Romania and Bulgaria in May. An important mission of the USAREUR Band is to be musical ambassadors throughout Europe. The band is the largest of the US Army Bands stationed overseas and regularly performs friendship concerts throughout the continent. USAREUR Band organizes a spring tour annually, and chose Romania and Bulgaria this year. The goal of this mission was to highlight the increased sprit of cooperation between all three nations. The band’s arrival in the coastal Black Sea town of Constanta, coincided with joint military training operations between the US and Romanian Air Forces. In addition to Constanta, the USAREUR Band performed to capacity crowds in the Romanian cities of Braila and Galati and the Bulgarian cities of Rouse, Sophia, Veliko Turnovo and Varna.

The Commander and conductor of the USAREUR Band and Chorus, Major Andrew J. Esch, selected a diverse program. The concerts included symphonic and marching band literature (Phillip Sparke’s “Sunrise at Angel’s Gate” and W.P. Chambers’ “Chicago Tribune” March), big band favorites from the WWII era (Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”) and a performance by the popular Rhein River Ramblers Dixieland Band. The program also showcased several of USAREUR Band’s talented soloists. Staff Sergeant David Martinez performed Bert Truax’s virtuosic “Celebration for Trumpet” and clarinetist Sergeant Yevgeni Levin gave an uncanny impersonation of Benny Goodman in the medley, “Memories of You”.

Vocal performances by Sergeant Kira Kamensky (“I’m Beginning to See the Light”) and Staff Sergeant Jeff Wieck (Captain Scott McKenzie’s arrangement of “Zoot Suite Riot”), had the crowd on their feet. One audience member, Mr. Vicentiu-Mirel Racoreanu, penned a letter to the band after attending the USAREUR Band performance in Braila, Romania. “I was really moved by your beautiful music and your presence”, he wrote. “It was a memorable evening and your music reached the target: our souls.”

Two of USAREUR Band’s small ensembles, the Rhein River Ramblers Dixieland Band and the Brass Quintet, performed an informal outdoor concert in the town square of Rouse, Bulgaria. This event drew a large crowd from the nearby park and outdoor cafes.

In spite of the demanding travel and performance schedule, the group did find time to experience some of the local cultures and traditions of Romania and Bulgaria. After the concert in Galati, a reception for the band members featured delicious Romanian food and a folk band with live dancers in traditional dress. In Bulgaria, the band members found a little time out of the busy schedule to witness the nation’s beautiful monasteries and the Black Sea beaches.

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