USAREUR Band Participates in 50th Annual Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes

By SGT Blake Helander
US Army Europe Band and Chorus

News story photo
Photo credit: SGT David Devine
The USAREUR Band marches through the streets of Lourdes, France led by Sergeant First Class Christopher Hite (Drum Major).
LOURDES, France -- The US Army Europe Band performed at the 50th annual Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes, France May 23-24, 2008. Located at the foot of the French Pyrenee Mountains near the border of Spain, Lourdes is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. Each year, the small town welcomes millions of visitors who travel from over 150 countries to promote healing and peace and to enjoy the festivities of numerous outdoor concerts. Since the end of World War II, Service Members and military bands from around the world have participated in the event.

The USAREUR Band’s busy schedule included eleven performances in only two days for thousands of listeners. On the first day, the band marched in a military parade before playing a concert of American music near the cafes along the Gave de Pau River. That evening the band joined forces with a military band from Toulouse, France (Musique de la Region Terre Sud-Ouest) to perform marches from both nations and John Williams’ "Olympic Spirit". In spite of the rain, tens of thousands of spectators witnessed the performance in front of the famous Basilica of St. Pius X.

The following day the band provided musical support for a peace ceremony attended by military officials and civilians from all over Europe. Next, the band set up under a gazebo at a nearby park and attracted a large audience with some American jazz, marches, vocal standards and concert band literature. Later that afternoon, the band’s Musical Support Teams organized and performed throughout the town. The Rhein River Ramblers Dixieland Band entertained audiences as they marched through the winding cobble stone streets. Meanwhile, the Brass Quintet, Clarinet Trio and Woodwind Quintet cheered up local senior citizens at a nearby hospital. In the evening, the rock band Night Fire capped off the unit’s hectic performance schedule with a performance of their acoustic set in a packed hotel lounge.

The band returned home to Heidelberg, Germany on May 26th and got right back to work gearing up for the busy change of command season as well as their upcoming pops concert at the famous Heidelberg castle on June 29th.

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