Historic "Sounds of Liberty" Ring through Belarus, Eastern Europe

By Staff Sgt. Pamela Smith
USAREUR Public Affairs

News story photo
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Pamela Smith
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Kemper performs her solo during the Belarusian concert. For almost a decade Kemper's served as an artist and soldier for the U.S. Army. Kemper says, "Music is such a big part of my life."
During the month of April the melodies of spring filled the air from Lithuania to Poland as the U.S. Army Europe Band performed their “Sounds of Liberty” tour.

During the span of more than two weeks, the band traveled more than 4,000 miles but the highlight of the tour was the historic performance in Belarus. It was the first time in history that a U.S. military band ever performed in the Eastern European Country of Belarusa

“We have had several occasions where we're part of something historic, said Lt. Col. Thomas Palmatier, USAREUR Band commander. “I believe that my Soldiers understand we are doing something historic here.”

“It’s a great privilege to play for these people,” said Sgt. Keith Cantrelle, a clarinetist. “It’s a great opportunity to spread our good will through music. The best part of my job is playing the music and sharing my experience as a performer and Soldier.

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Great Patriotic War and more than 40 Belarusian veterans filled the front rows of the concert hall. Many of these men and women were wearing their military uniforms that they’d worn 60 years earlier.

“(One thing he will always remember is) when we played in Belarus and the vets from World War II came out (on stage) … that meant a lot,” Staff Sgt. Guillarmo Prado, a clarinetist, said.

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Kemper, a singer and flutist for the band, believes the performance in Belarus was definitely a defining moment in the tour. “Our performance made a very positive impact here and it’s what I love to do for a really good cause.”

“I’d have to say as the U.S. Ambassador in Belarusa, that every one of these talented musicians, singers and technical staff are every bit as an ambassador as I am because they’re presence out here does so much to help us build bridges between our people,” George Kroll, U.S. Ambassador to Belarusa said.

The USARER Band finished their show by performing several encores with the Belarusian military band. After the show, the present day soldiers from both countries called the vets on stage to shake hands and take photos.

“We’re here for democracy and freedom and if we can show that to the world, hopefully there won’t be any more wars to fight,” Prado said.

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