As the sun set into the night of Stara Zagara, Bulgaria, the usual peace and quiet of the town was interrupted by the sound of music. A massive orchestration of percussion instruments, trumpets, brass and flutes filled the streets for every bystander to hear and enjoy.

The music signaled the arrival of the United States Army Europe and Africa Band & Chorus, as they toured through Eastern Europe for the 2021 Stronger Together Tour. As America’s musical ambassadors in Europe and Africa, the band got the opportunity to play alongside their host nation Allies and partners. On Sept. 1, 2021, the band played alongside Bulgaria’s very own 2nd Light Infantry Band led by Capt. Tsvetomir Rashkov Vasilev.

The set included American and Bulgarian musical pieces, including the national anthems of both countries.The concert was a wonderful display of how two groups can come together and create sounds and art that motivate and inspire the masses. It was a shining example of how unity and interoperability makes us stronger together.

U.S. Army Cpl. Ana Rodriguez put her heart and soul out for a solo performance of James Bond’s Skyfall theme. U.S. Army Sgt. Kayla Winslow performed O Mio Babbino Caro solo.
The entire band also lightened the mood with Star Wars music and their own instrumental rendition of Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel.

U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Yost, a percussionist in the band, found the experience worthwhile. “Military music is just fascinating to me,” said Yost. “So to be able to play military music with another military band from a different country was super rewarding and the cultural exchange between us was just amazing.”

As a token of appreciation, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Randall Bartel, commander of the band and primary conductor, presented Capt. Vasilev the first edition of the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Band & Chorus challenge coin. They also gifted him a photo of the entire band.

“My favorite aspect of this tour has to be the experiences that we get to be the fortunate recipients of meeting our host nations, our Allies, our partners, and strengthening our relationships with them,” said Bartel. “They are just tremendous hosts, friends and want to continue to do more [with them].”

The tour continued up to Brasov, Romania where the Barbarossa Winds, a woodwind quintet within the band, played in Peles Castle on Sept. 4, 2021. That group was able to receive a tour of the entire castle before their routine began, seeing the rich history and vintage pieces the castle offered. Hospitality is essential when working together with host nations and Allies, and the Romanians went above and beyond to provide the best environment for the musicians at the castle.

At the same time, the rest of the band played at Bran Castle, most famously known as Dracula’s Castle. They played in the courtyard with the massive historical structure overlooking behind them. The set that evening included a variety of American and Romanian pieces as a commemoration to the host nation.

U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Turner got the opportunity to conduct as well, orchestrating Slavonic Dance No. 1 by Antonin Dvorak and The Klaxon by Henry Fillmore.

The three performances were a glorious reflection of the U.S. Army values while operating with our NATO Allies and partners. The ability for two music groups in two different countries to play each other’s memorable themes and songs shows how much we care about each other’s heritage and values.

As the band continues to tour around Europe, the partnership and impact USAREUR-AF has with their NATO Allies and partners will continue to grow. The spirit, energy, and heart from the music is a powerful reminder of what the U.S. Army fights for every single day.

Date Taken: 09.01.2021
Date Posted: 09.18.2021 03:12
Story ID: 405372

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