Monday, June 1, 2015

News: Navy Band members build CP-15 partnerships through music


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kameren Guy Hodnett, Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs 

COLON, Panama - The "bop-bop, be-op, bop-bop" blaring sound of a trumpet and the "boom, tshhh, boom-boom, tshhh" rhythm of a drum represent a musical language that can connect people from all cultures and nationalities. That is the "language" members of the U.S. Fleet Forces Band "Uncharted Waters" are sharing with others during Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).

"Uncharted Waters", a modern brass band designed to perform in expeditionary environments, embarked the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in April to support the six-month humanitarian-civil assistance mission to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

While they may not be providing medical care or renovating buildings, they do bring something unique to the mission. The band has facilitated subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs), conducted musical workshops and performed concerts in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica and Nicaragua.

"The band builds partnerships in a different way than the CP-15 medical outreach and the construction efforts," said Ensign Joel Davidson, the band's director and a native of Pflugerville, Texas. "In many ways, we are still influencing the lives of host nation residents. Music has the ability to break through so many barriers. The concerts and the workshop engagements with the children provide a depth of interaction with the host nation citizens that is truly unique." 

Musician 2nd Class Vincent Moody, a native of Severn, Maryland, and a trumpet player, creates musical arrangements for the band, tailoring popular music and incorporating the bands various instruments.

"I really enjoy when everything comes together and seeing audiences react to our music," said Moody. "There is no greater reward than experiencing a person's joy and knowing it was because of our music." 

The ten-member band is composed of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, tubas, guitars and drums. When combined, they have the capability to perform multiple styles of music ranging from modern contemporary to traditional ceremonial. They are trained to perform in expeditionary environments often with no electricity, allowing them to provide musical support to enrich U.S. community relations and public diplomacy objectives.

"We play music at schools, orphanages, and sometimes, on the streets in local villages, and the people are receiving a positive message from this mission," said Musician 3rd Class Brent Marquart, a trombonist and native of Houston, Texas. "We are providing entertainment, but also sharing our ideas about music and witnessing how they perform using indigenous instruments. When they go back home, they may tell their parents or their friends, and spread good words about this mission."

Trumpet player Musician 1st Class David Gonzalez, a native of Killeen, Texas, said one of the highlights during this deployment is being able to participate in the workshops and SMEEs, teaching the children about music. In Nicaragua, Gonzalez said it was exhilarating for him to communicate with the children through music and see how fast the students were able to comprehend what the band members showed them.

"Nicaragua has probably been the most memorable experience of this deployment for me," said Gonzalez. "We visited several villages where they performed their local music for us - that was truly amazing! We not only got to experience the instruments they played with, but also got to perform with them. It was a once in a lifetime experience."

The band has additional concerts and SMEEs planned for the remaining countries on the CP-15 mission, including Colombia, El Salvador, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Haiti and Panama.

Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

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