OKINAWA CITY, OKINAWA, Japan -- The crowd was silent as Marines took the stage. The Marine conductor raised his hands to start the closing act of the concert.
The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band performed in the Okinawa City Promenade Concert in Okinawa City, Japan, on Feb. 6 at the request of the Okinawa City Development Division director.
The concert was part of a program featuring eight concerts at Koza Music Town in Okinawa City. The program began in November and hosts local school bands from across Okinawa including the Kubasaki High School Band.
According to Moritsugu Matayoshi, director of the City Development Division, the program is to build a community of music through traditional Okinawan music, rock and jazz performances.
“We are promoting the city itself and bringing people to their shopping center,” said Matayoshi, an Okinawa City, native.
Matayoshi said the concerts do more than just draw a crowd to an area of commerce. The concerts help foster the artistic talents of local youth.
“We are trying to raise a need for musicians not only from Okinawa City but other cities as well,” said Matayoshi. “We want to provide more opportunities for those kids to play in front of an audience.”
Having the III MEF Band perform in front of local-school bands may inspire the young musicians to continue their pursuit of music, Matayoshi explained.
Sgt. Joshua T. Hulett, a flutist and piccolo player in the III MEF Band, said playing at local concerts gives them an opportunity to increase the bond between the local community and the base community.
Hulett said it isn’t a one-way street. The band gets something out of the performance as well.
“A big crowd really helps us out,” said Hulett, a Gardner, Kansas, native. “I think one of the problems is that we don’t get to play for big crowds very often and we can’t get the word out enough. We feel it gives us more of an impact and we feel happier having brought our musicians to more people.”
Both Marines and Okinawans are trying to create opportunities to experience each other’s culture. With their combined efforts, they could create harmony through music.