by Sgt. Stephen Wylie
BAGHDAD – Soldier-musicians from the 4th Infantry Division Band and the V Corps Band performed a joint chamber music concert at the U.S. Embassy's Morale Welfare and Recreation Center in Baghdad Sept. 9 for the entertainment of a large military and civilian audience.
The program, entitled "Palace Winds," included two complete works by W.A. Mozart and one by Richard Strauss.
Conducting the joint woodwind and brass group were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Otha Wayne Hester, the 4th Inf. Div. bandmaster, who is a native of Hillsborough, N.C., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daryl Vail, the V Corps bandmaster, who is a native of Victorville, Calif.
The selections performed varied on the instrumental ensemble required. The largest number of musicians on stage at one time were for the "Suite in B-Flat," a four-movement classic by Strauss, as well as the "Serenade in B-Flat: Gran Partita," a 7-movement Mozart masterpiece, both written for 13 instruments. The Serenade in E-Flat Major", a 4-movement Mozart work, featured eight instrumentalists.
The joint venture was not the first time groups from the two bands have performed at the same event, but it did mark the first time a performance ensemble was made up of musicians from both bands.
Bringing musicians from the two Army band together was the concept of Sgt. 1st Class Wade Petree, 4th Inf. Div. Band, an oboe and clarinet player who hails from Roseville, Minn.
Petree said he realized that neither band had sufficient musicians mastering the necessary instruments to play the three challenging pieces, which his fellow 4th Inf. Div. band members had expressed a desire to perform.
"It was a unique opportunity," said Petree. "It is really rare to get that quality of musicians together anywhere – let alone in a war zone."
The combined group had eight rehearsals prior to the performance at the embassy.
The exceptionally successful blend of the two band's musicians surprised everyone.
"It was an entire coincidence that between the two bands it came out just right," said Staff Sgt. Heather Secora, 4th Inf. Div. Band oboe and bassoon player, who is a native of Southwick, Mass.
The 4th Inf. Div. Band has performed 10 concerts at the embassy, said Hester. Altogether, it has performed more than 250 concerts during the deployment, which is the second deployment for the 4th Inf. Div.'s Ironhorse Band in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"To play in combat is the pinnacle. No one likes war, but to perform here is great and spreading morale to the troops is the greatest thing we do," said Hester.
"I am very proud of the Soldiers and what they have accomplished. They have exceeded expectations," added Vail.
Although the V Corps Band, based out of Mannheim, Germany, has performed for
many dignitaries, its primary mission lies in providing music for the troops in areas that do not receive much entertainment, said Vail. The band has performed more than 300 concerts during its present deployment.
The Soldier-musicians said they were filled with pride about their contribution.
"This is why I joined the Army," said Staff Sgt. Scott Magnuson, a native of Astoria, Ore., who is a 4th Inf. Div. Band flute player. "It is very fulfilling to play for an appreciative crowd."
The assembled group of several hundred listeners appeared to thoroughly enjoy the entertainment.
"The audience was fantastic. It's great to see we are raising morale of military and civilians (who are) busting their butts every day," said Sgt. Amanda Goeke, V Corp bass clarinet player, 18, a native of Lusby, Md. "We get to pick up our instruments and do what we really love – we get paid to be professional musicians."
This work, 4th Inf. Div., V Corps bands breeze through U.S. Embassy with 'Palace Winds', by SGT Stephen Wylie, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.