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What is your most memorable Christmas concert??



 
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falado
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 1:49 pm    Post subject: What is your most memorable Christmas concert?? Reply with quote

Have you ever had to play a concert on Christmas day? I was in contact with an old friend of mine. We were trumpet players stationed together with the Third Marine Division Band on the Island of Okinawa, Japan in 1978 and 1979. As we reminiscing about our Marine Band days for a few minutes he said, “Do you remember that concert we played on Christmas Day on Okinawa?” Of course my answer was yes, how could I forget that?

We had already performed the band’s annual Christmas concert and were winding things down at the band room preparing for our Christmas liberty. During a formation we were informed that liberty (time off) would be canceled Christmas day and we would be performing another concert. The rumors started flying as we were curious as to where and for whom would we be playing a concert on Christmas day. We soon found out, this concert would be at a Leprosarium. This came as a shock because most of us assumed leprosy had been conquered and that leper colonies were a thing of the past; we were mistaken.

Christmas day came and we loaded the truck and the bus and headed for the Leprosarium located at a remote area on the north end of the island. The trip seemed to take forever and to ease the tension some of my fellow Marines were cracking jokes and making light of the situation. This soon came to an abrupt halt as we wound down a dusty dirt road and the large white sign appeared announcing our arrival at the Leprosarium. The bus became completely silent. We just gazed at the buildings and scenery as we pulled up to their small auditorium.

We stayed on the bus as the band’s conductor went into the building. He soon emerged and we began to unload the bus and truck. It was amazing how unusually silent we were as we set up for this event. We were soon ready to play and people began to enter the auditorium. The seats filled quickly and we could see our audience consisted of staff and the residents. Some were dressed in white and many of the patients wore white bandages on their heads and limbs.

We performed our Christmas concert and, from the delight of this audience, we received much applause. Once again we were goodwill ambassadors and, after all, this was part of our job and in full spirit of the season. Although the location was as different as anything I had ever done before and it was Christmas day, we probably didn’t think much about the concert we just finished.

As we were packing up our instruments and equipment something extraordinary happened. We suddenly noticed that the people, for whom we just finished performing, surrounded us in a large circle. As if on cue, they began to sing “Silent Night” to us in Japanese. The moment was so stirring that we all stopped and listened. When they finished we applauded and it was quite noticeable that all of my fellow Marine bandsmen, including myself, were in tears. These Marines who started the day joking and complaining that their Christmas liberty had been ruined were now all blubbering. We gave these unfortunate people a little music, joy and laughter and they in turn touched our hearts with a reminder of what Christmas is about, giving. Their gift to us was far greater than any music we could have performed. After we finished packing we spent some time trying to converse with some of the people for whom we had just performed. Though they had a dreaded disease, they possessed a human spirit that I’ve seldom witnessed.

This Christmas day turned out different than what we imagined, but the time came for us to leave and we all waved as we departed in the bus and truck. As we were leaving one of the Staff Sergeants (Trombone player!), who always had these last minute “great” ideas, wanted to take a picture of the Leprosarium sign. The bus stopped and let him out. When he got close to the sign and began to take his pictures, our bus driver put the vehicle in gear and started down the road. Some of us got pictures of the young Staff Sergeant running after the bus with the Leprosarium sign in the background.

I’ll always remember that day and the people to whom we brought a little joy. During my military career I had the opportunity to perform concerts in many areas of the world. My favorite performances were those at schools and orphanages or wherever we could bring a little music, joy, and laughter. It reminds me that no matter how bad you might think you have it, life is better here in the U.S.A. than anywhere else in the world.

What was your most memorable Christmas concert? I still remember that Christmas day. As for my most memorable Christmas concert, read the story again.

Dave Falardeau
MUCS, USN (Ret.)
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful story, I have two related incidents to what you mentioned.

In an Air Force band in Tokyo, we had finished our biggest Christmas Concert, ready for our semi-annual time off, when a Colonel we had never seen, called us together and announced that we were leaving early the next morning for Viet Nam. So much for vacation. We spent Christmas Day giving a concert in that war-torn country at the height of the war ('67?). Played during the build-up of the infamous Tet Offensive. Fighting everywhere. We joked that, on our tour, that we played everyplace Bob Hope wouldn't.

I don't know if we played the same leper colony, or not, but it was also in remote Okinawa. The Commander was a dunce and at one point in the concert, turned to the audience, smiled and did a little dance, and clapped his hands. "Clap your hands just like me", he said. We died of embarrassment at the insensitivity. You can figure the rest out.
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falado
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Kehaulani, that’s a good story too. I think that’s the only colony on the island so we probably walked on the same dirt. That’s a good ways from Kadena Air Base. Hope your bud had AC, ours didn’t. I also worked for a band officer who didn’t have a clue about his audience, but that’s a different story.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A/C, what's that? We didn't even have it in Japan (Tokyo BTW).

Just as a side comment, humidity and heat in Japan and Okinawa was brutal. I remember playing a gig in summer in Okinawa where everything was so soaked with humidity, that my music accordioned down the stand into a crump.
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falado
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2020 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The band barracks did not have AC on Okinawa. I lived in an open squad bay where we made cubicles with the lockers. My rack, bed, was covered in mosquito netting and was grateful to have a fan. Did a lot of diving in Ken Bay. The band rehearsed in the base theater. Besides the headquarters building, the base theater, a big quonset hut, were the only buildings with AC on Camp Courtney. The humidity was so bad you couldn’t dry off after a shower from March until December. We were on tropical hours during the summer. I lived with bottles of Tinactin. We did PT before the sun rose. I remember many mornings the ground would be steaming as we marched to the flagpoles to play morning colors. We played colors 6 mornings a week, different base each morning, unless we were on a band trip.

We used to like doing jobs on Kadina air base so we could eat in the Air Force chow hall, affectionately known as Howard Johnson’s. We would occasionally fly to Mainland Japan to MCAS Iwa Kuni to perform parades or concerts. I enjoyed those trips, except for staying in the transit barracks, no heat in the winter. Got to visit the Peace Park in Hiroshima. That left quite an impression on me. We also ventured out to Taiwan while I was there. Unfortunately one time was on the same weekend President Carter started diplomatic relations with China. Lots of memories, many good, many character building , I played many gigs with a horn band called Sounds of Freedom. We regularly played at the Rocker Club and the Banyan Tree on Kadina. Did a 2 week tour with the Platters while there. That was fun.
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blbaumgarn
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:06 pm    Post subject: What is your most memorable Christmas Concert? Reply with quote

You two gentleman have great stories. Mine is meaningful to me, but humorous compared to yours. Where I lived for years they have a Pioneer Village as part of the fair grounds and in December each year they open it up on saturday evenings for visitors and on the last saturday before Christmas they started doing a church service in the small church that had been reassembled there. The first time we played (some members of the community band) it was warm for December in the high 30s. Just great and people packed in to the building and we got a sense of our forefathers dealing with winter on the great plains. The next year we had some snow and frigid temps, about 5 below on saturday night when we were to do the church service. They fired up the wood burner to the max and everyone piled in the church. The pastor had vapor flowing from his mouth and in order to play the old organ it had to be pumped (that's just the way it was), The band played two or three short carols, the organ led those there in a couple more. The pastor had a "short" but wonderful Christmas message. Well, we had sat for a long time before the end of the service and was supposed to accompany the old organ in the final hymn. Our director, God Bless him, said "he can transpose, no problem." I was so cold I really didn't think I could play. Well, it all worked out OK. And when the service was over people were very gracious to all the musicians. It gave me an appreciation for what those who lived in the northern plains in the late 1800s and early 20th century did to live and moreover to worship! It's funny how some of those things we feel are a disaster when we experience them end up being blessings later in life. My ex, who is an oboe player, said "I am glad it was you and not me!"
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falado
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi blbaumgarn, nothing like a cold horn and mouthpiece. In my military musician career I’ve done heat and cold. The coldest was in January of 1981. I was in the 2nd Marine Air Wing Band at Cherry Point, NC. When the hostages came back from Iran we were told we were going on a trip to NCY the next day to March in a ticker tape parade. Uniform of the day would be dress blues. We flew in and after changing were brought to the staging area on a road near the banks of the East River. The wind was blowing and it felt like it was 5 degrees out. It probably was. We waited for 1 1/2 hours before stepping off. After our warmups we formed and waited. Of course the horns, and faces, got cold again. Never mind leaving the tepid 50 degree weather of eastern NC, we were shivering as dress blues with no overcoats were not the warmest uniforms and our white cotton gloves gave no warmth to our hands. Our uniforms were made for looks, not comfort. We finally stepped off, the mace came down, our horns went up and for the first 8 or 16 measures of the Semper Fi March all you could hear from the band was drums, a few woodwind instruments and a hissing sound from the brass players. Our lips finally started vibrating and the music went on. However it was hard to hear the band over the cheers of the crowds. The parade seemed, probably was, 5 miles long as we played Semper Fidelis, 8 or 16 bars out, the Marines Hymn, 8 or 16 out, etc., the entire parade. We froze and when our portion of the parade was over we changed, got back on the plane and headed back to NC. All in a days work in a military band and what a long, exhausting, and memorable day.

Dave
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if we're devolving this to non-Christmas gigs, there was that time in the Barnum & Bailey Circus Parade in Milwaukee, there was the time we followed the horses and elephants. Not a pretty sight.
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falado
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL, that’s the Milwaukee Great Circus parade. I marched and drum-majored that same paraded with Navy Band Great Lakes in 1997 and 1998. We didn’t March a strait line because of the elephants and horses. The second year they put a horse and cart in front of the band. Every time we kicked off a song the horse would start bucking, etc. That was a five miler. My darn white shoes always hurt my feet. We sure tread in some of the same places. I was the Great Lakes Brass Quintet leader and lead The Navy Showband Midwest. Lots of traveling May through October.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was shortly after doing that parade that I put my retirement papers in.
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RobertCharlton
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The Robert Glasper Concert Trio is one of the best musicians on the planet, a man who can pull seemingly any musical idea out of thin air and apply it with frantic energy to the key it is in, or turn it into a hypnotic, looping picture. which is striking in its beauty.
Plus he's a big fool. I wrote a small essay about this concert for the service, you can look here in more detail https://studymoose.com/music-concert-report there are many interesting reviews and articles.
On a Friday night set in front of 440 at the Jefferson Center's Shaftman Performance Hall, Glasper and the rest of his trio - drummer Damion Reed and bassist Vicente Archer - had fun as obviously as a jazz band on stage. Basically, they did it in an hour and 50 minutes of amazing music before he hit the first note. The technician complied.
“So sexy,” he said in a bass voice, causing a lot of laughter in the crowd. It wasn't even the first laugh - he accused the audience of lying about owning Covered - and it won't be the last. However, most of the highlights were musical."


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Dale Proctor
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playing Christmas carol duets with the local Salvation Army commander at red kettles outside various businesses in the days approaching Christmas. Simple, but meaningful.


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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few years back the orchestra I'm with was playing a composition I'd written. It was a lengthy piece with a solo for clarinet (the guy who played solo performed it wonderfully) and I'd put many months of work into it. My dad was there to listen (he rarely goes to concerts) and afterwards he told me he was very impressed and that he was very proud of me. To this day I'm glad my folks were there to hear it, and it made it all the more special.
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blbaumgarn
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:09 pm    Post subject: What was your most memorable Christmas concert? Reply with quote

I just stopped back and have to add one more comment. In the community I used to live in where we had a wonderful community band we used to play at the two senior citizen high rise buildings in town every year. One building was built in an atrium format, open to the top 10 floors above. The sound in there was just to die for. To see the people gather on the ground level and above was wonderful. As I approach the age when I will probably live in such a place it makes me feel fortunate that I got to be there and play for folks several times in my life.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:34 pm    Post subject: Re: What was your most memorable Christmas concert? Reply with quote

blbaumgarn wrote:
One building was built in an atrium format, open to the top 10 floors above. The sound in there was just to die for. To see the people gather on the ground level and above was wonderful.


That sounds awesome!
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RobertCharlton
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't remember what year it was, but it was the most magical concert. There was a blizzard outside the window, the classmo and I sang Christmas songs and everyone gave candy
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THE BD
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2021 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have played many and don't remember them all, but the most memorable was the one where I had my music out of order.

Director gave his prep beat and I played and exciting piece 'Ein Festeburg' and the rest of the band definitely did not...

The look from the director was something special!
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