The US Army Band Heads to Russia
The U.S. Army Band's Brass Quintet performs at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., March 2009.

The U.S. Army Band's Brass Quintet is gearing up to travel to Russia in April. This is the first time a contingent from the Army Band has traveled to the country. In a tour that will extend from April 24 to May 9, five musicians will visit the nation's capital, Moscow, as well as St. Petersburg and Volgograd.

In Moscow the group will perform at the Moscow Conservatory and conduct master classes for students with the aid of an interpreter. They will play at the embassy in Volgograd. The quintet will be in Russia not only during the country's May Day celebration, but also on May 9, the anniversary of the end of World War II.

The trip is a result of bonds formed after musicians from the Army Band played at the Russian Embassy in Washington last year, and a connection between quintet leader, Sgt. Maj. Dennis Edelbrock and Russian National Orchestra trumpeter Vlad Lavrik, who met and became friends at a national trumpet competition.

Edelbrock said the quintet would likely be performing a World War II medley consisting of "Sentimental Journey," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "The White Cliffs of Dover." He said the group would also play some of the music associated with the Spirit of America program and a new composition, a requiem.

An interesting footnote to the concert is that the U.S. ambassador stationed in Russia is John R. Beyrle, the son of decorated World War II veteran Sgt. Joseph "Jumpin' Joe" Beyrle, who has the distinction of being the only Soldier in World War II to serve with both the U.S. Army and the Soviet Army.

Sgt. Maj. Dennis Edelbrock, leader of the Army Brass Quintet, played trumpet at Beyrle's funeral when the Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 2004.

Joseph Beyrle was an Army paratrooper who was captured by the Nazis while parachuting into Normandy in 1944. He spent 10 months in a Nazi prisoner camp before escaping and hooking up with a Russian tank unit, even though he knew only two words of Russian.

Beyrle spent a month with the unit helping to liberate the camp from which he escaped. He was later wounded and sent to Moscow, where Marshal Georgy Zhukov, the top Soviet commander of World War II, helped the undocumented Soldier return home to the United States. Beyrle is the subject of an exhibit currently touring Russia that chronicles his exploits.

It includes his Army boots, duplicate dog tags (replacing those confiscated by the Nazis), a killed-in-action notice sent to his parents when he was presumed dead, and medals the Soviets bestowed on him. The artifacts are normally on display in a museum in Muskegon, Mich., the Soldier's home town.

Edelbrock said members of the quintet are excited about the trip and the opportunity to extend the universal language of music. "It's a great equalizer," the trumpeter said.

"We were fortunate to have an opportunity to host our counterparts from Russia last March, and we are excited to be able to send some of The U.S. Army Band's finest musicians to Russia in the spirit of cultural exchange," said Col. Thomas Rotondi, TUSAB commander and band leader. "The camaraderie that exists throughout the music world transcends barriers like language and even oceans. I know the musicians of the Brass Quintet are looking forward to making the most of this unique opportunity."

Page last updated Fri March 5th, 2010 at 16:01