As cultural events go, the Wasit Arts Cultural Festival had plenty of laughing, singing and celebrating, and near the heart of it all was the 1st Infantry Division band.

The Wasit Provincial Council sponsored a major cultural arts festival Feb. 27, 2010, at the Wasit Provincial Council Auditorium in al-Kut. The bandAca,!a,,cs Cantigny Brass Quintet performed before a crowd of 400, including more than 25 children from surrounding schools and orphanages.

Stephen Smith, public diplomacy officer for the Wasit PRT, said the event centered on the themes of Aca,!A"reconciliation and anti-corruptionAca,!A? and included a photography and painting exhibition, poetry recitation and a childrenAca,!a,,cs reconciliation event.

The 1st Inf. Div. band performed at the event, adding a musical element that crossed cultural divides. During the five-hour event, the brass ensemble played the Iraqi National Anthem and performed traditional Iraqi folk music.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremiah Keillor, 1st Inf. Div. band commander, said that, though the band has been busy since arriving in southern Iraq in January, the festival was the first opportunity that the quintet has played outside of Basra.

Aca,!A"For us, it was a big deal,Aca,!A? said the Los Fresnos, Texas native.

Even when the lights failed, pitching the auditorium into darkness, the musicians had come prepared, and played on.

Aca,!A"We held pen lights so the brass quintet could know what was going on,Aca,!A? Keillor said.

Event schedulers also showed two video shorts promoting the importance of voter participation and distributed election-related materials. The festival was attended by the Wasit Governor, several provincial council members and the Director of the Wasit Integrity Commission.

Keillor said that the anti-violence theme hit home when children, taking up toy guns, discarded them on the ground and passed out roses to audience members. He said it was something that struck a chord with him even after all the instruments were packed away and the band members loaded up vehicles to leave.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs something that weAca,!a,,cd like to do again,Aca,!A? Keillor said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16