SEOUL, South Korea -- The cheerful sounds of classic American Christmas carols and the thunder of traditional Korean drums filled the Seoul Arts Center Dec. 6 as musicians from two nations performed for a crowd of thousands during the eighth Korean-American Friendship Holiday Concert.
As much a cultural exchange as a musical performance, the event featured members of the Eighth Army Band and the Republic of Korea Army's 51st Infantry Division Band playing a variety of holiday favorites including "Deck the Halls" and "White Christmas" while the Kook Soo-ho Didim Dance Company entertained the audience with a display of Korean percussion and dance.
"Music is a universal language that transcends culture and people alike," said Eighth Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Bernard Champoux in the opening notes of the concert program, "and it is a special treat to share today's concert with our Korean partners and friends."
The concert was free to service members and their families and more than 700 attended alongside more than 1,000 Korean civilians.
Many of the Soldiers in attendance said they appreciated the opportunity.
"I enjoy these kinds of things. I don't get to see as much live music as I would like to here in Korea so it's nice that our unit had the tickets and I got to go see it," said Sgt. Travis Thomas, Intelligence and Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Eighth Army.
"Getting out and seeing a live musical performance is different and not something I normally get a chance to do," added Pfc. Kevin Freeman, B Battery, 6-52 Air Defense Artillery. "It was nice to escape Suwon for the night and get a little culture."
It wasn't just the audience members who enjoyed the evening. One member of the Eighth Army Band expressed a great deal of appreciation for the opportunity to play in a venue he described as Seoul's equivalent of Carnegie Hall.
"Music-wise this is major league," said saxophone player Spc. Carlos Morales. "Not everybody gets the opportunity to play in a big hall like this. It's a privilege"