ZAMA, Japan – The U.S. Army Japan Band performed “An American Holiday Festival,” a two-night concert event held Dec. 16 and 17 here at Zama Harmony Hall.
Nearly 2,000 people attended the ninth annual collaborative holiday concert, which featured performances from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Tokyo Band, the Third Marine Expeditionary Force Band, the Guam National Guard Band, and community members from Camp Zama and Zama City alongside the USARJ Band.
Staff Sgt. Heath Bain, an assistant conductor and French hornist for the USARJ Band, called the concert a huge success, attributing it to the audience’s enthusiasm for the show. Bain said he feels that the largely Japanese audience looks forward to it every year.
“Having audiences really truly excited about the music, for us, is phenomenal,” Bain said. “To have them be appreciative of what we do makes the opportunity to perform for them that much more enjoyable.”
Performing live music at a venue like Harmony Hall and collaborating with the JMSDF and other musicians was a privilege, Bain said. Although a language barrier exists between the American and Japanese performers, it did not prevent the night from coming together and being really exciting, he added.
Any time the USARJ Band gets to perform for the Japanese public, Bain said, it exemplifies a real sense of value for his organization because it offers the U.S. Army in Japan the chance to come together with its host-nation neighbors and interact with them.
“We have the opportunity to bring new light and new understanding to what the U.S. Army’s mission is in Japan,” Bain said.
Yuko Kobayashi, a first-time attendee at the concert, said she really enjoyed the experience. She did not realize how fortunate she was to have gotten a ticket until she found out that the odds for getting one in this year’s lottery process were twice as high as usual.
“It was really impressive seeing the USARJ Band’s live performance,” Kobayashi said. “I felt like their music connected the Japanese audience to the Camp Zama community.
“I loved the music, and I would definitely like to come again next year,” she added.
Zama City Mayor Mito Sato attended the concert and said she was deeply impressed with the band’s performance. She felt the USARJ Band commander’s enthusiasm and emotion through their music, she added.
“Their music even moved some people in the audience to tears,” Sato said. “Tonight’s concert reminded me of the power of music.”
The mayor said it was evident to her that music transcends borders and allows the performers and the audience to connect with each other and share an emotional journey.
“Their music brought us together,” Sato said.
The holiday concert has already become an important tradition in Zama, as well as enhancing the U.S.-Japan partnership, Sato said, and she would like the city to continue to host the event into the future.