By Spc. Jesus J. Aranda, 25th Infantry Division Public AffairsJuly 2, 2010
HONOLULU - A van carrying seven immaculately-dressed Soldiers travels south on Oahu's H-2 freeway at an hour when most are still sound asleep. The Soldiers chat at mature and professional tones and discuss the task ahead: making music.
Soldiers from the Tropic Lightning Band's brass ensemble, "The Sounds of Freedom," have departed their normal place of duty, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on July 2 for Honolulu where the group will perform on a popular live morning television news broadcast, KITV's This Morning program.
The Tropic Lightning Band boasts a long and storied history, as one of the Army's most decorated bands, and routinely performs throughout the island (and the theater of operations when deployed).
Members of the Sounds of Freedom include Sgt. Christina Kolodziej, trumpet; Sgt. Kristopher Betz, percussion; Sgt. Jason Binde, trombone; Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cancio, trumpet; Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Lobanov, French horn; and Sgt. 1st Class Steve Anderson, bass trombone.
"We have some component of the band performing almost every day," said Adrian. "We do everything from military ceremonies, to community relations, to public relations and funerals."
"Every time one of our ensembles has an opportunity to perform in the community we help to foster a positive image for the military presence in Hawaii," said Kolodziej.
To achieve a positive impression from their audiences, the band takes remarkable pride in presentation.
Their manner of dress and professional demeanors hint at their musical expertise as the members of the Sounds of Freedom set up in preparation for their performance upon arrival. However, preparation can, at times, do little to shield even the most seasoned performers from stresses.
"I was nervous because this was live," said Kolodziej.
As the first performance of the morning arrived, the television cameras swept across the faces of each band member and broadcast their images to the homes of countless Oahu residents. What they saw were impressions of intense concentration to the performance. No matter the stresses, the Soldiers hit their notes with perfection.
"Many of my normal stresses were magnified because it was live and many people were watching," said Kolodziej. "I was definitely more self-conscious and more aware of my stage presence while performing."
Despite this, Kolodziej and her fellow-Soldiers performed flawless performances of each of their chosen musical choices. This is, perhaps, due to the nature inherent of Army leaders, personal courage, and enjoyment of performing.
"Even with all of my experience on-stage, I still get a little rush of adrenaline," Kolodziej said. "It's not just work to me - it's fun."
According to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Parentau, the band's commander, the Sounds of Freedom are among the top performers of the entire band of forty-four Soldiers.
With a roster of musically-talented Soldiers with experience and established successes, the Tropic Lightning Band and the Sounds of Freedom continue to fine tune their ranks.
"By the time we deploy again, one third of us will be replaced with new members," said Adrian.
Despite the loss of old friends and band-mates, the Tropic Lightning Band is confident the band will always be on the same sheet of music.
"It's so much about chemistry," said Adrian. "Each member of the band brings his or her own personal competency and experience to the group-- especially with this group-and it is a huge part of the band's success."
The Sounds of Freedom performed several musical numbers during the two-hour show and earned the praise of the show's crew and, certainly, viewers across the islands.