By Spc. Mahlet Tesfaye, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs OfficeAugust 30, 2010
Three groups from the 25th Infantry Division Band will travel to Russia and China Sept. 3-13 to perform at different events and represent the United States military.
The marching band, the brass ensemble which mostly plays jazz, and a pop and rock group which plays modern music will perform in different cities of Sakhalin Island, Russia, to help celebrate the Island's independence day from Japan and at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.
These groups will also perform at Shanghai Community International School in China as part of the band's outreach program.
"[From] a military stand point, the uniform can be an intimidating thing," said Chief Warrant Officer Joseph W. Parenteau, 25th Infantry Division Band commander and conductor. "The band is out there to humanize [the military], and [the band] gives us an opportunity to put a face behind the uniform. Music is a language that does not need translation, so we can bring our music to China and Russia and share who we are as Americans."
"I am looking forward to meeting people of Russia and China," said Staff Sgt. Ronald Strayhorn, percussion player, 25th Inf. Div. Band. "We get to interact with the people one-on-one, make friends, exchange American culture, build relationships, and build bridges."
"It is a huge opportunity for the Soldiers in the band," said Parenteau. "They have worked very hard to make sure that we put forth the best performance possible."
The band has toured throughout the Southern Pacific Realm in the past such as Indonesia, Australia, Papa New Guinea, India, and the Island of Tanga; but this is the band's first time international performance outside the pacific.
In the past, this band was used primarily as a public relations or strategic diplomacy tool, said Parenteau. The band handled the Army's needs in different areas like troop moral support, educational outreach, humanitarian efforts, and national disasters by keeping people's spirits up while relive efforts are going on, he continued.
"This tour is the first time in quite a few years we are trying to get back to that core mission of being the face of the United States Army to the public, off the Island," said Parenteau. "This trip to China and Russia puts the 25th Inf. Div. on the world stage again."
"We will be playing music from our military history and pieces of popular American tunes that would easily translate in to their culture," said Parenteau.
"I am expecting from this trip stronger foreign relations by working closer with Russia and China through music," said Strayhorn.