SCHWETZINGEN, Germany - The United States Army Europe Band and Chorus gave its last German-American Friendship Concert hosted by U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg at the Rokokotheater in the Schwetzingen Palace, Oct. 28.
The USAREUR Band and Chorus, now based on Sembach Kaserne near Kaiserslautern, has performed the concert for 26 years, said Regina Hingtgen, USAG Baden-Württemberg Public Affairs Director and coordinator for the event.
In 2006, USAG BW took over hosting duties from 1st Personnel Command. 1st PERSCOM, which was headquartered in Schwetzingen but deactivated in 2008, started the traditional concert to thank the Schwetzingen citizens for their friendship and support to Soldiers, civilians and their families living and working in Schwetzingen and the surrounding towns.
About 340 guests attended, including host nation civic and political leaders, supporters and friends of the U.S. military and military members themselves, which included general officers, commanders, staff directors and their spouses.
Prior to the show, attendees enjoyed appetizers and sparkling wine during a reception hosted by Col. Bryan D. DeCoster, USAG Baden-Württemberg Commander.
"While we can never fully repay you for your kindness and generosity, we hope you will enjoy this concert as a small expression of our gratitude," DeCoster said before the concert start.
"Although we leave Schwetzingen, we know our bonds and friendships with you are ever lasting," he added.
The band and chorus, led by Maj. Bruce R. Pulver, commander and conductor, entertained the audience with more than a dozen songs, including '80s rock band Toto's hit song "Africa," which the chorus sang A Capella, and "Cartoon Music" by Peter Graham, which spliced well-known cartoon sound effects with the smooth sounds of the band.
Sgt. Paul Grant from Columbia, S.C., serenaded the crowd with his rendition of "Wooden Heart," made famous by Elvis Presley in the 1960 film "G.I. Blues."
The song itself is based on Friedrich Silcher's German folk song "Muss i' denn zum Städtele hinaus," roughly translated to, "Must I leave this town…" (and continues with, "And you my 'Schatz-treasure,' stay here.")
Sgt. Michael A. Webb, from Tampa, Fla., played his own mash up of Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Fifth Song" on the piano, much to the delight of the audience, who tapped their feet along.
Capt. Bryan J. Ralls, executive officer, and Sgt. Maj. Frank T. Suri, the enlisted bandleader, each conducted a song, and the band received three encores from the audience, which they obliged with additional tunes.
For more information on the USAREUR Band and Chorus, visit www.eur.army.mil/band.
To see more photos of the friendship concert, visit www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyeurope_images/sets/72157631934570482/.