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Band of brothers: Marines play melodious chords

22 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Eugenio Montanez

The 1st Marine Division Band showed off their talents to families, fellow servicemembers and the general public during a free concert Apr. 22-23 at the California Center for the Arts here.

The band consists of 50 Marine musicians, who in addition to providing musical support for military parades and ceremonies, have also drawn their rifles in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II.

“The band deployed in 2006 to Camp Fallujah, Iraq, with Regimental Combat Team 5 in support of operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Cpl. Joshua W. Lyttle, 20, a percussionist with the 1st Marine Division Band who is from Hazard, Texas.

During the two night concert, the band played such pieces as “Midway March,” “Theme from Schindler’s List,” “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.” To conclude the concert they played “Armed Forces Seventy-Two” and asked those in attendance with military ties to stand when the anthem of their respective branch played.

“I’ve never served in the military, but I still stood up in honor of my grandfather who died in World War II,” said Jonathan Baker, 26, a personal accountant from Escondido, Calif. “He would have been very happy and proud to be here today.”

Spectators said that they were impressed with the Marines performance.

“I had no idea Marines could play instruments so well until I saw them up there,” said James D. Mathews, 30, an electrician from El Paso, Texas. “They really showed off their talent today.”

Band Marines practiced for two months in order to prepare for this two-day event.

“We usually practice every day, but in this occasion we practiced with more effort and longer just so everything would go as planned,” said Lyttle.

That extra effort the Marines put in for this event seemed to fulfill the expectations of the attendants, they applauded the Marines’ performance throughout the night.  

“The crowd was standing up and applauding throughout the whole concert, so I think we did great out there, people were happy to see us,” said Lyttle.

One of the main performances of the night was the cello solo which brought the crowd to tears.

“Hearing the cello so well played was simply beautiful, I think I even cried a bit for the solo,” said Mary J. Longville, 55, wife of former Marine Jack Longville, 59, both from San Diego.

The band performs at over 300 commitments a year, with this being one of their main highlights of the year.

“I personally have gone to other 1st Marine Division Band performances and I think this is the one I like the most,” said Baker. “I enjoyed this concert and I hope they don’t stop doing these type of performances. If they ever do another performance similar to this one, I would surely come to it without hesitation.”