General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, meets with Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff , in Washington after an armed forces full honor review ceremony on Tuesday to mark Chen’s visit to the US. [Photo/China Daily]
PLA, US Army bands cement bilateral ties with music
WASHINGTON - Thunderous applause and cheers from the audience, which included visiting Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Chen Bingde, and Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, filled the concert hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on Monday night.
The ovation went to the members of the Military Band of the PLA and the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own", who gave their first joint concert in the history of the two militaries.
Entitled "Friendship and Cooperation through Music", the joint performance was "symbolic of what we share in common and what the better relationship between the US and China means for our people", said US Army Chief of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey.
Dempsey said the exchange was 30 years in the making. In his message printed in the concert program, he wrote that, "such exchanges build trust, improve understanding and communication and pave the way to great cooperation in solving some of the world's more complicated security challenges".
"Military music resounds in harmony as we move forward together," General Chen wrote in his message.
Such exchanges show "our desire for a stable and reliable military-to-military relationship between our two countries", General Li Shengquan, who headed the delegation of the PLA military band, told the audience.
Dai Yuqiang and US Sergeant Leigh Ann Hinton sing the duet Libiamo ne’ Lieti Calici from La Traviata at the concert hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on Monday night. [LI XING / CHINA DAILY]
The whole performance was punctuated by warm applause, as the two bands presented a mixed program highlighting the unique and rich musical legacy of each country.
Some members of the audience went to the stage to shake hands with the musicians from the two militaries, thanking them for their "wonderful musicianship" under the baton of Senior Colonel Yu Hai, the PLA military band's commander and conductor, Senior Colonel and conductor Zhang Zhirong and Colonel Thomas Rotondi Jr, the US Army Band's commander and conductor.
"The mixture of the older traditional Chinese and the new modern music is majestic, entertaining and enlightening," said Captain Mark O'Malley, sector commander of the US Coast Guard.
The symphonic poem Ambush "has different tempos. It is soothing and it is aggressive. It has a beautiful mix", he said.
Meanwhile, Victory Beckoning was "a very modern piece with all the brass. Then the back row stood, it was very dramatic".
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rush of US Army Staff was the first to stand and start the long ovation for Dai Yuqiang, after the tenor from the PLA performed Nessun Dorma, from Turandot.
"Even though we are a world apart, everybody comes together in such a unity," Rush said, while his wife, Susan, said the piece she liked the best was Wang Luobin's In a Far Away Place.
The two main conductors were also overjoyed. "We were in almost perfect unison in our first official joint concert, it is a successful cooperation," Yu Hai told China Daily.
"The electricity is all over the place tonight; it is just excellent," Rotondi said.
Talking about the last two pieces, The Stars and Stripes Forever and Ode to the Motherland, Rontondi said these were "culmination of the whole evening".
"It is wonderful to share each band's patriotic feeling for our countries," said David Brundage, bassoonist of the US Army Band.