USARJ Band wins two Army-level awards
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The United States Army Japan (USARJ) Ceremonial Band was recognized by the Army as the best in 2015 and the USARJ Pacific Brass was similarly recognized as the best small brass ensemble in the Army.
The Music Performance Team of the Year Competition, which started in 2013, is open to all Active, Guard, and Reserve U.S. Army Bands stationed throughout the world. Since 2013, the USARJ Band performance teams earned five first place finishes and four second place.
“The USARJ Band has been stationed in Japan for more than 60 years,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marvin Cardo, commander of this 40-Soldier band. “We perform for the general public and distinguished visitors while educating young musicians from the around the world.”
Hundreds of rehearsals have produced scores of performances to the delight of thousands of Japanese citizens, American service members, and their families. From classical symphonies to classic rock, these concerts have empowered the Army’s Pacific partnerships through music.
“Music is an international language that brings the USARJ community and its Japanese partners closer together,” said Cardo, a native of New York City. “Music encourages us to communicate with one another. Having the [USARJ Band] here for 60 years has built lasting bonds with the public in unique ways that no unit or training exercise could reproduce.”
“We are more than just musicians, we are diplomats,” added Army Master Sgt. Larry C. Dean, head of the Pacific Brass team and a native of Copperas Cove, Texas. “I cannot count the number of times our band has performed in communities where its residents have never before seen a Soldier. Although they may not fully understand or appreciate the U.S. military’s presence in Japan, our music breaks through these cultural barriers so our command can better engage with local leaders.”
U.S. Army Japan’s gracious hosts have honored the command’s musical talent by funding the facility where songs and melodies resonate.
“Due to the many missions we have conducted throughout the country, the government of Japan built Camp Zama’s multi-million dollar music hall for the sole use of the USARJ Band,” said Cardo. “The multiple rehearsal rooms and state-of-the-art equipment enable us to practice for multiple performances simultaneously, giving our team more time to sharpen its musical skills and train in our warrior tasks.”
As the USARJ Band entertains its international audience through award-winning performances, their diligence and enthusiasm both on and off the stage have helped solidify a lasting friendship between the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Rising Sun.
“The USARJ Band is perhaps the most visible Army unit in Japan,” said Dean. “We’re an obvious choice when it comes to connecting our command with the people of Japan. Without a band that can demonstrate what the Army is all about beyond its military strength, the relationship between the Army’s leadership and its Japanese partners might not be as resilient as it is today.”