In a lively, musical cultural exchange, a Fort Belvoir audience had a chance last week to see a classical chamber concert performance by the HMK Kassel, or the Germany Army Band Kassel. The concert, in Fort Belvoir’s Wallace Theater, was part of “Wunderbar Together,” a nationwide program highlighting more than 25 years of German-American partnership.
“The American Soldiers and civilian employees are outstanding people,” said German army Col. Helmut Frietzsche, commander of the German Armed Forces Command, before the performance.
“We ask for assistance, we get it,” he said. “We train together, we march together and we play together,” he said. “God Bless America and our partnerships.”
Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander, said the concert was a special event that celebrates a partnership between the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada; and the Army’s Military District of Washington.
“The Germans have been integral in helping our Service members train for and earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. However, in addition to work, we benefit from exceptional, mutual support, important dialog and a long-standing, valued relationship,” Greenberg said before the concert.
Kassel conductor, Lt. Col. Tobias Terhardt, started the concert with both countries’ national anthems.
Between songs, Terhardt told the audience it was a pleasure and an honor for the band to be performing to a Belvoir audience.
“This is great for us,” he said.
He then led the band in melodies, marching music and a rendition of the ‘Beer Barrel Polka.’ A classical overture from an operetta was both lively and somber at times. Alternately, the band’s repertoire included a number that had 163 beats per minute with a saxophone feature; another with a trumpet solo and Kassel’s version of ‘Rock Me Amadeus,’ which included a vocal part.
Michael Bouie said loved what he saw of the concert, before he had to leave to get his son.
“I try to come to all the events I see,” he said, adding he likes the diversity of what Belvoir offers.
Before the concert, Jan Fitzgerald and Ron Valentine reminisced about living in Germany.
“We met in 1979 in Heidelburg, when we were both illustrators for the Army,” Fitzgerald said. She was there for 3 years and Valentine lived there for 6 years.
“We like to hear them speaking German and they like to talk,” she said. “We just cannot resist anything German, the beauty of the land and the people.” She suggested that everyone take any opportunity to interact with people. “You won’t regret it. Eat the food,” she said, smiling, with a brat in one hand and a German beer in the other.
German army Maj. Gen. Carsten Breuer, commanding general of Bundeswehr Territorial Command, also attended the concert.