By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis
Visitors to Rai Auditorium were treated to a variety of traditional standards, pop hits, medlies, and classical music selections during a spring concert by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band in collaboration with the cast of singers from the Neapolitan choir ‘That’s Napoli Live Show’ in Naples, Italy, May 3, 2019.
The performance was hosted by Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, who had the honor of offering opening remarks to an audience which included a representative from the office of Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples.
“This evening we have the distinct pleasure of hearing a medley of medlies, a true diverse mix of music spanning centuries and an ocean” Foggo said. “Much like the 29 Nations that form our Transatlantic Alliance that celebrates 70 years anniversary this year, diverse voices and distinct instruments in harmony, in concert are stronger, together.”
Foggo talked briefly about Naples historical role in the development of music and musical performance calling the city a “conservatory of Europe.”
The band performed a variety of instrumental and vocal compositions, including “Schindler’s List” by John Williams, “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, “September” by Earth Wind and Fire, and an original composition by Musician 1st Class Brian Sadler called “Forged by the Sea.”
“It was such an adrenalin rush,” said Musician Seaman Marcelo Carrion who delighted the audience with an inspirational electric guitar solo while performing a Louis Prima and Brian Setzer medley. “To take center stage and perform in front of a four-star admiral and a Fleet Master Chief in a large venue that seats 900, is an amazing experience and the highlight of my music career.”
The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band is comprised of 50 accomplished professional military musicians from the United States as well as six partner military musicians from Italy. The band supports official military ceremonies and events throughout Europe, Africa and Western Asia. Their many public concerts in support of increasing public awareness and cooperation through music include performances by the wind ensemble, ceremonial band, marching band, pop/rock band, brass band, brass quintet, woodwind quintet, and jazz combo.
“The Navy Band performs an important function,” said Musician 3rd Class Joel Wezska, who performed a clarinet solo during the rendition of John Williams’ classic piece, “Schindler’s List.” “We provide an important positive image of the United States and the Navy to many people who might be seeing Americans and Sailors for the first time. We forge relationships through the music experience proving that diplomacy and partnerships can be strengthened in a variety of different ways.”
The highlight of the evening were duets performed by members of the Neapolitan Choir ‘That’s Napoli Live Show’ and the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band. This collaboration featured Musician 3rd Class Patrick Melton singing in Italian while Neapolitan, Salvo Mussa sang in English, offering a true testament of cooperation between the two countrymen.
“We didn’t know these American songs,” said Emilio Carrino, solo singer in the Neapolitan Choir. “We prepared for one month and only had one rehearsal, so we were very anxious for this moment to perform with the U.S. Band and I am happy because I think we did a good job.”
The Neapolitan Choir ‘That’s Napoli Live Show,’ features 22 vocalists, a band and conducted by Maestro Carlo Morelli. They offer an original reading of live music that brings together the heritage of contemporary and old Neapolitan songs and the greatest hits of international pop dance.
"The concert was absolutely fantastic," said Dean Connolly, an audience member. "It was amazing to see how well these bands worked together and my favorite moment was the bit where the singers performed in different languages."
Naval Forces Europe and Africa Allied Band supports Commander Naval Forces Europe and Africa with internal support and community relationship projects throughout the 6th Fleet's Area of Responsibility.