By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis, CNE-CNA Public Affairs
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples, Italy, and Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Paolo Tarantino, commander, Italian Air Force Academy, hosted a “Thanks for Giving” concert performed by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band at the Italian Air Force Academy in Naples, Italy, Nov. 22, 2019.
The two commanders organized the concert as a way to highlight the warm relationship both NATO and U.S. Navy have with the city of Naples and also to thank the volunteers and organizations who support the military and their family members in Naples.
“Music is an important tool of unity,” said Foggo. “It keeps people united from different cultures, education, and religions. I deeply value the relationships I have made with the local community here, and I appreciate the warm hospitality that Napoli has shown me – as well as the men and women of NATO who are stationed here. Napoli has long held a special place in my heart; this is my third tour here, and each one gives me a deeper appreciation for this incredible city.”
The Band performed a variety of instrumental and vocal compositions, including music composed by Musician 1st Class Brian Sadler, a medley of Motown hits, and the popular Italian song “Tuo Vuo fa l’Americao,” performed by Luogotenente Francesco Desiato and Chief Musician Robert Taylor.
“I wish to express to Adm. Foggo and his gracious wife, Cindy, my warmest and most sincere welcome back, and I extend my greetings to all the guests present in this room and to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s staff,” said Tarantino. “This evening’s concert marks the ever-strengthening relationship between JFC Naples and the Italian Air Force Academy and is not only a wonderful occasion but also an unmissable opportunity to enrich the cultural awareness of the cadets and of the officers, which is an essential part of being a rounded human being.”
The Band was recently recognized with the “International Nassiriya Peace Prize” for their continued work and dedication of promoting peace through music and partnership in Europe and Africa, specifically throughout Italy.
“This was a real experience that I enjoyed, because it combined the local Napolitanos and the Americans,” said Apostoles Esposito, an audience member from Italy. “My favorite part was the opening performance [“Thanks for Giving” Overture], because it was a totally different style then I have heard before.”
Musician 3rd Class Cristiana Rojos impressed the audience with several stunning vocal performances, including a local traditional favorite titled “Era di Maggio.”
“I love connecting with people,” said Rojas. “Being new to Italy and new to this culture, I feel like [singing in Italian] is the one time I am able to really connect with the people of Naples. Honestly, I feel like I get so much more than I give; I’m feeding off their energy. It’s an amazing experience.”
The Italian Air Force Academy was founded in 1923 and is among the oldest aviation academies in the world. This is the second year the Air Force Academy has hosted the concert.
“I thank Brig. Gen. Tarantino for his warm hospitality at his Air Force Academy and for giving us the opportunity to listen to the fantastic performance by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band,” said Foggo. “The ‘Thanks for Giving’ concert symbolizes my personal gratitude to the people who have contributed this year with their hard work in support of the Alliance.”
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 reaches a combined audience of 60 million people across more than 35 countries in a course of 500 engagements annually. 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.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, oversees joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.