Koreans and U.S. soldiers enjoy holiday concert
SEOUL, South Korea -- Service members from Eighth Army and their families attended the ninth annual Korean-American Friendship Holiday Concert at the Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 11. The sounds of classic American Christmas carols, scores of operas and Korean Army cadences filled the concert hall as musicians and performers from two nations performed for a crowd of thousands during the event.
The event featured members of the Eighth Army Band, the Prima Donna Ensemble and the Korean Military Choir. A variety of holiday songs were sang during the concert such as "Last Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock", and also several South Korean Army cadences, sang by The Korean Military Choir, such as "The Torch of Defeating Enemy" and "A Wonderful Man".
"Music, like our friendship, is one of the greatest gifts we can share during the holidays," said Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal to the Korean attendees, performers and musicians during the concert's opening remarks. "The sharing of your hospitality with so many of our Soldiers that are away from their families during the holidays means a great deal to us."
The concert was free to all service members and their families and more than 1,500 attended alongside more than 1,000 Korean civilians.
Many of the Soldiers in attendance said they appreciated the opportunity to attend the free concert.
"Each of the performances provided a distinct touch of class to the evening which made it very memorable for all in attendance," said Sgt. 1st Class Shtina Love, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Eighth Army. "It was a show not to be missed but if one did, I'd encourage them to sign up for next year's amazing presentation as soon as it's announced."
Staff Sgt. Tony Cooper, Eighth Army Band's lead vocalist for the concert, earned a standing ovation from the audience after his performance of "Mary, Did You Know?". Additionally, Cooper was recognized by Lt. Gen. Vandal with flowers and a coin of excellence for his overall performance during the event.
"I am happy with the result of the show," said Cooper after the conclusion of the concert. "I just prayed before going on stage and hoped I would do the best I can."
It wasn't just the audience members who enjoyed the evening. One member of the Eighth Army Band expressed a great deal of appreciation for the opportunity to play in the venue.
"The audience was exuberant throughout our program, and you could feel their energy and share their excitement," said Sgt. Rebecca Baker, a flute musician from the Eighth Army Band. "It's a privilege to get the opportunity to play in front of a big hall like this."