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Pacific Fleet Band concert to honor WWII Sailors, Pearl Harbor Navy music heritage

15 August 2019

From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

The concert at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Aug. 22 at 11 a.m., will feature selections from the unit bands attached to ships at Pearl Harbor during WWII.

PEARL HARBOR - The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will honor Sailors who served in the Pacific during World War II by offering a free history and heritage concert at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22.

The renowned band will perform a wide range of selections - including music preserved from Navy bands serving aboard ships in the Pacific as well as a tribute to the famous 'Battle of Music' held at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, 1941.

The concert is an opportunity to hear what Navy bands on ships in Pearl Harbor were playing during that era.

The concert will be streamed live on the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Naval History and Heritage Command Facebook pages.

"We are honored to present the concert at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, where we can directly engage with an international audience," said Ensign David Harbuziuk, the band's operations officer. "This is an opportunity for the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band to honor our rich musical heritage, to highlight Navy music's historic and continued role of supporting the Sailors and ships of the fleet, and to serve as musical ambassadors for the nation.

"The web stream will allow us to reach audiences across the nation and around the world, reminding them that our Pacific Fleet Sailors remain forward and ready, preserving peace, stability, and freedom," added Harbuziuk, who will be sharing conducting duties with assistant fleet bandmaster, Lt. j.g. Matt Shea.

"Helping to preserve our naval history is a wonderful aspect of our job," Shea said. "It was great speaking with some of our retired Navy musicians as well as hearing from an audience member who attended the Battle of Music on December 6, 1941."

Shea said the band worked hard to capture the fundamental elements of what a concert at Pearl Harbor was like in the early 1940s, all the way down to performing the national anthem at the end of the program, which the current band discovered was typically done at Pearl Harbor at the time.

"We also found many ties to our Navy today," Shea said. "One of our Sailors was recently selected for chief petty officer and it was fascinating to learn that an assignment as leader of a ship's band typically resulted in selection for chief. Leading one of these bands was a way for them to prove they were ready just as CPO selectees across the world are doing right now."

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band has long served to support fleet activities afloat and abroad while the fleet has been deployed in war and in peace. For much of the 20th Century, many capital ships enjoyed assigned bands - including the mighty Pacific Fleet battleships.

On the night of Dec. 6, 1941, there was a band competition called the 'Battle of Music' at Bloch Arena on Naval Station Pearl Harbor, featuring Navy bands from ships homeported in Pearl Harbor and attached to shore installations in Hawaii. The USS Arizona band had already won the first round Sept. 13, 1941, and was not scheduled to play again until the final competition.

During the elimination tournament on the evening of Dec. 6, bands from the USS Pennsylvania (BB 38), USS Tennessee (BB 43), USS Argonne (AG 31), and the submarine base competed against one another. Several members of the USS Arizona band attended the contest to see their upcoming competition and to visit with School of Music shipmates in the Tennessee band.

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, while the band from the USS Nevada (BB 36) played morning colors, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor started. The entire USS Arizona Band, while at battle stations passing ammunition under gun turret number one, was killed in the attack. In the weeks to follow, all the bands that had participated in the 'Battle of Music' voted to posthumously award the tournament trophy to the USS Arizona Band, and renamed it the 'Arizona Trophy.'

Band members across the fleet understood the courage, determination and commitment necessary to win the war in the Pacific. They've been there in the Navy's darkest hours, and during its greatest triumphs.

Under the operational control of the commander, United States Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band is dedicated to providing top quality musical support throughout a 100 million square mile area of responsibility for official functions, morale and retention programs, community outreach performances, and Navy recruiting initiatives.

For additional details on the history and heritage concert, please see the Facebook event.

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