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Sgt. Victor Diaz, a piano player with the combat Center band, jazzes out during a jazz band concert and Highland High School in Highland, Ill., Tuesday. The Highland High School students were not the only ones to enjoy a free show from the band during Marine Week May 11 to 17.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Combat Center Band’s biggest gig this year

15 May 2009 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Marines with the Combat Center Band are showcasing their musical talents to reach out to the Chicago community during the 2009 Marine Week, which started Monday and lasts until Sunday.

The Combat Center Band was selected as the only band to represent the Marine Corps during Marine Week, which is a seven-day community outreach event very similar to its older sibling, Fleet Week.

Since 1935, Fleet Week has been a joint community outreach effort by sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to educate the public about the military through demonstrations, concerts and events, according to the Marines Corps Times Web site http://www.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Giove, the band officer, said it was an honor to be selected for such a unique event.

“Music is an international language,” Giove said about reaching out through music. “Everyone understands it. I think it brings out the patriotism and pride in who people feel they are. For some, music brings back memories or helps make memories.”

The band kicked off its first event by performing an opening for a Chicago proclamation ceremony on Grande Ave., for military and city officials like Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Speise, the commanding general of the Training and Education Command, and Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago. 

Tuesday, the Combat Center’s “Big Band” or jazz band, kicked off their first one-on-one community event by buttoning up their dress blues uniforms and busing their way to Highland High School in Highland, Ill., to put on a show for the local students.

“I think you guys should come here more often,” said 17-year-old Mike Spevack, a senior at Highland High School, who has decided to enlist in the Marine Corps after his senior year. “This is a pretty liberal town and I think it could help raise awareness about the military in general.”

Wednesday, the whole band made their way to Bremen High School in Midlothian, Ill., for a duel clinic and concert. First, the band showed high school musicians how they warm up, sight read and perform. After a concert was performed for the students during school hours, the parents had their opportunity to enjoy a concert of their own later that night.

Sgt. Andrew Newby, the assistant drum major, explained why interacting with children and young adults through music can be such a great influence.

“I think we have to present a good face for the Marine Corps to the public,” said Newby. “The first and most influential part of the public is the youth. The best part about teaching them about music is that they want to learn.”

The Marines continued to split into groups and perform numerous concerts and events across the city throughout the week.

Giove said although he has been pleased thus far with the band’s performances, he feels the best is yet to come.

“It’s still early in the week, but we have more work to do,” he said Wednesday. “The culmination of Marine Week will crescendo to its max by Saturday and Sunday.”

The Band will perform several concerts at Navy Pier, a popular and historical sight in Chicago, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

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