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Airmen collaborate through music and culture

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mary Gant
  • U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West Concert Band recently returned from their summer tour across various parts of Southern California to include Bakersfield and Santa Clarita.

During the tour, the band had the unique opportunity of highlighting three of their Air Force musicians on a musical and cultural collaboration performing a composition entitled, “It’s Not Just Something You Hit.”

The composition is a three-part concerto for percussion featuring various Latin rhythms and styles. The title of the piece conveys the message that percussion instruments are much more than just something keeping time within the ensemble; they can also be very musical and expressive.

This collaboration included Staff Sgt. Wilfredo Cruz, on solo percussion, Tech. Sgt. Marco Muñoz, composer and Capt. Rafael Toro-Quiñones, commander and conductor of the BOGW. All three musicians are from Puerto Rico, which made this performance special as it was the first time in U.S. Air Force band history for this type of musical and cultural partnership.

“In light of current events from this past year, to include the hurricane victims and the Airmen lost in the plane crash from the 156th Airlift Wing National Guard unit, it is especially important for the band to be able to honor these individuals and show respect to their Puerto Rican culture and heritage,” said Toro-Quiñones.

Muñoz wrote the piece in 2010 for his good friend and colleague, Cruz. The two have known each other since middle school and have performed together professionally with various musical groups.

“For me, one of the best parts of getting to perform this piece is to have a chance to work with my good friend and colleague one more time,” said Muñoz.

The concerto begins with a melody on cowbells, then transitions to the second part based on the Peruvian Waltz Cajun rhythm, representing the composer’s various musical tours and performances in Peru. The composition concludes with a section based on Cuban street parade rhythms. Mostly influenced by Cruz’s father, both musicians grew up playing these rhythms in Puerto Rico.

“In my opinion, what makes this piece important to me is the fact that a very close friend had the thought of writing something for me, based on my experience, musicality, and percussive expressions,” said Cruz.

Airmen musicians have the chance to interact with the general public and recruit through music on a regular basis. Collaborating on this piece of music was just another way Air Force musicians demonstrated the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Air Force.