13th Army Band performs during Subject Matter Expert Exchange in Guyana

Written by  //  July 6, 2011  //  Feature Stories

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (July 6, 2011) — Like a couple on a blind date, members of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) Band and Florida National Guard’s 13th Army Band were not sure what to expect of each other when they met for the first-ever Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) late June in the South American nation.

The two groups had just one day to put together a performance they could roll out to local schools and eventually the Guyanese Parliament Building in the country’s capital, downtown Georgetown.

13th Army Band perform in Guyana. Courtesy photo

“Once we are able to meet the Commander (Capt. Burns) and his group, we were able to figure out what combination of music best fit the schedule,” said Chief Warrant Officer Stephen K. Rivero, 13th Army Band commander. “We ended up combining some of our ceremonial music with Guyanese popular music and a few classic novelty selections which pleased the crowd.”

The combined band, 15 players total, first performed at Queen’s College to a packed auditorium of appreciative high-school students.

“They were really excited to see a band from another country accomplish what the Guyanese band is trying to do,” said Sgt. Jerson Recinos, bass and French horn player.

The next day the group traveled into Guyana’s vast interior and played in Linden for another packed house at Linden High School. The 13th Army Band’s detachment of eight Soldiers worked with the GDF on everything from fundamental rehearsal techniques to administrative and logistical issues.

“It was great. They were very accepting of the opportunity to learn from us,” said Staff Sgt. Rafael Napoles, a Florida National Guard saxophone and clarinet player.

As a culmination to their time together the combined group performed in front of the Guyanese Parliament Building to a crowd of passers-by and the U.S. Embassy Staff.

After three successful performances, both groups plan to continue a long-distance relationship, with individual players exchanging e-mails, Facebook links and the hope that they will be able to reciprocate the event in Florida next year.

Florida and Guyana are partner nations as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. The program was established to support U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging partner nations via military, socio-political and economic conduits at the local, state and national level.