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Music to the ears, to preserve peace

by Adrian David

KUALA LUMPUR 27 FEB – Soldiers are often pitted against each in times of regional conflict or war.

Sometimes they even pay the highest price, with their lives.

German ambassador to Malaysia Dr Peter Blomeyer opined that such a scenario was brought about against soldiers who had to bear the consequences of the human race’s inability to solve conflicts peacefully.

“They have to pay the price for the pride, the stubbornness, the unforgiveness, the intolerance and the ignorance of others – be it politicians, diplomats or also misguided people,” Blomeyer said at the first-ever combined concert by the German Army Band ‘Heeresmusikkorps’ Hanover and Malaysia’s Royal Malay Regiment’s central band at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall, Petronas Twin Towers at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

The German band also did a similar performance a day later at Blomeyer’s official residence in Jalan Langgak Golf.

“This is a unique moment to have our army bands playing together.

“Most of the time, soldiers are engaged with other tasks. If you look around in the world, you will find plenty of places where soldiers are pitted against each other during conflicts.

“But tonight, our soldiers are not pitted against each other, but rather play with each other!

“They make music together! I think that is the best of all worlds where soldiers make music,” Blomeyer said.

He added that the combined performance was a sign for the excellent state of relations between the armed forces and of our two countries in general.

“During the last few years, our military cooperation has continuously increased with constant visits of high-ranking officers, cooperation of our respective training centres for United Nations missions and other purposes.

“This includes in the fields of logistics and health services. “The planned stopover of a large German air force contingent and the visit of the frigate Bayern last year will be followed by two German navy vessels in October.

“These are highly visible signs of our commitment in the region,” he said.

Blomeyer spoke on of the highest political level connection, which was a real boost in bilateral exchanges.

He touched on last year’s visit to Malaysia by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, followed by the visit last January by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerboc visited Putrajaya.

Subsequently, Malaysian Defence Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin attended the Munich Security Conference.

Come March, two German parliamentarian delegations will visit Malaysia, just before Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will travel to Germany accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to call upon Steinmeier and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“And tonight, we want to emphasize this momentum in bilateral relations with this concert! It is a tribute to Malaysian-German friendship!” Blomeyer said.

He paid tribute to the Royal Malay Regiment’s central band – led by its music director Lieutenant-Colonel Muhamad Nor Azizan Yahya – that was established in 1936.

“We as diplomats have learned to appreciate it as a highly professional, precise musical ensemble at numerous official occasions, playing at royal ceremonies, at the opening of parliament and to welcome foreign dignitaries.

“Likewise, the German Army Band originating from Hanover is one of the longest serving army bands in our country.

“It perfectly combines traditional and modern tunes, playing marches and classical compositions in the same smashing fashion as film music and popular songs.

“They perform more than 200 times a year at ceremonies such as at the solemn vow, handovers of command or the ‘Great Tattoo’.

“They also make their audiences swing and shake at parades and other concerts.

“The band is led by its conductor Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Wehn, who devoted his life to music ever since he was five years old,” Blomeyer said.

At the concert, the German band played ‘Festfanfare’, ‘Hanover Festival’, ‘Mein Regiment’ (German March), ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Florentiner Marsch’ (German March), ‘Swingair Bumble Bee’, ‘ABBA’, ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Music’.

After the intermission, Wehn and Nor Azizan combined to conduct ‘Marsch des Yorck ́schen Korps’ (March of the York Corps), ‘Kalau Ku Tahu’, ‘Pandang-Pandang, Jeling-Jeling’ and ‘Viribus Unitis’.

The German Army Band Hanover was set up in 1956 as the band of the 1st Grenadier Division in Hanover.

As part of the realignment of the German Armed Forces, the orchestra was renamed ‘Heeresmusikkorps Hanover’ on October 1, 2013.

The Army Band Hanover is a traditional but modern orchestra that plays at various formations – from chamber ensembles, such as woodwind and brass quartets, to symphonic wind orchestras – to the soldiers present traditional marching music, classical compositions as well as film and musical highlights.

The orchestra has 50 musicians. More than half of the 200 performances each year are outstanding events in an everyday soldier’s life.

Solemn vows, handovers of command and performances at the ‘Great Tattoo’ only become a special emotional experience through the music.

The orchestra also inspires its audiences at public events such as the traditional ‘Marksmen ́s Parade in Hanover, music parades with other nations and regional benefit concerts.

Wehn initially played the piano before moving to the trumpet by age 11 and then the saxophone. He was a successful participant in a well-known competition for young musicians in Germany.

During his high school graduation, he completed his training as a part-time church musician in the organ and choir direction.

In 1996, Wehn joined the army soon discovered his wish for becoming an officer in the military music service.

After passing the entrance exam, he started studying to become a conductor with Prof Wolfgang Trommer at the Robert Schumann University of Music in Düsseldorf in 1998. He completed his studies in February 2003 with distinction. While studying, he was a member of the training band in Hilden.

From February 2003 to the end of 2006, Wehn was the second music officer of the Staff Band of the German Armed Forces in Berlin, where he was responsible for carrying out the protocol honorary services in the Federal Chancellery and the Defence Ministry.

After a brief stint in the Army Band in Veitshöchheim, he was transferred to the Army Band in Neubrandenburg in March 2007, where he was employed as deputy chief and second music officer.

In February 2010, Wehn took over management of the Air Force Band in Karlsruhe, which he led until it was dissolved in spring 2014.

As head of a German mentor team to develop the Afghan National Army Band, he served from April to July 2011 as part of the United Nations International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) foreign in Kabul, Afghanistan.

On June 25, 2014, Wehn was given leadership of the Army Band Hanover.

The Royal Malay Regiment Central Band was established in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan three years after the regiment’s formation in 1933, as the first military band within the Malaysian Armed Forces.

In its early stages, the band was known as the ‘Pasukan Tambor Askar Melayu’ (Malay Army Drum Corps) consisting of one officer and thirty-three other ranks who were led by Drum-Major Piers as its music director.

In 1938, the Drum Corps was renamed as the ‘Pancaragam Pusat Rejimen Askar Melayu Diraja’ (Royal Malay Regiment Central Band).

The band play a crucial role both within the country and abroad.

Their responsibilities include accompanying various ceremonial parades, the guard-of-honour during official visits by foreign dignitaries, the opening of Parliamentary sessions, royal ceremonies and accompanying the procession during the official visit by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia), parades on the Malay Rulers’ birthdays in each state and the National Day parade on August 31 every year.

In 2008, the band undertook guard-of-honour ceremonies at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St. James Palace and Spring Hill in London.

Furthermore, the band was also involved in tattoo performances in various Asean countries.

In Thailand, the band was specially invited to perform at a tattoo ceremony celebrating the birthday of the Royal Thai King.

Additionally, they participated at tattoo events in Brunei and Singapore.

Muhamad Nor Azizan has been the band’s music director since 2011 and the band currently consists of 48 members of various ranks. – airtimes.my

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