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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 166 – The very

- 166 – The very spacious ballroom at the China World Hotel was chosen as the venue and the embassy also hired professional lighting and sound, which enabled us to concentrate solely on the music. We felt and were treated like rock stars and knew it was going to be a great night. We were not disappointed. The Jazz group entertained during the entrées and then the band marched out to do the floor show. The crowd really appreciated the little touch of Australia with the National Anthem, Waltzing Matilda and I am Australian, and a hearty sing-along accompanied all three. Then it was time to dance for the next four hours, and dance they did. The floor was packed for all 45 songs. Vocalist Leading Seaman Jason Beach recalls, “Iremember singing the final song, Khe Sahn and looking at my watch and realising it was 2.10 in the morning (Australian time).” It was a fabulous night and with many complements all evening about the quality of the entertainment. Several attaches or embassy staff from other countries asked us to return for their balls!! It was 4am when the band finally got to bed. Sunday was a day off and a chance to get out of the city to see the Great Wall of China. The closest part was about a 90 minute drive from the motel and we had a chance to drive past the new stadium where the Olympics will be held next year. Affectionately known as the “Birds Nest” the unfinished stadium seems to be an unorganised mass of steel girders. Modern architecture! The Great Wall itself is an awesome sight and we spent about two hours there, climbing between several sections. We could have spent more time there, but we were on another mission to get back into town and get some more great bargains at the markets. The trip took quite a while as the traffic is quiet horrendous and surprisingly, in a city of 18 million people, we realised, with some amazement, that we are all probably physically closer than we think to someone we know. As we were waiting for a red light to change, one of the band members pointed out a girl walking along the footpath and said that it looked like the sister of a friend of his back home. Someone shouted out her name, in the unlikely event that it was her, and to our amazement she looked around. Of course, the traffic lights changed at that precise time and we were off, leaving behind a very bewildered woman standing on a street in Beijing, having just had her name called by a busload of unseen strangers. (I made Leading Seaman Lachlan MacFie promise that he would call his friend when we got home and solve the mystery for his sister!) After we had finished shopping and bewildering tourists, we made our way, under the guidance of local expert Captain Rixon, to an authentic Peking Duck restaurant for authentic Peking Duck, a must when one visits Peking (Beijing). After dinner, we treated ourselves to a massage and agreed that we had a great end to another busy day. Our final day in Beijing started with a concert with the PLA-N (People’s Liberation Army – Navy) band at a gymnasium on the navy base. We were the first international band to perform at this base and the concert was attended by some high ranking senior officers of the Chinese Navy, defence attaches and cadet officers. We opened the concert with some jazz and rock, and were then entertained by the PLAN band. One of the singers from the Chinese Band asked Leading Seaman Beach to join him in “Sailing” and although Jason has a certain degree of shyness (!) he accepted. He reports that it was a great experience and it was certainly a huge hit with the crowd. The Director of the PLA-N band Colonel Li Xing conducted Advance Australia Fair and I conducted the Chinese National Anthem. The 400 Chinese military personnel really enjoyed the concert as did the 100 VIPs. After a magnificent buffet lunch with the Chinese band we headed back to the motel to collect our things and begin the long trip home. By the time we arrived at the airport and checked in for the 2130 flight everyone was exhausted and agreed that sleep was a good option for the trip home. The final word comes from Leading Seaman Jason Beach. “It was a fantastic trip and a great experience. The band sounded great and for all of us I am sure it was one of the best rock group gigs we have done in the Navy. They trip wouldn’t have been what it was if it wasn’t for the help and friendship of Captain Vaughn Rixon and his wife Felicity. They went out of their way to make the trip a memorable and enjoyable one, and it was.” Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 167 – RAN BAND NEWS EDITION NUMBER 11 11 DECEMBER 2007 BEAT TO QUARTERS IN SHANGHAI FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK The history of the Navy Band has continued to develop at full pace, and its record of service is no where more clearly demonstrated than in this edition of RAN Band News. We have the usual stories of, what seems like, our routine work and engagement within the Australian community: it may be routine; but in the Australian Defence Force we are recognised as delivering a very high level of service and standard of product for Navy. Also in this edition are stories about our work in support of ship Commissioning Ceremonies and Welcome Home Ceremonies: our leading role in these ceremonies ensures Nation best outcomes. However, personal highlights for me are the stories from our embarked musicians, and the four Commanding Officer Commendations that have been included in this edition that clearly articulate the quality of our people. Over the past six months we embarked musicians in three Major Fleet Units, deployed a musical team to the Solomon Islands in support of a Forces Advisory Council of Entertainment (FACE) tour, and still managed to do our usual business within and around the Nation. Feedback that I have received about the contribution made by our people to these sea deployments and to FACE activities has been superb and demonstrates the significant level of additional capability that these small music elements provide to these important overseas missions. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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