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InSun Han, a music director with Nile C. Kinnick High School, faces the audience after a choir performance during the Pacific East Music Festival at Matthew C. Perry High School on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, April 13, 2022. The festival gave students an opportunity to interact and build relations with those from other military installations, as well as a chance to showcase their musical skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Darien Wright)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Darien Wright

Ensemble: Students participate in PAC East Music Festival

13 Apr 2022 | Cpl. Darien Wright Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

In an auditorium full of families, students and teachers, the sound of whispering conversation fills the echoing room, as the performing students take the stage. Silence overcomes the crowd; the show is about to begin.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, the Pacific East District Honor Music Festival has been put on hold, but on April 13, 2022 students from Matthew C. Perry High School, Nile C. Kinnick High School and Ernest J. King Middle High School -in compliance with current COVID-19 restrictions- displayed their musical talent in a performance at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, April 13, 2022.
“This is an event we used to do before COVID-19,” said Renee Cobb, the Principal of M.C. Perry High School “It’s to bring schools together so they can make music and perform with one another.”

Merrie King, a music director with M.C. Perry High School and the event director for the music festival, coordinated with music directors Paul Lewis of E.J. King Middle High School, InSun Han and Jonathan Parker of Nile C. Kinnick High School to make the event possible.
“Each school was only allowed to bring a limited number of students,” said King. “We coordinated busses and lodging for the other schools, as well as music selections; it took about a month to plan.”

A total of 73 students performed during the music festival, some performing in a choir, others playing in string orchestra and concert band. The students performed classics like Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” and “Mozart Serenade and Dance” and more current-day releases with genres like alternative indie music.

“Military kids move all the time; they lose things,” King said. “They lose friends, but events like this create memories and bonds they can hold onto forever.”

Events like this help build relationships among Department of Defense Education Activity students throughout the Pacific Region with other installations by giving them an opportunity to make friends and share unique experiences with their peers, parents, and mentors.

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