Cold weather in Baghdad is not an excuse to miss the ravishing-hot sounds of ‘Ritmo Latino’ (Latin Rhythm) ensemble, as it performed in front of eager spectators at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent, Jan.17.
The group is part of the various musical ensembles that comprise the 4th Infantry Division Band, each one with a different musical style, but all with the same mission.
“Our main purpose here is to give the audience a chance to get away from their daily routine and stress, and enjoy their evening in a very nice way,” said Sgt. Luis Feliciano, a San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico native, bass player and director of the ensemble. “This way we help keep the morale up while performing.”
‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble musicians are from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and places as far away as Bolivia and Puerto Rico, all of them are members of the 4th Infantry Division Band.
“After our last deployment in Iraq the ensemble lost 70 per cent of its members due to moving and changes,” said Feliciano. “This group is basically a new one and we have been practicing for the last eight months, we have come a long way in order to please our audience.”
For a little more than two hours the crowd was delighted in listening at the swing of Merengue, Salsa, Bachata and Reaggeton, strange musical terms in the English dictionary, that gave the audience the opportunity to travel to far away places without leaving Iraq.
“Experiences like this one are special because it helps to bond Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and civilians in a special way. It really is an important morale event for every one,” said Air Force Capt. Hallie Day, a Lancaster, Calif., native and currently with Multi-National Force-Iraq.
Music doesn’t have race, language or religious preference so for the members of the 4th Inf. Div. Band ‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble the purpose of bringing a little joy to every one is worth the effort.
“We are musicians and this is what we do, bringing joy and entertainment here or any where it’s needed,” said Feliciano. “We are doing it for everybody deployed here and if they dance, laugh and enjoy themselves with our performance then we have done our job right.”
By Staff Sgt. Luis Orengo