BY WYATT LEHMAN — PACIFIC OCEAN — Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) were treated to some musical entertainment courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy Band Sea Deployment Group on July 16-19.
The 2010 Rim of the Pacific exercise has given Sailors aboard Bonhomme Richard the unique opportunity to watch the Australian Band in action.
Chief Petty Officer Musician Doug Antonoff, the bandmaster, is in charge of the band which consists of a lead singer, two backup singers, a guitarist, a drummer, a trombone player, a trumpeter, a saxophonist, a bass guitar player and a pianist.
The band has chosen a varied playlist to appeal to different tastes in music, and to share some Australian music with the crew as well.
“We are trying to appeal to the mainstream people,” said Able Seaman Musician
Stephanie Hutchinson, the lead singer. “We threw in some Aussie rock tunes as well to show you guys the sort of music we appreciate as a nation.”
Before coming to Bonhomme Richard, the band played on USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and in Pearl Harbor, they joined with the U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy Band, performing at several functions on O’ahu.
“We were here originally to do the reception on the HMAS Kanimbla,” said Petty Officer Lucas Kennedy, the band’s drummer. “Everything else has been self-initiated. Playing on the Cleveland and here was organized by us and it gives us the opportunity to play for an international audience.”
“The performance of the Australian band was magnificent,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Iasrealia Berns. “I am very glad and appreciative of the fact that they came on board to play for us.”
Hutchinson explained that the Royal Australian Navy has two full time bands, one in Melbourne, another in Sydney, plus five reserve detachments. The band aboard Bonhomme Richard consists of musicians from both Melbourne and Sydney.
“To get a position in the Royal Australian Navy Band, you have to audition, and demonstrate skill to the standard of a degree in Music,” said Hutchinson, “After you pass your audition, and if there’s a position available in the band, you then enter the normal Navy recruiting process. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, it’s a dream job!”
“My favorite part of the job is the musical satisfaction to myself,” said Kennedy, “The response from the crowd makes you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile and the warmest reception we’ve had so far was from the crew of the Bonhomme Richard.”
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Wyatt Lehman authored this report. RIMPAC is a biennial, multinational exercise design to strengthen regional partnerships and improve multinational interoperability.