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VERONA, Italy — There was some Italian spoken. And some English as well.

But it was a third language that drew everyone’s attention Tuesday at the small American military compound in the city of Romeo and Juliet — the language of music.

Thanks to a group of Italian schoolchildren, some kids got a rare chance to see a musical performance at school. It was rare because Verona American School, with just more than 50 students from kindergarten to seventh grade, doesn’t have a formal music program.

“You can’t find a better bridge between the American and Italian communities than music,” said Air Force Col. Don Greiman, the senior U.S. officer assigned to the NATO mission in Verona.

Food’s probably a close second, though. And after the student members of the Corpo Bandistico di Sona finished their performance, they were treated to hot dogs, chips and soda.

Army Lt. Col. Brent Penny, the school liaison officer for Verona, said the concert served several purposes.

Sharing music, languages and food as a cultural exchange was a part of it. But the performance by the Italian students showed their American counterparts “that there’s someone of your age interested in music and maybe you can be, too.”

The Corpo Bandistico di Sona isn’t affiliated with a particular school. Rather, it’s a club of sorts for music enthusiasts. Those performing Tuesday have been playing for less than three years. After that, they’re allowed to take a test to see if they can play with the organization’s other groups.

Individual members of the group showed their American peers how they play their instruments before the concert got under way. So American kids got to see instruments such as the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, drum and violin, and then listen to them in action.

They also giggled at the performance of Andrea Favari, who acted out a version of “The Fisherman’s Wife” in between musical sets. Favari’s voice rose and fell while reading (in Italian) the lines of the woman and the man in the play.

American sixth-grader Arianna Tyner helped make sense of it, speaking the words afterward in English.

Greiman, who plays bass trombone in one of the Italian group’s bands, said he hoped the event might interest some of the American kids to take up an instrument — in or out of school.

“When there isn’t something that could be, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what’s possible,” he said.

Tuesday’s concert may have some American students imagining new possibilities.

Migrated
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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