Air Force Band Director Discusses ‘Music of Freedom’ Tour

Air Force Lt. Col. Cristina Moore Urrutia, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band commander and conductor, discusses the band’s “Music of Freedom” tour, during which they traveled to six cities in central and western Ukraine from October 6-20, 2019. The tour celebrated the shared spirit of freedom and enduring partnership between U.S. and Ukrainian armed forces.

Video by Air Force 1st Lt. Sarah Johnson

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Air Force Lt. Col. Cristina Moore Urrutia: The main purpose of our tour is to celebrate with the Ukrainian people their independence. Us being here, I think, reinforces how our nations feel very strongly about our relationship, the importance that we have, that we value, um, our ability to stand together, side by side, as any challenge comes. Obviously, we’re hoping for a peaceful and secure Europe. Music is one of those expressions of the soul that crosses all kind of boundaries, and so, I think, for me, Music of Freedom is about expressing the heart of a people, where they have maybe been oppressed or they have felt struggle, and they have been able to express that through music. So, being able to come to a place like Ukraine, where struggle continues, and we can play some of the music that is near and dear to their heart, I think that’s a way of expressing our common bond with one another, where we both, and we all, all over the world, right? We long for the same things. I really hope the people of Ukraine will sense the solidarity that the United States has with them. You know, as members of the U.S. military, we travel all over Europe and Africa, and we don’t just represent our unit. Of course, we represent the Air Force, but oftentimes we’re representing our nation, and it’s an opportunity for us to show each different country how much we value the relationship that we have with them. So, that’s what I would want the people of Ukraine to take away, is that they know and understand and feel, in a way that’s maybe pretty visceral and emotional, in a way that lasts maybe longer than a talking point, um, where they really know and understand that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them. The USAFE (you-SAFE-e) Band is honored to travel all throughout Europe and Africa. We have over 400 performances a year, and each location that we go, our presence is, is, uh, a response of our nation to say we are standing with you, that our friendship matters, that common bond of, of, longing for freedom or sovereignty — state sovereignty, the importance of each nation to be able to determine its own way ahead. Those are the things that I think our presence can represent in a particular country.

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