The event was opened by Dr. Christoph Dammann, a representative of the Kaiserslautern Mayor, and Colonel Karl-Heinz Lutz, Senior German Officer of NATO's Allied Air Command at Ramstein Air Base. Both are board members of the NATO Music Festival Foundation which benefits from funds that were raised during this event and will use them for charitable purposes in the region.
The event showcases NATO's presence in the region
"The event demonstrates NATO's presence in the region," said Colonel Lutz. "We have been able to enjoy a great evening with sweeping tunes and professional musicians – military and civilians performing side by side. Music is the element that brings people together and we have seen this tonight. I am very pleased that together with our host, Mr. Michael Lakatos of Jazzbühne Kaiserslautern, we enjoyed reflecting on NATO's 70th anniversary," he added, "and thanks to the enthusiastic audience we were able once again to raise funds that our NATO Music Festival Foundation will spend for charitable purposes in and around Kaiserslautern."
One highlight of the evening was the joint performance of a jazz version of the NATO Hymn. The then conductor of the Luxembourg Musique Militaire Grand-Ducale, Captain André Reichling, composed this hymn for the 40th anniversary of the Alliance in 1989.
"The NATO Hymn is composed as a military march guided by a wonderful melody," said Mr. Michael Lakatos, who was the host during the event. "This melody inspired us to arrange this piece as a solemn and dignified jazz ballad performed by the unrivaled Ernie Hammes from Luxembourg on flugelhorn; the audience was just amazed," he added.
"It is always something very special when you meet your fellow ensembles only on the very night to sit down and arrange a joint performance," he described how the performance was put together.
The event "Jazzbühne meets NATO Jazz" is organized in close coordination with the NATO Music Festival Foundation, a non-profit organization co-sponsored by the city of Kaiserslautern and NATO's Allied Air Command at Ramstein Air Base. Since 2013, NATO jazz events have been follow-on events of the NATO Music Festival. The big military music festival was held at the Betzenberg football stadium bi-annually between 1965 and 2011 bringing together military bands from NATO Allies and Partner nations.
Traditionally, the net proceeds from these NATO musical events have gone to regional and local charitable organisations via the Foundation. In total, 2,000 EUR were gathered during the 2018 NATO jazz event that will be used to support a local Kaiserslautern-based cancer project and the City of Kaiserslautern social family help project.