U.S. Army Musician travels to Salt Lake City with U.S. Army Latin Ensemble

By Spc. David Berggren
4th Infantry Division Band

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Spc. Wesley Rivera, Keyboard Player for the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) Band, traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah in July to participate in a special U.S. Army Latin Ensemble for several performances in conjunction with the 86th League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Annual Convention. The ensemble was formed specifically to perform at the 81st Convention held in Washington, D.C. in 2010 and has reformed every year since to perform at the event.

The group is a mix of Active, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers from across the Army. Currently led by vocalist Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edwin Reyes, an Aircraft Controller based out of Ft. Riley, Kansas the band included nine Army Musicians, and three other Soldiers who serve outside the Army Band field.

This was Rivera’s second invitation to join the group since joining the Army Music program in 2012, but he was unable to participate earlier due to prior unit commitments.

The musical requirements demanded much of Rivera as he learned 36 songs in preparation for the performances with limited group rehearsal time. The repertoire spanned the decades and regions of Latin America with Bachata, Ranchero, Merengue, Latin Jazz and Salsa styles of music.

“For me it was one of the best experiences ever because I was representing the Army, Ft. Carson, the 4ID Band, and my community; and the band was awesome, performing at a very high level. Once we started to play, people started dancing,” said Rivera. “I’m hoping to be back next year when LULAC goes back to Washington, D.C.”

In addition to performing music, Rivera spent time talking with conference attendees about military life and had the opportunity to talk with local Latino youths involved in LULAC’s “Upward Bound” educational support program, which he was a part of as a student in his native Puerto Rico. “It was interesting talking to them because they are mostly second generation U.S. citizens,” Rivera said. “They were smart, making all A’s in school. It was impressive.”

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