Biggest military band of National Day parade puts on show

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A 1,300-member military band, which is dubbed by its conductor as "the biggest and best" band in China, is scheduled to present a non-stop two-hour show Thursday as a grand military parade and a civilian pageant proceed.

It is the first time for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) military band, which contributed to previous 13 national military reviews, to have a crew composed of selected performers from the three armed forces -- army, navy and air force, said Yu Hai, head of the military band in an interview.

It is the first time for performers dress in three-service uniforms on such an occasion. The army is olive green, navy white and air force blue.

Previously, performers only sported army uniforms, said Yu, who is also general conductor of the live performance to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The performers to play live on Tian'anmen Square are selected out of 2,000 military musicians in 46 military bands across the country.

"The band consists of the best performers in the military, it is also the biggest band in terms of staff and the best in performance quality," Yu said.

On Oct. 1, 1949, a military band composed of 200 performers played for the first time the national anthem of the PRC on Tian'anmen Square with instruments seized from enemies.

On July 10, 1952, the band size expanded and outnumbered 1,000 following Chairman Mao Zedong's proposal.

Mao said the country should have a performing band composed of one thousand military musicians during national military review and civilian pageant given the huge population of the country and large ground area of Tian'anmen Square.

Ever since, the military band has become an integral part of the military parade and goose-stepping soldiers and speed of the parade most often proceed to the rhythm of their music.

However, performance during the military parade is more than some "lip service", it was a harsh endurance test for them.

They are among the first group of people to enter Tian'anmen Square Thursday and will be the last to leave.

They have to stand steady for hours. Their music is put to the test of hundreds of thousands of participants.

Their performance will be subject to the examination of top Chinese leaders and invited foreign guests standing on Tian'anmen Rostrum.

"All the performers should stand erect and straight for at least three hours and play music non-stop for more than two hours," said Yu, who acted as general conductor of the PLA military band on National Day celebration ten years ago.

No time discrepancy is allowed for the military band as the National Flag-Raising Squad and military troops to be reviewed must act strictly in accordance with the rhythm, he said.

To perfect their performing skills, the band has undergone arduous training. Their training exceeds more than 10 hours daily.

"One shall stand for four hours and not fall, sit for four hours and not move, play (music instruments) for four hours and not feel tired, and contain piss for four hours," the requirements for the performers read.

The military band is at its best level ever after the arduous training, Yu Hai said.

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