Soul Music for Sarajevo

Lt. Jim Sheldrake
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002

A military band from the UK spent a weekend in Sarajevo as part of a tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, playing concerts for SFOR troops and the residents of the city. Concerts were held at Camp Butmir and also in the centre of Sarajevo, where musicians played a variety of popular tunes. They also supported a charity evening that raised money for children whose lives have been affected by war in Europe and Africa.

Sarajevo - The Saturday shoppers in downtown Sarajevo were treated to a performance by a touring military band from the British Army. The musicians came from the Minden Band of The Queen's Division and spent a week in the country playing concerts for British soldiers and other SFOR troops at Camp Butmir, the Banja Luka Metal Factory and Sipovo.
Shopping to music
The Sarajevo concert was organised by Ines Kuburovic from the Sarajevo Arts Agency and took place in the square outside the Catholic Cathedral. A large crowd soon gathered to watch the band, conducted by WO1 Chris King, playing a variety of popular tunes. Along with music from composers as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Johann Sebastian Bach, they also performed the themes from Star Wars and Mission Impossible. The band finished with a selection of popular Christmas carols. One young spectator was lucky enough to be given the conductor's baton and took charge of the band for a short while. Among the crowd was the High Representative, Paddy Ashdown with his wife Jane, and plenty of television crews and reporters were on hand to record the event for the evening news programmes.
Blues in Butmir
The musicians don't just play together as a large military band. The previous evening, a small group of soldiers known as the 'Midnight Hour' Soul, Blues and Pop Band played a charity concert at the newly refurbished Café Royale, Camp Butmir. 'Midnight Hour' played a selection of contemporary music, including tunes from the films The Blues Brothers and The Commitments. During a lively concert that got the whole bar singing, 'Midnight Hour' were joined on stage by Flt. Lt. Tony O'Neill as a guest backing singer.
Support for children
As well as providing a great evening of music for the staff at HQ SFOR, money was raised for HOPE and HOMES for Children, a charity that supports young victims of war and disaster. Mark Cook, a UN Commander in the Croatian War, founded the organisation in 1994 which now runs projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo, along with other countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. In the Balkans, HOPE and HOMES for Children work with local partners to replace institutional orphanages with family based care. They also aim to prevent the abandonment of children and influence national childcare policy.
After a hectic weekend in Sarajevo, with a real purpose, the band went on to play a concert in Bugojno, before flying back to their base at Bassingbourn Barracks in the UK.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK

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Photo: The Minden Band

'Midnight Hour', the soul, blues and pop band that played at Camp Butmir. The same musicians were also part of the band that played in Sarajevo.


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Photos: Lt. Jim Sheldrake

The band included a Brass section of Trumpets, French Horns, Tubas and Trombones.


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Two young children dance to the band in the Cathedral square.


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The Minden Band of the Queen's Division played in the centre of Sarajevo outside the Cathedral. Although it was a cold day, a crowd soon gathered.