Stirring music, breathtaking action, mesmerising spectacle and an incomparable atmosphere. This is in store at this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo (5-27 August). As ever, staged against the famous backcloth of Edinburgh Castle, the show focuses on the theme ‘Of the Sea’ while celebrating key anniversaries and Scotland’s remarkable engineering pedigree. The new Tattoo Chief Executive & Producer, Brigadier David Allfrey, takes the event’s helm.
The new Tattoo Chief Executive & Producer said: "I am proud and privileged to be working with a wonderful team, both those based in Edinburgh and experts from further afield. Not only are we painting on the canvas of the Castle Esplanade but also we have some of the finest ingredients in the world. The evergreen favourites of the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Massed Bands, a strong finale and, of course, the Lone Piper are joined by acts from across the Commonwealth, Europe, the Middle East and South America."
Show-stopping international attractions lined-up for this summer include the Brazilian Marine Corps Martial Band – preparing for their debut at this month’s Tattoo – and, making what will be their first visit to the Scottish capital, The German Mountain Army Band, with their own unique interpretation of Alphorn music and precision drill.
Yet this year’s Tattoo opens in spectacular fashion with a specially-commissioned fanfare - entitled ‘Salute to the Stands’ – which celebrates the Tattoo’s new £16m state-of-the-art amphitheatre and will be performed at the start of each show during the three-week spectacular. The piece, composed by Pete Curtis and ‘Mac’ McDermott – who, amongst others, spearhead the Senior Service participation at the 2011 Tattoo - will be premiered before the Massed Pipes & Drums fill the Esplanade with the thrilling sound of the pipes.
A 250-strong pipe band will advance across the Castle drawbridge each evening playing time-honoured favourites such as ‘The March of the Cameron Men’ and ‘In the Garb of Auld Gaul’.
"The pipes represent the very essence of Scotland’s national heritage and everyone who has ever seen and heard them in this magical place will hold the memory forever", remarked David Allfrey.
They comprise the Pipes & Drums of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, 1st & 2nd Battalion of The Royal Gurkha Rifles and the Royal Air Force. While from overseas, the Crossed Swords Pipe Band from Germany, who make their first appearance at this summer’s show, the Royal Caledonian Society of South Australia and, after a 4-year absence, the return of the Royal Army of Oman.
Forty of the Netherlands’ finest military musicians with their celebrated Bicycle Band – Fanfarekorps Koninklijke Landmacht Bereden Wapens – resplendent in historic World War 1 period uniform are one of the more unusual elements set to grace the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle this year. They are expected to play flawlessly while riding in impeccable military formation. Extraordinary coordination and musical skill is required for this unique set.
"The international flavour of the Tattoo works so well," commented the Brigadier "This year, we are able to follow imaginary trade winds and the ocean’s currents around the world, showcasing the skills and culture of our friends and allies … wherever we touch land."
Also on their first visit to the Scottish Capital is South America’s iconic Brazilian Marine Corps Band from the historic Sao Jose Fortress in Rio de Janeiro. This 90-piece ensemble will perform - complete with bagpipes – martial displays, dance and folk music drawn from indigenous sources across the South American subcontinent.
Then, for the first time in the Tattoo’s 61-year history the Royal Navy will present its famous field gun display on the Castle Esplanade - a time-honoured test of physical fitness and team spirit – now adapted for the particular challenges of an inclined performance space. As part of the set, men of Field Gun teams from around the fleet, will team up with other players to showcase naval gunnery over the last 3 centuries. This act has drawn deeply on the history of the Royal Navy and an exciting collaboration with HMS Unicorn. His Majesty’s Frigate Unicorn, of 46 guns, was built for the Royal Navy in the Royal Dockyard at Chatham and launched in 1824. She is now the world’s last intact warship from the days of sail, one of the six oldest ships in the world and Scotland’s only representative of the sailing navy. HMS Unicorn is moored on Dundee’s waterfront.
A military band of the first Mountain Division - the German Mountain Army Band from Bavaria - also make their Tattoo debut. The mountain-dwelling musicians clad in traditional Germanic uniform will introduce their charming and haunting alphorn music to the Esplanade while staging a well-rehearsed log chopping display.
This year the Tattoo’s Highland Dancers will join forces with the West Ulster Total Dance Company from the north of Ireland. Tattoo Dance Director and former World Champion Highland Dancer, Billy Forsyth MBE has devised an exciting display, which embraces the maritime theme of the 2011 Tattoo to illustrate the challenges faced by working fishermen braving the elements in search of nature’s harvest.
Tattoo audiences will then witness the Band of the Royal Netherlands Army Mounted Regiments in action with a traditional music display and a touch of magic.
Also among this year’s attractions will be the Royal Navy’s piracy patrol performance as a boarding party from HMS Montrose take to the showground to re-enact a scenario from a recent operation in the Indian Ocean. Their presentation embraces the very best of modern production technology and will serve to entertain and perhaps inform.
This colourful performance then gives way to the inspiring music of the combined Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, who take centre stage in a compelling programme dedicated to the Senior Service and a celebration of a maritime themed Tattoo. Together with their renowned precision drummers, the Bands comprise some 140 musicians from HM Royal Marines Plymouth, Portsmouth and Scotland. The musicians are under the direction of the Royal Marines Principal Director of Music and the 2011 Tattoo Director of Music, Lieutenant Colonel N J Grace.
The Brazilian Marine Corps Martial Band, the German Mountain Army Band together with the Band of the Netherlands Mounted Regiments and the Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland then assemble for the start of a stirring finale - in company with the Massed Pipes & Drums. This powerful sequence features specially arranged music from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and employs state-of-the-art projection equipment portraying a rich tapestry of complementary imagery.
A sensational Grand Finale, featuring the entire 1,000 cast and a Guard of Honour provided by The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, with Shetland Pony Mascot, Cruachan III, of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, then brings the show to an emotional and poignant close as the Lone Piper, high on the Castle ramparts, plays the haunting lament ‘The Parting Glass’.
During this year’s finale sequence, representatives from The High Constables of Edinburgh will parade at the conclusion of the Saturday evening performances in celebration of the Society’s 400 years of service.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is grateful, once more, to The Royal Bank of Scotland for its generous support. Brigadier Allfrey said: "It is wonderful that RBS continue to support us in putting on the show, with all that this entails. This year’s performance represents a relationship that has developed over 10 years, delivering an insight into the United Kingdom’s Armed Services, Scottish and international culture that is unequalled. We are very proud of what has been accomplished over the years and are looking forward to a bright future."
Some tickets for the 2011 Tattoo (5-27 August) may be available from the Tattoo Ticket Sales Office at 33-34 Market Street in Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 225 1188.
"Demand for tickets this year has been incredible, particularly given the current economic challenges. Indeed, the other day when we opened for business, we sold 660 Preview tickets over the counter, phone and internet in just 10 minutes", stated the Tattoo’s Chief Executive & Producer.