Monday, September 30, 2019

MENU's UK Adventure 3. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

One of the main reasons we came to Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular, besides family connections, was to treat John to the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, held every August (2nd to 24th August 2019), during the Edinburgh festival. John was a Piper in his school band
and we both love the sound of a pipe band. This delivers them en masse. Lynne has been twice in the past and it is one of those very special memorable events. You book tickets on line and we managed to get a night in the last week. The walk up to the castle from our AirBnB apartment was a fairly easy 20 minute stroll uphill, through this beautiful ancient city that has managed to preserve so much. This is where you become part of the gathering crowd all going the same way
It was the first night that it didn't rain (if it does, the show goes on; the Scots are used to rain), but we came very warmly dressed, which was very necessary later as there was a cutting wind from the North. Lynne brought a polar fleece cap and a plaid scarf just to be sure, and we both had plastic ponchos just in case the rain returned. Gazing around at the stands, the international crowds and the castle before we took our fairly lofty seats. It begins at 9 pm and in August it is still light at this time
A view of the castle ramparts where later, at the end of concert, the lone piper plays
On the right is the covered supporting orchestra 'pit' and on the left, a stand where the choirs sit
The stadium is not permanent; they put it up every year and, during the tattoo, it seats just over 217 000 people who come from all over the world.  It has sold out in advance for the last decade. 30% of the audience are from Scotland and 35% from the rest of the United Kingdom. The remaining 35% of the audience consists of 70 000 visitors from overseas. Brigadier (Retired) David Allfrey MBE  has been the Producer since 2011
A wonderful view of the City and the surrounding hills. Note, no high rise buildings in this historic view
The gathering clouds were a bit worrisome, but they did not come close to us
and scanning the flags of many nations, there was our South African flag
This year the title of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was "Kaleidoscope 2019 Is A Celebration Of Glorious Symmetries, An Experience For The Senses". Here giving the salute after the Anthem is Admiral (apologies, but the programme didn't give his name)
Then we heard the skirl of the pipes and on came the famous band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle
with the band of the Scots Guards
The conductor
The fanfare by the trumpeters of the Scots Guards
and the cannon roared a welcome
Introducing the Kaleidoscope of Colour were Scots lassies with light sabres
that interacted with the lights around the base of the seats to produce a rainbow
And then the massed pipe bands entered: The Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Scots Guards and the Irish Guards and the other contributing pipe bands. It was a wall of harmonious music that began and then filled the whole arena; an overwhelmingly emotional sensation if you have Scottish ancestry. Pure grandeur, tradition and absolutely magic. It sets your feet tapping and your heart dancing. See our YouTube videos here or at the end of this story
and on and on they come to fill the whole arena
Not just a hundred pipers, about 150, with brass and drums
Watch these two YouTube videos of the 2019 Edinburgh Military Tattoo
A note from a former piper; listen to the drums. A pipe band is never complete without them
Each pipe tune has a corresponding drum tune and it is the partnership between pipes and drums which makes it all work
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HUX_KUwdog &
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU8sziA_wtw
The rest of the programme then began and we show photos of only a selection of the performers
From Nigeria, soldiers, dancers and singers
with the Nigerian military band
The German Army band with their very special drummer
and dancers wearing lederhosen and dirndls
From the Caribbean, a voodoo dancer on stilts swirled and twisted with graphics projected onto the ground
Limbo under a fire pole
The Caribbean nations' Steel band made joyous noise and even played some Bob Marley
Accompanied by butterfly dancers
From France, the French military Garde Republicaine Band played a selection of very popular music including one tune by Michel Legrand which had the audiences humming along, and some modern pop
and then Jacques Offenbach's CanCan from Orpheus in the Underworld
with dancers performing with gusto and managing to fill the huge area with sound and colour
Next, some graceful Scottish dancers accompanied by the pipers of the Scots Guards, the Royal Scots and the Irish Guards
Musicians from the bands of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Scots Guards
accompanied a choir of school children singing famous Scottish songs and we could sing along
A traditional band of  Chinese from North America called the  Tian Guo  Marching Band,
wearing traditional clothing with their dancers. In English, they are known as the Divine Land marching band
Whirling in formation
New Zealand  dancers in blue plaid
Scottish traditional fiddlers being joined on stage by more bands
Those girls from New Zealand
were accompanied by the New Zealand Military band who played Pack Up Your Troubles and You'll Never Walk Alone
Some of the band members even danced a bit of a jig while playing
and they did the Haka for us, to the great amusement of the crowd and to loud cheers
The massed bands returned and filled the arena, cross marching back and forth
And then the singing of the National Anthem and the emotional finish with Auld Lang Syne
Looks like chaos and is not, counter-marching, so neat and tidy and so overwhelming in sound and joy
They even played "This is the Greatest Show" amongst other tunes. British and Scottish Pomp and Circumstance at its best
The fireworks began
and became more spectacular
and went on and on delighting the audience
while the massed bands stood to attention below
After which, we had the lone piper, but he was really difficult to focus on with all the smoke and noise and light
And, finally, the bands marched back to barracks
and the very orderly crowd left the arena. No rubbish was left anywhere that we saw
Two video clips of the massed bands and dancers 
which John took with his camera can be seen at
and

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