Great Scots

When we think of The Military we can be forgiven for letting our minds wander to the battlefield, the weapons, the conflicts and the casualties. It is a sad footnote to the times we live in. But in the course of history, the pomp and circumstance that have accompanied the campaigns have included great bands that have marched into battle alongside the soldiers who bravely fought for king and country. And there are none better than the Band of the Royal Marines of Scotland.

bandsIn their distinguishing white helmets, Royal Marines Bands are celebrated for the quality of their music, visual grandeur and precision drill. On the concert platform they enjoy a similar reputation ensuring their continuing popularity with their audiences. The Band’s repertoire includes popular classics, Big Band, stimulating contemporary works and entertaining solo features. The Corps of Drums bring movement, colour and the tradition of the ceremonial occasions integral to the Royal Marines. Most members of the Band play at least two instruments and are required to perform in wind band, marching band, big band, orchestral and dance band combinations. They also provide jazz, string and woodwind ensembles, making the Royal Marines musician one of the most versatile and adept in military music.

The Bands of the Guards have been visiting North America ever since the Band of the Grenadier Guards played at Boston in 1872. 

The regular ‘coast to coast’ tours by British bands started in 1955 with a visit by the Band of the Scots Guards with the Pipes and Drums of the 1st and 2nd Battalions Scots Guards. They were under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Sam Rhodes who composed the fanfare which opened the show, after which the Pipes and Drums, with their Highland Dancers, alternated with the Regimental Band with marching displays in slow and quick time: Golden Spurs, Old Comrades, Moray Firth and Kansas City Star being amongst the titles. 

The Highland Fling, the Sword Dance and Highland Broadswords were danced to tunes with titles reflecting Scotland’s great landscapes – Leaving Port Askaig, Aspen Bank and Reel of Tulloch. The second half of the display featured the band playing music from the classical repertoire including Tchaikowsky’s stirring ‘March Slav’, Verdi’s overture to ‘Sicilian Vespers’ plus a Fantasia on Scottish Melodies, as well as cornet solos and duets. 

The next tour came in 1957 with a visit by the Band, Pipes and Drums of 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). It is this regiment who, with the Scots Guards, have proved to be amongst the most popular with American audiences and these are the two regiments you will see tonight. 

It was the next visit of The Black Watch in 1963 which proved particularly poignant as it included a special performance at the White House on 13th November for President Kennedy and his family, along with a number of invited school children. This took place just nine days before his assassination and, remembering the President’s affection for their music, his widow specially requested that pipers from The Black Watch should break from their tour to take part in his funeral procession.

The Mayo Performing Arts Center is known for its dazzling array of entertainment, from popular singers and songwriters, to dance troupes and theatre performances, to family fare and world concerts. This show will only add to their reputation.

January 7

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