On 10 October 2019 the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment travelled to Sydney, Australia to take part in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It was the largest ever production in the Tattoo’s 69 year history featuring over 1500 musicians and performers from more than 20 countries.
The world-renowned cultural event is firmly rooted in Scottish traditions, showcasing the famous Massed Pipes and Drums, fiddlers, singers and dancers; however, this show brought with it a unique Australian flavour. At All Points of the Compass was the theme, placing Australia at the centre of the World Map and celebrating their links to allies and friends through music, dance and cultural traditions. Acts included the Indian Naval Band, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre.
The Band, supported by the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, combined with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood and the Band of the Irish Guards to form the United Kingdom Tri-Service contingent. Their display was a truly British affair featuring Land of Hope and Glory and World in Union. With limited rehearsal time in the Stadium it was a challenge to perfect our complicated routine, which involved creating a rotating compass, but all our hard work paid off resulting in four very successful performances. The Band’s Drum Major, Flight Sergeant Simon Carter said;
I couldn’t be prouder of the musicians of the Band of the RAF Regiment; the quality of their musicianship, drill, dress and deportment during our display was first-rate, and they remained consummate professionals throughout our time in Australia. It’s an absolute privilege to be their Drum Major.
Performances took place in the ANZ Stadium in Sydney’s Olympic Park and the 83,000 capacity Stadium was well supported with audiences from all over the world. The final performance clashed with the Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final between Australia and England. This provided much entertainment in the back-stage area where the Australian Defence Force set-up a projector to show the match, with both nations proudly (but quietly!) cheering on their teams. It was a particularly poignant moment to be able to march into the Stadium for the display after England’s victory and play World in Union; the theme tune for the Rugby World Cup.
The Band also provided musical support for the Lochiel Marching Drill Team and took part in the massed finale with all 1500 performers. John Paul Young OAM, Scottish-born Australian pop star, was front and centre singing his worldwide hit Love is in the Air, finishing a Songs of Australia medley, which also featured Land Down Under, Staying Alive and You’re the Voice.
Band members maximised their little spare time and explored as much of Sydney as possible, managing to visit Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, Lords Cricket Ground and many other local attractions whilst enjoying the glorious Spring weather!
It was a truly honourable experience to be part of the UK contingent, and the unique opportunity to work with so many musicians and performers from all over the world was really special.
Written by Senior Aircraftwoman Sarah Smith.
Photographs taken by Michael Cassel Group, Ross Tomkins and Senior Aircraftman Alex Smith.
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