The first run-through of the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2014

On Tuesday night, we finally had our first run-through of the entire programme for the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2014.

Forming the number '20' in celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa

The massed pipes and drums form the number ’20’ in celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa

I’d been really curious to see how it would all come together, and from where the bands would be marching onto the arena, and exiting it after each performance. In the end, everything came together really nicely, and it seemed to me like everyone knew where to be when. It looks a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle to me, involving numerous bands and musicians, performers and soldiers, each of whom has their unique role to play. All the entrances and exits have to be worked out and practiced beforehand, so that the flow is not interrupted. But then these men and women are professionals – many of them have been doing this for many years. The wranglers from Regiment Oranje Rivier, with their black berets, were kept on their toes – dashing onto the arena with assorted props, musical instruments, microphones, conductor’s podium, etc. at the correct moment.

The massed military bands this year are the SA Army Band Western Cape, the SA Army Band Kroonstad, the SA Navy Band, and the South African Medical Health Services Band. The supremely entertaining Kroonstad band with their energetic drum major, Staff Sergeant Johan Labuschagne, always have a surprise up their sleeve… We wait with bated breath to see what it will be this year!

The SS Mendi routine

The SS Mendi routine involving the Sea Cadets, the dancers of Project 021, and the SA Navy Band marimbas

The massed pipes and drums are made up of six bands this year, which must be a record – in addition to the Cape Town Highlanders and Cape Field Artillery, who are familiar stalwarts of the Tattoo, we have the Pipes and Drums of the Cape Garrison Artillery, of the SA Medical Health Services, the Algoa Caledonian Pipe Band and the Knysna & Districts Pipe Band. I believe that we have around 100 pipers – what a sound!

This year, the Sea Cadets of TS (Training Ship) Woltemade are back, with a very polished silent drill. They are also part of the Tribute to the SS Mendi, the ship that was tragically sunk in World War 1, with over 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps drowning as the ship went down. The dancers of Project 021 represent the stormy waves, while the marimbas of the SA Navy Band create the musical backdrop.

And, it being a military tattoo after all, there is some exciting “deploy and protect” action on the arena – involving soldiers from the Cape Town Highlanders, together with the daredevil bikers from the Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) who had been practising with much gusto and vroom-vrooming earlier in the day!

Enjoy the pics – remember that you can click on any of the photos to see them in a slideshow with captions. 🙂

And if you haven’t booked your tickets at Computicket yet – go now!

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