“High in the misty Highlands, Out by the purple islands…”
On September 1, 2014, the Hellcats traveled to Scotland to perform in the first annual Highland Military Tattoo. The Hellcats, thrilled to represent the West Point Band, United States Military Academy, and the United States Army, performed in the United Kingdom for the first time in the history of the West Point Band. The tattoo took place in the historic setting of Fort George located near Inverness, Scotland. This military fortification was completed in 1769 and provided a striking backdrop as the Hellcats performed alongside several UK ensembles including the Military Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
With performances on BBC One and STV, the Hellcats inspired audiences with their musical and technical abilities acting as musical ambassadors both on and off stage.
“I felt like I represented not only the Army, but the entire United States. I received several comments from musicians in the band about how they appreciated our musical professionalism and consistency. Audience members enjoyed our interaction throughout the show, and it was a great feeling to be told that we were the icing on the cake.” MSG James Barnard
Drummers exchanged rudiments before rehearsals and the piccolos swapped stories with other wind players. Although we may differ in culture and background, music gives us all a sense of unity and instantaneous friendship. These brief interactions impacted the Hellcat members in a profound way that directly translated into our playing. The Highland Military Tattoo took place from September 5-7, 2014, and the Hellcats were humbled to perform four shows to over 8,000 energetic and responsive audience members.
“To me, it was about the audience and their experience. If they were happy, I was happy. After seeing all the smiles and hearing the loud, explosive applause, I knew that our mission was complete.” SSG Courtney Martin.
The show itself was tailored to the venue’s horseshoe-shaped seating arrangement, ensuring that the Hellcats interacted with audience members on all sides. The show began with a fanfare displaying military bearing and discipline. As the show progressed, each section displayed its musical and technical capabilities. The grand finale was a medley of American patriotic tunes; the Hellcats invited the audience to rise to their feet and clap along! After the evening performance and fireworks display, the Hellcat members were eager to meet and greet the audience.
After one evening’s performance, the Hellcats were humbled to meet Vietnam War veteran David McKelvie. Mr. McKelvie was a medic in the US Navy and served during the Vietnam War from 1972-1976. He helped execute several missions including establishing a refugee center at Eglin Air Force Base.
As anticipated, performing in the Highland Military Tattoo proved to be an absolutely unforgettable experience. The Hellcats are immensely grateful to Major General Seymour Monro and Major Bruce Hitchings for extending the invitation to perform at this spectacular event!
Words By: SSG Ashley Mendeke
Photos by: SSG Chrissy Rivers