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Date: Sunday, 26th February 2017
Contributor: Stevie Small MBE - Pipers Trail Project Officer

Pipers Trail 2017 - Would you like to play at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo?


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Following another year’s stunning success for the Pipers Trail at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I am now writing on behalf of the Producer (Brigadier David Allfrey MBE) to invite applications for our 2017 show: Splash of Tartan.

Last year, we brought together an incredible volunteer band of 25 pipers and drummers from across the globe, under Pipe Major Roddy (RS) MacDonald to rehearse and perform for the whole of the Tattoo season in Edinburgh. They created a major impact and integrated seamlessly with the other professional bands. Over 250 pipers and drummers, well turned out, expert in their foot drill, played to a superb standard throughout the run of 24 live performances.

Our own view of the band’s performance and the judgement of the Director of Army Bagpipe Music were further reinforced in a number of hugely positive remarks in our audience feedback. This wonderful result has encouraged us to further develop our vision and plans at a pace.

The Massed Pipes and Drums that have played at the Tattoo to such tremendous effect for the last 67 years have traditionally been drawn from the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces: the Scottish Regiments along with those with a Celtic tradition and the Royal Gurkha Rifles. This core capability has been reinforced by formed Pipes and Drums invited from amongst our friends in the Commonwealth and allies around the world; a rich mix of military and civilian bands and some schools and colleges. The combination has always worked rather elegantly, with everyone receiving the Tattoo pipe music programme some months ahead and then coming together for a period of rehearsal in Edinburgh, before joining up with the rest of the cast for rehearsals in Redford Barracks and at the Castle.

Pipers Trail was originally conceived in 2007 as an 'Army in Scotland' campaign to engage with the civil community. Over 4 years the scheme covered the length and breadth of Scotland visiting schools and communities encouraging an interest in the Great Highland Bagpipe, Highland Drumming and Dancing. Now, the project has been taken on by The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with the same broad intentions, but also to enable a wider community to participate in one of the world's greatest celebrations of the pipes, drums and military music. ?

The development of Pipers Trail was stimulated by a comment by a piper made in 2011: “I have been waiting all my life to march across the drawbridge with the Massed Pipes and Drums, playing as one.”

This remark coupled with the Tattoo’s desire to draw talented, individual pipers and drummers to the Massed Pipes and Drums led to our developing a scheme that would allow individual musicians, who may or may not be linked to a formed band, to join in. With Scottish Government support, we equipped and uniformed a single file of pipers and drummers, with a Pipe Major, Drum Major and a Bass Drummer. The process of recruiting and auditioning volunteers, equipping and uniforming them, conducting practice and rehearsal has been refined through the pilot scheme in 2014 and further still in 2015 and 2016. We are now looking to expand and recruit a new and larger group for the 2017 season. This time, we are looking for two full files, so a total of 50 pipers and drummers in all.

Those pipers and drummers looking to be considered to take part in this unique musical experience should have a smart bearing and presence, be a capable musician, be capable of marching in time and be prepared to practice hard and perform throughout the Tattoo period. The 2017 Tattoo will run from 30th July – 26th August 2017 (including rehearsals). We are looking for pipers and drummers who can play essentially to RSPBA Grade 3 standard and ideally Grade 2, with the ability to assimilate the 2017 piping and drumming score and take instruction. We are keen to encourage selected, talented players and are very keen to encourage participation from the international piping and drumming community.

This coming year we are marking Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology under our own theme of a Splash of Tartan, celebrating the Scottish Diaspora and Clans across the globe, with a show rich in culture, tradition and colour. We intend to bring acts from: The United Kingdom, France, India, Japan and USA. We have already invited pipe bands from The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and Malta. The two Pipers Trail files will join this huge array to form a singular band of over 250 musicians.

With the continuing support of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, The National Piping Centre, The College of Piping and the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, the vision is to increase the proficiency and reach of Pipers Trail to deliver a formidable piping and drumming capability for public performance in Scotland and around the world. This year, we are also looking to build a database that can be developed to offer further opportunities to perform at other events in Scotland and around the world.

Those interested should email applications to: The email should be accompanied with a CV and some evidence of playing standard. If formal qualifications are unavailable, applicants may provide a reference from a Pipe Major of an established Pipe Band or a recognized instructor. Applications will close on 15th March 2017.

Successful candidates will be provided with Full Dress uniform and the necessary tuition in foot drill, turnout, musicianship and the opportunity to join over 250 other pipers and drummers as part of the Massed Pipes and Drums. The band will perform each evening in front of a live international audience of 8,800 each evening - a total of 220,000 during the season and a further 100 - 300 million on television around the World! Over half of all available tickets to the 2017 Show were sold on the first day tickets went on sale!

With best regards



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