I am from the Motor City. I may have mentioned that in previous postings. I thought a tattoo was some ink that hurt. Never heard of a musical/military tattoo until I arrived in Hampton Roads two years ago. I finally got a chance to go. You should go too.
Go this weekend to the Virginia International Tattoo.
Why? Here is my short list of 22 reasons you need to get yourself down to the Scope. Warning to those finicky people trying to count all 22, there may be more than one reason in a paragraph.
It is a spectacular, an “impressive, large scale display.” The floor of the Scope is filled with military bands and dancers from around the world. The singers don’t even fit. There are multitudes of them perched up high. It looks like a cast of thousands.
This cast of thousands plays great music and not just military music. You won’t expect to hear “Uptown Funk,” but you will hear “Uptown Funk.” You will also hear Motown. Thank you Norfolk Public Schools All-City High School Chorus.
The horns. It’s all about the brass. There is nothing like a hundred kinds of horns playing big, loud, great music together, unless you also have a hundred drums keeping the beat with them. Then add over 160 bagpipes. Now that’s some music.
You will never see a more impressive display of pipery (not sure that’s a word) anywhere, unless you go to Scotland and even then, you won’t see what you see at the Virginia International Tattoo. There are over a hundred Scottish-style bagpipes, and Breton bagpipes and bombards from France. They all make beautiful music together while marching around. You will hear the best “Amazing Grace” ever.
You will feel patriotic. I can be cynical and skeptical about many things in this country of ours, but if you only have one ounce of patriotism tucked inside your pinkie toe, you will feel it multiply and fill your heart at the Virginia International Tattoo.
The patriotic shivers start with “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung perfectly by Master Sergeant Lee Ann Hinton as the military men and women wave a giant American flag, and it just continues through the program.
I must have a tiny bit of Scot in me, because I also felt patriotic when the bagpipers played “The Green Hills of Tyrol.” I must also have a bit of Danish in me, because I felt “Som en Rejselysten Flade” in my soul. I teared up when the Republic of Korea’s amazing singers sang “Shenandoah,” as tribute to my adopted state. Maybe I have a bit of Korean in me too.
Speaking of tears, there were a lot of them in the arena. They were good tears, patriotic tears, the kind of tears that come when you consider the sacrifices the men and women of the military make for our country. This year’s International Tattoo was dedicated to the families waiting at home. You will cry when the United States Fleet Forces band and chorus sing Bring Him Home and Living in America. A little schmaltz is good for the soul.
Besides some good tears, there are also laughs. Who would guess that the Royal Danish Navy Band would be providing the comic relief of the night? Oh those zany Danes!
Did I mention that a woman commands the sharp-as-a-tack United States Drill Team? You go girl.
This spectacular is global, but it’s also local. There are military bands, singers and dancers from around the world, but there was also lots of local talent. Loved the NPS All-City High School Chorus, but Granby High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Hampton Roads Police Color Guard, the Virginia Children’s Chorus, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus and many local military men and women contributed to this spectacular. Virginia Tech was represented by the “Highty-Tighties,” the oldest collegiate band in Virginia.
If you can’t get tickets to the Virginia International Tattoo, go to the Tattoo Hullaballoo at the Scope Plaza on Friday, April 24, Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26. There will be lots of bagpipers, a battle of the drums, and more. It is free and open to the public. Thanks Tattoo and Virginia Arts Festival. By the way, this Virginia Arts Festival is a great thing.
Not every city has this kind of thing. There is something for everyone, in venues all over Hampton Roads. The Art Festival helps to make a great city.
Stop counting. I’m way over 22 reasons you should go to the Virginia International Tattoo. You are not too young, too hip, too old, or too jaded to love the Virginia International Tattoo. I promise.