The Virginia International Tattoo is an event that should be on your bucket list. The Tattoo tradition dates back to Europe in the 17th century. It is a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.
The 2019 Virginia International Tattoo on April 25 – 28 at Scope Arena in Norfolk will have a cast of hundreds from eight countries. It is the largest and most spectacular Tattoo in North America. It happens right here each year.
Each year, the Virginia International Tattoo has a theme. This year’s theme is “Courage & Commitment – A Salute to Women in the Military”. There are over 230,000 women who serve in every branch of the military in every capacity. Scott Jackson, producer and director of the Tattoo, assembled a “Theme Dream Team” of “extraordinary” military women, retired and active duty, as Honorary Chairs of this year’s Tattoo.
The result might just be the best Tattoo ever.
Jackson and his advisors on the “Theme Dream Team” want the outstanding women of the military to be an “organic part of the Tattoo,” just like they are an integral part of the military. They don’t want to just tell you about the courage and commitment of women in the military, they want you to see it throughout the Tattoo.
Here is an Insider’s Guide to this year’s Virginia International Tattoo saluting women in the military –
Women soloists from all of the branches of the military will sing the National Anthem.
Lt. Elizabeth Elliott, of the Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Eutis will be the first female to do the “step-off”, the official start to the Tattoo.
Danlie Cuenca, Norview High School graduate and now lead singer in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington D.C., will be singing the lead in “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”. This is a return visit to the Tattoo for Danlie, who sang in the Tattoo when she was at Norview.
The Jordanian Armed Forces Women’s Pipe Band, the only band of its kind in the Middle East, will perform with their male counterparts in a unique bagpipe medley of traditional Jordanian folk music.
There will be a drum battle between the most outstanding female drummers from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps in a special arrangement of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing Sing”.
The popular United States Marine Corp obstacle race will feature a new twist. Alpha and Bravo teams will compete for the first time as co-ed teams, “demonstrating cooperation, teamwork and that every Marine is a rifleman.”
Women of the Canadian 8 Wing Pipes and Drums and the USMC Band will perform the stirring “Pipers Lament” and “Taps”. The Lone Piper in this year’s finale will be a female from the Canadian Military Band.
The traditional singing of “Amazing Grace” will be a virtual choir, performed this year by women in the military who are deployed around the world. They will be singing from Japan, South Korea, Germany and Mt. Suribachi, the site of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Women of Flag Rank will receive the Honorary Salute at the end of each performance. General Lori Robinson, an honorary chair of the Tattoo, will take the salute from all of the military bands on Saturday night. She is a retired four-star General and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Military.
Look for other “subtle and not so subtle nods” to women during the Tattoo. The Swiss Army Band will feature music from the movie “Kill Bill”. The first and only woman to ever lead a French Military Band will be conducting the French Army Signals Band.
This year’s Virginia International Tattoo is a salute to servicewomen who have broken barriers. Dr. Condoleezza Rice will narrate this year’s Finale. Dr. Rice was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor and the first African-American woman to become Secretary of State.
If this all sounds like a lot, it is. There is so much more. Keep your eyes open. The Virginia International Tattoo moves at a heart stirring, dazzling speed. Scott Jackson, his colleagues at the Virginia Arts Festival, the “Theme Dream Team”, and the hundreds of volunteers will make this Tattoo one of the most memorable ever. Don’t miss it.
Don’t forget that the Tattoo Hullabaloo takes place on the Scope Plaza, beginning three hours before each Tattoo performance. There will be drum battles and demonstrations by many of the Tattoo bands and performers. The Hullabaloo is free and open to the public.
The Norfolk NATO Festival takes place, beginning on Thursday, April 25 at 5:00 pm with the NATO Flag Raising Ceremony at the Scope Plaza. The 66th annual NATO Parade of Nations will march through downtown Norfolk on Saturday, April 27 beginning at 10:00 am. The parade is followed by NATO Festival’s International Village in Town Point Park until 3:00 pm on Saturday. For all of you Rugby fans, there will be a Rugby match and Haka performance on Sunday, April 28 at Powhatan Field at ODU. For more information about the NATO Festival and all the events, go to https://www.vafest.org/norfolk-nato-festival/
For more information about the Virginia International Tattoo and all the events surrounding the Tattoo, go to https://www.vafest.org/tattoo/