AN American military band formed 220 years ago after the War of Independence will make its first visit to the UK – just days before the Scottish referendum takes place.
The Hellcats, part of the West Point Band, who have played an influential role in American military life since the war against the British, were today announced as the latest addition to the Highland Military Tattoo programme.
The West Point Military Academy Hellcats ensemble of buglers, drummers and piccolo players will be playing a central role at the three-day event in September at Fort George, near Inverness.
Organisers say the band’s participation is a tribute to the UK’s strong links to America, and confirms the bond between the countries’ respective armed forces.
Highland Military Tattoo director, Major General Seymour Monro, said: “We are thrilled the Hellcats are making their first ever visit to the UK to join us at the Highland Military Tattoo.
“A fascinating part of American military history, they provide a fantastic spectacle which has delighted people from all over the world and I’m sure will prove to be very special for our audience in the stunning setting of Fort George.”
The Hellcats are part of the larger West Point Band, the US Army’s oldest musical organisation. The band has accompanied many major events in American history – playing at the funerals of Presidents Ulysses S Grant and Franklin D Roosevelt and at the inaugurations of numerous presidents.
Highland Military Tattoo producer, Major Bruce Hitchings, spotted the Hellcats at the New York Tattoo earlier this year and set the ball rolling to bring them to Fort George.
Bugles and drums were traditionally used as the primary method of communication on the battlefield and the Hellcats aim to preserve the heritage of military music. Nowadays, they provide daily musical support to the US Corps of Cadets who train at West Point, the American equivalent of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
The American War of Independence took place between 1775 and 1783, just after Fort George was completed in 1769. To help recruiting for the British Army, which needed reinforcing in America the Earl of Seaforth, chief of Clan Mackenzie, raised the 78th (later 72nd Seaforth) Highlanders in 1778. However, in the event, they were never sent to fight in America.
Bringing together a mix of local, military and international acts, the Tattoo promises to be a stunning spectacle. Kicking off with a flypast, it will showcase to visitors and local people alike the best of traditional and contemporary Highland culture from fiddlers to pipe bands, Highland dancers to Gaelic singers.
The Highland Military Tattoo forms part of Highland Homecoming 2014, a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games.
Support for the event has come from Event Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Inverness Common Good Fund and Highland Council.
All profits from the events will be donated to Armed Forces charities.
More information is available at www.highlandmilitarytattoo.com or by calling Ticketmaster Scotland on 0844 499 9990. Tickets, priced from £10 to £30, are also available on this number or via the Ticketmaster Scotland website. Booking fees apply.
For more information, contact Jane Cumming on 07900 917142 or 01463 783018.
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