Virginia International Tattoo 2023 – Scotch College Pipe Band Tour

By:Oscar Peterson, Joshua Holborn and Ryan Shine

Scotch College Pipe Band from Perth, Western Australia recently crossed the globe to take part in this year’s Virginia International Tattoo in Norfolk, Virginia. Some of the students shared with the Scottish Banner on the incredible experience and the thrill of performing for US audiences.

On Sunday 9th April 2023, 43 boys from the Scotch College Pipe Band assembled in Perth airport. Pipes in hand, drums in cases, the boys were ready for the trip of a lifetime, the Virginia International Tattoo. Months of preparation had led up to the tour. Auditions, early wake ups, lunchtime practices, but to say it was worth it would be an understatement. with no current member of the band ever having been on tour due to covid, the boys were ecstatic to see what it was all about.

New York City

The band departing from Perth Airport.

Our tour started in the buzzing and vibrant streets of New York City, quite a culture shock for the boys coming from relaxed, costal Perth. We were treated to the full New York experience crammed into a few short but memorable days. Ice hockey, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square to name a few. The last day gave the boys the freedom to use the day however they wanted, in which some interesting, rather chaotic stories were produced with a recurring theme of subway confusion and accent barriers making for some great tales. But in a flash our time in NYC was over, and it was time to head down to the capital, Washington DC. Whilst traveling to Washington DC, we made a short stop over at the Kitchen Kettle Village located in the rural areas of Pennsylvania in which we played a few of our favourite tunes for the village. 

Washington, DC

Our arrival in Washington saw us immersed in a broad range of popular destinations and tourist attractions, with the patriotic environment being a unique aspect of our journey. We visited the war monument in Arlington which featured the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Washington monument which included the famous Lincoln Memorial and then for one of the evenings, we attended a baseball game which further broadened our scope of American culture and tradition. The overall experience of Washington gave the group a key piece of memorabilia that entails lots of positive, humorous, and fascinating memories. Our next stop, Norfolk Virginia, where we will take part in the annual International Tattoo.

Norfolk, Virginia

On board the Wisconsin.

For the next week, Pipes and Drums became our life. We were involved in countless hours of rehearsals for the Tattoo, led by Pipe Major Ross McCrindle, and Drum Major Rab McCutcheon. Our band was the largest that attended the 2023 Tattoo, pressuring us to play at our highest standard with which was made possible due to the thorough preparation by the Scotch staff in Australia. During our time in Norfolk, we performed at four schools as part of the outreach program, an Irish pub, the Pipe Bands competition day, a drumming battle against the Ukrainian Drummers on battleship Wisconsin, and several hullabaloos.

The group was kept very busy throughout the Tattoo week, with many of the boys balancing sightseeing, practicing, performing and study for the emerging exams in Australia. The Tattoo performance nights were exhilarating. The outstanding production and performers worked in harmony to produce a powerful atmosphere that is unforgettable to all of us. However, after one of the most memorable experiences of our lives, it was time to say goodbye to the friends we made from all around the world, and return to the other side of the globe. 

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