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Mongolia to Mexico: Edinburgh's military tattoo ready to roll

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - A Mongolian "throat singer", Mexican dancers and a native New Zealand Maori "war dance" will join bagpipers and martial bands from around the world at Edinburgh's Royal Military Tattoo when it opens on Friday for its annual three-week run.

The Tattoo, a 90-minute cavalcade of military bands, bagpipers, drummers, dancers and other performances set against the brooding backdrop of Edinburgh castle, is one of the great military spectacles in the world and draws thousands of visitors to the Scottish capital during the month of August.

Tattoo Director Brigadier David Allfrey said some 220,000 spectators were expected to fill the bleachers around the esplanade of the castle atop the ancient volcano which towers over the city.

"The show contains over 80 different musical numbers and we have some remarkable acts both from the United Kingdom and further afield," Allfrey said at the program launch on Monday, adding that over 95 percent of tickets had already been sold.

The central band of the Mongolian Armed Forces is making its debut, including a "throat singer".

Throat singing involves simultaneously vocalizing one or more notes over a fundamental pitch, producing a distinct sound that can take years to attain. It is traditionally done by horse herders on the Mongolian steppes, where the music can carry great distances.

From the other side of the world, 110 musicians, singers and dancers will provide "the thumping Latino spirit" of Mexico.

The New Zealand Army band includes a Haka war dance in its repertoire, while the traditional band and dancers of the South Korean defense ministry, the pipes of the Royal Guard of Oman and the Wallace pipes and drums from the Mediterranean island of Malta will also add to the extravaganza.

At the heart of the tattoo are the massed pipes and drums and bands of Britain's own regiments, with a swirl of color and spine tingling music. About 1,000 performers take part in the tattoo as fighter jets streak across the sky above the castle for an event which was first staged in 1950.

To round off each night, a lone piper high on the castle ramparts, playing the Scottish soldier's traditional call to end of the day, will this year perform the specially written "Reflections of Panmunjom" to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice signed at Panmunjom to halt the 1950-53 Korean war.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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