10 September 2018

From the Head of Senior School

Edinburgh from a student's experience

I have been most fortunate to share a part of the Royal Military Tattoo experience in Edinburgh with the students over the past fortnight and thought it would be nice to share with you the thoughts of the boys on this wonderful experience.

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Gyles Davies (Year 11, Brisbane) describes the enormity of the planning and performance process:

"Preparation for the twenty-six Tattoo performances started on 17 February 2018, when the first tune was released, which was followed by another twenty-six pieces of music across the course of the following month. As auditions crept closer, I was astounded to see the mateship and team work taking place to learn the music, despite us competing for a total of 21 places.

Learning and practising the music in Australia was just the beginning. Once the whole international cast arrived in Edinburgh, there were four days of fifteen-hour intensive rehearsals at the Barracks and the Castle Esplanade. When we reached Preview Night, we all felt like finely tuned components of a spectacular act. We have had opportunities to mix with the other performers during and away from the show and there have been many humorous moments. Crossing the narrow drawbridge as part of the massed bands can be described as 'carnage' when avoiding tangling instruments and people.

The shows have been amazing, an experience that I will never forget. As the Tattoo comes to a close, it is astonishing to think that during the course of the month, almost 250,000 spectators – many of whom are international – have watched the show in person, filling the notoriously steep grand stands at the top of the Royal Mile every single night, for six nights a week, with a double performance every Saturday. In addition, it is soon to be televised and will be seen worldwide by an audience of millions".

David Stulpner (Year 10, Cameron) described the experience as having been:

"Privileged to be part of the entourage that traveled to Edinburgh to play in the world-renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This tour has been amazing for me because it has allowed us to experience the culture of Scotland and has allowed me to listen to and to participate in my hobby of playing the bagpipes at the highest level".

Conor Bartlett (Year 11, Ferguson) shared:

"At first glance the Tattoo promises excellence; a show like no other, performers who have practised for countless hours and have been chosen because they are the best. It is an opportunity of a lifetime! However, it is only when you are on the stage, with spotlights shining down on you and the crowd roaring with excitement, that you realise that such a remarkable event can only be experienced first-hand. Upon each adventure we took in Scotland, whether it was travelling for long hauls across the Highland countryside to Loch Ness or to Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championships, the experiences were extraordinary. Opportunities like this are rare and if one comes your way, don't be afraid to reach for it because the reward will be immense".

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From my observations the boys have been amazing on this four-week tour, basically performing as international musicians. They have committed to a huge regime of planning and performance all while keeping up with their studies and while abroad. Special mention to the Year 12 students Stewart Wallace (Keys), Ryan Hodgetts (Brisbane), Tom Nicholls (Shearer), Kieran Shine (Alexander) and Aiden Weaver (Keys) who, as the senior boys on the tour, have led the group admirably. The boys have certainly worked as a team; both in the sense of operating together to produce wonderful music and as a group who supported each other during the inevitable flat periods which come from being away from home for so long. Well done boys. It has been terrific to see the comradery and support you have shown towards each other as well as the passion shown towards your music.

Thank you to the amazing work of Mr Craig Bailey and Mr Roy Hamilton who lead the band with such great distinction. The huge success of the tour is in no small part due to all your hard work in the lead-up and during the time away. Thank you also to Mr Scott Loveday, Mrs Deb Lee and Mrs Libby Muddle for your support of the boys while away. Finally, to the parents who supported the band. I have been amazed to see so many parents attend the tour and performances. The success they have enjoyed has occurred through your wonderful support. Everyone involved is to be congratulated.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School