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March 17, 2009

CW's Fifes and Drums to perform at Virginia International Tattoo May 1-3 in Norfolk

Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums will join the Virginia International Tattoo (VIT), the largest show of its kind in the United States, May 1-3 at the Norfolk Scope Arena, 201 E. Brambleton Ave.

Presented annually in Norfolk, VIT is an exhibition of marching bands, massed pipes and drums, drill teams, gymnasts, Scottish dancers, choirs and more. More than 850 performers from the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada and the United States travel to Norfolk’s Scope Arena. Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums last performed at VIT in 2000.

“We are very excited about performing in the Virginia Arts Festival tattoo this year,” said Lance Pedigo, drum major for Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums. “We are able to celebrate the history of our armed forces alongside the best military bands in the world.”

“It is a great honor for the Fifes and Drums to participate in its second international tattoo in two years,” said Tim Sutphin, director of historic events. “It is a great follow-up to our performance at the Basel Tattoo in Basel, Switzerland.”

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums participated in the Basel Tattoo, July 15-19, 2008. Participation in this prestigious event was by invitation only and consisted of 12 international bands, massed Pipes and Drums, with top-class formations. The Fifes and Drums was the only U.S. group invited to participate in the second largest open air tattoo in the world.

A tradition since the beginning of the Virginia Arts Festival in 1996, VIT has become a destination for travelers from around world. The premier tourist organization the American Bus Association named it one of the Top 100 Events in North America. Honoring a military musical tradition that dates back centuries, VIT has grown to become one of the largest such celebrations in the world.

For more information on the tattoo, go to the Web site, call (757) 282-2822 or visit the Web site at

Colonial Williamsburg’s musical ambassadors celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2008. Founded in 1958, the Fifes and Drums perform in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area nearly 500 times during the year in daily programs from mid-February through December and during special programs observing major holidays.

The Fifes and Drums are comprised of boys and girls from the local community aged 10-18. Nearly 100 youths perform as members of either a junior or senior group. Junior group members train while waiting for a “front-line” vacancy in the senior group. Each member on average receives two periods of instruction and participates in two full rehearsals each week. The senior members enjoy a busy travel schedule as well, performing at special events outside the Historic Area.

A quasi-military unit, the present Fifes and Drums follows 18th-century practice by recruiting youth with the exception of the drum major. Members pass tune and marching requirements to advance through the rank system that begins at recruit. Field musicians were vital to commanders as the sole means of relaying orders during battle. Whenever companies were mustered into regiments, company musicians were similarly massed into Field Music. In this formation they were responsible, under the drum major’s direction, for marching the regiment in proper cadence and for beating daily ceremonies – Reveille, the General, the Assembly, the Retreat and the Tattoo.

The world-renowned military musicians have represented Colonial Williamsburg throughout the country, including performances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Lexington and Concord 225th Celebration in Boston and the New-York Historical Society. In addition, the Fifes and Drums performed for several events commemorating America’s 400th Anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, including Landing Party Festivals at six ports of call during the Godspeed Sail, the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and His Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and America’s 400th Anniversary Weekend.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121