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April 6, 2010

CW's Fifes and Drums re-enact 18th-century military music tradition, Drummers Call, May 14-16

During the seventh annual Drummers Call Weekend May 14 – 16, fife and drum units from the United States and Canada converge on Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area for a stirring display of period military music.

“May 15 is Armed Forces Day, and we are proud to host the U.S. Army’s Old Guard who are celebrating their 50th year and have chosen Williamsburg as one of their appearances on their anniversary tour,” said Lance Pedigo, Colonial Williamsburg’s manager of music programs. “Drummers Call was beaten by the duty fifer and drummer in the 18th-century military to mass the regimental musicians for the playing of ceremonies such as Reveille, Retreat and Tattoo. The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums are proud to carry on this tradition.”

The program, Successful Campaign, kicks off the weekend at 8 p.m. Friday, May 14 at the Kimball Theatre. Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums and special guests the 3rd U.S. Infantry Fife and Drum Corps, The Old Guard, present a concert of traditional, patriotic music. Tickets are $8 for adults and youth ages six to 17 and free to children under six and can be purchased at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket outlet.

Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums honor Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 15 with several events that feature fife and drum units from the United States and Canada. At noon, guests can see a Grand March from the Capitol down Duke of Gloucester Street to Market Square. Immediately following, guests can witness the Grand Review at 12:45 p.m. on Market Square. The day concludes with the Williamsburg Military Tattoo at 8 p.m. on Palace Green. No ticket is required for the Grand March, Grand Review or Williamsburg Military Tattoo.

In To Arms at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 16, guests can enjoy a demonstration of soldiers and their field music from various military units active during the American Revolution.

The Fifes and Drums are comprised of boys and girls from the local community aged 10–18. Nearly 100 youths perform as members of two units: a junior and a senior group. The group performs 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 Foundation’s musical ambassadors celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.

A quasi-military unit, the present Fifes and Drums follows 18th-century practice by using school-aged children 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. Other duties included beating of duty calls throughout the day, which informed company members of the time and duties to be performed. Strict penalties were imposed on musicians who played or practiced at unauthorized times.

The world-renowned military musicians have represented Colonial Williamsburg throughout the country, including performances on NBC’s Today Show and at 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.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover rare treasures and storied objects throughout the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made in America during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation.

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. 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