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May 2, 2008

CW's Drummer's Call is first signature event of Fifes and Drums 50th anniversary year

Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums hosts its first signature event of its 50th anniversary year – Drummer’s Call. Colonial Williamsburg’s musician interpreters and guest fife and drum units from across the country perform military field music during special programs for Drummer’s Call Weekend, May 16-18.

This weekend of special programs kicks off with Successful Campaign, a concert of military music featuring both the junior and senior groups, 8 p.m. Friday, May 16 at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre. Cost is $8 for adults and youth ages 6-17 and $4 for children under 6.

On Saturday, May 17 at noon, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums honor Armed Forces Day with a Grand March featuring fife and drum units from around the country. Immediately following the march at 12:45 p.m., fife and drum units from around the country and Canada perform on Market Square during the Grand Review.

At 8:15 p.m., Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums host fife and drum and military units from around the country and Canada in a torch-lit march as part of the Williamsburg Military Tattoo.

No ticket is required for the Grand March, Grand Review or Williamsburg Military Tattoo.

Drummer’s Call concludes with To Arms, featuring a demonstration of soldiers and their field music from various military units active during the American Revolution at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 18 at the Magazine. A Colonial Williamsburg admission pass or Good Neighbor Card is required to enjoy this program.

In April, the Foundation announced that the Fifes and Drums 50th will make its first European appearance at the Basel Tattoo, Basel, Switzerland, July 15-19. Participation in this prestigious event is by invitation only and the Fifes and Drums have been the only U.S. group asked to participate. The tattoo consists of 12 international bands, massed Pipes and Drums, with top-class formations.

The Fifes and Drums are comprised of boys and girls ages 10-18 from the local community. Nearly 100 youths perform as members of two units: a junior and a 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 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. 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 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 at Jamestown, including Landing Party Festivals at six east coast 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 for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. 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