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June 17, 2008

Local youth, adults to perform in second largest open air tattoo

Celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums will make its first European appearance July 15-19 at the Basel Tattoo in Basel, Switzerland. Participation in this prestigious event is by invitation only and consists of 12 international bands, massed Pipes and Drums, with top-class formations.

The Fifes and Drums will participate in nine performances over five days. Forty-one local youth performers and five adult performerss from the region will travel to Switzerland for the performance. Adult performers include Amy Miller, Lance Pedigo, Timothy Sutphin, Robin Reed and Stewart Pittman.

Student performers include Robert Ackley, Stephen Ackley, Brodie Adams, Michael Albert, David Baker, Chloe Beitzell, Micah Blau, Zachary Bruss, Cameron Butler, William Corlett, Cameron Dolak, Joshua Egloff, Arthur Gibbs, Geoffrey Grau, Earl Hurley, William Hurley, Matthew Kemelek, James Kyte, Grace Lane, Mark Leemis, Zachary Maher, Alec McKenzie, Christopher Myers, Ross Niewola, Ian Owen, Joel Owen, William Preston, Evan Pulley, Alex Rowell, Samuel Schultz, Sean Seid, Emily Sherman, Michael Shield, William Spaulding, Landon Stulen, Andrew Swanson, Eleanor Trott, Forrest Via, Alexander Williams and Kaitlyn Woodard.

The Basel Tattoo is the world’s only tattoo to take place where the tattoo originated – in the courtyard of a historical barracks. Since its inception in 2006, the event has become the world’s second largest open air tattoo.

In the 17th century, a tattoo was the command given by the commander to the bartender serving his troops to close the beer taps so that the soldiers or sailors could return to their quarters.

For more information on the tattoo, go to the Web site,

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.

In May, the Foundation announced that the Fifes and Drums of Colonial Williamsburg will perform in the “Longest Running Show on Broadway” – the 82nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® - on Thursday, Nov. 27 in New York City. The group first appeared in the parade in 1993.

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 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 tradespeople 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 daily 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