SCOTLAND THE BRAVE
The Regimental Band of the Scots Guard
and The Pipes and Drums of the Blatch Watch
General Motors Place,
Sunday February 1st, 1998 at 7:30 PM
by Patricia Fleming
Forget the Rolling Stones and Riverdance!! "Scotland The Brave", with its captivating Scottish music, dance and history, was in my book, the most enjoyable musical event of the past week.
Scotland the Brave, a 100 member ensemble of The Regimental Band of the Scots Guards, the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch, plus Highland dancers, a Ceilidh band and a vocal soloist, are on a sixty city tour of North America. Sunday's packed house was enthralled by the winning combination of military dignataries piped to their seats; poetic tributes to Robbie Burns; rousing renditions of Souza marches; nimble, surefooted Highland dancers and an on-going narrative of the History of Scotland.
The evening started out with guests of honour piped to their seats. Then came an introduction to the Scots Guards (who have been performing since 1642) followed by the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch (who, I learnt, sailed to the USA to fight both the Native Indians and the French, in order to defend the British Empire).
The narrator told his tale of Scotland, interspersed with poetry, while the The Pipers and Drummers of the Black Watch (dressed in the Stuart tartan) entered. Three of the drummers were wearing leopard skins, as part of their dress, (I never did find out what the significance of the skins were although I overheard they were fake - the skins were real at one time- but not anymore). Then the Black Watch Pipers and Drummers were joined by forty one members of the Regimental Band of the Scots Guards, marching in fabulous precision, and they entertained us with a stirring rendition of "Roamin through the Gloamin" and "The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond".
Next, a vocalist appeared and sang "O Flower of Scotland" and the narrator told us how Robert Bruce's son founded the Stuart dynasty (it's most famous member probably being Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) all the while four young, delicate dancers took the floor. Then the Black Watch Pipers and Drummers and the Scots Guards joined forces. This was a wonderful combination: beautiful precision and symmetry, and very colourful to the eye, and we marvelled at the discipline of their performance as they played and marched together.
Historically, our narrator tells us that James, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, has now taken the throne in England to become the first King of the United Kingdom. Then followed a medley from the Scots Guards, one of the pieces being a beautiful rendition of "Greensleeves)" and the first Act came to a close with the Guards and the Black Watch joining together for "The Song of Joy".
The Second Act commenced with the narrator bringing us into the era of Bonnie Prince Charlie while four male Sword Dancers thrilled us with their stoic expertise. This was followed by the vocalist singing, and the Guards and Black Watch playing, a wonderful rendition of "Over the Sea to Skye". The narrator reminds us that many Scots now, including Flora McDonald, have left for Canada and the USA where many would leave their mark (John Muir, the Founder of the National Park System in the USA and Thomas Eddison, inventor of the telephone) while all the while never forgetting the land of their forefathers.
Now it's the New World and and the Guards perform a moving, patriotic version of the "Maple Leaf Forever" followed by "New York, New York" and a tribute to Dixie ("I wish I was in Dixie, John Brown's Body") and a tribute to Robert Burns and the legacy of words he left the world. The vocalist sang a poignant "My love is like a Red, Red Rose" and the Pipers moved us with a lovely rendition of "Amazing Grace". Suddenly a soloist appeared on the floor and played a beautiful clarinet piece called "The Mission". All the while the narrator talked about the adventurous spirit of the Scots, their feats in medicine and engineering in the New World, and this was followed by two sets of Sword Dancers (men and women together) who enthralled us once again with their skill and talent.
To end this wonderful evening, the Pipers and Drummers and the Guards together played "Auld Lange Syne" while the crowd clasped hands, and then rose for a standing ovation in the hope that they might play for a few more minutes before leaving us for Spokane, and a host of other USA cities, before returning to Eastern Canada and then home. It was a most enjoyable evening. A wonderful combination of music, words, costume, dance and song.
Copyright 1998 Patricia Fleming