CTMT 2015: Rehearsals (Part 1)

After the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Adderley Street on Sunday morning, a couple of the bands participated in a mini-Tattoo at the V&A Waterfront on Sunday afternoon. The South African Army Band Western Cape and the Pipe Bands of the Cape Town Highlanders, Cape Field Artillery and Cape Garrison Artillery were joined by our exotic visitors, the Pakistan Army Band who performed on the amphitheatre’s stage afterwards, and by a team of youngsters from the TS Woltemade Sea Cadets who are doing a Gun Run for us in the arena at the Tattoo. By all accounts it was an awesome performance, which no doubt had a positive effect on ticket sales.

Massed military bands rehearsing in the arena

Massed military bands rehearsing in the arena

Monday morning started early for a lot of the people working behind the scenes. Since my early days behind the scenes of the Tattoo in 2010, that unforgettable year when South Africa hosted the FIFA Soccer World Cup, I have learned more and more how much is involved in making an event like this happen. Five years down the line, I realise that I still don’t know everything!

Apart from the performers and acts on the stage, who obviously spend long hours rehearsing and fine-tuning their musical skills and marching drills, there are countless organisations, military regiments, and individuals, both civilian and military, Regular Force and Reserve Force, who all contribute to the Cape Town Military Tattoo. And only a small proportion of this work is actually visible to audiences who attend this event – and yet, all of it is necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the Tattoo.

Chloë Agnew - Oh, what an incredible voice!

Chloë Agnew – Oh, what an incredible voice!

Just from the side of the performers, this year we have three international acts (Chloë Agnew, Joey the War Horse and the Pakistan Army Band), five pipe bands (the Cape Town Highlanders, Cape Field Artillery, Cape Garrison Artillery, Algoa Caledonian and Knysna & Districts) and military bands from all four services (Army, Air Force, Navy and SAMHS).

In addition, we have the Cannon Association of South Africa who makes the big bang at the beginning, the Cape Field Artillery Saluting Troop who make lots of big bangs towards the end of the show, and the paratroopers of 3 Parachute Battalion Charlie Company [actually, they’re from 1 Parachute Battalion, but we didn’t know that when we wrote the programme] who are going to make quite a lot of bangs in the middle.

We also have the Precision Drill Squad of the SA Army’s School of Infantry, and the TS Woltemade Sea Cadets and Gun Crew. And we have the Riel Dansers known as Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers, the Chris Hani School Choir and Dancers, and a String Quartet from the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

But that’s just the action onstage. Behind the scenes, there are a mind-boggling number of things that must be attended to: production, choreography, music, marketing, promotions, public relations, media liaison, radio and television interviews, social media, logistics, VIP hospitality, event safety and security, emergency medical services, wranglers and ushers, never mind construction of the stands, stage and scaffolding, signals and communication, electrical, sound and lighting, catering and refrigeration, accommodation and transport, cleaning, toilet hire, printing, photography, publications… I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important ones here…

But now, I hope you’ll enjoy the photos below. Remember that you can click on any of the images below to access the slideshow.

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