This place is huge!

Castle MCV finally made it to our performance venue today for a couple run throughs of the show. At one end of the Sydney Football (that's soccer to our U.S. friends!) Stadium a full size replica of the exterior of Edinburgh Castle has been created out of plywood, fabric and other materials.  The replica is so realistic that it even has bird droppings on the short walls and moss on some of the wood!

It is always interesting to finally play in the venue where you'll perform, especially after rehearsing for months in totally different conditions.  The sheer size of the venue, plus the different acoustics, different surface (grass vs. concrete), etc. all contribute to disconcerting one during the first time WiredforSound running the show there!  It's so easy to become distracted with the new sights and sounds (not to mention that some of the fifers are miked for sound amplification!).  That's why we DO the rehearsals in the stadium before the performances start!!  We all have to get used to the feel of the place – not to mention the rehearsing needed to put all the bits of the show together into one seamless production.

SueB2 We'll have another long day of rehearsals at St. Andrews, at the official practice field at St. Paul's College Oval and also at the stadium again.  Might be a good day for a caffeine injection!

We’ve made it Down Under!

After countless hours of travel from various points around the globe, MCV has finally arrived in Sydney! Most of the corps left the morning of January 27 from their nearest airport and flew to San Francisco where we met up for our flight to Auckland, New Zealand and connecting from there to Sydney where we arrived sometime during the morning of January 29 (although it was still Thursday the 28th in Boston!) The flights themselves were pretty uneventful (except that fun turbulence between Auckland and Sydney!) StAndrews and our pick up from the airport by our Tattoo liaisons also went smoothly, as did our registration at St. Andrews College at the University of Sydney where we're staying.  What's wrong with this picture??  This was too easy!!  OK, just so that we can truly be MCV and have some glitch in the proceedings, Australian Customs was still holding all our equipment hostage because the shipping carnet (the document that describes in minute detail everything that was in the cargo shipment) was missing.  So, no drums, no uniforms, nada! (More on this in a moment…)

Now that we have pretty much out entire crew together (we're still missing one fifer – don't worry, we didn't lose her!!  She couldn't leave until a few days after us!) we put the "pedal to the metal" in terms of rehearsing to work out any issues or kinks that might have sprung up from the local contingent making changes to music or marching that our remote members might have missed.  Our first rehearsal took place the afternoon of our arrival (after we all had a chance to shower and get completely horizontal for a little bit – let's face it, you just can't get horizontal in airports and airplanes!).  Progress was made, but it was a little difficult without any drums or any way to mark a centerline on the circular field!

Today ran a bit more smoothly as (after much telephone traffic to both sides of the Pacific on Friday afternoon) the carnet was found and Customs released our cargo!  Hooray!!  All the equipment was delivered to the college this morning at 8am in time for our full day of rehearsing!  We were able to mark a straight centerline on the field, the drums could practice on real instruments and our support team could sort through the uniforms while we rehearsed so that they could hand them out to us once we were finished.

Tomorrow will be our first time playing in front of the Tattoo organizers, as well a s fellow cast members.  More on that later!

One Rehearsal to Go!

Sunday, the 24th will be MCV's final music rehearsal before boarding the plane on the 27th and flying and flying and flying to Sydney. This rehearsal won't be quite the same as last weekend's drill since we don't expect many of our out-of-town friends to be joining us for this one – we'll miss them!!  It is truly amazing how much depth is added to our sound when the whole group is together – wow!  The other amazing thing is how quickly everyone grooves in to each other to make the music and the marching work, even when it's been months since practicing with the group. I know I'm excited at the thought of rehearsing and performing with this group of 42 musicians (30 fifers, 8 snare drummers, 4 bass drummers) as well as with the color guard, guidon and very excellent drum major! We're almost there!!

Off to Glasgow

The corps and the rest of the performers for the Tattoo headed off by bus to Glasgow this morning (picking up a police escort on the way for our 10+ bus caravan – as Sarah said, "Now this is what we’re used to!") for a short parade followed by each unit putting on about a 10 minute performance for the Lord Mayor.  It was a very chilly, slightly rainy day for the event, but it seemed to go smoothly.  Everyone appeared to be well received by the small crowds and nobody got rocks thrown at them or anything!  So, all in all, a good day!  We arrived back in Edinburgh at about 2:30 where we promptly changed back into our street clothes for the few hours before heading on the bus again to go up to the Castle for this evening’s performance.

Last night it was so cold up at the Castle for our performance that it was difficult to cover the holes on my fife to play the fife solo, so all that came out for the bass part during the fife quartet at the end were a few quiet whimpers. I’m hoping it will be better tonight!  Jane

Hey! We’re Rock Stars!!

The dress rehearsal performances for the Tattoo took place on Thursday evening.  The first performance was for some military personnel – cadets, I think.  The second was a chance for the press to be on the field taking pictures of the performances; it was also a public ticketed performance (even the dress rehearsal show was sold out, as is every performance of the Tattoo).

The second performance of the evening is when it really hit that “This is it!  Here we go for the first time of many over the next several weeks.  It’s show time!!”

The portcullis doors opened at the radio cue to the soldier manning the post (yes, this really IS a military tattoo – all the folks at the all the performance entrances and exits, all the people doing logistical stuff for the show, etc. are all active military) and we were given the command to march.  We start with 16 silent paces before the snare drums come in for another 16 paces, then the bass drums come in for the final 16 paces of drum intro.  The fifes come up and we begin to play “The White Cockade” just as we reach the end of the castle drawbridge.  We find the center line marked in blue/gray on the asphalt and head down it until the end of the tune when we start our marching maneuvers and are into the next tunes.  When we came over the drawbridge, I expected to see some people with cameras, but I don’t think ANY of us expected to see a huge swarm of photographers and cameramen – and right in our faces for the entire performance.  If there was ever a test of our ability to focus and concentrate, this was it.  It was surreal!  Even at the biggest parades or Harborfest events in Boston or the Boston Pops performances, we have never had this many press in our faces for so long.  For the most part they did very well at avoiding us and watching for us to change directions, start or stop marching, etc.  There were a couple, though, that were a little slow in moving out of the way!!  One of our fifers actually got a camera lens with his knee, another had to tap a photographer on the shoulder to get him to move out of the way.  They truly were like a swarm of bees while we were performing, swirling around even if you move away, they follow.  But even that distraction wasn’t’ enough to hide the crowd reaction from us.  They cheered in all the appropriate places, and generally seemed to really like us and our show.  We were all really pleased with how we performed and I think we made a really good impression on everyone.

MCV rocked for both performances.  We really do rise to the occasion with our music and marching when our feet are to the fire!  We had some friends in the audience as well.  Bill Rose and his wife, reenacting friends from back home; Brian and Sylvia fro England (Brian was our bus driver for several of our European adventures); as well as other friends and family that have met up with us over here.  Bill Rose gave us two thumbs up as he walked by our bus as we waited to be driven back to our university flats after the second performance.

Tonight, Friday, is the official opening night of the Tattoo.  Let’s hope we can do just as well tonight!!

Sorry for the Delay…

Between a very hectic, full, exhausting, exhilarating, exciting, frustrating, fantastic, and frantic several days here in

Scotland

and a challenging internet connectivity situation, it has been more difficult than anticipated to post to the MCV Blog.  Now that rehearsals are almost over and we’ve found some free WiFi spots near our flats, our postings should become more regular. (Of course, “free” WiFi usually means you need to buy a pint of beer or a glass of wine to use the free service, but when have MCV members ever objected to that?)

Since the group arrived on Saturday and Sunday, the corps has been in rehearsals every day and for most of the day.  MCV has been very well received by the Tattoo producers and they appear to be well pleased with our performances to date.  Some members of the corps are involved with parts of the show outside of our 6-minute spot that we’ve been rehearsing for.  We have four fifers and our Guidon waltzing with five of the highland dancers as part of the “Music at War” vignette (MCV members are the gentlemen in the waltzing even though four of us are really women), 10 fifers, bass drummers and color guard members are shooting “muskets” in a very brief recreation of the battle of Waterloo, and the entire snare drum line is up on the battlements playing a call to war at the start of the vignette.  It has been very interesting putting the pieces of that vignette together, but it has actually come together pretty well.  We’ll see come opening night!

Monday, July 30th, the corps played a short concert for the Lord Provost of

Edinburgh

(which resulted in a nice photo in the Evening Post) followed by a little reception in the City Chambers. Then we headed back to the Redford Infantry Barracks for more rehearsals.

Today, Wednesday the 1st of August, the entire cast of the show did two run-throughs of the Tattoo show this morning and we’ll do two more up at the Castle (with lights, sound, etc).  These should be the final rehearsals before the Dress Rehearsal performances on Thursday.  Today’s second morning run-through was performed for a small audience of local citizens as well as a special guest – the Princess Royal, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.  Princessroyal And you may notice from the photo here that a contingent of MCV had the honor of being presented to Her Royal Highness at the show.  She greeted each one of us individually and directed questions to each of us.  She spent several minutes with our representatives and was very easy to talk to – making us all very at ease and comfortable about speaking with her.  She was very surprised to hear, despite the praise that the producers of the show gave us, that this was only our second tattoo experience for MCV.

For those of you who didn’t know, there’s a webcam at the Castle.  Today, Wednesday, look for the show run-throughs starting at about 2pm and 4 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  MCV appears at about 17 minutes into the show and the vignette that some of the members are in (called Music at War) follows about 27 minutes after that (just before the finale).

Cheers!!

Newark, Newark…Can we get to Newark?

Great news!! Our Team One group flew out of Logan Airport on Friday evening on time and arrived in Edinburgh without incident.  After checking into the flats that the corps is staying in for the trip, several members went up to Edinburgh Castle, our performance venue, to pace off our show to make sure it worked as planned.  Although we knew the dimensions of the castle esplanade, it was purely guesswork as to the length and width of the drawbridge we’ll march across to make our entrance onto the field.

loganBad new!! The 27 member group who are all going for the full month in Edinburgh are still in Newark, NJ!  A band of strong thunderstorms and multiple flight delays caused the group staying in Edinburgh for the full month to miss out on getting to Scotland on Saturday morning.  Instead we flew out of Logan at 6:30am so that we could at least make sure that we got to Newark, which would (hopefully) ensure that we would make our Edinburgh flight connection this evening (Saturday) for a Sunday morning arrival.

If all goes well for the 4-week group, we should arrive on Sunday in time to get to our rehearsal at 10am.  Hopefully, we’ll all sleep on the plane so that we can hit the ground running!  Wish us luck as we enter the rehearsal phase of the Tattoo.