WHAT A WEEK! From playing drums in Malmö Sweden, to dancing in Denmark, to avoiding volcanoes in Iceland; this week it seems I have seen it all!
Last Monday, May 16th, I set out on my first ever Tattoo performance with the Boston-based fife and drum group the Middlesex County Volunteers. I’ve referred to this group in earlier posts. For those of you who are not familiar with a Tattoo (neither was I before heading out on this one) it is a 3 hour, arena performance showcasing the talents of MILITARY based music from a variety of countries. These performances can include just music, music with an accompanied marching show, or sometimes dancers and stunt shows involving motorcycles and vehicles. It seems all of these elements came together in Malmö, Sweden this past week!
The trip started with some firsts, as this was the first ever time I flew through the country of Iceland. WOW. The area around the Reykjavik airport seems to be lifted from the moon landing videos. Crazy boulder fields surrounded by the most beautiful mountains. This is an amazing and exotic place I definitely MUST get back to. From Iceland, I departed to Malmö, Sweden. Malmö is Sweden’s second largest city and an amazing place to visit. I am absolutely in love with the feel, style, attitude, and overall lifestyle of Europe! The people and architecture combine for a truly romantic feeling.
Because of only being here for a week, rehearsals started almost immediately! Middlesex is one of the most professional groups when it comes to rehearsing and “getting it right”, so we spent a great deal of time running marching and moves. I never realized how sought after the group actually was until seeing the reactions from people from all over the world including Norway, Sweden, Scotland, and Germany.
The rehearsals culminated in three performances: a parade and two shows showcasing our music and marching routines. It was such a thrill to get to march down the small road of Malmö performing for the local crowd. People totally dug our drum solo! The two Tattoo performances went equally well, even though I had a stick drop in front of 8,000 people. Good thing for those quick hands! You can check out the show from the live performance here. I’m the snare drummer to the left of center in the video.
When not performing, I had the awesome opportunity to check out the sites in both Copenhagen and Malmö. I am TOTALLY in love with the seaport town of Copenhagen, which has a unique mix of old and new within the city. From the many shopping and party districts, to Tivoli (a huge amusement park in the middle of the city) Copenhagen really does “have it all” for everyone.
Malmö, while not quite as big a city, has its own hidden jewels. After doing a little online research I came across a club called Babel located in a renovated church. GREAT CHOICE! The place had great DJ’s and an attached concert hall showcasing some of Sweden’s best bands. Their tap beers also made my list.
After great times and performances, Iceland decided that it didn’t really want us to leave yet. The explosion of another Icelandic volcano almost extended our trip (which I don’t think would have been that bad =) Thanks to the great employees of SAS airlines, this wasn’t a problem as we was redirected through Heathrow.
To conclude, I feel absolutely honored to have been asked to perform and accompany the Middlesex County Volunteers on this trip. This is truly an extraordinary group composed of talented musicians who do it for THE LOVE OF THE MUSIC. All of them have “regular” jobs and choose to spend their free time making wonderful music with each other and, more importantly, sharing the music with the world.
Small thoughts, such as remembering my missed graduation from the New England Conservatory, all combine to show the true integrity or the group. Thanks again for the good times and memories and stay posted for next year, since I will be accompanying the group in Basel, Switzerland in 2012!
Rich Chwastiak, drummer