I am at least 3 posts behind on this blog. We just went on another trip last weekend of June 17-19 so I’d better get caught up!
April 22, 2016 we left for Norfolk to see the Virginia International Tattoo. It should have been an easy 3 hour drive that took us nearly 7 due to construction, rush hour, rain and accidents (not ours).
On the way, we stopped at a Denny’s. I managed to insult waitress by saying that probably most of the customers were off the highway. She said that there were lots of regulars, not just off the highway – in a very huffy tone. Oh, well.
We eventually got to our AirBnB thanks to our Waze app.
We never would have found it otherwise.
Since we got there pretty late, we did a bit of grocery shopping at a former 7-Eleven. Dinner was just cereal and we went to bed…after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime.
I loved this poster in our AirBnb:
Saturday was the Day!
We got up in the morning and headed to the Scope Arena just after noon.
There were all kinds of Bagpipe groups in competition (a Tattoo Hullabaloo). We wandered around the Scope arena and watched some of the bands warming up. Here’s one doing their competition numbers:
The Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps (sorry some of this got sideways)
There was this really neat carillon:
Beyond offering star performers from many disciplines, the Virginia Arts Festival is literally announcing itself this year by ringing the bells.
To mark its 20th anniversary, VAF will unveil a 23-bell mobile carillon, something of a mobile ambassador that will be playable by everyone. It’s roughly the size of a semi truck with a car carrier, serving as both mammoth musical instrument and sculptural art. The bells are mounted on a frame that spells out “VAF” that will be driven to venues to ring home the point that each event is associated with the arts festival.
The instrument is engineered so that a person can play it at a keyboard or ring the individual bells by pulling levers.
Impossible to miss, the carillon, which cost $415,000 and was funded by an anonymous donor, will be parked in front of 12 events during the festival, including opening night tonight at MacArthur Center.
“This iconic structure speaks to the tradition that church bells have played in the history of greater Norfolk,” VAF Perry Artistic Director Rob Cross said in a statement.
VAF went with a venerable manufacturer for the structure. It was made by the Verdin Co., a Cincinnati-based company that has been making bells, carillons and large clocks for 173 years. Verdin’s work can be seen at Walt Disney World, the University of Notre Dame and other spots around the country.
While the framework is custom-made, the bells are old and carry an interesting history. They were refurbished from a carillon built in 1928, commissioned by graduates of the now-defunct, all-female Ward-Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., to honor troops killed in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.
The 23 bells, cast in England, were mounted in a converted water tower. The carillon was dedicated during homecoming week at Ward-Belmont in 1929. Five years later, the bells pealed “Hail to the Chief” when President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited. But in 1951, as financial woes mounted, the carillon was dismantled and the school closed.
The bells stayed silent for more than six decades. Belmont University, the successor institution, built a new carillon for its campus, and the Verdin Co. acquired the old bells, which were refurbished for the VAF structure.
VAF’s Cross said: “It is a beautiful marriage of the past and the future. What a wonderful way of continuing our goal of taking the festival beyond the concert hall.”
About 4:00, it started to rain, so they moved us all indoors. The Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band (they played outside, above) kept us entertained while the bands prepared to move inside.
When the rain stopped, they moved us back outside to finish the competition and name the winners. The New York Metro Pipe Band won their category and both bands from Scotland (Inveraray and District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band) won theirs. In the DrumLine Battle, it was an easy winner since all but one dropped out.
We were right up close for the walkoff:
At 7:00 the show started.
It was all so wonderful! The reason we went in the first place was the Top Secret Drum Corps that we had seen at the Edinburgh Tattoo last summer.
Here’s my video of part of the closing program with Colin Powell:
A bit of a sing-a-long:
Here’s the entire show, in one long playlist:
In case you’re wondering – yes, we have tickets for next year!
Sunday was pretty uneventful coming home.
[…] years ago, my son and I will play at Steinway Hall in NYC again in June. We have plans to go to the Norfolk International Tattoo again this weekend (I’ll miss water aerobics this […]