Edinburgh Tattoo says ‘Bienvenue’ to French band

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has revealed Lyon-based Musique de l’Artillerie as the first international act to show its paces on Edinburgh Castle’s iconic Esplanade this August.

The announcement was made on France’s National Day – Bastille Day, La Fête Nationale or Le 14 Juillet – and they will play alongside a glittering array of other international military and cultural friends and allies from across the world.

Bastille Day is marked each year in France and across the globe by French communities as the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a turning point in the French Revolution.

Musique de l‘Artillerie is The Artillery Band of the French Army, based in Gerland in the heart of Lyon. The current Band was formed in 2016 but military music has been played in the Rhône-Alpins region since the 18th century.

The City of Lyon is the second-largest urban area in France and is known for its gastronomy, its historic and architectural landmarks and, like Edinburgh, has a registered UNESCO World Heritage site.

Under their Director of Music, Major Laurent Arandel, Musique de l’Artillerie will perform for the first time in Edinburgh in their characteristic blue uniforms, delivering a precision marching and musical display – with one or two surprises.

The band of 50 military musicians has performed worldwide, playing a rich repertoire of concerts, parades and orchestral fanfares in Estonia, Poland and Germany. The musicians are hugely adaptable and alongside the full military band, they can field a brass quintet, clarinet quartet, saxophone quartet and a Dixieland ensemble – all of these supporting the Artillery, The French Army, the French Armed Forces (Forces Armées Françaises) and the communities these represent.

With a huge military parade staged on the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880 – almost without exception – it is fitting that Scotland’s ‘Auld Alliance’ is represented in Edinburgh over the summer.

This year, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is celebrating the Kaleidoscope – the Scottish optical instrument first patented by Sir David Brewster in 1817. The show will explore the glorious symmetries of the Armed Forces, with the British Army to the fore, and those of Allies with all the colour and heritage that is involved.

Musique de l’Artillerie will join more than 1,200 performers at the Tattoo’s military and cultural extravaganza, taking place in the heart of Scotland’s capital between 2-24 August this year.

Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, chief executive and producer at the Tattoo, said: ‘Major Arandel and his team have been a pleasure to work with and we are delighted that they will join us, in just a couple of weeks’ time for the Show. The Band has developed a tremendous programme and draw from a fabulous palette of musical and military talent. We have a rich complement of international acts this year, each one representing one of the colours of the visible spectrum, all set to be seen in their different symmetries through our own kaleidoscope!

‘We have astonishing genetic, historic, military and cultural connections with France and even shared a common language at various points in our history. Today, our Defence Forces work closely together in a number of scenarios across the world and we are thrilled this relationship and our long-held alliances can be showcased and celebrated at the Tattoo.’

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates its 69th show this year, after launching in 1950.

Tickets for the event are on sale now with the full programme of performers to be revealed in due course.

The event has sold out for the last 20 consecutive years. The Tattoo is performed to a live audience of 220,000 annually on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle with a further global TV audience of over 100 million.

In 2010, the event was renamed The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo after Her Majesty The Queen bestowed the Royal title in honour of its 60th birthday.