Australian Army Band at Basel International Tattoo
The band of 70 regular and reserve musicians left Australia on July 12.
They will perform more than 20 times, playing public concerts and feature as one of the major acts of the tattoo’s 15 performances.
They will be one of 11 bands and performing groups that will entertain more than 120,000 spectators during concerts in Basel and Fribourg.
The band comprises experienced and new musicians to the AAB Corps, who were selected based on their talent and availability to travel to Switzerland.
OC RMC- Band Maj Dan Hiscock is leading the contingent and sharing the duties of music director for the tour with XO AAB Maj David Bird.
“The last time Army’s band performed at this tattoo was in 2011 and the great thing about it this year was we were invited back by the Swiss because we were such a hit with the crowds in 2011,” Maj Hiscock said.
“It’s special for us and I think we were invited back because we bring something different to the tattoo.
“They want to see some of our culture brought out in what we play and we’ve injected a fair bit of larrikinism and Australiana into our performances for this year.”
The play list contains iconic Australian titles such as Home Among the Gum Trees, Happy Little Vegemites, Brown Slouch Hat, The Holy Grail, played with a short Aussie rules demonstration, Walzing Matilda, music by Percy Grainger and Graham Lloyd and a medley of ACDC music, which had CA Lt-Gen David Morrison singing along during a rehearsal at RMC on July 9.
“Being one of the only COs of an infantry battalion who had ACDC played during a battalion parade, I think your choice of music is outstanding,” Lt-Gen Morrison said at the rehearsal.
“Men and women such as you step out the front and show our fellow Australians and in your case the rest of the world what Army is capable of. The band has fused Australia’s heritage, which extends back thousands of years, and mixed it with the fresh vibrancy and resonance of modern, contemporary Australia.
“That was what I heard today at this rehearsal. I am very proud of all of you and keep rockin’.”
Maj Hiscock said the planning for the tour began last year.
“We were given our briefing on the event by our CO Lt-Col Lambie in September on what the requirements were for the shows,” Maj Hiscock said.
“We prepared the music first then organised the marching demonstration early this year.
“It took us nine months to put together. The rehearsals as a group began two weeks before we departed on July 12. During this period we rehearsed the show 40 times.”
The 70-piece band also had a significant number of instruments, props, equipment and uniforms to take with them on the tour, which they sent to Switzerland before leaving themselves.
“We had to pack and freight 65 instruments, uniforms and other equipment before we departed, weighing 3.2 tonnes,” he said.
“As everything was sent off before we began rehearsals, we practiced together on borrowed, old and repaired instruments.”
Musn Karen Ruprecht, a reservist from AAB Brisbane, is a member of the touring band and will play the bassoon and the clarinet.
“I’m a music teacher in Brisbane, have played music for 23 years and been with the Army band for five years,” Musn Ruprecht said.
“I’ve never travelled overseas with the band and when I was told I’d got the gig to Switzerland I felt total excitement.
“I’m thrilled to be chosen and the more we rehearsed as a group the more I’ve realised how we are really flying the flag for Australia.”
Sgt Cameron Earl, a regular Army member of the AAB Sydney, will play trumpet and arranged all of the music for the marching displays.
“As we are playing in a few different venues we need to make sure the music works in a lot of different situations,” Sgt Earl said.
He said the highlight of the Swiss tour for him would be the first tattoo performance.
“It’s going to be broadcast on Swiss television and it will be great to get the initial reaction from the audience when we go out there,” Sgt Earl said.
“We’ll be trying to get them on board with our Australiana theme and I know the Swiss love our Australian sense of humour.”