International Military Tattoo to play in Hong Kong for 20th anniversary of city’s handover

Bands from the United States, Russia, Scotland, the Netherlands and Mongolia will join the Chinese People’s Liberation Army

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 10:44pm

Military tattoos from the United States, Russia, Scotland, the Netherlands and Mongolia will join the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Hong Kong disciplined services in a rendition of the Canto-pop song, Under the Lion Rock, for the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover.

The International Military Tattoo will play three concerts in the city from July 13 to 15.

The Hong Kong Police Band and the Hong Kong Association of Choral Societies will be joined by the United States’ 7th Fleet band, the military and navy bands of the PLA, the Russian Frontier Guards band, the Royal Netherlands Army Mounted Regiments band and the Royal Regiment of Scotland band with pipes and drums from the 7th Battalion.

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The event will cost the city HK$18 million to host, with partial sponsorship from Bank of China. The lion’s share will go towards covering the airfares and accommodation for the roughly 600 band members that will come to the city, said Elaine Yeung Chi-lan, assistant director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

It is just one part of the HK$640 million celebrations planned for the city. And the concerts promise to be anything but ordinary, with the Dutch band planning to perform while riding bicycles.

“It is quite difficult because there are no brakes on the bikes,” Commander Peter Kuster said.

“We have to play the instruments while riding in the right direction. Sometimes we lose one of our members, but you can get them back.”

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The July event will be the Royal Regiment of Scotland band’s first ever appearance in Hong Kong.

“We will be playing traditional Scottish music and [Beethoven’s] Ode to Joy, which was used in the ceremonies back in 1997,” said Major Dave Barrager, the 60-person band’s conductor.

The PLA bands, meanwhile, will for the first time include female members for the event.

More than 80 local police officers will join the international ensemble for the event.

“I am composing a ‘greatest hits’ of the best Hong Kong TV songs for the concert,” said Superintendent James Leung Bo-kun, the band’s director of music.

“We are still fine-tuning the music because it will have to match the fancy foot drill we will be performing at the same time.”

Tickets for the International Military Tattoo concerts go on sale April 19.