The glories of the West take many forms! This includes here in these United States, in this case in Colonial Williamsburg, the original capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia – “the Old Dominion,” the first colony in America settled by English settlers, in 1607, and a state with a rich history. Here we see the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, performing in an important ceremony:
Graduation march of Johnny Shideler and Chris Hochella, corps members and friends for eight years. Recorded July 15, 2014, in a downpour.
The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums are not professional musicians; they are local schoolchildren who volunteer to play 18th century music in 18th century attire for the benefit of visitors and others. This is no light task! From their website:
The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums – also known as the Field Music of the Virginia State Garrison Regiment – carries forward the tradition of military music. Since 1958, visitors in The Revolutionary City have enjoyed the musical performances and experienced the history of America’s Revolution.
Colonial Williamsburg’s field musicians are drawn from a waiting list of young community applicants. Boys and girls begin their education in military music at age 10 and practice weekly for the next eight years, until after they have graduated from high school. These young people talk with the public about the role of music in the 18th-century military. They teach younger members the music and history lessons needed to continue the tradition of the field musicians.
The Fifes and Drums appear in more than 700 performances each year. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is justifiably proud of each of these truly remarkable young Americans, past and present. They have come to symbolize what is best about our community, our history, and our museum.
Nota Bene: “Boys and girls begin their education in military music at age 10 and practice weekly for the next eight years, until after they have graduated from high school. These young people talk with the public about the role of music in the 18th-century military.” The brief clip linked above is from the graduation march honouring two members who have “aged out” of the Fifes and Drums – and conducted in pouring rain, a mark of dedication if I have ever seen one!
For those who have liked what they’ve heard so far, here is a longer montage of performances by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums: