RICHMOND — The stage at the EKU Center for the Arts may be the largest in Kentucky, but it’s still a small place for a marching band to perform. But the Band of the Scots Guard and the bagpipers of Black Watch proved Friday night that it’s large enough for a well-practiced marching band to gracefully execute intricate, close-order drills while performing stirring music.
Just their marching or their music would be enjoyable to watch, but the combination delighted an appreciative audience that filled the orchestra seats and first balcony. I’ll just have to tell those who could have filled the top balcony what they missed.
Seeing these young Scots in their splendid uniforms taking hold of their culture’s ancient military traditions probably awakened in the audience a sense of their ancestral roots. Many, if not most, Kentuckians, including me, can trace their ancestry back to Scotland by way of Northern Ireland.
The music Friday night wasn’t all from Scotland, however. The musical heritage of all four nations of the British Isles – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – was included in the program.
The kinship of national alliance as well as blood was evident in the large flags – the Stars and Stripes alongside the Union Jack – on the wall behind the performers.
The audience was reminded that the performers are active-duty military personnel – some have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and some are there today – when the players began the final section of the first half with “Soldier’s Return.”
Reflecting on our history, it seems a shame our ancestors ever quarreled. But 102 years after Andrew Jackson and an army that included a host of Kentuckians repelled a British invasion at New Orleans, Americans and Brits were fighting side by side in France against a common enemy. Nearly 25 years later, we were fighting together again, just as we have several times since.