Song to add colour to military tattoo

Senior Staff Sgt Audi Hariz Sarman and ME1 Isabelle Wong will march with their bandmates before singing We Are One, Singapore.
Senior Staff Sgt Audi Hariz Sarman and ME1 Isabelle Wong will march with their bandmates before singing We Are One, Singapore.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Police bagpipers and drummers will also perform during tattoo, another first

The military tattoo, with soldiers marching in artistic formations while playing music, has featured in the National Day Parade (NDP) since 2014.

This year, however, the Defence Ministry is spicing it up with singers in what is billed as the largest tattoo performance at an NDP. The two singers will march with their bandmates before separating to sing We Are One, Singapore.

The break from norm is to show "a more sentimental side of the armed forces'', said Military Expert 1 Isabelle Wong, who is one of the singers. "People's expectation of the military is that it's very regimented and very shouty, but this (singing) is something that will speak to their hearts," said the 26-year-old, a bassoonist in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) band for six years.

Singing along with her is Senior Staff Sergeant Audi Hariz Sarman, who is with the Singapore Police Force. An NDP veteran, the 43-year- old is performing at the Parade for the 20th time. But until this year, he was a saxophonist in the police band.

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Having experienced two decades of the annual highlight, he is filled with nostalgia for the simplicity of the earlier parades. Still, the technological advances, such as the drones and the synchronised fireworks of the parades in the new century, are "very thrilling", he said.

But what has endured over the years is the swell of pride when Singaporeans sing as one. "You get goosebumps on the day, especially when everybody sings the national songs, and you are at the centre of the stage celebrating with them.

"You can feel the electricity from the crowd," said the father of a nine-year-old girl.

Another first in this year's parade is the Women Police Pipes and Drums. Six bagpipers and two drummers will perform on stage during the military-tattoo performance.

Staff Sergeant Priya Vamen will play the bass drum. The 38-year-old, who has been with the band since 2008, said: "The combination of the traditional sounds of the bagpipes and drums with the modern aspects of the armed forces, mixed with the music of the school bands and other agencies, give me a spectacular feeling."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Song to add colour to military tattoo'. Print Edition | Subscribe