Bowling to participate in 22nd annual Virginia International Tattoo

Southern Local High School Band Director Emily Bowling and her husband Gary, pictured at left, will join the staff of the 20th Annual Virginia International Tattoo in April, where about 1,000 military bands, singers and dancers will perform at the Scope Arena in Norfolk. Both were excited to take part and became involved through Bob Szabo, music director and Gary Bowling’s former band director at Wellsville High School. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — Southern Local High School Band Director Emily Bowling will have a unique opportunity to unite music and patriotism when she participates in the 22nd annual Virginia International Tattoo this spring.

Bowling, who has served as band, choir and theater director for the past 19 years, will travel to Norfolk, Va., with her husband, Gary, where they will volunteer on the staff of the global military music event. About 1,000 military bands, singers and dancers from across the world will converge upon the Scope Arena on April 21-24 to perform for the public and showcase their immense musical talent.

Tattoo refers to the Dutch term “tap too,” which is a musical evening roll call during the 17th and 18th Centuries. It has grown over the past two decades with performances that celebrate American freedom and patriotism, educate youth, attract visitors, strengthen international relations and enhance the quality of life for the people of Hampton Roads. The Virginia International Tattoo, which is also part of the Virginia Arts Festival, is supported by a group of military and government leaders that serve as an advisory committee.

Bowling was excited to be part of the event and said it stemmed from her husband’s local connection. Gary, who has volunteered as a sound, lighting and stage technician at SLHS in the past, was linked to Quantico Marine Corps Band Director and former Wellsville High School Band Director Bob Szabo. The Bowlings have attended the event annually and were approached by Szabo, who is musical director of the Tattoo, to lend a hand this year.

“It’s a gathering of military bands, historically. This is the largest one in the U.S. and I was invited to be on the staff this year,” she said. “The music director was my husband’s high school band director and we started going every year to watch him with the Quantico Marine Band.”

Bowling said she and her husband were invited to assist, and she work as a lead school liaison for school and community outreach performances as well as the main production, while Gary will offer his services as a stage technician.

“This includes premier military bands, singers and dancers from countries all over the world and the cast is normally over 1,000 people,” she added. “It’s a pretty big honor that we were asked to be there and we’re really excited to be doing this. We go as spectators every year and this year will be our first time on the staff. It’s an outstanding event.”

Past attendants have travelled from the likes of Canada, Belgium, Australia, Germany, Jordan, the United Kingdom and South Korea and this year the event will honor women in the military.

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