In tune with the nation

14 military bands, six pipe-and-drum bands from regimental centres and 11 pipe-and-drum bands from battalions, buglers and trumpeters from Army regiments and two bands from Navy and Air Force performed at the Beating Retreat ceremony.

The fading peach sky with majestic sandstone edifice of the Rashtrapati Bhavan silhouetted against it. The bright orange livery of the BSF camel regiment making the silent and still personnel stand out on the ramparts. The setting or the Beating Retreat ceremony on Tuesday evening were a picture straight out of sepia tones of an old memory. The tunes played by the performing military bands in contrast were fresh, lively and full of energy.

In a shift from tradition, the 14 military bands, six pipe-and-drum bands from regimental centres and 11 pipe-and-drum bands from battalions, buglers and trumpeters from Army regiments and the two bands from the Navy and the Air Force performed tunes that had been freshly composed by Indian musicians with decidedly Indian influences mixed with the regular British military music. Around 600 Army personnel and 160 Air Force and Navy personnel took part in the ceremony, playing 23 compositions, of which 18 were new compositions.

Two new compositions — Dhola Re Dhola by Maj Gen KN Bhatt and Maj N Hussain and Jitesh by Maj Khem Chand — were played for the first time. Several other pieces, composed within the last year by Defence musicians were also played.

Especially enthralling to the crowd was the 'fantasia' piece composed by Lt Cdr SK Champion of the Indian Navy, titled The Admiral Insignia, with a fresh, foot-tapping tune played by the pipers and drummers from the Air Force and the Navy. The lively choreography of the piece added to the chutzpah with the drummers doing a little dance to their own beat, drawing applause and shouts of appreciation from the audience.

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