knox grammar school


Knox Tattoo - Centenary Gala Celebration

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Saturday 01 June 2024


Quaycentre, Sydney Olympic Park

Please enjoy a recording of the livestream

Lights, sound and celebration inspired by Knox’s mantra of ‘innovation wrapped in tradition’ – the Centenary Tattoo was a fantastic way to mark 100 years of Knox.

The show, which featured 14 diverse and stunning acts and more than 800 performers, was held in the arena of Quaycentre on Saturday 1 June, many months of planning, composing and rehearsing came to life for the audience of thousands of Knox community members.

“It was a fitting way to celebrate Knox's 100 years, showcasing the unique spirit and rich tapestry of our school's traditions,” says Headmaster Scott James.

“The Knox Centenary Tattoo was not just an event; it was a celebration of our past, present, and future. It highlighted the traditions that have shaped us and the community that supports us.”

Mr James says it was gratifying to see the involvement of staff, Old Boys and parents both past and present, as well as the current students.

“Their participation underscored the strong bonds and enduring connections that define our community.”


The audience was welcomed through dance by our Indigenous students, cultural mentors Uncle Den Barber and Tim Bishop, and Didgeridoo player Marc ‘Kundalini’ Cottee. Acknowledgement of Country was given by Year 12 students William Humes, William Lloyd and Harrison Tanner. Following this, act two was heralded by 70 trumpet players from eight bands across the Knox Prep and Senior campuses, plus 14 Old Knox Grammarians’ Association (OKGA) members.

An astounding performance of massed pipes and drums – featuring 100 pipers for 100 years – then entered the arena to perform a selection of traditional and modern pieces arranged by Pipe Band Master Ainsley Hart. Act three was comprised of musicians from the Knox Ceremonial Pipes and Drums, the Prep Pipe Band, Knox Old Boys Pipes and Drums, and Presbyterian Ladies’ College Sydney Pipes and Drums. This was led by Senior Drum Major Heath Turner (Year 12), Senior Pipe Major Lochlan Stevenson (Year 12) and Lead Drummer Alexander Dunn (Year 12).

Act four showcased the prowess of the Knox Grammar School Cadet Unit Drill Team, where the students performed a display sequence used on the 2023 tour to the United Kingdom and Europe, before switching up the routine with a rifle prop drill inspired by the 1981 film, Stripes.

Act five saw the NSW Highland Dance ‘Tattoo Dancers’ enter the arena to perform an ancient Scottish dance over swords laid by the Cadet Unit. Following this, the dance group switched gears to perform two modern dances and were accompanied by the Knox Contemporary Music Studies (CMS) rock musicians. This act was choreographed by Highland Dancing Artistic Director and Choreographer Dougie McFarland.

The Castle Hill RSL Youth Wind Orchestra, led by Musical and Artistic Director James Brice OAM, presented their musical tribute Through the Years for act six. In act 7 the drummers of the Knox Pipes and Drums and Senior School Pipe Band thrilled with their lighted sticks performance. The Knox Prep Performance Ensemble, led by Conductor and Director of Instrumental Music Rebeccah Morris, performed two classic songs and was followed by the Knox Centenary Tattoo Choir in act 9, who sang a selection of pieces from the 1962 House Choir Competition and backed by organ music records in the William McIlrath War Memorial Chapel. This included a performance of Pemulwuy, accompanied by Indigenous dancers.

The Undercover Drummers told the story of sport at Knox for act ten, starting with the foundation sports of cricket, rugby and athletics. Representatives of each sport currently on offer at Knox marched around the arena to the sound of pipes and drums.

Act 11, ‘The Cadet Experience’, was an exciting and humorous depiction by the Cadet Unit of a typical annual field exercise (AFX) camp, with props – including a foot-operated army ute complete with lights – created by Captain (AAC) Luke Hicks. Voice recordings of the cadets communicating in the field via radio were the backdrop to the act.

Act 12 saw the Knox Pipes and Drums return to the arena to perform a selection of modern and traditional pieces, including opening number Knox Centenary Tattoo, written by Ainsley Hart. The band displayed quick and slow time marching and formed the St Andrew’s Cross, which is the enduring symbol of Knox’s Scottish heritage. The Prep 5-6 Vocal Ensemble, CMS Rock Band and Symphony Orchestra Violinists joined the Pipes and Drums in the arena, conducted by Prep Director of Music Jay House. They performed a rendition of Hallelujah arranged by Ainsley Hart and Contemporary Music Studies Coordinator Charlie Meadows.

In Act 13 the Symphonic Wind Ensemble acknowledged the School’s first ever musical production Oliver! by performing Consider Yourself, arranged by Co-Curricular Music Facilitator Andrew Chessher, among its performances. This act was conducted by James Brice.

The Tattoo Finale was an emotive and fitting conclusion to the show, with the entire tattoo cast assembling to musically reflect on Knox Grammar School’s centenary. Opening with the Lone Piper providing the traditional lament, Sleep Dearie Sleep, an adaptation of the Bidding Prayer from the 1934 Founders’ Day Chapel Service was read by Rev Dr Rosalie Clarke MacLarty.

The mood shifted as the cast combined to perform the traditional Scottish folk song Caledonia, reflecting on Knox’s cultural roots, whilst using that connection to live more authentically in the present, a fitting finale for the Knox Centenary Tattoo. The final song, Lanterns, was a reimagining of the Birds of Tokyo song that was performed by Knox students for the 90th anniversary of the School. Old Boys poignantly held lanterns to add depth to this piece.

The Knox Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Knox Symphony Orchestra and Massed Pipes and Drums then departed in the traditional tattoo style to We’re No Awa’ Tae Bide Awa’ and The Black Bear.

Photos from the Knox Centenary Tattoo

More images may be viewed and purchased via the Knox App.

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