Monday, August 24, 2009

Scots Wha Hae...

Bagpipes are definitely an acquired taste, and people either love them ... or not. My father was a red-headed Scot, so I think the love of bagpipes is in my blood. I go to parades just to hear the pipe bands, and I can usually hear them two blocks away. A parade just isn't a parade without several pipe bands. We are fortunate to have the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band here in Vancouver, and on August 15th they won the Pipe Band World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, for the sixth time. Can you imagine -- winning this event in Scotland, the home of the bagpipes, in front of 40,000 people. The World Pipe Band Championships is a pipe band competition currently held in Glasgow, Scotland every August. The event has been operating regularly since 1930, when the Scottish Pipe Band Association (today known as the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association) was formed. For competitive bands, the title of World Champion is highly coveted, and this event is seen as the culmination of a year's worth of preparation, rehearsal and practice. ... Wikipedia

SFU Pipe Band is one of only three bands located outside of the United Kingdom that have won a World Pipe Band Championship. In addition, the band has placed second seven times -- finishing in the top two in the world in 12 of its 25 years. They have played for Queen Elizabeth, and they have opened for Rod Stewart.

The band wears the Fraser tartan, and when my daughter graduated, she wore a dress of the Fraser tartan under her robes. She didn't realize until the convocation ceremony that it was the same tartan, and it looked absolutely amazing. The convocation ceremony is very impressive with the wonderful bagpipes, in the beautiful setting at SFU. In this picture you can see the lone piper, piping the graduates as they get their degree. Simon Fraser University was designed by the famous architect Arthur Erickson, and it has been the scene of many sci-fi movies, including the TV series "The X-Files" and "Battlestar Galactica". So SFU is a mixture of ultra-modern and traditional, and the Simon Fraser Pipe Band is an integral part of the university. Here they are doing a medley at their winning performance in Glasgow, Scotland. Congratulations to them. Well done!


Raevyn said...

You're so right Jo, you either love the bagpipes or you don't, there's not really any middle ground. I've several friends who are pipers, including a couple who play with the 78th Frasers out of Ontario. I admit that my true affinity for the bagpipes is relatively recent (about 10 years or so), but as most of my friends will attest (especially those who've spent time with me around piping, either at renaissance festivals or at various Celtic festivals), when I hear them start tuning, whatever I was involved in is lost, because I'm following the sound of the pipes!
I've been distracted by my job search this summer and haven't followed the competitions as closely as I did last year.
One of my favorite 'totally relax and zone out' CDs is The Willow, by EJ Jones, and included a variety of highland pipes and smallpipes.
Thanks for sharing the video.

PurestGreen said...

I always cheer in my heart for Simon Fraser each year, even though I can't attend the championships because I'm working in Edinburgh straight through August. Gosh but I love living in Scotland.

Firefly said...

I also like pipe band music. I bought myself a set of three cd's a while ago and love listening to it.

lovelyprism said...

Excellent! I went to Scotland during the Edinburgh Festival 5 years ago, it was amazing. I love bagpipes!

Gwen said...

Madainn mhath! (Good morning!)

I knew there was a reason I like you so much, Jo. *smile*

I absolutely LOVE the bagpipes too. I suppose it's probably in my blood also (maiden/given surname = Glasgow). Grandfather from my mothers side is 'McCloskey' who, I believe, also hails from Glasgow, Scotland (versus the Irish McCloskey clan).

It's a dream of mine to visit Scotland and I'm jealous that you have such renowned pipe band so close. How cool!

Alissa said...

Where I used to live there was a state park not too far away. One morning I was there early, when the fog was just lifting off the lake and I heard this mysteriously beautiful and haunting music. A lone bag piper (perhaps because of annoyed neighbors at his house) was there at the park practicing. I ran into a few more times and it was always a treat to hear that music in that beautiful setting.

By the way my sister and I are a big fan of Mike Meyer's movie "So I Married An Ax Murderer" which includes a goofy scene with a bag piper and Mike Meyers singing Rod Stewart's "If You Want My Body." It never fails to crack us up.

Land of shimp said...

*raises hand* Middle ground here :-)

I've mentioned here and elsewhere that my mother and brother are both from Scotland. I've got a strange fondness for bagpipes, mainly due to being exposed to a lot of bagpipe music, but I only truly like two things on the bagpipes and the rest I tolerate well enough.

Those two things would be Amazing Grace, and Scotland the Brave (which I adore).

Many hearty congratulations to Fraser, there must have been a great many drunk Scots that night! Beaten in Glasgow by Canadians? Oh, there was some drinking that night!!

Well done, Fraser, well done.

Mostly I subscribe to the universal definition of bagpipes: Cease cat. Tuck underneath arm. Pull on legs. Chew on tail. ;-)

(My mother hates it when I define bagpipes as such, calls me "cheeky", sorry mom!)

Land of shimp said...

Cease cat? What in the world? Brain death.

Seize cat. Seize cat.


Brenda said...

I don't know as much as I would like about my heritage, but I do know that it has Scottish and Irish descendants. On both sides of the families. So perhaps I have a fondness for the music from it being in my blood line.
I loved reading this story you put together Jo.

Mean Mama said...

Thanks so much for sharing Jo. When I lived in Maryland and Virginia I spent a lot of time at Fox Trap which was a little haven of Celtic Heritage and Renaissance Festival. Pipers were always there. Mom and I used to contra dance in the Blue Ridge mountains in Bluemont where I was born. She always took me to the pipe festivals. In Olympia, WA right outside my office, every night there was a pipe band who practiced out in the courtyard because of the acoustics. All of us business owners were more than happy to give them the space free of charge. All of the doctors and lawyers, and real estate brokers would stay late on Wednesday nights and stand around and listen. It was relaxing to us. Sometimes I would look around and watch someone wipe a tear. We would comment to each other in passing on Thursdays, "they were really on last night huh?" Thanks so much for sharing this. They are truly a wonderful group. I will be replaying it. It is amazing how they keep their energy up for an entire 6 minutes. I understand the bagpipes are exhausting to play.

PhilipH said...

Floors Castle, home of the Duke of Roxburgh, hosts a massed pipe band show in the grounds of the castle on Sunday. This has been an annual event for nigh on 40 years. Very popular.

Mary Ellen said...

I've always been intrigued with bagpipes and don't mind listening to them a bit...although I can't help but get distracted when I watch them play because of the faces they make when they play, and because my mind keeps wandering to wondering if they are wearing anything under those kilts (dirty mind I guess).

On the other father hated the sound of bagpipes! I have no idea why, but he just hated them.

Personally, I love the sound of drums in a marching band. Maybe that's an American thing. :-)

Barry said...

As a Fraser I find the pipes especially stirring, the Fraser Tartan the most beautiful and the Simon Fraser University Pipe band the worlds finest musicians.

But then I am slightly biased.

Russell said...

Looks like you have some pretty knowledgable people who have commented! I will defer to them as I know nothing about pipe bands.

I will say that there is nothing more unique than the sound of a bagpipe. It is actually haunting -- but that is because I often associate bagpipes with funerals.

I have never seen a pipe band - as you call them -- but hopefully some day I will.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Very interesting post. I learned a lot. Do you know what X-files scenes made use of SFU?

kenju said...

I adore bagpipes!! We have seen two different sets of them from Scotland who performed here in Raleigh, and they are amazing!

Paula Slade said...

I do love bagpipes! I remember them in parades as a child. It was fascinating watching the one piper on the left of the screen in the video as he kept time to the music with his foot. I assume he was conducting, perhaps?

meenu said...

I am very much delighted because it was in my childhood when I was 9 years old. I used to participate in the Scots. It was my favorite among all others. Really but now gone are the days to far from me. I missed them a lot..
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