Pipe Band primed to perform New York style
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR (in New York) 1.347.824.0555; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca
The six-time world champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band - with polished repertoire, warmed pipes and new drums assembled - heads today to New York City’s Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts to perform its 30th anniversary concert.
The band’s 47 musicians from Canada, the U.S., Europe and New Zealand will show a NYC crowd why it is one of the world’s best and consistently lands a top spot at the world championships in Scotland, while its solo players top international contest charts.
“We wanted to play somewhere special for our 30th anniversary and it was always in the back of our minds to come back to perform in New York,” says Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee, who, with brother Terry has led the band since its inception.
The band played Carnegie Hall in 1998 and Lee says it has always wanted to return to the city, home to more pipers and drummers than anywhere else in the world.
The band spent three hours practicing before the big day in a city hotel meeting room. “It’s challenging to practice in a hotel because, quite frankly, we make a lot of noise,” Lee concedes. But the explosion of piping and drumming didn’t seem to bother those in a meeting in a room next door.
“We need to ready the instruments and expose them to New York climate,” he adds. “It would be unwise to expect to do that the day of the concert at the Lincoln Center, and now that we’ve had a run through and dealt with some moisture issues we’re primed and ready to go.”
Terry Lee, pipe major, says the concert has been long anticipated and the band is fired up to give its best performance. “This will be magical,” says Lee, “and we are hoping to capture that as a live recording for our 12th CD.”
Lee says the concert comprises classic and new material that will appeal to both diehard and new fans and includes a trio of champion highland dancers, including Lee’s own daughter, Fiona.
The next day (Saturday), band members will head to Archbishop Molloy high school in Queens to teach piping and drumming to more than 200 young and old pipe band enthusiasts, giving even non-experienced players a chance to learn techniques from some of the world’s best solo musicians. Sessions go all day Saturday and Sunday morning.
On Saturday night the band hosts a Ceilidh, an informal evening of music, at the Hilton JFK Hotel. Dozens of New York musicians and pipe band alumni are expected to bring their instruments and join in.
Following New York, the band has a busy spring and summer of practices, performances and workshops before heading back to Glasgow in August for the Worlds, where it last year finished second.