Pipe is band happy with all performances in competition
August 26, 2005
Among traditional bagpipe standards such as “Amazing Grace” and “Danny Boy” there were some musicians at this year’s World Competition of Pipe Bands in Glasgow, Scotland who took songs to places many dared not go before.
“There was a band called the National Youth of Orchestra who did a version of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You,'” said South Lake Tahoe bagpiper Sean Cummings. “They were good. It was different.”
Cummings, his wife, Nicole, and South Lake Tahoe residents Martin Macclean and Maria DeLallo, who make up the Black Bear Clan Pipe Band, joined the 15-member Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band from Carson City to compete in the annual Scotland bagpipe festival earlier this month.
Participating in the World Competition of Pipe Bands gave a big boost of confidence to the group, who raised money for the trip so they could become a part of pipe history. The South Tahoe group joined forces with the Carson City group to perform in competition as a group.
The experience was extraordinary, Cummings said.
“The scope and quality and caliber of piping standards I saw was amazing,” he said. “Imagine hearing 18 pipers playing the same song, all in a merged unison. It has a unique sound all its own.”
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In fact, it was the thrill of being there in the heart of bagpipe country that took the Highlanders to a new level of competition – they placed 18th out of 22 bagpipe bands in their category. In all, more than 250 bag piping bands from around the world competed.
“If you can compete at the Worlds and not fall apart, you can do just about anything,” said John LoGiurato, Sierra Highlanders president and drummer. “If you look at our standings, we were pretty consistent throughout the competitions.”
LoGiurato said the band came in just under the gun with only one minute to tune their pipes and head to the competition. They had arrived 45 minutes late.
The group was staying about 40 miles away in the dorms at Stirling University in Stirling. Their coach driver went to the wrong area of the university to pick them up. The delay nearly cost them their performance time.
“Everyone just held it together,” he added. “They did great under pressure. We didn’t get to savor the moment, but we did later.
“You only get one shot at the Worlds. If you miss it, it’s over.”
The Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band performed “Duncan MacInnes” and “The Haughs of Cromdale,” for a quick march at the Worlds.
Member Ron James said one of the more memorable experiences was the band’s departure from the games in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The band marched through the historic community, past Rothesay Castle to the dock to pick up the ferry.
“The band played ‘Yankee Doodle,’ uncertain how it would be received,” James said.
“Our pipe major, Burch Palmer, said he expected a cabbage to be thrown at the side of his head. But he was pleased to see puzzled looks turn to delight when the people recognized what they were playing.
“Amidst enormous grins, they actually started singing along so loudly we could hear the crowd over the pipes. No mean feat.”
The band’s next performance in Northern Nevada will be in the Nevada Day Parade on Oct. 29. For information, visit http://www.sierrahighlanders.pipeband.com.
– Tribune News Service writer Rhonda Costa-Landers contributed to this report.