Those kilted lads and lassies are back to blow off a little steam – make that some award winning hot air.
The world champion Simon Fraser University (SFU) Pipe Band is once again in Vernon to teach piping, drumming, and Highland dancing atop Silver Star Mountain for the 22nd annual Piping Hot Summer Drummer school.
Each year, hundreds of students travel from across the globe to learn from members of the band, who will be at the hill from Sunday to July 10 and July 12 to 17.
While in the area, the SFU Pipe Band will also give a public performance at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre July 12.
Featuring more than 40 of the best bagpipers, drummers, and dancers in the world, the public can see the band at the top of its game just one month before it competes at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
The SFU Pipe Band is a unique anomaly in that it is one of only four bands from outside the U.K. to win at the worlds, which it has done six times since 1995.
“We love to perform at the highest level and we’re always striving to improve,” said pipe sergeant Jack Lee, one of the band’s founding members. “Each year, our goal is to go to Glasgow and beat the Scots and Irish at their own game.”
According to the SFU Pipe Band, this province adopted the pipes from Scottish settlers that moved to B.C. in the 19th and 20th centuries – long before the SFU Pipe Band rose to prominence.
However, the bagpipes are actually believed to have been developed in the Middle East before migrating their way throughout Europe with travelling minstrels.
Eventually, the bagpipes settled in the British Isles and are now the national instrument of Scotland.
The concert in Vernon is part of the band’s preparation for travelling to Scotland in August where, in addition to competing at the world championships, it will also perform live in concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Nous Sommes Prets, the name of the concert, is modeled after SFU’s motto and means “We are Ready.”
“We are so excited to be coming back to Vernon and we will definitely be ready to put on a spectacular show,” said Lee. “We’re going to play some of our most popular pieces, but we also have a few surprises and new and exciting sets of music we’re going to unveil.”
The SFU Pipe Band is famous in pipe band circles for pushing the boundaries of the piping world in albums recorded at prestigious venues, including the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Lincoln Center in New York.
In addition to the SFU Pipe Band, the concert will also feature a solo performance from one of the world’s best solo pipers – Stuart Liddell from Inveraray, Scotland.
Liddell has played with SFU for more than 10 years and is now the leader of Inveraray and District Pipe Band – one of SFU’s top competitors.
Inveraray’s lead drummer and former SFU member, Steven McWhirter, will also perform at the concert and is the reigning world solo drumming champion, a title he has won five times.
“This is such a unique opportunity to see the band at the top of their game and accompanied by other world-class musician,” said Lee. “We are also very fortunate to have one of the world’s most successful Highland dancers perform with us. David Wilton has won the World Highland Dancing Championships a total of seven times.”
The SFU Pipe Band takes the stage at the Performing Arts Centre Sunday, July 12 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $31 (general admission seating) at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 250-549-7469 or order online at www.ticketseller.ca.