When Wren and Evan Ellis were encouraged by their parents, Doug Ellis and Karen Stavast, to play a musical instrument, they both started violin with local teacher Carole Ruth.
Neither took to the instrument, but through other circumstances, ended up in the fledgling Arran Campbell Memorial Youth Pipe Band, the youth pipe band within Vernon’s Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band.
Evan says he took up the bagpipes, “because I liked the sound of them,” while his sister, Wren, started the tenor drum, “because I was at a practice waiting to work on some Highland dancing and was given a drum to beat on.”
The move paid off.
The Vernon siblings have since gone on to join Vancouver’s Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band, and just returned from the World Pipe Band Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland.
The RMM bands are feeder bands for the six-time world champion SFU (Simon Fraser University) Pipe Band and attract pipers and drummers from all over North America. The core group practises in Vancouver and top pipers and drummers around the continent drive or fly in for special practices leading up to the world championships.
For Wren and Evan, this meant 15,000-kilometres of travel from Vernon to Vancouver and back, paying their own way over to the world championships as all the band members do.
As well, both were participants at the yearly Piping Hot Summer Drummer at Silver Star Mountain, an event run by Jack Lee, pipe sergeant of the SFU Pipe Band, and featuring many members of the SFU Pipe Band.
Daily practice is a must and usually entails one-to-two hours plus extra time to maintain the pipes and drums.
“This was a trip of a lifetime,” said Wren who has just turned 18. “I especially enjoyed learning about the history and culture of Scotland first hand, visiting the Wallace Monument and eating fish and chips.”
While on their trip to the worlds, the RMM bands also participated in piping live events in Glasgow at George Square, North Berwick International Highland Games and the Pitlochry Celtic night.
Both Evan and Wren will participate in the Kalamalka Highlanders annual Piping in the Park, which takes place in Polson Park, Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. The concert is free and all are welcome to bring a lawn chair and listen to the music.The event kicks off the 2012-2013 piping and drumming season. Registration for youth will be held Sept. 5 at the House of Dwarfs daycare and Sept. 6 for adults at the Vernon Recreation Centre.