Bold bagpipes transform classic Christmas music in 20thanniversary performance
The classic songs of traditional Christmas music never sounded as enticing as they did when they are arranged specifically to highlight the bold sounds of the bagpipes, coupled with other traditional instruments and voices in The Pipes of Christmas.
This year, the traditional concert that has become a cherished holiday tradition throughout the Tristate area, celebrates its 20thanniversary. The holiday favorite begins Saturday, December 15 at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and then moves across the Hudson River on Sunday, December 16 to Central Presbyterian Church located in Summit, New Jersey with two performances.
The event is produced by the Clan Currie Society, a non-profit, tax-exempt educational and cultural institution that raises funds for the Society’s music scholarship program.
The concept and the idea of the event was created by Bob Currie, who worked previously with a concert called the Kirking of the Tartans. Currie decided the event needed to be revisited, then focused the program on the beautiful sounds of the bagpipes.
“What was needed was a complete re-envisioning of the collection to round out the instrumentation and the addition of readings. Most audiences couldn’t withstand 90-plus minutes of blaring Highland bagpipes, yet – if we could vary the musical journey with other Celtic instruments such as harp, fiddle, guitar, cello and the Irish uilleann pipes, we might just have a show,” explained Currie.
And so the concept for the Pipes of Christmas was born. The Currie clan then blended the musical talents of the Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band from Redlands, California with champion harper Jennifer Port from Golspie, Scotland, three-time New England Fiddle Champion, Paul Woodiel, and the Solid Brass ensemble. Featured readers and performers also include James Robinson and Andrew Weir from the film Braveheart.
Since the first performance in 1999, the event has continued to sell out their weekend long performances in both their Manhattan and New Jersey venues.
The powerful pipe band often begins its program by processing down the aisles of the sprawling churches, playing their Highland Cathedral number, so powerful, that it leaves many of the audience go-ers in tears after only the first few minutes. As the program progresses, the readers elegantly weave their poetic pieces of literature into the production, as well as songs such asAngels We Have Heard on Highand Amazing Grace, accompanied by all of the musicians.
“I believe our audiences cherish and appreciate the work we perform. This performance conjures up happy Christmas memories from years gone by. It’s both comforting and inspiring,” said Currie. “And after all, celebrating the birth of our Saviour is – as they say – the reason for the season.”
The proceeds from the concert support an extensive music scholarship program to the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (both located in Glasgow, Scotland) the Gaelic College of Nova Scotia and Summit High School in New Jersey. It also supports the Society’s sponsorship of the US National Scottish Harp Championship, the Gaelic Literature Competition at the Royal National Mod and an annual academic research prize at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye.