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Fulfilling their pipe dreams (8 photos)

While the notoriously loud instrument may still be enough to get most people out of bed, Carnes said her bagpiping skills have improved significantly from those days.
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Bagpiping couple Loretta and David Carnes play at a Laurentian University Pipe Band and Dancers practice. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
While the notoriously loud instrument may still be enough to get most people out of bed, Carnes said her bagpiping skills have improved significantly from those days.

Although she had a background in clarinet and organ, she said it took her about seven years to become proficient.

“It is a hard instrument to learn to play,” Carnes said. “You have four reeds you're playing, you have to keep them all in tune, you have to keep them all blown, and you have to memorize your music.”

About eight years ago, her husband, David Carnes, also decided to learn the instrument. The couple are now among the 15 members of the Laurentian University Pipe Band and Dancers.

The group is currently looking for both experienced and novice bagpipers, drummers and Highland dancers to join the ensemble.

“We're sort of in a situation where we're in a rebuild,” said the band's pipe major, Derek Young.

“The nature of being a band attached to a university is that every once in a while, we'll luck out that there are students that are on campus who may play in other pipe bands and they come here to study.

“We encourage those experienced pipers if they are in town to come out to their university pipe band. We're also realizing we have to open up the door and try and recruit new people that may be interested in coming out to the band as well.”

The Laurentian University Pipe Band and Dancers was founded in 2006 by Derek's younger brother, David.

Then a Laurentian music student, he reached out to the university's then-president, Judith Woodsworth, with the idea.

The group is something of a family tradition, with the Young brothers — Derek, David and Dan, as well as their father, Raymond — playing in the ensemble. Derek and Dan play the bagpipes, while Raymond and David play the drums.

David's wife, Jennifer, also teaches Highland Dancing for the group, while Dan's six-year-old daughter, Erika, is one of the dancers.

The Young brothers said they got their start in the 1980s, with the Sudbury and District Pipe Band. It's a way to celebrate their Scottish heritage, as Raymond emigrated to Canada from Scotland at the age of six.

The Laurentian University Pipe Band and Dancers is also great fun, they say, as the group is called upon to play at occasions such as convocation.

“It's nice to see after seven years, we've had the opportunity to grow and do a lot of unique things,” David said.

“We've met a whole variety of different people — everyone from former Governor General Michaelle Jean to David Suzuki to Jack Layton. We even had a meeting with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.”

The group meets Sunday evenings at the Laurentian University education building. For more information, phone 705-918-3690.

Burns Celebration:

The Laurentian University Pipe Band and Dancers hosts a Burns Celebration starting at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Lockerby Legion. Celebrate the life of Scottish bard Robbie Burns with a roast beef and haggis dinner, with entertainment by Andy Lowe and the pipe band and dancers. Tickets are $25 for students and $30 for adults. Phone 705-920-2572 or 705-918-3690.

Bagpipe facts:

-A set of bagpipes minimally consists of an air supply, a bag, a chanter, and, usually, at least one drone.
-While the Scottish bagpipes are the best known, other types of bagpipes are played around the world.
-The Oxford History of Music says that a sculpture of bagpipes has been found on a Hittite slab at Euyuk in the Middle East, dated to 1000 BC.



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