In Scot­land,

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

real men not only wear kilts and play the bag­pipes, they do all of the above and fight in the in­fantry as well. In­deed, the mu­si­cians from the Ar­gyll and Suther­land High­landers, 5th bat­tal­ion, Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, com­ing Thurs­day, Feb. 25, to the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter along with the 70-mem­ber Band of the Ir­ish Guards, are not just mu­si­cians, they are front-line sol­diers. Later this year, the men will lay down their pipes and drums and pick up weapons, as they head back to Afghanistan for a sec­ond de­ploy­ment there. Since 2002, the bat­tal­ion has served in Iraq, Bos­nia, Belize, and Kenya, in ad­di­tion to Hel­mand prov­ince in Afghanistan, where they were part of the Heavy Ma­chine Gun pla­toon.

Ac­cord­ing to Maj. Philip Shan­non, di­rec­tor of mu­sic for the Band of the Ir­ish Guards, it is not sur­pris­ing that the mu­si­cians would also be fight­ers. “In Scot­land, there is a tra­di­tion of pipes and drums in bat­tle,” he said. “Th­ese men are just car­ry­ing on a tra­di­tion in their reg­i­ment. Mu­sic is at the heart of any reg­i­men­tal ac­tiv­ity. March­ing to mu­sic cre­ates teamwork. Pip­ing is im­por­tant. There is a sense of clan.”

With 27 bag­pipes on­stage along with drum­mers, in ad­di­tion to the 28-player-strong Ir­ish band (“and more play­ing in the wings”), the pro­gram at the Len­sic is guar­an­teed to rat­tle the eardrums while it rus­tles up the pride that comes with pageantry. If you love a pa­rade, you’ll want to be there, even with earplugs. And don’t for­get the tis­sues. The massed bag­pipes will be play­ing “Lord Lo­vat’s Lament” and “The Bon­nie Lass O’Fyvie,” and a solo piper will of­fer “Amaz­ing Grace.” The Ir­ish band will be per­form­ing, among oth­ers songs, “Hands Across the Sea,” “God Save the Queen,” “Su­san Macleod,” and “The Green Hills of Ty­rol.”

“It is a tremendous show,” Shan­non said. “Col­or­ful cos­tumes, two bands pro­vid­ing mu­sic, Scot­tish and Ir­ish danc­ing, a demon­stra­tion of the march­ing we em­ploy at the chang­ing of the guard.… We’ll play mu­sic from Eng­land, Ire­land, Scot­land, Wales, and the U.S.”

The Amer­i­can seg­ment, Shan­non said, is one of the most pop­u­lar parts of the show. “We honor the mil­i­tary forces of the United States by play­ing the an­thems of all the branches of your armed ser­vices. It’s a pow­er­ful mo­ment, es­pe­cially for all the vet­er­ans in the au­di­ence.”

The cos­tumes of the groups are al­most as col­or­ful as their his­to­ries. The Ir­ish Band will be wear­ing scar­let jack­ets trimmed with gold braid and real bear skins, and the Scots play­ers wear kilts in a dark-green mil­i­tary tar­tan. The Ir­ish Guards, formed by Queen Vic­to­ria in 1900, have played all over the world, as the face of the Bri­tish army. The band’s main duty is to play for the Mount­ing of the Queen’s Guard at Buck­ing­ham Palace and for var­i­ous of­fi­cial oc­ca­sions such as royal wed­dings, in­vesti­tures, state vis­its, and the queen’s birth­day pa­rade. “We’ve all met the queen on many oc­ca­sions,” Shan­non said. “Be­ing in the band is an op­por­tu­nity to see what hap­pens at the top lev­els of so­ci­ety.”

As for the Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, its his­tory be­gins with its found­ing in 1794, when the Duke of Ar­gyll was re­quested by King Ge­orge III to raise a reg­i­ment of foot sol­diers for for­eign ser­vice. Its first as­sign­ment was to South Africa, fol­lowed, over the next cen­tury, with duty in Spain and Por­tu­gal dur­ing the Napoleon­icWars, Ja­maica, In­dia, France, Crimea, and Balaklava, where the reg­i­ment fought against the Rus­sian cav­alry and pre­vailed, de­spite be­ing heav­ily out­num­bered. A Bri­tish war cor­re­spon­dent de­scribed the reg­i­ment as a “thin red streak tipped with a line of steel.”

Times have changed, how­ever, at least for the Band of the Ir­ish Guards. “It was the Amer­i­cans that took the lead on this,” Shan­non said. “We now have three fe­males in our band. Of course, the pipes are in­fantry sol­diers, so they’re still all men.”

The drum set: mem­bers of the Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land

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