Bagpiping big deal in south
The music created by the sound of booming drums and the notes from pipers strikes a chord with many people who listen.
Pipin’ Hot concert music director Ali Mackenzie said often a week after a show, he and other senior members of the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band are contacted by people inquiring about joining a pipe band.
‘‘Pipin’ Hot is good for recruiting,’’ Mackenzie said.
‘‘[People] like the sound of it . . . a family connection with pipe bands is another reason they join,’’ he said.
He said the sound of popular songs played by bagpipers with backing from drummers and other musicians, encouraged people to sing along.
Mackenzie performed in his first Pipin’ Hot show in 2009.
Earlier that year he arrived in Invercargill from Scotland to work as a bagpipe tutor for the Southland Piping and Drumming Development Trust.
The musician was alerted to the position by the drum instructor at the time, Scott Birrell, now living in Melbourne.
‘‘I had just finished university in Glasgow . . . got a degree in accounting and finance,’’ Mackenzie said.
‘‘I always wanted to travel and teach the pipes.’’
He teaches about 40 people a week. The piper thought about 200 people were involved with pipe bands throughout Southland.
Bagpipes are played all over the world, even in Pakistan and Oman, Mackenzie said.
He added bagpipers can travel throughout the world playing and some do busking to earn extra money while abroad.
‘‘If you’re piping in any European country, you’ll get people gathering around you [enjoying the performance].’’
Every winter Mackenzie returns to Scotland for seven weeks to join up with the Inveraray and Districts Pipe Band. The band won the world championships in Glasgow last year.
Mackenzie said there was nothing better than listening to ‘‘a group of really good pipers’’.
‘‘I just love the sound of bagpipes,’’ Mackenzie said.
This year’s Pipin’ Hot show is at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill tonight. The bagpipers will be supported by a band, vocalists, a choir and fiddlers.
‘‘It’s a great sound mix, a good concept that works and gives a different twist [to the show],’’ Mackenzie said.
He is the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band’s pipe major.
Ali Mackenzie is music director for the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band’s concert, Pipin’ Hot. JOHN HAWKINS/STUFF