Bag­pip­ing big deal in south

The Southland Times - - News - Jamie Searle

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

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