Published: February 28, 2003

78th Fraser Highlanders Reveal Concert Plans

The 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band of Toronto have revealed to Piper & Drummer Online details of their new concert to be performed throughout 2003 and ’04, debuting in Springfield, Illinois.

Entitled, “Seanchaidh – The Story Teller – Keeper of the Antiquities,” the show, according to the band, has “a central theme, constructed around the conceit of the ancient woman of the ‘fairy people’ who gave the gift of music and piobaireachd to Donald Mor MacCrimmon some 400 years ago.”

The program will attempt to reflect the storytelling tradition of the Seanchaidh, with the band and dancers communicating tales through the arts. The band describes the production as “by far the most ambitious and extravagant that the Frasers have undertaken,” and “the music…perhaps the most innovative and provocative of all time.”

The music is composed almost entirely by piper John Cairns and Pipe-Major Bill Livingstone, with selections using themes like Culloden, Scottish immigration to the new world, and the outreach of Celtic music to other nations. The show will reportedly feature two sets of jigs that each last over 10 minutes

The band will unveil “Johnny Rowan,” a new suite by Livingstone that pays homage to his grandfather. Piobaireachd will be featured with “an ancient and melodious rendition” of “MacIntosh’s Lament” with orchestral accompaniment.

“The extent of the event will bring lighting and sound effects to a new level for a pipe band/dance company stage production,” said Ken Eller, a piper with the band. “This is a complete entertainment package, not a series of individual pipe band numbers put together in a ‘best of’ review program. It has been two years in the development stage. The music has been envisioned for a lot longer. It brings out the true creativity in artists like John Cairns and Bill Livingstone, enhanced by the choreography genius of Ann Milne.”

The show is scheduled to debut in Springfield, Illinois, on May 16, 2003, with subsequent performances in Glasgow on August 13 and Charleston, South Carolina, on September 18 and 20. The band states that further concerts are being discussed for Edmonton, Alberta, and Cleveland in 2004.

The 78th Fraser Highlanders will not so far be performing in their home town of Toronto. Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University Pipe Band are scheduled to perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall on April 25, 2003.

The 78th Frasers’ Springfield concert will also mark the first public performance by the band’s new lead drummer, John Fisher, who joined the group in September 2002.

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