Northern European players get together to form “Balagan”
The dramatic rise in pipign and drumming quality in continental Europe has resulted in the formation of Balagan, a new pipe band made up of the best players from the region. Led by Bernard Bouhadana, a member of Field Marshal Montgomery and a former member of Simon Fraser University, the group plans to be “a new alternative for top players from all over Nothern Europe and beyond looking to play in a more performance-oriented band.”
The drum section will be led by Anders Jensen, a snare drummer currently with the Grade 1 Dowco-Triumph Street Pipe Band. The mid-section is to be managed by Tim Djursing, who played with the Grade 1 Spirit of Scotland in 2008 and previous was a member of the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead.
“I feel this is the time,” Bouhadana said. “To me, there has always been two outstanding pipe corps in the World – SFU and FMM. I have been lucky enough to play with both of these bands for a number of years and together with Anders and Tim we have the knowledge and opportunity to build a strong band in this part of the World.”
Balagan will put the emphasis on performing, rather than competing, but when asked if the new group would in fact compete, Bouhadana said, “Never say never, but it’s not the main purpose. We have had so much fun doing the shows, so we hope to do more of them, and hopefully get to perform in Scotland and other countries with a strong piping tradition.
“Only a few people are competiting with other bands. As long long as they are here for practices, pipers play a sheepskin bag, and know the tunes, we are happy to see them play piping elsewhere as well.”
In addtiion to the Scandinavian countries, the band has players from Scotland, Belgium, Germany, Canada and Israel.
The group started informally about a year ago, when several players performed two small concerts in Copenhagen and Stockholm.
“These concerts were probably one the most fun experiences I have ever had. The practices, the travelling, etc. were all great,” Bouhadana continued. “There is a unique atmosphere [in the band] because the main goal for us is the music and entertainment value – not competitions. It´s that relaxed and fun atmosphere that we wish to hold on to despite now being a much bigger and more organized group. Even though some of our members are competing with other bands, Balagan is still a big draw because people want to perform and play other music.”
Balagan will host a piping and drumming workshop in October in Copenhagen and is planning to tour other European countries in 2009.