January 31, 2006

Updated: Scottish skaters to use Highland pipes to compete at Olympics

The Scottish ice skating duo of Sinead Kerr of Dundee and John Kerr of Broxburn will bring Highland piping to an immense world audience when they compete representing Great Britain in the Ice Dancing events at the Winter Olympics at Turin, Italy, in February.

The duo performs its “Free Dance” program to a score by The Porridge Men, the Scottish-based folk group that features Highland piping by Donald MacLeod, who competes successfully on the Scottish solo circuit. He has won, among many other prizes, the B Strathspey & Reel at the Argyllshire Gathering.

“Apparently, Sinead and John first heard it by chance while walking down Princes Street in Edinburgh,” MacLeod said. “[They] really liked what they heard. It’s great that they are being bold in stating their Scottish identity through the choice of music and hopefully bringing piping to a wider audience at the same time – it’s a pretty brave move by them but one which is obviously paying off, judging by the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd to the routine.

“As a band, we didn’t really set out with any specific goals other than to make decent music which we liked and hopefully the tunes speak for themselves. We’re looking forward seeing them perform at the Winter Olympics next month and hope Sinead and John will continue their rise up the world rankings.”

“The whole routine is to the pipes and it will be massive exposure in Turin,” said a Scottish piper who caught the skaters’ routine on television.

The Kerrs use many elements from Highland dancing in the routine, which has received loud applause from audiences around the world, particularly in the concluding segment to the jig, “The Ten-Penny Bit.”


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