September 16, 2019

David Hester, 1962-2019

David Hester

J. David Hester, one of Highland piping’s greatest advocates for enlightenment and change, died suddenly at the age of 57 on September 12, 2019, at his home in Baltimore.

Originally from Redlands, California, Hester in the last decade started the Alt Pibroch Club, and launched an accompanying website that promoted alternative approaches to the established ways of interpreting ceol mor. Through his organization, several commissions and competitions were created, each encouraging bringing piobaireachd – or pibroch, as Hester preferred to use – to a wider audience.

Under former president Jack Taylor, the traditions-based Piobaireachd Society embraced Hester’s work, following developments closely.

In 2018, Hester brought out the Alt Pibroch Library, a resource for downloadable new pibroch compositions and scores. At the time of his death, Hester was in the process of creating a composing competition that would call for additional original creative approaches to ceol mor, supporting his belief that the art form would thrive more with an invigoration of new compositions.

David Hester was a popular competing member of the Grade 3 MacMillan-Birtles Pipe Band, where his daughter is a snare drummer.

He was an outspoken and fearless member of the world piping community.

His family requested that they be given some space to process their grief, but also suggested that donations might be made in David Hester’s memory to Heifer International, an international charity that works to bring relief to poverty and hunger-stricken regions of the world.

A celebration of David Hester’s life will be held on at Cylburn Arboretum Mansion in Baltimore on October 19th, from 4 to 6 pm.

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we extend our sympathies to David Hester’s family and friends at this sad time.


Related articles

Piobaireachd Society at crossroads with future direction
February 9, 2019


Alt Pibroch Club selects six tunes for first volume
December 21, 2018


Call for more ceol mor creativity
May 29, 2018



  1. What a sad loss for the world of piping. David was so inspirational, so generous, so open to the new and innovative, and so very encouraging to so many. The breadth of his great mind allowed doors to open – so very refreshing. What enormous loss for his family, and for all of us. Thank you David – you will never be forgotten and may what you and others started, continue to grow and flourish.



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