December 04, 2023

Fruits of EPIC efforts result in new recording by young East Ayrshire players

Recognizing the need for quality instruction in Scotland’s east Ayrshire region, Karen McCrindle Warren and her husband, Paul Warren, launched an ambitious teaching program for youngsters in 2018.

Five years later, the significant positive impact of their EPIC East Ayrshire Pipe Band Academy is being felt with EPIC New Dawn, a new digital recording from the August 5, 2023, concert that celebrated both the program’s fifth anniversary and 90 years of the region’s Kilmarnock Pipe Band.

“Encouragement and Praise Inspires Champions” (EPIC) is funded mostly through grants support from arts-supporting organizations such as the Gannochy Trust, the Robertson Trust, the William Syson Foundation, the National Lottery, The Shasta Piping Society, and the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust.

The concert was at the Barony Hall at the Robert Burns Academy in Cumnock, Scotland. The music performed was arranged by McCrindle-Warren, including the backing band’s scores, with drum scores written by David Harling, EPIC’s leading-drummer and instructor.

Even though the pipers and drummers were no more than five years on their instruments, a diverse repertoire was delivered, ranging from standards like “The Flower of Scotland,” and “Scotland the Brave,” to a complete MSR and competition medley to ambitious pieces like Mark Saul’s “Take Me to Rio,” and covers of pop hits like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.”

All proceeds from album sales are being plowed back into the EPIC program.

The decision to record the concert and produce a CD will serve as a good reminder for what we have achieved so far and we hope help inspire our next generation of youngsters to achieve even better. – Karen McCrindle-Warren

“Bands of our level don’t get to put on concerts like we did this summer, nor record CDs,” Paul Warren said. “This was a remarkable achievement by everyone involved, and just a hint of what our young people are capable of when set a challenge. We all had a fantastic time making this concert, and we really hope that others are able to enjoy the album.”

Much of the world might assume that piping and drumming are huge in every part of Scotland. But the East Ayrshire region has seen no fewer than seven formerly well-established competing pipe bands fold since 2000. The Grade 3 Kilmarnock remains strong, and the EPIC program has resulted in a resurgence of interest in the area’s young population.

The area’s lack of youth programs has contributed to parts of East Ayrshire being labelled red in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. The EPIC East Ayrshire Pipe Band Academy has worked to help correct the problem.

“These kids in EPIC are the first generation of piping and drumming in the area in over 15 years,” McCrindle-Warren said. “It has been challenging not having young role models for our kids to aspire to. The decision to record the concert and produce a CD will serve as a good reminder of what we have achieved so far, and we hope to help inspire our next generation of youngsters to achieve even better.”

Readers can download the album at Bandcamp (£15) and Apple Music.







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