Pittsburgh pipers tune in to PBS

Published: January 29, 2015
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It predates the, the Scottish Piping Society of London (1932), Scottish Pipers Association (1920), and even the Piobaireachd Society (1904), and now the Pittsburgh Bagpipe Society, first known organized piping society in the United States (1898) is getting a new lease on life by pipers in the Pennsylvania city known more for steel, beer and football than piping, piobaireachd and pipe bands.

Taking the cue from the highly successful resurrection of the Eagle Pipers Society in Edinburgh, the Pittsburgh Bagpipe Society is organized by top-flight local solo pipers local professional pipers Andrew Carlisle, Nick Hudson and Palmer Shonk.

“The Pittsburgh Piping Society reignites the long-snuffed torch of the original society,” Hudson said in a statement. “Though the 19th century iteration was noted for its teaching of Scottish immigrant children, the newly formed society aims to be more social than pedagogic. In short . . . hoping to unite a long talented but somewhat fractured local piping community.”

Hudson said that the PBS will hold regular meetings in an informal atmosphere to “give pipers another stage outside of the competition platform whereupon they may simply turn up and have a tune.” Like the Eagle Pipers, each meeting will feature a piobaireachd, “giving the non-pipers and enthusiasts in attendance an opportunity to encounter our big music.”

The first meeting of the new PBS is at 8 pm in Pittsburgh on Friday, January 30th, and those interested can contact the organization by email for details of the location.

Carlisle will play the piobaireachd, and “a bunch of local players” are also scheduled to play.

Hudson said the organization’s logo is “a fusion of elements from Pittsburgh’s crest and Scotland’s national animal, because [the USA’s] national animal was already taken by a prominent piping society.”

The Eagle Pipers Society was restarted in 2009 after a hiatus of more than 20 years, and since its resurrection has held popular monthly meetings at the Scots Guards Club in the Haymarket area of Edinburgh.

Since Carnegie-Mellon University started its piping degree program in the 1990s, Pittsburgh has enjoyed a piping renaissance. The Scottish émigré and steel baron Andrew Carnegie was a strong supporter of the Scottish arts, and employed several pipers as part of his estate.

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