Published: April 25, 2021

SFU scratches an itch with latest virtual performance

The Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band of Vancouver is at it again, releasing a virtual video of Finlay MacDonald’s “Elliot Finn MacDonald,” orchestrated by band member Alastair Lee, playing keyboards, guitars and drum kit alongside pipers and drummers from the band who contributed their pieces separately.

Lee pulled the video together, which culminates with the band’s full complement of 22 pipers, 11 pipe band snare and rope-tension drummers, five tenors and a bass, indicating that, despite not competing or even practicing together in-person for the last 15 months, they’re ready to come back at full strength.

The band put out a clever rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” last December, also arranged by the multi-instrumentalist Lee. The video has been viewed more than 18,000 times on YouTube.

‘Elliot Finn’ was . . . an appropriate choice because the last time we performed it was the last time we had the whole band together. – Pipe-Major Alan Bevan

“Alastair brought ‘Elliot Finn’ forward shortly before we did our concert in Chilliwack last February,” said Pipe-Major Alan Bevan. “The band loved it so much we decided we needed to play it in the concert. We performed it with just the pipe corps and Alastair on keyboard, but Alastair had always envisioned doing something a bit grander with the tune. Our Christmas video was extremely well received, and that encouraged us to put something else out. ‘Elliot Finn’ was an obvious candidate, especially because now we had the time for Alastair to fully develop his vision and we could get the entire band involved performing it. It was also an appropriate choice because the last time we performed it was the last time we had the whole band together. Now, a little over a year later, we were able to come together virtually to perform it again at a time when a lot of the pipe band world is feeling a little dejected about missing another season.”

“We had a bit of a piping itch to scratch with there being no in-person practices this year and with the World’s being cancelled,” said Kevin McLean, a piper with the band. “We thought it would be a good way to bring some music to the piping community.”

During the lockdown, other bands with talented editors in the ranks have put out videos of their own, including Dublin’s St. Laurence O’Toole. Partly because of their inspirational creativity, the band was voted the 2020 Pipe Band of the Year in last year’s pipes|drums New Year’s Honours.

 


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