May 29, 2024

Ten sessions in, New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club celebrates the Big Music

There are few places on earth as Celtic music-infused as the Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, where bagpipes intermingle with fiddles, bodhrans, keyboards and all manner of stringed instruments pretty much wherever you go.

The New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club was formed in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. The effort to bring ceol mor veterans, newbies and enthusiasts together continued when gatherings were permitted, and the New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club will see its 10th session take place on Saturday, June 1st.

The Club’s logo features a fiddlehead, the indigenous seasonal vegetable that resembles a violin’s scroll, a symbol of New Brunswick.

There’s no official membership to the club, which is “a loose collective of keen piobaireachd listeners. All are welcome to listen and participate,” Patterson said.

Each session features four or five pipers who volunteer to perform a piobaireachd, encouraged to discuss the background of the tune to provide the audience with musical context.

“Our mission is to foster appreciation for piobaireachd through demonstration and discussion.” – Colton Patterson, New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club

There’s no admission to the sessions, but donations are encouraged so that the Club can fund various initiatives, such as the winner of the Grade 5 Piobaireachd at the New Brunswick Highland Games receiving a copy of The Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor, and a copy of Binneas is Boreraig going to the Grade 5 Piobaireachd winner at the 2024 Moncton Highland Games.

A typical New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club session.

The group’s vision doesn’t involve competition but rather an appreciation and celebration of the music itself.

“This whole thing started as a means of sharing the Big Music with a wider audience and to grow the art form in the province of New Brunswick,” said Colton Patterson, who organizes the sessions with co-director Gord Perry. “Our mission is to foster appreciation for piobaireachd through demonstration and discussion.”

The group organized an “Introduction to Piobaireachd” workshop in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Nearly a dozen pipers interested in getting into or understanding ceol mor attended, and further workshops are planned.

Last year, the New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club awarded three New Brunswick Learners of Piobaireachd Scholarships, each recipient getting a copy of Piobaireachd – The Classical Music of the Highland Bagpipe by Seamus MacNeill, a Kilberry Book of Ceòl Mòr, and three piping lessons with New Brunswick-based Silver Medallist Andy Rogers.

Further details about the New Brunswick Piobaireachd Club’s milestone tenth session are available here.

Grassroots piobaireachd societies and clubs have sprung up in various locales, including Minnesota and British Columbia, complementing more established groups like the New Zealand Piobaireachd Society and the mothership itself, the 121-year-old Piobaireachd Society. An Ontario Piobaireachd Club was started in the 1990s but lasted only a few meetings.






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