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Lowland bagpipe to take center stage

Pipers weekend goes public with jam session and concert

Pipers weekend goes public with jam session and concert

January 04, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -The first Upper Potomac Pipers Weekend will focus on the brawny Highland bagpipe's lesser-known sibling - the Lowland bagpipe.

The Upper Potomac Pipers Weekend begins Friday with an open-mic session for bagpipers. A more formal concert is scheduled for Saturday, said organizer Joanie Blanton.

Both performances are open to the general public, Blanton said.

The bagpipe fest will include student workshops on Saturday and Sunday. Attendance at the workshops is limited to musicians who sign up and pay a registration fee, Blanton said.

The purpose of the event, organizers said, is to bring together local smallpiper players and expose music fans to the Lowland bagpipe, which is smaller and quieter than the Highland pipes - making Lowland pipes ideal for intimate settings.

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Bob Mitchell, a professional bagpiper in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said that when most people hear the word "bagpipe," the first image that comes to mind usually involves several stoic-faced, kilt-wearing Highland pipers belting out some rendition of "Scotland the Brave."

Because they are so loud, Highland pipes are usually played outdoors, at parades and funerals, said Mitchell, who is one of the event's featured pipers.

In contrast, an ensemble of Lowland pipers sounds more like chamber music, bagpipe style - "as though it were violins playing together," Mitchell said.

Bagpipers Ian Lawther and Jerry O'Sullivan are the other featured pipers. Flutist Chris Norman and fiddler John Knowles also will lead workshops.

For more information, visit the event Web site, www.squeezethebag.info.

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