PIPING fans in Northern Ireland received some exciting news this week with confirmation that Belfast will be holding its very first piping festival next year.
The city will welcome a rich array of piping talent in March 2013 with the Waterfront Hall providing the venue.
The two-day event aims to showcase piping in all of its forms, from the highland bagpipe to the Irish uilleann pipes and on again to the French bombard.
The line-up of performers is truly impressive.
Among those who have agreed to take part are Fred Morrison, a fantastically talented piper whose skills will be well known to many, John McSherry, who is hailed as one of the finest exponents of the Irish uilleann pipes, and Robert Watt, a decorated solo piper and former member of Field Marshal Montgomery.
There will also be performances from Scotland’s The Peat Bog Fairies and Duo Lagrange Rutkowski, from France.
This is just a flavour of what is to come as organisers have confirmed they shall be announcing further additions to the list of artistes and bands playing at the festival nearer the time.
l The 19th William Kennedy Piping Festival opens on Wednesday (November 14) with a concert in the Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan featuring uilleann pipers from the Armagh Pipers Club and the world-renowned National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland which will comprise a 40- strong line-up of pipers, drummers and accompanists.
The band is led by Alasdair McLaren, an Australian now living in Scotland, who is also a member of current world champions Field Marshal Montgomery.
This concert is part of a new project by the Armagh Pipers Club entitled The Pipers Bridge, taken from the name of a road halfway between Armagh city and Monaghan town. The Pipers Bridge project flags up both the long association between the Armagh Pipers Club and Monaghan and the crucial role played by piping in building cultural bridges not only in Ireland but all over the world where pipes are played.
There will be another concert in Armagh on Thursday 15th in the Marketplace Theatre featuring the same line-up. The NYPBoS will deliver two school concerts in Armagh plus an outdoor lunchtime concert on Thursday outside the Marketplace Theatre, whose amphitheatre-like steps overlooking Market Street have in recent years featured groups as diverse as the Breton Bagad Cap Caval and last year Galician group Lume de Biqueira.
The Scottish connection continues throughout this year’s festival with the innovative group Seudan featuring at the Hooley in the Theatre piping extravaganza on Friday 16th in The Marketplace Theatre.
This five-hour feast of music is only in its third year but the concept has pushed its way to the heart of the festival. Taking place on three different stages within the theatre this is a ‘festival within a festival’.
Someone has described it as an outdoor festival held indoors.
This year the programme features 14 different groups ranging from the newest and youngest Armagh Pipers Club group Cúig right up to internationally renowned groups like Buille with Karan Casey and piper Jarlath Henderson and At First Light led by uilleann piper John McSherry.
For full details of all the events taking place visit www.wkpf.org
l Back to local band business and the Northern Ireland Branch of Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association will hold its annual general meeting today at 11am in Trinity Methodist Hall, Knockmore Road, Lisburn.
l Returning to competition action in 2013 are Bleary and District Pipe Band from Co Armagh.
The band, which holds grade one status, hasn’t competed for a number of years but is expected to return next year in grade two.
The band members are busy recruiting with Nigel Davison as pipe major and David Brown the leading drummer.
The band will be running a number of events over the coming months starting with a table quiz on Friday, November 23, 2012, with all proceeds going to band funds.
The quiz starts at 8pm and will be held in Bleary & District Young Farmers Hall.
The cost is £5 per head and you can come in teams or individuals to be placed in a team.
l Looking further ahead, some news of a concert taking place next year.
Aughintober Pipe Band and Wonderland Promotions have announced that ScottishPower Pipe Band will perform a concert in the Waterfront Hall on April 27, 2013.
The ScottishPower, led by Major Chris Armstrong and Drum Sergeant Barry Wilson, are one of the top bands in the world and have won most major championships over the years and have twice secured second place in the World Pipe Band Championships.
Certainly a great night of entertainment and one which is sure to draw a big crowd.
Tickets are available from the Waterfront box office.