“To Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile entrance, as fast and as close as we can get to it, please” is what I asked the taxi driver on Saturday, followed by a yet another feeling of disbelief of what I had been living throughout these past days in what can only be described as a magical weekend.
Promptly after representing the Scottish Pipe Band Association of South America at the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s International Conference (link to RSPBA's article), I headed from Glasgow to Edinburgh to meet with the four pipers from South America playing at the 2015 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, as part of The Pipers’ Trail (link to SPBASA's article).
Being privileged with chatting with the Tattoo’s Music Director Major Steven G Small in non-public areas of Edinburgh Castle, and seeing the Tattoo live from several angles and on multiple evenings were only highlights compared to learning about the vision of The Pipers’ Trail organization, directly from those who have conceived it and have cherished its growth to the phenomenon it is at present.
On the surface, The Pipers’ Trail may appear to be simply a pipe band that plays at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Though that alone is a dream come true for many generations of pipers and drummers, The Pipers’ Trail is in fact a growing worldwide network of pipe band performers. Seen from a broader vantage point, The Pipers’ Trail is at the core of the Tattoo’s construct of multiple nations (many of which share conflicting pasts) peacefully dialoguing in the language of music and other performing arts.
Yet seen through another pair of lenses, The Pipers’ Trail is in fact a relatively new avenue for pipers and drummers to explore in their music careers. In a potential single-aspiration context of winning the World Pipe Band Championships, The Pipers’ Trail opens an entirely new door for pipers and drummers to consider playing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and to excelling in a high-demanding show-driven pipe band genre. Especially for pipers and drummers from South America, The Pipers’ Trail has proven to be a perfect match given the more than 60 years of pipe band show legacy (compared to only recent incorporation of competitions in the region).
It was also brought to my attention that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is in fact reproduced in multiple cities, Basel, Moscow and Sydney included. Reinforcing the multi-nation message, the near-future plan is to include The Pipers’ Trail as part of these tours. Brigadier David Alffrey, the producer of the Tattoo and conceiver of The Pipers’ Trail, both expressed his sincere interest in offering The Pipers’ Trail network as a means to support pipers and drummers (and related events) across the Globe, and also shared his vision of someday taking the Tattoo to South America.
The Pipers’ Trail starts its recruiting process in the early months of the year, and I firmly encourage every piper and drummer to consider applying for such an enriching experience and to become part of this international network. The SPBASA will be once again promoting the recruiting process, as soon as we are informed of its kick-off.