The resurgence of interest in the music of the pipes in Derry is highlighted this weekend. Some of the best pipers on these islands and beyond will be in action during the Feile Piobairi Uilleann 2013 festival.
There’s a star-studded line-up. And one of those stars is Fred Morrison, the Scottish musician and composer. Fred is a former winner of the Instrumentalist of the Year award at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
Fred will be appearing in concert at the Glassworks (former Presbyterian Church), Great James Street, on Saturday night. Doors open 7.3opm, tickets £13, for what should be a real treat for music lovers.His concert is supported by the Culture Company.
One of the organisers of the weekend, local uilleann piper Gabby Fitzgerald, said it will be a showcase for a whole range of piping traditions to mark Derry’s year as City of Culture.
“It’s a very exciting few days for those of us keen on promoting piping in the city,” he said. “This is our third international piping festival, and more than ever we’re celebrating all forms of bagpipe music.”
Events include a mini pipe band competition at 3pm on Sunday in the Culturalann on Great James Street. It’s an open contest, with a maximum of seven in the band. Pipe majors and leading drummers can take in as many bands as they like. Winners will be decided by the audience, 50% of the vote, and Fred Morrison, the other 50%. There are prizes for first, second and third.
The programme kicks off with reed-making classes at 3pm on Thursday - a subject dear to pipers’ hearts. There are video workshops featuring past pipers at 7pm on Thursday, and a recital with local pipers at 8pm.
On Friday there’s a similar programme, with a wider line-up of pipers for the concert. These include Paddy O’Hare of Belfast, Ciaran McPhilemy from Lifford and Gweedore, Jason Rouse, Strabane, and two more Belfast-based players Tom Clarke, who’s originally from Letterkenny, and Cormac O’Brian.
On SaturdayBlackie O’Connell will performing at 8.30pm before Fred Morrison take the stage at 9.30pm.
You can be sure of lots of impromptu sessions over the weekend, and chat about Felix Doran, Willie Clancy, Seamus Ennis and lots more.
The visit of Fred Morrison will undoubtedly be one of the talking points.
Gabby said: “He’s a remarkable musician who has played with the likes of Capercaillie and Clan Alba. He’s pretty amazing as a piper, and he’s a brilliant performer across the whole range - Great Highland Bagpipes, Scottish small pipes, Border pipes, low whistles and the Irish uilleann pipes.”
Morrison holds the record for the most Macallan trophies at the Lorient festival in Brittany in France - seven. His albums have met with critical acclaim.
Uilleann piping in Derry is enjoying an excellent spell at the moment, with several excellent local performers. Among them is, of course, Finbar McLaughlin, long a champion of the instrument in Derry.
Catch them this weekend!