Summerside has a College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts and every summer the staff, some students, along with a dedicated group of volunteers put off a great program of Celtic music and dance. Before I came to Prince Edward Island, I didn't really like the sound of bagpipes, but since living in PEI, I have come to appreciate it. This year, my mother-in-law, Sylvia and I went to the Highland Storm.
The show always offers the best possible performers from the various subjects offered at the college, drumming, bagpiping, step or highland dancing. The mix of traditional or contemporary music with a Celtic arrangement is an interesting combination and one I've come to enjoy. The fiddle music was especially enjoyable this year and as Sylvia noted, "That young man enjoys playing the fiddle. He seems to caress it as he's playing."
This year two of the pipe bands are headed to Scotland for competition. This trip takes the groups back to part of the roots of Celtic music and a place long associated with bagpipes. The lower drones and the higher notes played on the chanter giving the bagpipe its unique sound were a part of Scottish culture for many centuries, even on the battlefield.
Listening to the pipe band that night made me wonder about my great grandfather, Alexander Stewart. He was born in Scotland in 1799. We don't know when he came to Canada or how old he was at that time. It is hard to imagine that he didn't know and love the sound of the bagpipe. Arriving in Nova Scotia, he would have other Scots in the area at least. Did they congregate and keep their culture alive? The strong link to Scottish culture even today in Nova Scotia, makes me think that they did.
Step and highland dancers
The part of me that is Celtic from Scotland has awakened to this musical style and developed an appreciation for it. I am lucky to live in Summerside for a number of reasons and the Celtic experience provided by the College of Piping is one of them.