Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy St. Andrews Day!

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and Saint Andrew's Day is Scotland's official national day.  It is the feast day of Saint Andrew and is celebrated on November 30th. Andrew was first recognised as an official patron saint of Scotland in 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.  Did you know that Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Russia, Romania and Barbados?  His patronage extends to fishmongers, gout, singers, sore throats, spinsters, maidens, old maids and women wishing to be mothers. 

...and now to some fun Friday facts!!! 

  • Did you know that the Glencoe is used as a location in the new Bond film?
  • Did you know that Saint Andrews University is celebrating its 600th anniversary?
  • Did you know that Calvin Harris (the DJ, singer, songwriter and record producer) is from Dumfries, Scotland?!  His ideal tempo for making a dance club hit is 120 bpm...roughly the same tempo as a strathspey!
Have a great weekend!  Good luck to those College dancers who are making the trek to Moncton to compete this weekend!  Have fun and dance well!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

While modesty is a virtue and I'm sure that Miss Manners wouldn't approve, I am going to continue to boast about the achievements of our students.  November has been quite a successful month for the College's students and those who are affiliated with it.  2012 is certainly winding down on some very high notes!

Devin accepting his drumming student of the year award

Congratulations are in order for Devin Paynter.  Devin is one of our multi talented students. He is an accomplished snare drummer with our Grade 3 band (he was recently promoted to this grade this past fall), he competes in Grade 2 solos (he started the year in Grade 4 and upgraded at the end of the season and then was upgraded again!) and started out as the bass drummer for the Grade 5 band two years ago.  Phew!  Devin can now add piper to that already long list of accomplishments.  Last week Devin earned his bagpipes after starting chanter lessons in September.  Perhaps one summer we'll see him playing his pipes in one band and his drum in the other...I wouldn't rule it out with the eagerness and determination that Devin is showing!  Well done, Devin!

Carsen (on the left) competing at Antigonish

Congratulations are also in order to Carsen Campbell.  He is not only an accomplished piper but he is also a very successful biathlete.  Carsen was the well deserved winner of a $10,000 amateur athlete scholarship to put towards training.  Last year he took part in two world championships:  the world pipe band championships and the world junior biathlon championships.  There were only two recipients for this scholarship which were sponsored by Schick Xtreme Sport.  Fantastic job!  

This summer FISH TV filmed footage of our Highland Storm production and this weekend it will be airing on the following networks:  Global locally 10:30am Saturday and Global Toronto 11:30am Saturday.  Tune in to see our highly talented cast and crew at work!  If the television program snippets leave you wanting more, you can purchase your 2013 Highland Storm tickets NOW!!!  Right now you can purchase 2013 tickets at 2012 prices. Ticket prices will be increasing in the New Year. You don’t need to know the date you
will be attending this summer.  Just pick a date and you can exchange the tickets for the date you will need later in the year. Contact Jane Magee for tickets or if more information is needed at: or call her at 436- 5377. Tickets will also be on sale at the County Fair Mall on December 12 – 14 and 19 – 21.  Get your tickets now!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It has been a very busy and successful month at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada.  Iain Speirs, College alumni, has won two of the biggest piping awards, Ryan MacNeil, our Highland Storm director, won Music Nova Scotia's Best Classical Recording along with his family, the Barra MacNeils and the College of Piping Dance Company is now back in action!  Phew!  But that's not all....

Congratulations to three of our extremely talented College students!  In Highland dancing, Briana Pineau took the high aggregate trophy on the weekend at the Kate Gaddes Memorial Competition in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  She competed in the beginner category.  Briana is not only a competitive dancer but she is also part of the College of Piping Dance Company.  Well done, Briana!  Sarah Simpson also had a successful weekend at the 17th Annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational in Hamilton, Ontario.  Sarah took third place in the piobiareachd.  Only ten of the top amateur players from North America were playing at the prestigious contest.  One of our beginning piping students competed for the first time and came first!  Danielle Norris took part in the online competition and had a fabulous result for her first ever contest. For results from these competitions, please follow this link:

Briana and her mom, Ann at the October College Ceilidh

Sarah accepting her Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association awards

Danielle accepting her Doug and Debbie Hall Excellence Award

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported or participated in our last ceilidh of the 2012 season.  It was very much appreciated!  The next ceilidh will take place on January 11, 2013.  The ceilidhs were established to give all of our students a chance to perform and show off what they have learned in classes, either as individuals or in groups. You don't have to stick to your chosen discipline.  So far we've had singing, tin whistles, fiddles, a bodhran, guitars and even a tuba!  The proceeds from the ceilidhs go towards the College of Piping dancers (Step and Highland) and the pipe bands.  Come out, have a time and watch our students strut their stuff!

Sandra Bald Jones

Congratulations to Sandra Bald Jones who has been made an Honorary Member of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD).  The College had the honour of Sandra teaching here for a couple of weeks while our Highland dancing instructor, Kearsney, was away last fall in South Africa.  Sandra was given this prestigious honour for her work in promoting Highland dance throughout the world.  It was a privilege to have Sandra teach at the College and we are extremely proud of her achievements!  


Friday, November 16, 2012

What time is it?!

It's ceilidh time!!!  Don't forget that tonight is that last ceilidh of 2012!  The next one won't be until January 11th, 2013.  It starts at 7pm (doors open at 6:30pm) and it takes place in the main hall at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in Summerside.  There is a $5.00 admission charge but there are FREE snacks and non-alcoholic beverages being offered once inside!  Come out and have a time!!!

Join the College of Piping Pipe Bands at Trinity United Church in Summerside on December 15th for an evening with John Gracie.  This year John will be joined by his daughter, Samantha as he sings the classic Christmas carols and regales us with his own Christmas tales.  Tickets are $10.00 and are available from any College of Piping pipe band member or directly from the College (436-5377).  The concert starts at 7pm and is a fundraiser for the pipe bands.  It promises to put even the biggest Grinch in the holiday spirit!

Last night's 50/50 had a non-winner and the jackpot is growing!  Next week's jackpot is an estimated $3400.00!!!  Think of all the Christmas presents you could buy with that!  Don't forget to put your toonie in at participating locations each week.  It's not too late to sign up.  All you have to do is pick an available number, sign up and put your toonie in each week.  It's that simple!  Good luck!

On this gray Friday day, I will leave you with some fun Friday facts:

  • Did you know that the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland in 2014?  It will be held at the famous Gleneagles course.  Watch this cool video about the announcement: 
  • Did you know that the 2012 Giller prize winner, Will Ferguson, accepted his prize in a kilt at the swanky black tie affair.  The Giller prize is the largest paying literary award in Canada.  Will won with his book, 419.
  • Did you know that the title song in Disney's movie, Brave, is sung by Scottish singer, Julie Fowlis.  Julie also sings a Gaelic cover of the famed Beatle's song, Blackbird.  You can check that out here:

And finally, your weekend chuckle:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

During the busy summer months I look at the final months of the year and think that things will get back to a slower, gentler way of life.  Boy, have I been wrong!  The College has been teeming with activity.  Students coming and going for lessons, bands practicing and the dance company up and running.  It's been a hub of activity!  The past few months have flown by and before we know it, Christmas will be upon us.  There is only a little over a month until the recital...

Congratulations to Ryan MacNeil, our fabulous Highland Storm director!  Ryan and his family, the Barra MacNeils, have won Music Nova Scotia's Best Classical Recording award for their album, "The Barra MacNeils with Symphony Nova Scotia".  The picture below is that of the family and their prestigious award.  Well done!

The Barra MacNeils and their Music Nova Scotia Award 

Congratulations are also in order for College alumni Iain Speirs!  Iain had a fantastic weekend at the Scottish Piping Society of London Competition.  After winning the piobaireachd contest at the prestigious Glenfiddich Championship the weekend before, Iain took first prize in the Bratach Gorm (the piobaireachd contest) and second place in the William Gillies Memorial Challenge Cup (the march/strathspey/reel contest). The Bratach Gorm is considered to be one of the top five contests for a Highland piper. To say that the College is proud is an understatement!  Fantastic result!

Iain Speirs

This weekend our very own Sarah Simpson is headed to Hamilton, Ontario to compete at the 17th Annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Competition.  Ten of the top amateur pipers in North America are competing at this contest. Sarah was the overall aggregate winner in Grade One solos (the top grade for amateurs) for the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association.  Good luck, Sarah!  

Sarah performing at a recent College ceilidh

Don't forget that there is a ceilidh this Friday night!  For only $5 you can enjoy singing, dancing, free food and non-alcoholic beverages, good tunes, jokes and more!  It starts at 7pm and will take place in the main hall at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in Summerside.  This is the last ceilidh of the 2012 season.  The ceilidhs will resume on January 11th, 2013.  These are a fundraiser for the College dancers and pipe bands.  Come out and have a time and support the College dancers and pipe bands at the same time!  It puts the fun in fundraising!!!


Friday, November 9, 2012

We Will Remember

This Sunday is Remembrance Day.  November 11th is a day of thought, reflection, gratitude, honour and remembrance.  We observe the day as a nation.  It is something that unites our country.  We hear of stories of soldiers from the past and of the present. We hear of the sacrifices of then and now.  We pause and we reflect.  Not all memories from those time periods are just from the veterans.  My own father grew up during World War Two in Leeds, England.  While he was born in Scotland, he moved to England as a young child. He remembers spending time in bomb shelters, he remembers classmates that were killed when they were bombed, he remembers the terror that his family felt.  He remembers a factory just north of where he lived that was bombed because it's where Churchill tanks were built.  He remembers the railway being bombed and the trains falling into the craters that were left behind.  I had never really talked to my dad about his wartime experiences until recently.  He remembers war time rations and to this day will not eat lamb in fear that it might taste like mutton.  While they are not experiences of time spent in trenches with bullets whizzing past, they are still valid.  I realised from my conversation with him how much the war had shaped him.  One lasting memory that he told me about has haunted me the most.  I'm not really sure why.  He told me that it seemed like every time the moon would shine, the Germans would bomb them.  I now look at the moon in a different light.

Please remember that on Monday, November 12th, the College of Piping will be closed and no classes will take place in Charlottetown or Summerside.  Classes will resume as normal on Tuesday, November 13th.

Congratulations are in order to Ryan MacNeil, our extremely talented Highland Storm director!  He along with his famously talented family, The Barra MacNeils, have been nominated for two awards during this week's Nova Scotia Music Week.  Everyone here at the College is super proud of you!  Congratulations and good luck!!!

Congratulations are also in order to the National Piping Centre of Glasgow, Scotland. They recently won the best employer in Scotland for venue/visitor attraction.  The Grade 3 College of Piping Pipe Band was extremely honoured to take part in the 2012 PipingLive! festival this past August which is put on and run by the National Piping Centre.  Well done to everyone at the National Piping Centre!

The Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association has a snazzy new website.  For those pipers and drummers who are looking for the latest news in the Atlantic Canada pipe band scene, this website is the one to check out.  Follow this link for everything pipe band, piping and drumming related in the east:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Friday!

A bit of Friday food for thought:  Life is like a Highland fling.  It keeps you on your toes!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What a week!

What a magnificent start to November!  It feels more like a spring day then the start of a long Canadian winter.  I literally stopped and smelled the roses on the way in to work today because I could!  Not only has it been a great start to November but it's been a fantastic week for the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts.  Read below to get the full scoop...

The College of Piping Dance Company dancers have been unveiled!  Congratulations to: Callie Campbell, Siobhan Doyle, Shakira Gallant, Alyssa Howes, Laura Johnston, Robert Larsen, Mikaila Murray, Brae Myers, Kara O'Halloran, Briana Pineau, Hayley Porter, Sherra Rogers, Mackenzie Stewart and Sophie Toole.  They will be joined by dancing instructors:  Kearsney Smith, Samantha MacKinnon, Shanae Rogers and Rebecca Dawson.  The dance company logo (seen above) was drawn and designed by our very own multi-talented Highland dance instructor, Kearsney Smith.  Well done to everyone for making the 2012/2013 dance company!  We look forward to your first public performance at our Robbie Burns Fundraising Gala on January 26th.  

The biggest piping contest in the world was held this past weekend and College alumni, Iain Speirs, emerged the overall winner with two seconds.  This was his first time winning this prestigious event.  The 2012 Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championship took place at Blair Atholl Castle in Scotland and was live streamed for the very first time.  Only the best of the best are invited to play and an invitation is based on a competitor's track record from the past year.  Congratulations, Iain!  

Also this past Saturday was the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association awards ceilidh. The College was well represented.  The Grade 3 and 5 bands took the overall awards for their respective grades.  Our solo competitors had a fantastic year as well.  For the full list of results, please follow this link: For photos of the champion supreme winners, please follow this link:

Our first ceilidh of the 2012/2013 season was held on October 19th.  It was a huge success by all accounts and a great time had by all.  Ryan Simpson did a fabulous job as emcee and kept the audience entertained between acts.  For photos of the ceilidh, please follow this link: The next ceilidh will be held on November 16th!  See you there!

The very first Summerside Storm basketball game is this Friday!  The College of Piping pipe bands are selling basketball tickets!  20 Summerside Storm Basketball tickets for $100.00!! That is only $5.00 a ticket. You can use these as season pass tickets or take several friends and family to several games. Individual tickets are priced at $10 each.  The choice is yours!  There are a limited number of tickets so you need to act soon. Come in to The College of Piping or call Jane at 436-5377.