Internationally renowned bagpipers Hamish Moore, of Scotland, and Carlos Nunez, of Spain, shared their passion for the pipes with an audience of about 100 enthusiasts on Saturday during the Celtic Piping Connections workshop at Cape Breton University’s Boardmore Playhouse.
The interactive session saw both musicians wow those in attendance with their skilful playing — Moore on his Scottish smallpipes and Nunez on his Galician gaita.
“Why does everyone know about Scottish bagpipes, but not about Galician bagpiping?” asked Nunez, a well-known Celtic Colours performer, who went on to explain that there is evidence of bagpipes in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea dating back to the 13th century if not earlier.
Moore, who gave up a career in veterinary medicine 30 years ago to pursue his love of music, not only plays the pipes, he also makes them. He offers a logical explanation as to why Western society identifies the bagpipes with Scotland.
“The world associates bagpipes with Scotland because the pipes and piping were spread around the world by the British Army,” said Moore, who has several Celtic Colours performances booked across the island.
Moore and Nunez also agree that Cape Breton is the centre of the Celtic music world.
“When I come here I feel like I am home — Cape Breton is the crown jewel of the Celtic music world,” said Nunez, a multi-instrumentalist who also plays the Galician flute, ocarina, Irish flute, whistle and low whistle.
After the workshop, the two musicians spent time chatting with members of the audience, including 10-year-old Rebekah Brown, of North Sydney, who recently began taking bagpiping lessons.
“I like it and it’s a part of my Scottish heritage,” said Brown, who got an up close look at Moore’s smallpipes that he built by hand.
And the Scotsman had some advice for the fledgling player: “Bagpiping is no different than any other kind of music all over the world – it’s an expression of emotion.”
When asked whether he has written any of his own music, Moore said that he has, but admitted there’s no real need.
“There are just far too many good older songs,” he said, adding that he favours old-style dance bagpiping as opposed to the ceremonial, military and competitive techniques.
“But there are young pipers playing the old style — it’s as if there’s been a renaissance of the old style of playing.”
Moore, who has spent time teaching at The Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, had a Celtic Colours performances slated for Judique on Monday, as well as upcoming concerts in Inverness on Friday and at The Gaelic College next Saturday. He will be playing with son Fin, an accomplished bagpiper and teacher in his own right.
Nunez and his band played with Symphony Nova Scotia during the festival’s opening night concert in Port Hawkesbury on Friday.