Summerside Highland Gathering welcomes College of Piping alumni, launches new production of Highland Storm
Karen Hatcher is on a quest.
For the past two years, she has been seeking out former students and teachers associated with the College of Piping and Performing Arts in Summerside.
And, as quickly as she’s found them, she’s sent out invitations to the Summerside Highland Gathering, taking place June 27-29.
“So far we’ve come up with an excess of 3,000 names and emails,” says Hatcher, the college’s executive director.
Her passion for the project is fuelled by the fact that the College of Piping and Performing Arts of Canada is celebrating its silver anniversary next weekend during the Summerside Highland Gathering.
“Celebrating 25 years is a milestone. So, if we can have more people here to host the celebration with us, the better .... We’re tagging it the Homecoming Summerside Highland Gathering,” says Hatcher, adding an alumni reunion will be held on June 27 at 6 p.m. prior to the preview of Highland Storm at 7:30 p.m.
And anyone and everyone who has ever been involved with the college is encouraged to participate.
“If there are any pipers or drummers who are home and would like to play, they are invited to attend the workshops to get their pipes pipe-worthy again and the drummers ready for drumming.”
As well, all dancers are welcome to attend the sessions on Friday, Saturday or Sunday with Kearnsey Smith and her team.
The fun begins on Friday with the step dance competition in the Mary Ellen Burns Amphitheatre from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On Saturday, competitions will be held for Highland dancing, the pipe bands, solo piping and drumming. Opening ceremonies take place at noon with competitions 1:30-4 p.m.
“Eight pipe bands are registered for the afternoon competition,” she added.
Then at 4:30 p.m. everyone will be invited into the beer tent to take in the second annual Celtic Idol.
That’s where Emma Doucette, the vocalist for this year’s Highland Storm was discovered during her award-winning performance last summer.
“She’s registered to sing once again this year.”
When this competition is over, the action returns to the beer tent where Kevin Arthur and the Jacktar Band perform at 7:30 p.m., followed by Rawlin’s Cross, one of Canada’s most accomplished Celtic bands, at 10 p.m.
The excitement continues Sunday with more competitions in all categories.
Hatcher is excited about meeting former students and teachers who were involved in the early years of the college.
Beginning with only 30 students in 1989, the college’s student body has grown to more than 350 year-round students and 200 summer school and workshop participants.
“We’re hoping that former alumni will come out and celebrate this important anniversary with us.”
Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.
Cast members are excited about this year’s production of Highland Storm which previews June 27 during the Summerside Highland Gathering at the College of Piping and Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. From left are James MacHattie, Chelsey Sanderson, Kearnsey Smith, Kylie MacHattie and Chris Coleman. The show officially opens June 30 at 7:30 p.m.
©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE