Press Releases

Tattoo extravaganza set to open

New Zealand pipe band here for first time

Andrea Nemetz
Entertainment Reporter
June 28, 2001

Although the civilian pipe band from Invercargill, New Zealand, is believed to be the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere, it plays the newest music, said pipe major David Pickett in an interview Wednesday at the halifax Metro Centre.

The three-time national champion pipe band, which is 106 years old, will make its first appearance here at the 2001 Nova Scotia International Tattoo, which opens Friday and runs until July 7 at the Metro Centre.

The Grade Two pipe band usually plays traditional music when it competes as the City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe Band.

But at the Tattoo they will perform Celtic rock under the banner Pipin' Hot, combining traditional pipes and drums with rock rhythms, singers Shannon Cooper-Garland and Jason Schmidt, two of the top vocalists on South Island, New Zealand, and Scottish fiddler Sheena naughton.

"We take inspiration form outside of piping and drumming, listening to fiddle music and old melodies. It's truly exciting stuff," said Mr. Pickett, noting a highlight of the band's tattoo performances will be a tune called Zeto, which features a duel between the fiddler and one of the star pipers.

The switch to more unconventional performances came during the group's centennial in 1996, when they tried to stage something out of the ordinary during five concert appearances.

"We got together with a local backing band and we thought this is a chance to do something really new, a chance to expand, to write our own arrangements," says Mr. Pickett.

Nineteen pipers and drummers and the six-piece backing band have arrived in Nova Scotia for this year's Tattoo, which features a cast of more than 2,000 performers from France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Korea, Germany, New Zealand and Canada.

"The Nova Scotia Tattoo is one of the big tattoos, a blue ribbon tattoo along with the Edinburgh Tattoo (at which the band performed in 1998)," says Mr. Pickett, who arrived in Halifax via Victoria B.C., where the group played to a standing ovation.

The pipers in the New Zealand band wear the Royal Stewart tartan and drummers sport Black Watch, tartans Queen Victoria granted them permission to wear when the group was formed in 1896.

The pipe band will also take part in the massed pipes that highlight each year's Tattoo, and will march in the Tattoo parade on Saturday from 1-2 p.m.

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