Queen's Piper Plays at high school concert

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    WEST MILFORD-World famous bagpiper Jim Motherwell was the special guest performer at the fifth annual West Milford Military Concert and Tattoo. Motherwell, the former piper to Queen Elizabeth II, flew in from London only 24 hours earlier and found time in his busy schedule to play to a packed high school gymnasium on Nov 20. As the queen's piper, Motherwell played for 15 minutes every morning under the British monarch's window and performed at countless state and royal banquets gaining a reputation as one of the world's foremost pipers. The Glasgow born former Pipe Major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders retired from service in 2003 but continues to travel the world performing and released a compact disc (CD) of his piping in 1999. Motherwell explained, "I came to visit my aunt in Princeton and was contacted by a friend who also performed tonight, and who asked me if I'd like to come along." The tattoo features a lively mix of traditional Celtic music, contemporary marching band performances and a blended fusion of time honored Scottish and Irish tunes given a rock music overhaul. First on show were MAG 7 and The Palisades Park Fire Department Band. They began their performance with some beautiful renditions of American and Scottish music before seamlessly flowing into a storming version of The Ramones 1979 hit ‘I Wanna Be Sedated.' This recital fired the audience into a whooping frenzy bringing them to their feet singing and dancing. The instrumental backdrop included bagpipes and drums, electric guitars with teenage rock star performers alongside dancers and kilt twirling pipers. Clan Na Vale Pipe Band continued the theme of the evening filling the air with American, Scottish and Irish music, most of them instantly recognizable. Their performance was enhanced by a young female Irish dancer displaying an enchanting cameo of the traditional dance form. Motherwell stated, "A lot of pipers don't like contemporary music on bagpipes but I don't mind it." He added, "You have to play to the audience and this audience loves the music they are hearing." Motherwell first visited the U.S. in 1985 and on touring the country he was unimpressed by the standard of piping being played here. However, Motherwell states, "The level of piping in the United States is now excellent. I'm really impressed by the musical arrangement and movement of each performance." Next in the show were regular visitors to the tattoo, the Clifton High School Mustang Band. Clifton staged a dazzling exhibition of vibrant music and movement with a repertoire that traversed from ‘The Chicken Dance' to an earnest version of Beethoven's 5th Symphony which somehow morphed into the theme tune to TV's Spongebob Squarepants. The evening continued with stout and sincere renditions by the nationally acclaimed Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County followed by the hometown favorites The West Milford Highlanders Marching Band. The Highlanders filed into the gym to audience applause then gave a performance of several traditional tunes including the band's adopted theme song ‘Scotland the Brave.' At the end of yet another hugely successful and enjoyable tattoo, Motherwell stated, "I'm off now to Istanbul, Turkey to play at the re-opening of the British High Commission after it was severely damaged in a bombing in November, 2003."