Published on August 17, 2014
Prince Albert Highlanders Pipes and Drums bass drummer Ian McLaughlan is seen featured in the advertisements for this year‚Äôs Shanghai International Tourism Festival. The picture was taken at last year‚Äôs Beijing International Tourism Festival.
Published on August 17, 2014
The Prince Albert Highlanders Pipes and Drums group is seen in China during last year‚Äôs Beijing International Tourism Festival.
With members more excited than nervous, millions of eyes will be on the Prince Albert Highlanders Pipes and Drums in Shanghai, China, next month.
On Sept. 13, local pipers will march through central Shanghai to help hick off the Shanghai International Tourism Festival, for which they will represent Canada.
‚ÄúImagine all the pomp and circumstance that you see with the opening ceremony of the Olympics -- it‚Äôs very similar to these festivals,‚ÄĚ pipe sergeant Michael McLaughlan said, ‚Äúquite excited‚ÄĚ to board a plane for the group‚Äôs latest adventure.
Shanghai‚Äôs population is more than 24 million and the parade will be broadcast live throughout China -- a nation that boasts a population of 1.35 billion.
Although next month‚Äôs parade will be the biggest-ever for the local pipe group, it‚Äôs far from their first kick at international performance.
Averaging one international trip every couple years, the group‚Äôs last big trip was in 2013, when they performed at the Beijing International Tourism Festival‚Äôs parade.
Prior to their 2013 performance, the mayor of Beijing and other government officials and leaders auditioned performers to determine their order -- the best and flashiest closer to the front.
‚ÄúInterestingly, we were selected as the first to lead the Beijing parade, so they must have liked what they saw,‚ÄĚ McLaughlan said.
‚ÄúAs pipes and drums, we‚Äôre very loud -- We‚Äôre very colorful because of all our kilts and uniforms ‚Ä¶ and we also had a colour party, with people carrying flags of all of our provinces and the Canadian flag, of course.‚ÄĚ
The parade officials must have been satisfied with their decision, with the group of local pipers invited to perform again, next month.
The 20 to 25-member Prince Albert Highlanders Pipes and Drums group will be joined by about 50 pipers, drummers dancers and colour party members from throughout Western and Central Canada.
Imagine all the pomp and circumstance that you see with the opening ceremony of the Olympics -- it‚Äôs very similar to these festivals. Michael McLaughlan
‚ÄúOur colour party is able to wave and smile, so it‚Äôs not just a performance of pipes and drums, it‚Äôs that much more, which (organizers) got really excited about.‚ÄĚ
With the P.A. pipers taking the lead, the group of about 76 will meet a couple days prior to their Sept. 13 performance to learn the local group‚Äôs routine -- a blend of ‚Äúthe best of the 17, 18 and 1900s of Scotland and Ireland,‚ÄĚ McLaughlan described.
It‚Äôs a trip the local pipers have been preparing themselves for over the course of the last year-and-a-half, McLaughlan said.
In addition to the ins and outs of preparing a routine are all of the little things that add up, he said, noting that culture shock is a major component, with everything from washrooms to food different in China than Canada.
Then, there‚Äôs the process of obtaining a Chinese performance Visa, available only to those invited to perform in China, which the P.A. group was.
These are hoops to jump through, though McLaughlan said that it will all be worthwhile in the end.
‚ÄúProbably the biggest thing out of the experience is our ability to exchange our culture with those of the other locations we‚Äôre going, and meeting people across Canada.‚ÄĚ
The Prince Albert Highlanders Pipes and Drums formed in 1983 and consist of members from Shellbrook, Spruce Home, Melfort, Tisdale, Duck Lake, Meadow Lake, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.