“Pipes of Christmas” Concerts to Feature World Premieres by Scottish Composers

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Annual Concert Returns to NYC for 14th Joyous Season with Tributes to Neil Armstrong and HM Queen Elizabeth II

The Pipes of Christmas will honor the memory of Neil Armstrong with a world premiere composition. NASA Photo

The Pipes of Christmas will honor the memory of Neil Armstrong with a world premiere composition. NASA Photo

The Pipes of Christmas were named one of NYC's "Top Ten Holiday Events" in 2011.

The Pipes of Christmas will celebrate its fourteenth season with performances in New York and New Jersey this December. The holiday favorite, produced by the Clan Currie Society, opens on Saturday, December 15 at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 921 Madison Avenue (at 73rd Street) with performances at 2 and 7PM. The concert moves across the Hudson River on Sunday, December 16 to Central Presbyterian Church located at 70 Maple Street in Summit, NJ for a 3PM performance.

The concert presents the music of Christmas accompanied by readings taken from the Celtic literature of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Featured performers include James Robinson from the film “Braveheart,” New England fiddle champion Paul Woodiel, “Riverdance” piper Christopher Layer, Gaelic Mod champion harpist Jennifer Port of Golspie, Scotland, and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band from Redlands, CA.

Acclaimed Gaelic tenor Paul McCallum from the island of South Uist in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides will be making his New York debut in the 2012 concerts. Jeff Rickard, Emeritus Professor of Music from the University of Redlands and former “Pipes” organist for the past 12 years makes his debut as music director.

The concert will also feature the world premier of "Sea of Tranquility," specially commissioned to honor the memory of astronaut Neil Armstrong who passed away earlier this year. The piece is written by Scottish composer James Ross of Wick, Scotland. In March of 1972, Armstrong visited the town of Langholm in the Scottish Borders known for its strong Clan Armstrong connections and was made a “freeman” of the town.

The concert will also celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II marking 60 years of The Queen’s reign. A new work entitled, “Balmoral Snow,” composed by Steve Gibb of Inverness, Scotland has been commissioned by the Clan Currie Society. The tribute will serve as one of the closing celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee year which was celebrated throughout the world.

Honorary Chairmen for the 14th annual gala concerts are The Hon. Danny Lopez, UK Consul-General, New York and Geoff Day, vice president with Mercedes-Benz USA.

Proceeds from the concerts support the Clan Currie Society’s scholarship program which includes annual gifts to the National Piping Centre, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (both located in Glasgow,) Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, the Gaelic College of Nova Scotia and Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. The Clan Currie Society is also the Title Sponsor of the US National Scottish Harp Championship.

Commenting on the Society’s music scholarship program, stage and screen star Alan Cumming said, “I am delighted that proceeds from the Pipes of Christmas will result in these important gifts which ensure that the future of Scottish culture is safer with these generous scholarships.”

Named one of New York City’s “Top Ten” holiday events, the 2012 concerts are made possible by generous gifts from Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland, Mercedes-Benz USA, the Classic Malts of Scotland and the Grand Summit Hotel.

Tickets Available Now

General admission tickets start at $50 and are available via mail order. A downloadable ticket order form can be found on the concert’s website at http://www.pipesofchristmas.com. Tickets for the NY concert may also be purchased online at http://www.smarttix.com or by phone at (212) 868-4444. Reserved patron seats are available at both venues.

About “The Pipes of Christmas”

Since making its debut in 1999, The Pipes of Christmas has played to standing room only audiences. Now a cherished holiday event, the concert provides audiences with a stirring and reverent celebration of the Christmas season and the Celtic spirit. Audience-goers return year after year to experience the program, many reporting that the Pipes of Christmas has become part of their family’s annual Christmas tradition.

The concert has been lavished with critical acclaim. In his review for Classical New Jersey Magazine, Paul Somers wrote, “The whole evening was constructed to introduce gem after gem and still have a finale which raised the roof. In short, it was like a well constructed fireworks show on the Glorious Fourth. The Westfield (NJ) Leader described the concert as “a unique sound of power and glory nowhere else to be found.”

About the Clan Currie Society

The Clan Currie Society is an international, non-profit cultural and educational organization. It is the preeminent Scottish-American cultural society in preserving and promoting Highland heritage at Scottish Games, ethnic festivals, as well as community groups and classrooms. The Society has over 2,000 members worldwide that gather via the Society’s website and at special events and clan gatherings.

The Society was originally formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959 to further the knowledge and appreciation of the MacMhuirich (pronounced MacVurich) Bardic dynasty. The MacMhuirichs served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald among other prominent Highland clans and families. The Red Book of Clanranald, one of Gaelic Scotland’s literary treasures, was penned by successive generations of the MacMhuirich family.

Today, the Society is a respected producer of programs and events to honor Scotland’s rich culture and heritage. The Society’s signature events include The Pipes of Christmas, the annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island– the largest attended Tartan Day event in the world, and the annual MacMhuirich Academic Symposium. To commemorate the 10th annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island, the Society commissioned and launched the Ellis Island Tartan in April 2011. The tartan is designed primarily for all Americans whose ancestors came to the United States through Ellis Island. The Society’s scholarship program provides financial support for students wishing to further their studies in music, poetry, and Gaelic history.

In honor of the clan’s bardic heritage, the Clan Currie Society is also the Title Sponsor for the Scottish Harp Society of America’s National Championship. The harp or clarsach was the instrument of the bard. The Society also produces the Harp Glen – a festival of the Scottish harp at the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA – and participates in over a half dozen Scottish Highland Games in the US, Canada and Scotland.

The Society has spearheaded the construction of two permanent clan monuments in Scotland. A MacMhuirich Memorial Cairn has been built adjacent to the ruins of Bale nam Bàrd, the Chief Bard’s home at Stilligarry on the Island of South Uist. A carved paving stone, commemorating the bard Lachlan Mòr MacMhuirich, has been installed at Makar’s Court alongside the Scottish Writers Museum in Edinburgh.

Clan Currie is an outstanding producer of exhibitions and documentary films. Past exhibitions have included “The Life and Legacy of John Muir,” “Tartan – Scotland’s Enduring Icon,” and “Loyalty and Rebellion: The Jacobites and America.” The Society received one of its many awards for video production excellence for “The Crafter’s Song”, a documentary film narrated by Cliff Robertson.

The Arms of the Society were granted by the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh, Scotland on June 30, 2006. The star, or mullet, is a heraldic symbol frequently found on individual Currie family coats of arms in Scotland. The thistle wreath, or chaplet, represents the international community the Society has created in “promoting Scottish heritage in general and Clan Currie heritage in particular, involving domestic and international matters.”

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