Glen Dryer reports from the annual gathering of ‘alternative pipers’ in Killington, Vermont, Aug 13 -16

This celebration of bellows blown piping continues to be the premier North American event for those of us who think beyond the Great Highland Bagpipe. August 2010 was the fifth year that the Gathering was held at the high-end Killington Grand Resort, a huge hotel and snow skiing complex in central Vermont. This year the management located the piping in a separate “snow shed” at the base of the slope, probably to mitigate conflicts with the multiple wedding parties also using the facility.  All lessons, workshops, vendor tables and concerts were held in this large building.
The stellar roster of instructors from Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada and the US  included Dan Houghton and Tim Cummings for border pipes, Jim McGillivray and EJ Jones on Scottish smallpipes,  Anthony Robb and Ian Lawther for Northumbrian small pipers, Jon Swayne with English pipes, Anthony Santoro, Brian McNamara and Bill Ochs on uilleann pipes, plus John Skelton and Laura MacKenzie teaching whistles.  The schedule for Saturday and Sunday started with two sessions of small group lessons, followed by two sets of afternoon workshops on a wide range of topics and amazing concerts by the instructors each evening.  I think everyone would agree that the concerts alone are worth the total cost of the weekend, with everything else a fabulous bonus.

As for my own experience, I was particularly impressed with Anthony Robb’s ability to take a group of Northumbrian small pipers with very varied experience and create a situation where we all participated, learned a lot and had fun as well.  The instructors were approachable and friendly as were all the participants.  
For many, it was an annual reunion, for others an eye-opening introduction to a brave new world of traditional music.  For the first time in many years, Alan Jones, who organized the original gatherings starting in 1985 in North Hero, Vermont, was in attendance. The small group of dedicated individuals who spend a whole year planning this weekend deserve the thanks and support of the bellows piping world.

Pipers gather at Killington, Vermont

“There were many wonderful parts of the weekend that went beyond just the instruction I was seeking.  The two concerts were incredible.  The opportunity to see old friends like Ian Lawther, and meet new ones from around the world was most enjoyable.  Finally, seeing the sense of camaraderie and passion for music was amazing.  I witnessed pipe makers, who in a different line of work would consider themselves to be competitors, generously sharing techniques.  Having attended The Pipers’ Gathering I now have the tools necessary to enhance my playing ability, and the knowledge that this musical tradition will not only continue, but will grow.  “
[from Bob MacDonald’s report on the APNA website-]

The 2011 Gathering will run from August 5th to 8th
Details at