How it’s New York: The show has been going on in NY/NJ for 16 years now, and has become a holiday favorite.Pipes of Christmas
How it’s (Irish) Scottish: Highland pipes. Robert Burns. A star from Outlander!

There are many versions of Irish Christmas out there. Scottish Christmases are fewer on the ground. But this one is a charmer. “The Pipes of Christmas” has its 16th year of performances this year, and as always, will include readings from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and outstanding music.

The Clan Currie Society produces the events. The first concert is on Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 921 Madison Ave. at 2 and 7 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 21, the concert crosses the Hudson to the Central Presbyterian Church at 70 Maple Street, Summit.

Scots Gaelic singer Gillebride MacMillan makes his New York-era debut. But though new here as a singer, he probably isn’t new to fans of STARZ’ smash hit “Outlander”: he plays Gwyllyn the Bard.

James Robinson from the film “Braveheart” will be here, as well as Paul Woodiel (Riverdance) on fiddle, Christopher Layer on uillean pipe (both are in Sting’s “The Last Ship,” too), and Gaelic Mod champion harpist Jennifer Port from Scotland. On guitar, there’s Steve Gibb (“Jersey Boys”), and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band from California.

Gillebride MacMillan ©Donald MacLeod

Gillebride MacMillan ©Donald MacLeod

The concerts will commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1914, the famous unofficial ceasefire on the Western Front, and will also have a tribute to legendary Cape Breton fiddler, Buddy MacMaster, who passed in August at the age of 89. There will also be premieres of new music: in New Jersey, the new pipe tune “The Garden State March,” composed by Duncan Bell, will be heard for the first time. The Clan Currie Society commissioned the tune to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the garden state.

The compilation CD “The Best of the Pipes of Christmas 1999-2012” came out in 2013, and it is a charmer, a must for your Celtic Christmas playlist.

Proceeds from the concert support an extensive music scholarship program, which includes annual gifts to the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (both located in Glasgow,) the Gaelic College of Nova Scotia and Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Proceeds also support the Society’s sponsorship of the US National Scottish Harp Championship, the Gaelic Literature Competition at the Royal National Mod and an annual academic research prize at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye.

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.