Two Mount Gambier bagpipers to perform in Switzerland

BAGPIPES: RSL Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band piper Ross Anderson will perform in the Basel Tattoo this month. Picture: Emma Stokes

Emma Stokes

Two members of the RSL Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band will be heading over to Switzerland to play in the Basel Military Tattoo this month.

Ross Anderson and Brodie Fennell will be joining the South Australian Pipes and Drums in Basel, Switzerland to take part in the international performance running from July 14 to July 28.

There will be about 800 performers making the trip, including 10 piping bands containing around 20 people each, as well as many dancers and brass bands.

They will have a week to practise together and learn formations before performing, which they will do every night between 9pm to 11pm, sometimes twice a day.

Due to the distance between Mount Gambier/ Berrin and Adelaide, Mr Anderson and his other South Eastern band members have only had a few practices with the South Australian Pipes and Drums.

Piper Mr Anderson said it was quite nerve-racking due to all the tunes which needed to be memorised, as pipers are not allowed to carry sheet music with them.

“We’ve had to learn a heck of a lot of music,” he said.

“There’s 24 tunes. We got a couple in January but the last ones came through last month.”

There will be at least 8000 people in the audience, so it is important he and Brodie practise a couple of hours per day so once they arrive in Switzerland they only have to learn the patterns and formations, which Mr Anderson said would be challenging enough.

This is Mr Anderson’s fourth time playing in the Basel Tattoo, having also played in the Edinburgh Tattoo and in Moscow.

The Basel Tattoo is the second biggest military tattoo, just after the Edinburgh Tattoo, which several members from the Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band have also performed at.

The South Australian Pipe Band is based in Adelaide, but there are two members from Mount Gambier/ Berrin, two from Naracoorte, and even one from Melbourne.

Mr Anderson said this event was not only good to pick up his and Brodie’s skills however.

“It picks up their [other RSL Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band members’] as well,” he said.

“I think other people in the band look at it and can aspire to do that sort of thing as well.”

The Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band gathers every Wednesday at 7pm and anyone of any age is welcome to attend and try their hand at piping or drumming – Mr Anderson himself did not start until his early 40s.

“People of all ages can play, we have people that are 80 in the band here that play and then we have a 10 year old,” he said.

Find the Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band on Facebook for more information.