Pipe band celebrates Scottish poet

January 3, 2013
Piper Robert Blachley of Bethel Park, a member of the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh, performs the ceremonial “piping in of the haggis” at the band’s annual Burns Supper. Haggis is a traditional Scottish boiled meat dish and is the subject of Robert Burns’ ode “To a Haggis.”

The Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh will host its annual Burns Supper honoring the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns Jan. 19 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, 123 Gilkeson Road, Mt. Lebanon.

Doors open at 5 p.m. A buffet dinner featuring steak pie and haggis begins at 6 p.m.

In addition to a tribute to the 18th-century poet, the evening will include performances by the Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh and the Celtic Spirit Highland Dancers of Pittsburgh. There also will be a Chinese raffle featuring a variety of Celtic-themed and other items, and Thistle & Pine LLC will have a display of Scottish and Celtic items.

Betsy Bethel-McFarland, a piper and band spokeswoman, said Burns suppers are held in Scotland and in countries throughout the world each year around the date of Burns’ birth, Jan. 25.

“The events are a way for Scots and Scottish expatriates, as well as folks from other countries, to get a taste of Scottish culture, including food, drink, music, dancing and poetry,” Bethel-McFarland said. “We view our event not only as a way to honor the writer of songs like ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and poems like ‘My Luv’s a Red, Red Rose,’ but also as a fun evening out to brighten up the dreary post-holiday season.”

The Macdonald Pipe Band is a nonprofit organization. The dinner is a fundraiser to help the band purchase instrument and uniform parts and finance a trip to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland. The band, which is composed of pipers and drummers, performs at parades, festivals and Highland games competitions throughout the year. In September, the band placed first in its division at the Ligonier Highland Games at Idlewild Park.

The band is led by Upper St. Clair High School senior Brina Reddecliff. It plays annually in the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Castle Shannon Memorial Day Parade, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival Wheeling Celtic Celebration and the CHANGE Inc. St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser at Mountaineer Racetrack.

The Celtic Spirit Highland Dancers and Pipers of Pittsburgh are a group of young performers who study traditional Scottish Highland dance and Scottish bagpiping.

Tickets for the dinner are $27.50 for adults and $20 for children. They can be purchased online at www.macdonaldpipeband.net. For more information, contact Bethel-McFarland at 304-280-6212 or bbmcfarland@yahoo.com.



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