Friday, April 4, 2003



Dan Quinn performed at last year's festival.

of the melodies

Tossing trees has ancient roots

By Nancy Arcayna

Hawaiian Scottish Festival

Featuring music, games, food, dancing and medieval fencing

Where: Kapiolani Park
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday
Admission: Free
Call: 235-7605
Notes: The mainland Scottish band Molly's Revenge also performs from 8 to 10 p.m. tomorrow at the University of Hawaii-Manoa student campus ballroom. Admission is $10.

Bagpipes have the ability to lift the spirits or even bring a tear to the eye. The feelings evoked by the sound of the instrument are what attracted Tina Berger.

"You never know how the pipes will affect someone," she said. "People either love them or hate them."

Hopefully, more people will be loving them this weekend as the music of bagpipes pours out of Kapiolani Park, site of the annual Hawaiian Scottish Festival.

Berger started taking lessons in 1992 and became a member of the Celtic Pipes and Drums in 1993. Of Armenian descent, Berger doesn't attribute her choice of instrument as a search her cultural roots. "I just love the music," she said.

Eventually, she became the band's "gigmeister."

"We worked for 14 hours on St. Patrick's Day alone," she said. "We're busier than I ever thought we would be: We have 65 to 75 gigs a year.

"We represent the Police and Fire Departments, so they call on us whenever they need us."

Not all of the occasions are merry ones, as the group recently appeared at services for Glen Gaspar, the HPD officer killed in the line of duty.

The Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii was created in 1985 and was originally known as the Shamrock Pipes and Drums. The band wears the symbolic military attire of the members in the "Black Watch Tartan" kilt (42nd Royal Highland Regiment) and is proud to be the oldest pipe-and-drum corps in Hawaii.

"I've really gotten a sense of family," Berger said. "The band is very tight knit. ... You quickly learn that it is not just performance-based. I've had a ball."

A young lass dances the Highland Fling at last year's Hawaiian Scottish Festival.

Berger said it takes about a year to a year and a half to learn how to play the pipes. Much of the process requires memorization, "and then you can only play a few tunes," she said. "It's not an easy instrument to play."

If you can survive the first year, the going gets easier, she said. Students start with a practice chanter and graduate to actual pipes. Some people stop because of the cost and commitment involved in playing the instrument. A set of basic pipes cost $1,000, said Berger.

BEYOND SIMPLY providing music, the members of Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii also feel it's their duty to educate others.

Schools often call on the pipers to represent Scotland and the Celtic area for cultural days. Patrick Roberts is one of the musicians who shares information about Scottish heritage at several public and private schools. Among the historical details he passes along are the facts that the first written record of bagpipes being played in Hawaii was in 1845, when an English warship visited the islands, and that King Kamehameha had a piper play for him at the palace.

"At the heart of it all, we are sharing cultural experience with the rest of the community," Roberts said. "It's our privilege to do our service to the community."

Those who can't seem to get enough of the music of the bagpipes often show up at the band's rehearsal sessions, held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the state municipal building.

"There is something that gets under the skin when listening to bagpipe music," Roberts said. "It's mystical and hard to explain."

Bagpipe lessons are conducted at 9 a.m. every Saturday at the Ala Wai Community Center. Call 537-5400 for more information.


Tossing trees around
has ancient roots

Athletic competitions in Scotland originally were held between neighboring clans. The athletic events were designed to test for strength, stamina, accuracy and agility. During the reign of King Malcolm Canmore (1058-1093), games were used to test the strength and skill of potential bodyguards.

The annual Scottish Festival provides an opportunity to learn about the culture and the games, during which each athlete wears a kilt and Scottish hose.

Here is what people can expect to see, according to Dan Peddie, one of the event's organizers:

>> Tossing the caber: A massive tree is raised perpendicular to the ground, then balanced vertically in the arms of the athlete, who runs forward, stops and heaves the caber upward. The caber must spin so that the large end hits the ground. A perfect throw will land at the 12 o'clock position.

>> Putting the stone: An athlete standing only on his right leg throws 28-pound stones a distance of 35 feet and a 16-pound stone more than 50 feet.

>> Throwing the weight: Men throw 28-pound weights for distance in this event. The athlete grasps the weight in one hand and begins swinging the weight from side to side. Once a bit of momentum is achieved, the athlete spins the weight for additional momentum and releases the weight. The winner is the athlete who throws the weight the farthest.

>> Throwing the weight over the bar: Men throw a 56-pound weight for height in this event. The athlete stands beneath an adjustable height crossbar, grasps the weight with one hand and swings the weight back and forth. On the final swing, the athlete brings the weight up in a smooth arc and releases the weight to pass over the crossbar. The weight continues to be tossed until heights of 14 feet and above are attained.

>> Throwing the hammer: Men compete to sling the hammer the farthest. The goal is to send a 22-hammer flying 100 feet, and a 16-pound hammer 130 feet. Strong hands, perfect timing and speed are all important factors.

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