2016 Piper’s Retreat Success!

A handful of fortunate pipers gathered in La Veta, CO on Sep 23-25, 2016 for the 3rd annual Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat.  This retreat focuses on “alternative” bagpipes, commonly known as Scottish smallpipes, border pipes or lowland pipes.  These pipes were predominant in the Scottish border (or lowlands) region with England.  We generally refer to them generically as “smallpipes”, but there are distinctions which we won’t attempt to cover at this point.
The smallpipes are similar to their big cousins, the Great Highland Bagpipes, but also very different.  Great Highland pipes are typically found in military-style marching bands.  We’ve all watched these awesome sounding pipes, and colorful pipers, in parades and at special occasions.  Smallpipes share the same musical “fingering”, that is, a person who plays Great Highland Bagpipes will use the same finger movements to create similar notes on the smallpipes.  Great Highland pipes are typically in the key of B flat.  Smallpipes are also generally powered by bellows.  That is, a bellows provides the air for the pipes, vs. mouth-blown as is found with Great Highland pipes.
Smallpipes are typically played either solo, or with other instruments.  They are found generally in the key of A, C or D which makes them compatible to play with fiddles, guitars, whistles, flutes, etc.  And, their volume is much lower.  They’re made to play indoors, seated with a group of other musicians.  Smallpipes have been experiencing a resurgence over the past few decades and a number of excellent smallpipe makers have carved out a niche in this market.
The Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat is, to our knowledge, the only “alternative” pipe retreat between the east and west coasts.  Sponsored by the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival, the Pipe Retreat brings the best of traditional musicians to teach students who want to expand their skill.  Most smallpipers start out as Great Highland pipers, but find that they’d like to play at home, alone, or try their hand at playing with other instruments.
At the 2016 edition of the Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat, instructors (and phenomenal artists) Jerry O’Sullivan and Ben Miller taught two groups of students.  Both worked on technique, tips and increasing tune repertoire.
The 2017 Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat is already in the planning stage!

Definitive Info for the 2016 Pipers Retreat!

The Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat  is sponsored by the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festivaland will be held Sep 23-25, 2016 in La Veta, Colorado.  The Retreat  focuses on bellows-blown smallpipes or border pipes and brings top traditional artists to share tips, techniques and tunes.  Highland pipers who have attended previous retreats have remarked  about the freedom they find in playing smallpipes for musicality and expression, as well as the opportunity to play pipes with other instruments. 
Instructors for this year’s Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat will be Jerry O’Sullivan and Ben Miller.  Jerry, known worldwide for his uilleann piping, and a regular at the Festival, is no less talented on smallpipes.  Jerry is certain to share a special Irish tune, or two!  Ben Miller, from upstate New York, is charting his own path as a top-notch musician and piper.  These top-tier players will provide instruction for intermediate and advanced classes. A new experience, initiated at last year’s retreat, was the opportunity for members of the Piping Retreat to join with attendees of the Spanish Peaks Celtic Harp Retreat, and play a few tunes together.  It was a hit, so we will do it again this year.  
The Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat starts at 9 am Friday Sep 23 and wraps up at noon on Sunday Sep 25, 2016, with a free concert, featuring Jerry O’Sullivan and Ben Miller on Sunday afternoon. The fee for the Piping Retreat is $250. The Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival features a wide array of workshops and concerts, so feel free to bring family and friends who can participate in, or observe, a number workshops ranging from singing to dancing, to cultural and historical presentations.  Evening concerts rock the house!  This year’s headliners are Altan, The High Kings and Outside Track!  Late night sessions are held after the evening concerts, so the music almost never stops!!  
Email jim@sppipers.com for more information.  

Piper Retreat Lineup for 2016!

11th festival logo
The 2016 Spanish Peaks Piping Retreat is taking shape!  We’re really excited to announce that we will focus on bellows-blown smallpipes (or reel pipes) for 2016!  We’re the only piping retreat in the Rocky Mountain region to do so!  If you’re a fan of bellows-blown smallpipes or border pipes, this is the place to be!!
Dates: September 23-25, 2016
Location: La Veta, Colorado
Building on last year’s piping retreat, we’ll expand this year and will have 2 instructors so we can work with pipers of different abilities.  Here are our instructors:
Jerry O’Sullivan:  Yes, we know Jerry and has appeared on more than 90 albums, ranging from the Boston Pops to Dolly Parton, and is considered America’s premier uilleann piper!  But, Jerry is no less talented on highland and smallpipes!  Jerry will bring his unique Irish perspective to the smallpipes and a few tunes that are outside the traditional piping repertoire.  Jerry has played from Israel to Japan, and most countries in between!  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from this master of the pipes!  Jerry’s website is: www.jerryosullivan.com
Ben Miller: His youth and energy is infectious!  Ben hails from upstate New York, but has spent a number of years in Scotland.  He recently completed graduate studies in The University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies.  Ben started on highland pipes, and later expanded to smallpipes and border pipes.  His repertoire and style draw mainly from the Gaelic traditions of western Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes.  Ben will be accompanied by Anita MacDonald.
Ben has been an instructor at The Piper’s Gathering, The Maine Pipes and Fiddle School, Ottawa’s Cape Breton Session, PEI Fiddle Camp and the Edinburgh Scots Music Group.  As a performer, he’s played in Germany, Denmark, Scotland, England, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the northeastern US.  Ben’s website is: http://www.bmillerpipes.com
Ben Miller
We’ll have Registration information up soon.  Keep checking back for more details.  Or, email us at: jim@sppipers.com for more information.