A world-renown bagpipe player will be performing with a small troupe on Wednesday at Scott Middle School. The performance is sponsored by the Denison Performing Arts, a non profit that promotes the arts among school children in Denison.
The performance is set to take place at 9:30 a.m. at Scott Middle School on Jan. 15.
“This is the first time we have done this,” DPA spokesperson Christina Moran said. “What we are doing is bringing a world renown bagpiper who has been on the Today Show to play for our students.”
Don Shannon has been playing the bagpipes for more 50 years. A Northern-Ireland native, Shannon has had the distinction of playing his instrument for several international dignitaries including the Queen of England.
Shannon said he loves playing for children, especially teenagers because he never knows what their reactions will be.
“People love the initial sounds of the bagpipes,” Shannon said. “When we do a show, we do music that is entertaining for the audience. Things they can recognize like ‘Amazing Grace’ or ‘America the Beautiful.’ A lot of our music we play people recognize and there is a great reaction from them.”
Shannon said bagpipers typically perform at important milestones in peoples lives from birthdays to funerals. He said there is a growing interest in the instrument in the United States. His troupe is known as the North Texas Caledonian Pipes and Drums. Shannon is the pipe major for the band.
Having grown up in a small town in Northern Ireland Shannon said he chose a life of music when his classmates were pursuing soccer. He said he is very blessed to have made a career playing the instrument he loves. It represents a cultural heritage he said partly inspires him to share with the world.
“We’re excited to be playing in Denison,” Shannon said. “The kids love what we do. When you stand in a group, the sound flows over you,” Shannon said. “To me, there is nothing like it. Even though I been playing forever, I still love the sound of them. Working towards making the best sound we can produce. It is a challenge but when it comes off it is really good.”
His full band includes 20 pipers and 15 drummers. They will be competing in the World Pipe Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The band rehearses twice a week and competes four times a year throughout the U.S.
What Shannon said he loves most about music is how it engrosses the listener in a world away from the digital distractions.
Shannon is no stranger to the area. He was at a funeral earlier in the week and regularly plays all over the DFW and Texoma area.
He said he loves playing for kids because their reactions are always rewarding.
“I would honestly say every single time I play there is a positive reaction,” Shannon said. “Kids love it. They are really interested in how bagpipes work. They see it on TV. For me to be live there for them it is something very special for them.”
Shannon said he plays mostly traditional music. Occasionally he will come across an interesting piece he finds on the internet. He said recently he found a French set that he said people seem to like.
“We’re really excited to play for anyone but especially high school kids,” Shannon said. “It is great experience for them to be a part of. It is the best thing we’re very fortunate to be called up there to play for people, it really is.”
Shannon will be joined by a small group consisting of four bagpipers and three to four drummers.