Scott Andrew Taras
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Seven Pipers Society members Eric Wilson (left), Chuck Burgin and Logan Dick play the bagpipes outside McKale Center on Sunday evening. The bagpipe players along with drummers are part of the Society, which will be going to Scotland for competitions in six weeks.
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Take a stroll by McKale Center on a Sunday or Monday night this summer and you might be tempted to grab a mace and join William Wallace on a battlefield in the Scottish Highlands.
No, Hollywood's elite aren't shooting the sequel to Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" on campus, but the powerful blaring sound will make you believe otherwise.
The Pipes and Drums of the Seven Pipers Society are hard at work in preparation for their trip to Scotland in six weeks. The troupe will be competing in the World Championship in Glasgow in August.
J.C. Trader, a University of Arizona computer science senior, is one of the band's five snare drummers. The upcoming overseas trip will be his first time in Scotland, and the excitement is already building.
"It's going to be great - I'm really excited," said Trader, who is in his fifth year with the band.
Four-hundred pipe bands from around the globe will be competing for the prestigious world title. The Seven Pipers Society will be up against 80 pipe bands in Grade IV, the lowest category of the four skill levels.
The Society began in the early 1960s, as a "small group of Scottish and Irish music enthusiasts," according to their Web site.
Since then they have progressed into an award-winning pipe band. Last summer the became the Grade IV champion of the Western United States Pipe Band Association.
Terence Burke, associate to UA President Peter Likins, is another drummer in the 20-member group. Growing up in northern England, Burke was close to the Scottish culture that has influenced his life.
Burke, who began playing the tenor drum as rehabilitation for his damaged shoulder, said playing with bagpipers is unlike any other musical experience.
"I get the satisfaction of playing something very precisely," he said. "If it's not precise, it's not worth doing."
To raise money for the upcoming competition, band members have held a garage sale, auctioned off a sculpture made by one of the members and played several local gigs. Still, each member will have to come up with $1,000 for airline tickets and food.
All of the fund raising and weekly practices have taken their toll on Trader.
"Definitely during the school year it's pretty hectic to balance everything," Trader said.
The only member who has been to the world championships before is Jim Hutchinson, the band's drum sergeant. In 1987, Hutchinson and his previous band won the award for best overseas band.
Hutchinson said there is a good possibility that the Seven Pipers Society can capture a similar award.
"As of now we're the band that is ahead of the pack," he said. "If nothing else, the average guy will say 'These guys from the desert really can play.'"