Lund bagpiper Ann Snow, who is also a firefighter with Northside Fire Department, recently took first place in a virtual piping contest.
With highland games and competitions cancelled this year because of COVID-19, many events are being held virtually, including the World Online Piping and Drumming Championships. Snow had herself videoed wearing her firefighting gear in front of a fire department truck, playing a piobaireachd. She took first place in her category, playing “Duncan McCrae of Kintail’s Lament.”
Snow said with the cancellations of highland games, in some areas, online competitions were offered, where contestants took a video of themselves piping a certain type of tune.
“You submitted it and then you were judged, either across Canada or around the world,” said Snow. “They give you feedback on how well you did and they rank you. I got the best video of a service member in uniform piping.”
Snow said she had entered the spring competition online but she didn’t rank in that entry. Her winning entry this time was her second online competition. This particular competition is done out of Washington State but people worldwide can enter.
Being a firefighter, Snow thought the Service Member in Uniform category would be a good match for her love for piping.
“I thought ‘why put on my kilt, I’ll just go put on my fire gear and pipe,’ and sure enough, I won,” she said.
Snow said the piobaireachd category of Highland music was prescribed for her competition and she selected the song. She said she has been practicing it for quite a few years.
“I’ve played it in actual competitions before and I did fairly well, but this is the first time I’ve won with it,” said Snow.
She teamed up with videographer Peter Allen and shot the performance toward the middle of August. It only took a week or two to get the results.
Snow has been playing the bagpipes for 13 or 14 years and is a member of the Clansman Pipe Band in Powell River.
She said the pipe band has also competed and when Comox Valley had its final highland games several years ago, the band came in first in its category.
“We were pretty proud of ourselves,” she said.
Snow has been drawn to Scottish heritage. She used to highland dance as a child and took bagpipe lessons in her early teens, but there were no bands where she lived and she lost interest. She, however, is passionate about the pipes and took up playing again as an adult.
“Being in a pipe band is a lot of fun,” said Snow. “It’s just the camaraderie and the feedback you get from everyone – and the fun of playing a tune and getting it right. It’s magic.”
A lot of practice goes into being a pipe band, according to Snow. In addition to having to march, tunes have to be memorized and the band has to play it the same way simultaneously, she said.
“You have to be able to squeeze the bags, use the fingering, watch where you are going and march in unison,” added Snow.
She said she plans to continue entering competitions in the future.
To view Snow’s performance, search for World Online Piping & Drumming Championships Summer 2020, Ann Snow Piobairach on YouTube.
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