The bagpipe, that Rodney Dangerfield of the woodwinds, is finally getting some respect.
Since UC Riverside inaugurated its degree programs in bagpipes and Scottish drums last fall, the spindly, awkward, noisy instrument and its Highland cousin have been elevated to the highest academic status possible alongside the piano, cello and clarinet within its music department.
Three pipers and one drummer have enrolled in what may be the only program of its kind in the world where students can major in pipes or drums.
That’s a long way to come for an instrument that few appreciate and even fewer can play well.
Ian Whitelaw, arguably the best piper in the Western Hemisphere, wants to change that.
Whitelaw, the new pipe director at UCR, brings a lifelong love of piping and a passion for its history and culture to the position. Ditto drumming director Ed Best, who has been playing Scottish drums since he was 8.
Walter Clark, music department chairman, is convinced that once word is out that UCR has Whitelaw teaching bagpipes and Best teaching Scottish drums, people will flock to the fledgling program…
Reach Elaine Regus at 951-368-9478 or eregus@PE.com