It is not often that you hear Russian folk tunes and Scottish battle marches at a jazz club. But the Moscow & District Pipe Band recently treated listeners to a whole evening of both genres and much more interesting music on the bagpipes in celebration of its 10th birthday and album release.
In 2004, multi-instrumentalist Artemy Vorobiev gathered a small group of music enthusiasts together to master the bagpipes, an instrument considered rather exotic in Russia. They sought out talented musicians with similar interests and thought about how to bring together sounds familiar to the Russian soul with that of Scottish bagpipes.
Four pipers and four drummers clad in Royal Stewart tartan kilts are the face of the band. There are a total of 12 members, including Marina Alexeeva, the only female piper not only in the band, but the entire country.
“For some reason, everybody thinks bagpipes aren’t for women. True, it was hard for me at first, I even quit for a while, but in the end I confounded the stereotype. Bagpipes can be a feminine instrument,” Marina said.
The band has acquired a wealth of experience in the past decade. It has performed at a wide variety of venues, ranging from Spasskaya Bashnya (Spasskaya Tower) to the Moscow International Film Festival.
The members consider their teachers to be the world’s leading bagpipers, although they have performed with an array of bands, including the Russian Army orchestra and Russian folk ensembles. According to its members, the Moscow & District Pipe Band’s music (particularly its new album) is a “cultural bridge.”
“Our style is a special Russian energy in the sound of Scottish bagpipes,” the band’s leader and founder Artemy said.
The band’s dream is to participate in the World Pipe Band Championship in the UK. However, it will have to take a lot of effort to do so, because first it needs a wider repertoire and more members. It is no easy task to learn the bagpipes in Russia, which is why the members have even organized a bagpipe school. “We decided to cultivate and train new musicians for our orchestra,” Artemy said.
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