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College of Piping: Come to the Ceilidh

Review by Michael Nesbitt

Tom Leighton, centre, has his hands full as special guest performer with Come to the Ceilidh host Mark Haines and College of Piping drummer Brad Fremlin. Photo: Michael Nesbitt

This concert series is a showcase for the talent developed at the College of Piping, with generous contributions from host Mark Haines and a variety of special guests to keep the show fresh all summer long.

Come to the Ceilidh is a two-hour show that begins at 7 pm Mondays to Thursdays until August 30. It is staged in the Mary Ellen Burns Amphitheatre, located behind the College on Water Street East in Summerside. A Gala Performance will also be held at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown September 22 at 8 pm.

Haines was involved with the College's shows last year and is pleased to now host the event. "We are trying to promote the College but we are also trying to promote the Island. If we can promote just a good feeling, with some good music, and offer everything that we have at the highest quality that we can, then I think that is reflective of Prince Edward Island."

Haines and College drummer Brad Fremlin comprise the `house band' to perform more than a half-dozen tunes throughout the event. Fremlin also joins the College Pipe Band during their numbers, beats a duet with a piper and performs a wicked solo.

Guest artists are often included as well. Haines wouldn't reveal the summer's full line-up but Tom Leighton, his regular musical partner, joined the duo for several weeks in July and Patricia Murray is slated for August. As for other guests, Haines teased: "You'll just have to keep coming to see the surprises."

In addition to the music, step and highland dance groups perform several numbers each and soloists Colleen Taylor and Kristin Shea match their talents to jigs, reels and the hornpipe. The audience also gets to learn a little about the mechanics of the bagpipe and of the history of the development of the College during the past 11 years.

Haines is effective as host, providing some welcome humour and drawing the audience into the show. His shameless, emotional, intermission sales pitch for his new CD, Optimist Jig, and College's own stock of music and memorabilia was accepted in the spirit intended.

Each show unfolds in a unique manner depending on the musicians, dancers and College participants performing on the day...just perfect when you have a whole summer to enjoy!

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