The origins of the bagpipes go back two thousand years. Their ancient sound resonates deep within our souls. Sometimes the unique music is sorrowful, sometimes joyful. The sound of the pipes has been heard in times of battle, but most often in times of peace and celebration. Every August over 200 bagpipe bands from all over the world gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships. They converge on a vast field called Glasgow Green for a single day of competition.
This year, many of the world's elite solo pipers and drummers, 40 in all, come together as an all-star band called the Spirit of Scotland to compete against other world-class bands that have been playing together for years, even decades. Something like this has never occurred before and it may never happen again. Will these outstanding individual players succeed in creating a winning ensemble musical performance in just one week?
As with any competition, the tension builds as the band gets closer to the Worlds. Sharing a passion for piping, but used to being center stage, alone, these great soloists must put the band first and function as a unit working toward perfect harmony. We see intense rehearsals in the days leading up the Worlds and the nail-biting qualifying rounds that determine the fourteen finalists.
Musical performances are interwoven with the musicians' individual stories. The pipers and drummers in the Spirit of Scotland are at the same time extraordinary people and ordinary folks. We focus on a handful of players, revealing distinctive personalities as they emerge through cinema verite observation and one-on-one interviews. We delve into the background of colorful characters as they relate intimate, insightful stories, some heartening, some bittersweet, and candidly discuss the origins of their passion and their motivation to keep pursuing their dreams. At the same time, we watch these intriguing individuals form new relationships as they get to know each other while preparing for their ultimate performance.Whatever viewers think they know about bagpipers and piping music will be forever changed. The film explores the lore of the pipes and reveals the people behind these intimidating instruments, set against the background of the World Championships. The film will entertain and enlighten audiences from all walks of life and open their hearts to experience and appreciate this often misunderstood stirring form of music.
Also playing in select theaters on February 13, 2011.