Another Piper On Tour with Madonna
The Scots lawyer who piped at Stella McCartney‘s wedding last year has been asked to accompany Madonna on her forthcoming Re-invention world tour.
Lorne Cousin, a rural property lawyer at the Edinburgh-based legal firm Turcan Connell, flew to Los Angeles last week where the rest of the show’s performers are preparing for the five-month tour.
The concerts, which kick off in LA on May 24, are scheduled for 48 venues across the US, Britain and France, with sell-out gigs at London’s Earls Court and Wembley Arena, as well as Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Although no further details of the tour have been disclosed yet, another Scots piper, Calum “Spud” Fraser, was asked to travel to New York for rehearsals in March. Fraser played at the christening of Madonna and Guy Ritchie‘s son Rocco, at Dornoch castle in 2000.
Now Cousin, who specialises in the sale of estates and country houses, will be adding his bagpipes to the tour.
Cousin, from Campbeltown, is no stranger to glittering events. Last August he piped at Stella McCartney’s wedding to Alasdhair Willis on the Isle of Bute. The star-studded nuptials were attended by celebrities such as Chrissie Hynde, Kate Moss and Madonna and film director husband Ritchie.
Cousin is an accomplished solo piper and has regularly competed in major piping gatherings across Scotland for many years, in 1988 winning the prestigious Burgh Cup at the Cowal Highland Gathering. The gathering’s oldest cup, dating back to 1901, it is open only to over-16s resident in Argyll and Bute and an unwritten rule among pipers dictates that once won, a piper doesn’t compete for it again.
Cousin also plays with the Kintyre Piping Society at their recitals. William McCallum, the society’s treasurer, has listened to Cousin’s piping for many years and rates his playing highly.
“He’s always been a great little player, ever since he was a boy,” said McCallum.
“Last weekend he was up here judging a junior competition for us. But he mostly plays in major competitions. Last year he played in the Gold Medal standard and, although he didn?t win he is a very good player.
He competed a lot in our junior competitions, but because he lives in Edinburgh now he doesn’t play with us as much.”
Although Cousin is too young to have played with the rest of the Kintyre Piping Society on Paul McCartney’s 1977 hit Mull of Kintyre, his family have had celebrity ties for many years.
His father, Alastair Cousin, who is a well-respected vet in the Campbeltown area, treated Linda McCartney‘s pets when she and her family spent time there, and he became a good friend over the years.
Alastair Cousin is also the chairman of the Linda McCartney Kintyre Memorial Trust, which helped to erect a statue of her two years ago after she died of cancer in 1998.
The bronze statue was commissioned and donated by Paul McCartney, but it was the trust who helped to facilitate the project in the area and create the garden in which the sculpture now stands.
Famous family ties and experience of performing at competitions and a celebrity wedding are one thing. Now Lorne Cousin faces piping to huge audiences worldwide.
Leading Scots piper Lindsay Davidson, who is currently working on a bagpipe opera, believes that piping is starting to become more popular in mainstream music. He also believes that new technology has enabled bagpipes to play alongside other musical instruments in large concerts without tuning problems.
“Bagpipes are a lot more popular than they were”, Davidson said.
“New technology has allowed them to break through barriers and now players can tune up against other instruments in a way they could never do in the past.
There is also a growing interest in piping and what bagpipes may be able to do in the future. A lot of this has been brought on by young folk groups that are beginning to use pipes in their records. People are starting to see them in a new light.”
Davidson also believes bagpipes are easily incorporated into big pop productions, such as Madonna‘s.
“The bagpipes are a dead ringer for the electric guitar”, he added. “The two instruments can be interchanged with ease and would work well in a large concert venue”.
Source: Sunday Herald
Article by Elizabeth McMeekin