Pipers in new band march to beat of Celtic drummers


PIPERS AND drummers are droning the distinctive sound of Scottish music in Manchester.

For a month, the newly formed Mason-Dixon Pipes and Drums has met at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Tuesday nights. About 20 enthusiastic pipers and drummers drive from locations up to an hour away to play with the group. Any who play or want free lessons are welcome.

On Jan. 29, while several beginners received classroom instruction and a half-dozen drummers pounded a table with felt mallets, others tuned up bagpipes. They were: Dan Karst of Glenville, Pa.; Glenn Wilson of Littlestown, Pa.; Don Zach, pipe major of Ellicott City; and Al Mundy of Sykesville. They have traced their ancestry to Scottish clans.

"Pipes are in your blood," said Mundy, who took up pipes about three years ago. "I've always liked the sound of pipes, and I like to play instruments. Maybe this is one I'll get good at."

Before a beginner takes up a $1,500 set of bagpipes, he or she spends at least six months on a "chanter," a narrow wooden flute with a double reed inside. The chanter simulates the breathing and fingering used on bagpipes.

The bagpiper plays a similar chanter in two parts, with a portion of bag between the mouthpiece and fingering. The pumping, characteristic drone, and other embellishments are mastered with three to eight years of practice.

Karst started the band with Don Bellusci, a piper and expert on Civil War instruments from Lineboro, and drum major Stan Curtis of Silver Run. Drum instructor Tatia Zach is a championship tenor drummer. Linda Lewis of Manchester is the group's business manager.

Karst is a Hampstead native who graduated from North Carroll High in 1988. Three years ago, he took up the bagpipe with lessons from his godfather, Jim Quigg of Towson, a renowned piper who arrived from Scotland in the 1960s. Last year, Karst's son Marty, a Manchester Elementary School pupil, led the color guard of the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade, wearing a kilt and carrying the Irish flag.

Karst sees the Mason-Dixon Pipes and Drums soon encompassing all forms of Celtic music and dance.

"We'd like to expand the appreciation for Celtic music, not just Scotch or Irish, but flavor. We'd also like to see dancing, Irish fiddle, bodhran, which is a Scottish and Irish drum, and tin whistle," Karst said. "Our focus is pipes and drums, and in the near future, we'll be much more evolved into a full-time Celtic organization."

He also envisions a highlander youth band to play at football games.

Beginners, who include high school students, meet from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., and the full band meets from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Information: Dan Karst, 717-646-0249.

The past remembered

After 242 years, a former member known as "Mrs. Motter" will attend services at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester this weekend.

Her visit is part of a celebration Saturday and Sunday that will include a tribute by the Mason-Dixon Pipes and Drums on Sunday.

"We're resurrecting a former member. She'll walk in and won't recognize anyone or even this place," said the Rev. Matthew Schenning.

He and his wife, the Rev. Norma Schenning, are pastors of the church. They have created a dialogue style of sermon to show differences between that first tiny congregation - which met in a log church - and today's sizable congregation, which holds services in a brick church. Three services are held - 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday - to accommodate the congregation.

"Mrs. Motter will say, 'Where's the preacher?' and Norma will say, 'I'm the preacher,' " Norma Schenning said.

In a day when female preachers were few in any religion, the history will be told how one male preacher rode horseback on a circuit to about seven congregations, giving 90-minute sermons at each stop. When a preacher wasn't available, a schoolteacher led the congregation.

"We'll do a little line singing. They had no musical instruments nor music books," Matthew Schenning said of the congregation that formed Feb. 12, 1760. Line singing was a rote method in which the preacher sang a line and the congregation repeated it.

Until 1860, two congregations shared one church building. Today, the same churches, United Church of Christ and Immanuel Lutheran, have brick churches side by side on Church Street.

To build the first German church in Manchester, which was an English settlement, the congregation "petitioned King George II for permission for a royal patent to have a German church. We were lucky George was from the House of Hanover," Matthew Schenning said.

"The church has had lifelong Carroll Countians who are lifelong Lutherans. The new members of church who join today, often are not lifelong Lutherans, and are not from Carroll County," Matthew Schenning said. "There have been a lot of changes since its inception."

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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