Jerry Finegan, a Bagpiper for All Occasions
I began playing bagpipes at age thirteen under the instruction of Norman Livermore,
and have since had the opportunity to study with a number of world famous bagpipers
including Jim McIntosh, Michael Cusack, Alasdair Gillies, Jimmy MacGregor, Murray
Henderson, P/M Ian McLellan, Chris Armstrong, Glenn Brown, Margaret Dunn, and Albert
Over the years, I have had the honor to play for a number of notables including
former U.S. President George Bush Sr., former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former
President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
of Tibet, former President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, former President Vicente
Fox Quesada of Mexico, Princess Anne of the United Kingdom, Archbiship Desmond Tutu
of South Africa, the Duke of Argyll (Scotland), and Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger
of California. I performed with the Atlanta Pipe Band as we opened up concerts for
both Rod Stewart and the Indigo Girls and have performed at most of the major venues
around Atlanta including the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Stadium, the World Congress
Center, Symphony Hall, and Chastain Park. My piping has taken me far and wide, including
to play for the outgoing president of the Wholesale Florist Association at their
Worldwide annual convention in Cancun, Mexico. I was one of four pipers selected
by the British Consulate to play for the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I even auditioned for and got the part of the bagpiper in the movie "The Fighting
Temptations" but unfortunately my scene was cut from the final movie.
Music has always been a big part of my life. In addition to the Scottish Bagpipes,
I also play piano and recorder. In high school and college I also played bassoon,
and was the principal bassoonist with the Emory University Wind Ensemble.
My heritage like most Americans is a blend of cultures and mine is "European Union".
I have quite a few Scottish ancestors and belong to several Scottish clans including
the MacLachlan, MacEwan, MacMillan, and MacNeill clans.
In my other life, I am a computer programmer writing ASP.NET web applications in
C#. My wife Ellie and I live in Cary, North Carolina with our four children.
I actively compete on the bagpipes throughout the United States in solo competitions
at the Professional Level
. I am a five
time winner of the MacCrimmon Quaich trophy for Piobaireachd presented by Clan MacLeod.
In 1997, I was the EUSPBA Overall Champion for
Amateur Grade I
In October 2010, I was added to the EUSPBA Judge's Panel as a piping judge for all
aspects of piping. As such, I am approved to judge contests for Piobaireachd, Light
Music, and Pipe Bands.
The Atlanta Pipe
is a Grade III
that I have played with for most of my piping career, except for the four years
when I played with the City of Washington Pipe Band and the two years that I played with
the North Carolina State University Pipes & Drums.
I was Pipe Major of the Atlanta
Pipe Band for four competition seasons (2000 through 2003). Prior to becoming Pipe
Major, I served fourteen years as Pipe Sergeant of the band including in 1994 when
we were undefeated and won the U.S. Open Pipe Band Championship for Grade III in
Alma, Michigan. I was Pipe Major of the band when we recorded our debut CD Phoenix Rising.
The City of Washington
is a Grade I
band from Washington D.C. that I played with for four seasons (2004-2007), commuting
up to D.C. for practice. I competed with them in the World Pipe Band Championships
(Grade I) in both 2004 and 2005. In 2004 we did well in the Qualifier and were able
to compete in the finals where we placed 14th overall. Our performances can be heard
on the following CD's
Carolina State University Pipes and Drums
bagpipe band from Raleigh, NC whose membership is made up of both students and community members
from Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and the surrounding cities. I played with this band from August, 2010 until November 2012, serving as Pipe Major of the Grade III band from May 2011 until mid-2012.
The College Park Police Pipes & Drums was a non-competition bagpipe band that I
helped form in the early 1990's and in which I served as both Pipe Major and instructor.
The band's founder was Tom Sheets, Chief of Police, who actively participated in
the band and served as our Drum Major. The bands mission was to foster community
relations and also to serve as an honor guard for fallen officers. The band was
decommissioned in 1996.
EUSPBA Graduate Certificate (2008)
- This certification is given
by invitation only and involves a practical exam, a written theory exam, and a historical
essay. To pass the practical exam, I had to memorize fourty-eight competition tunes
(about 3-4 hours of music) and be able to play any of it from memory before a panel
of judges on the bagpipes.
Piping & Drumming Qualifications Board Level Five Piping
- This certification from Scotland involves a
practical exam, a written theory exam, and a historical essay. The practical exam
involved memorizing and being able play about 2-3 hours worth of music on the bagpipes.
This certification is equivalent to the new Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
(SCQF) Level 7 certification.
As a bagpipe instructor, I have taught a number of prizewinning students in Grades
I, II, III, & IV, most of whom play in either the Atlanta Pipe Band or the North
Carolina State University Pipes & Drums. In addition to working with individuals,
I regularly conduct clinics for several of the Grade 5 bagpipe bands in the Southeastern
United States. I have also served as a regular instructor for the Southern Piping
& Drumming Workshop conducted by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association (EUSPBA)
both 1993 and 1994, I had the honor to serve as Chairman of the Southern Branch
of the EUSPBA.
A very successful day at the Loch Norman Highland Games near Charlotte, North Carolina.
In my three competitions that day, I came away with two 1st places and one 2nd place.
I won the Piobaireachd contest playing the Lament for MacDonald of KinlochMoidart
The City of Washington Pipe Band playing in the Grade I Qualifier at the 2005 World
Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. I am one of the bagpipers on the far
side of the band just to the right of the bass drum and to the left of the first
"G" in "Glasgow".
This picture was taken in 1987 during a football game at the University of Tennessee,
Knoxville when we received two standing ovations from the crowd of over 95 thousand
people. We played for UT several more times as well as playing for Georgia Tech,
Jacksonville State, and the University of Alabama. As Pipe Sergeant of the Atlanta
Pipe Band, I am the bagpiper in the front right corner of the band.
This picture was taken in 2001 when I was Pipe Major of the Atlanta Pipe Band. I
am the bagpiper on the far side of the table (green shirt) and am leading my band
through some new music on practice chanters in preparation for the new season.