The Desperate Battle – with live birds

There was a magic moment at the Salt Lake Highland Games this past weekend.

The piobaireachd judge, John Partanen moved his competition around the corner from its original location to beneath one of the entrance archways to the fairgrounds. That gate was not being used and I guess he was seeking a little more shade. It was a wide archway, more like a tunnel really, about 20 feet wide by 30 feet long, and about 15 feet high in the middle. Playing surrounded by concrete and stone produced a really nice acoustic, and began to draw a crowd to the opening of the arch. Among the audience was a pair of swallows who, it turns out, were nesting beneath the arch. They were quite concerned to discover 110 decibels suddenly showing up outside their front door and began to flutter around the drones of the pipers as they played.

Strangely (or appropriately) the tune they seemed most interested in was The Desperate Battle of the Birds, played by Sande Storms, of the Salt Lake Scots. She expressed some frustration with elements of her performance after she finished playing, but I pointed out to her that it was probably the best performance of that tune ever, since it was the only one featuring actual birds.

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