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Bretagne Bag Pipe Player Visits Okinawa

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-02-20

From French Bretagne, Guy Bescond has been on a world tour playing his bagpipe in far away lands such as Egypt and Azerbaijan. In a one-night-only performance last Wednesday night, Bescond entertained a crowd of Celt music lovers at the Morrigans Irish Pub with the haunting sounds of his Scottish BagPipe.

Guy Bescond has been touring the world for close to three months now and his tour will end somewhere in the Americas in August 2000. He started his Bag Pipe tour in Azerbaijan and then went on to Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and then Japan. While Bescond’s tour did not originally include Okinawa, he received an invitation from Imagin’ If Productions, based on the island, to play for the local enthusiasts; he said he couldn’t refuse.

Bescond started to play Bagpipes at the young age of 12. Now 30, he has been playing strong for 18 years and has achieved the most amazing status of being a Level 1 performer. According to Bescond, most children begin to learn the bagpipe at age 8, and it takes 2 grueling years of practice just to get the fingering correct. According to Bescond, bagpipes were imported from Scotland to French Bretagne about 100 years ago. “ We have 2000 pipers in Brittany now who play both traditional music and music from Scotland and Ireland.”

Bescond has played with the groups “Bagad Beuzeg” and “Bagad Kemper” (both traditional Celt troupes) for more than ten years and toured in Scotland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and other areas of Europe. There are 5 levels to which a bagpipe player is graded, level one being the best. Last year, he finished 1st in grade 2 with the Bagad Beuzeg and then he went on the play with the level 1 group Bagad Kemper.

“The most thrilling place that I have played so far would have to be the Great Wall in China. Most of the people that I played for had never heard the sounds of a bag pipe,” Bescond said of his world tour. After his time in Japan, he will continue on to Australia and New Zealand.

Although Bescond plays the bagpipes with rare passion, it was just as interesting to find out that the piper had another love in his life. Bescond is also a movie director in his native land and he is currently working on his third documentary, which is appropriately about the Bretagne people. Those who live in French Brittany are known for their hard-headedness and their strong imaginations. Being strong willed is a necessary way of life, according to Bescond, as they struggle to maintain their cultural identity. “The Bretagne people have their own language that is similar to the Welsh language. They also have their own identity that is different from the rest of France - and that is what I am trying to bring out in my documentary.”

Even though Bescond speaks of serious issues, he is quite the light-hearted man one would expect of a bag pipe player. While en route to his tours, he practices the bagpipe by using a tiny electronic version and a set of ear phones - a sign of the modern world we now live in. As he continues his tour of the world, Guy promises he will do his best to expose people to the music of his country through the values of French Bretagne culture.

Guy Bescond can be visited on the website www.antourtan.org ("Antourtan" is French Brittany word for lighthouse or tower of fire). At this time, the website is only in French.

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