Virtual ‘Pipes of Christmas’ impressively recreates feel of live show

pipes of christmas preview 2020

The annual “Pipes of Christmas” concert returns in virtual form this year.

The annual Pipes of Christmas concerts, which have taken place in Summit and New York for the last 22 years, are always lavish productions. And this year’s virtual version — which will be viewable on this YouTube page on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — brings a similarly ambitious approach to the world of video, with footage of performers in scenic Scottish locations, and other new content from regular “Pipes of Christmas” contributors.

I’ve seen a preview, and think there’s a professionalism to the presentation that really sets this production apart from most of the year’s low-budget virtual musical offerings.

“I’m proud of the fact that we could reinvent our concert rather than … rerun last year’s concert or simply do nothing at all,” says “Pipes of Christmas” producer Robert Currie.

The Christmas broadcast actually serves as the culmination of a month of programming for “Pipes of Christmas,” as four “Festival of Advent” videos — featuring performances by Gillebrìde MacMillan, Jamie MacDougall, Steve Gibb, Rachel Clemente and others, plus interview segments — have already been shared, debuting once a week. You can watch those videos below.

GILLEBRIDE MacMILLAN

The annual “Pipes of Christmas” concerts help fund scholarships for students studying Celtic culture, and while there is no charge for those watching this year’s broadcasts, people will be encouraged to make donations. (Here is the link for anyone interested.)

In a previous interview, Currie said that part of the thinking behind making the virtual special was to provide musicians and film professionals with some work, at a time when work is hard to come by.

“I felt, in a very small way, we could retain these firms, and put them to work, and retain these singers and musicians,” he said. “And at least help a little bit. If you’re really committed to the arts, you’ve got to be committed to the sustenance of the arts.”

It is said, at one point in the special, “We all know that Christmas in the times of COVID is almost too much bear. COVID’s bad at any time of year, for certain. But now, at Christmas, it’s especially tough.”

That’s true, of course. But by evoking the spirit of the beloved annual “Pipes of Christmas” concerts, this virtual event at least allows this year to seem a little more normal.

Here are the four videos in the “Festival of Advent” series. For the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day special, go to youtube.com/user/clancurrie/featured.

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