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"The Big Blue Machine gets Mean"


By Sorya Neang, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
June 4, 2009

"Sound of the day" can explain how judges felt about UCR's pipe band, now being referred to as, "The Big Blue Machine" having placed them first in the competition that was held in Woodland, California recently. The band swept the competition on both days as they were the class of the field - top marks in both the piping and drumming events.  They were indeed impressive as they approached the line - wearing the UCR tartan with tremendous pride. In addition, the band has caught the interest of future young pipers as you can call them, have also who wish to join the pipe corps attached an interest of playing in the pipe band in hopes of applying to UCR. The Big Blue Machine is expecting incoming pipers, Tom Janus, Chris Jensen and Kyle McLoone.

Whereas, John Jensen who is already a piper in the band - is transferring into the music degree program for the fall semester in order to study under the guidance of the director and academic coordinator of the Music Degree program, Ian Whitelaw. Whitelaw has made quite an impression on the music industry all over the world achieving success as a first prize winner at multiple competitions.  He has also left his mark overseas in Canada and Scotland. His recorded CD, "Angels From Atlantis"-which received lots of support and encouragement from the Durfee Foundation in Los Angeles, California, features his original compositions. His second CD  entitled "The Lady" , co-produced along with his wife, Kristin features music that is designed for use in relaxation and meditation. Ian brings over 42 years of experience, education and exceptional training to the university.  The Dean and the entire University and especially the Chair of the Music Department - Mr. Walter Clark, support Whitelaw's work with his students and the pipe band.  Some highlights of his bagpipe journey include his performances on television shows such as The Simpsons, The West Wing, American Dad, and Family Guy.  Wherever he goes, he makes quite an impression and his presence is being felt  in the pipe band competitive circuit due to his involvement with the "Big Blue Machine" the Highlanders of UCR Pipe Band.

Under Whitelaw's direction, he has contributed his knowledge to UCR and has guided the Big Blue Machine to many victories - the band has contests scheduled in May, June, July and August throughout the state against their rival pipe bands.  Ed Best is also a major contributor to the success of the band with his work teaching the drum corps.  In Woodland there were 9 side drummers in the competition along with 4 tenors and a bass drum - all vital members of "the Big Blue Machine". The band has had an unprecedented string of successes thanks to Ian's leadership and talents - they are the reigning Western United States Pipe Band Association champions in Grade 4 and will soon be moved into Grade 3 in order to compete against higher caliber bands in the various competitions in the Western United States, Canada and Scotland.


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