Aiming higher with senior bagpiper

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 at 4:52 PM

Filling the air with Scottish tradition, Allyson Crowley-Duncan played her bagpipe for all who came to support her in the Louis C. Cole Auditorium on Saturday, April 15.

In addition to the performance, Duncan had an array of snacks and drinks for her guests to replenish their taste buds while enjoying the show.

Duncan is a student of Dr. Patrick Regan, Dr. Meghan De Wald and Dr. Elizabeth Etter. Her recital was presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Music.

Not only did Duncan display her skills playing the bagpipes, but she started the recital by showing off her talent as a pianist and a soprano vocalist.

The concert displayed traditional folk music and she even performed one of her own piano pieces, titled “Cascade.”

Duncan also had other musicians perform in her recital. Etter played the piano while Duncan performed.

In addition to having one of her professors present on stage, she also had her boyfriend and fellow musician, Denver Heck, accompany her for a few songs. He played the piano with her and sang in a rich baritone.

Regan, also known as “the Bagpiper,” opened the show by introducing Duncan. Regan is considered by Duncan to be a huge inspiration.

“Ally is an amazing student, not only musically, but more importantly because of the depth of thought and feeling she puts into her life,” he said.

“While Ally has excellent technique, her vivacity and passion are the true source for her musicality and her ability to connect with and emotionally touch her audience.”

Duncan only had positive things to say about Regan.

“You have changed my perception of what I want my future to be by pushing me to achieve what I can achieve. I always set the bar low for myself,” said Duncan.

“I had a goal that I knew would be able to be accomplished, and Patrick said, ‘No, aim higher. Aim higher.’”

Duncan continued: “I have yet to fail on any of the goals that he has helped me set for myself, including being here tonight and lumping voice, piano and bagpiping into one insane concert recital.”

“He’s always been there. He’s been like my confidence in the form of another person,.”

When she ended her show, she thanked him on stage (along with others) by saying “never stop being inspiring!”

Duncan has been playing the bagpipes for seven years. As a professional bagpiper, she has been to Scotland three times for international championships.

“My first time there was with a band. We competed in the 2012 World Pipe Band Championships where we placed first in our level,” said Duncan.

“We were the first American band to ever win the world champion title, so that’s by far my fondest memory.”

Aside from that, she placed 6th in the World Solo Piping Championships in Glasgow, and 2nd in the Metro Cup, another international competition in New Jersey.

Duncan wanted to make it known to everyone that she would have never had those amazing experiences if it had not been for her parents.

Her mother has always been her motivator and pusher while her father has always made sure she was happy with what she chose to do with her life. Her mother would always say to her, “remember why you’re doing this.”

They were there, front row, supporting their daughter.

Duncan is a senior at Edinboro University and is graduating in less than four years.

She has been accepted into a master’s program at Boston University for music theory, beginning this fall.

Following graduation, Duncan hopes to get her Ph.D in the U.K. and then teach music at the university level and start a bagpipe education program.

“My goal is to help the bagpipe become a respected instrument in the modern music world,” said Duncan.

With all of her talents, it seems as though the world is her oyster. Edinboro University was just a step in the process of making her dreams come true.

Julie Zarnick can be reached at 

Tags: bagpipes, music

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