Mearingstone is a Vancouver-based ensemble of five pipers, which plays new works for Scottish highland bagpipes, often augmented by other instruments such as Japanese taiko and shakuhachi, Indian tabla, bass clarinet, or pipe band percussion (snare, tenor and bass drums). The ensemble concocts an intense, mesmerizing, formally intricate music, a world music analogue of the Philip Glass Ensemble or Bang On a Can’s explorations of musical density, variation, time, and ecstasy. Within the apparently restricted expressive range of the bagpipes they bring forth a wide variety of moods, the results of a passionate response to the unrealized potential of a deep tradition.
Mearingstone was formed in 1988 to perform Michael O’Neill’s work ‘Ur Og and Aji’ in Vancouver New Music’s New Music/Folk Music concert. A recording of the work was released on the CD Tree Line: Music from Canada and Japan (CBC Records). In 2000, Mearingstone was instrumental in producing Katadrone , a three-way collaboration with the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band and Uzume Taiko. This concert blended three traditions: Western classical New Music, Scottish highland piping and Japanese taiko. They continue to stir up the traditions, blending such elements as minimalism, compound rhythms, African percussion, and Indonesian gamelan.
Mearingstone is the core ensemble on Michael O’Neill’s new CD Ontophony released in the fall 2006 on Songlines Recordings. The recording also features members of Uzume Taiko and the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Mearingstone members are Andrew Bonar, Andrew Douglas, Andrew Hayes, Sylvia DeTar, and Michael O’Neill.
Ontophony (2006, Songlines Recordings)
Tree Line: Music from Canada and Japan (1997, CBC Recordings)
“…Michael O’Neill’s Horse of a Different Colour – really came to terms with the specifics of making music in this time and place. Scored for bagpipe quartet plus bass and snare drummers, this work was clearly set on the eastern edge of the Pacific Rim, where European cultural traditions meet (and sometimes merge) with those of Asia.” — Georgia Straight