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Professional Bagpiper

Bruce Cotter, Highland Pipes

Bruce Cotter, Bagpiper

Press Releases and Articles

...from the Spartan Daily,
March 17, 1998...

Bagpiper stirs Celtic hearts

Professional bagpiper Bruce Cotter will be wearing his green kilt today.

Cotter, a professional bagpipe player, selects his outfits in relation to the event. But whether he is playing in a funeral home, a sports stadium or a pub on St. Patrick's Day, the instrument remains the same - the Great Highland War Pipes.

All of Cotter's regalia is descended from a time when pipers used to lead the Scottish army into battle with their haunting, soul-stirring music. Always a part of Cotter's uniform are a small sword lashed to this hip and the Sgian Dudh - or black knife - strapped to his leg.

Jaci Hall, Cotter's mother and agent, said "the sound of bagpipes was intended to motivate the troops and frighten the enemy."

"It's all part of getting the blood flowing," Cotter said. "It has such a tribal sound. They would nail the pipers first. The Sgian Dudh was the piper's last defense."

When San Jose State University women's rugby coach Karl Laucher happened to hear Cotter playing his pipes, he got an idea. "There are a lot of things that stir our passions," Laucher said, "but the pining of the pipes is the music of patriotism. It goes to the primal roots of our soul. You've got to fight for it."

Laucher invited Cotter to inspire his players at the recent rugby match against Santa Clara. But his plan backfired. It was Santa Clara's team that was roused by the music. The game ended in a 46-0 massacre against the Spartans.

Santa Clara hired Cotter on the spot.

Laucher hopes to get Cotter back next year and blamed his team's loss on being young and short two players. "There is no doubt that I have a fighting band of rugby players," Laucher said. "But the bagpipes weren't enough to overcome the greatest of odds."

Hall said St. Patrick's Day is the most popular day of the year for bagpiping. You don't need to draw blood to hear some piping on that day. "St. Patrick's Day is like my New Years," Cotter said.

Although he has played the bagpipes since he was seven and won Northwest champion honors in a recent contest in Long Beach, Cotter is still in awe of the instrument. "It has an awfully strange power," Cotter said. "It reaches deep down and touches people. I can make people cry."

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