What is a Bagad exactly?
Combine one part bagpipe band, one part jazz band, one part rock band. Shake. Serve in a traditional glass.
A Bagad is an orchestra consisting principally of three instruments, the bagpipe, the bombarde, and percussion. This type of ensemble started developing in Brittany just after the second World War, and has continued to develop until today. A Bagad plays traditional music from Brittany, but draws on many influences, from other Celtic nations’ music, to rock, jazz, and other ethnic traditions.
Today there are over 100 Bagadou from all over the world, though by far the most are in Brittany.
So why have a Bagad in the US?
Because there is interest in one. Awareness of Bagadou outside of Brittany has steadily grown over the previous decades.
Breton music has been performed in the United States for many years, but primarily in the form of folk and dance music played by small ensembles. As there are many pipers and drummers in the US who are experienced in playing with Scottish and Irish bagpipe bands, it makes sense for them to be able to play Breton music in a similar setting.
After a monumental trip in 2009 where a group of American pipers and drummers played with a “real” Bagad in competition, it was destiny!
Who are your members today?
Most of our members are musicians and Breton music lovers from the Northeastern US. We also have members who are non-musicians who help us with logistical and administrative duties. All of our members are amateurs and volunteers.
There are no barriers to entry. Everyone is welcome, and multiple skills are needed to support our organization.
I’m a musician, can I join the band ?
Yes. Currently, our main focus is on bombards, bagpipes, and drums. But, if you are a musician interested in playing a different instrument, we’d like to hear about your idea too!
As far as bagpipes and drums go, we currently don’t have the capacity to teach interested individuals the basics of those instruments, but we can probably recommend somewhere you can accomplish that. Our ideal piper or drummer is someone who has several years of experience and is willing to learn how to play Breton music on his or her instrument.
We don’t expect to find many Bombard players in the US, but we’ve put steps in place where those interested can learn the instrument from the World’s best instructors at no cost. Again, ideally, you’ve already got experience playing the bagpipe, or an instrument similar to the Bombard (oboe, clarinet, kazoo, etc.).