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Scotland's The Battlefield Band at M.C. Opera House, Saturday

  • The Battlefield Band from Scotland will be performing Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Mauch Chunk Opera House, Jim Thorpe.
    The Battlefield Band from Scotland will be performing Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Mauch Chunk Opera House, Jim Thorpe.
Published October 04. 2012 05:02PM

Two music events are scheduled this weekend at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.

On Friday at 8 p.m., there is a free performance by Dr. George Fiore, a pianist who is an internationally recognized scholar of Chopin.

Saturday, The Battlefield Band from Scotland will be playing in the historic venue. This concert begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $25.

Dr. Fiore is a former associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony and has influenced countless classical performers in the Pacific Northwest.

He will be playing the Opera House 1898 Chickering 9-foot grand piano.

The Battlefield Band, a four-piece group from Scotland, plays traditional instruments from Scotland and Ireland.

Founded in Glasgow in 1969, they have released over 30 albums.

The band is noted for its combination of bagpipes with other instruments, most notably on their cover of "Bad Moon Rising" and its mix of traditional songs and tunes with new material.

The group tours internationally, playing to audiences in Europe, Australia, Asia, the Middle East & Canada, as well as more than 60 cities annually in the United States.

The members of the band are Sean O'Donnell, vocals/guitar; Ewen Henderson, fiddle/bagpipes/whistles/piano/vocals; Alasdair White, numerous instruments, and Mike Katz, Highland pipes, small pipes, various whistles, bass guitar, and guitar.

In a phone interview, Katz said he grew up in Los Angeles but attended Edinburgh University in Scotland. He decided to stay in Scotland where he began playing in Scottish bands.

He's been with The Battlefield Band since 1997.

"We're very traditional," he said of the quartet, adding that the band delivers a high-energy show.

Katz said he became a member of the band through a recommendation from a friend. He said he enjoys the traveling and the Celtic music.

"A lot of people like to play music but traveling around the world doesn't appeal to everybody," he said. "I love doing this."

Before going to Scotland, he played in a pipe band in Los Angeles.

Asked what he would be doing if he wasn't a full-time musician, he said, "When I was younger, I wanted to be a guitar player. In America, there are too many guitar players, especially in Los Angeles. So I decided to study philosophy."

He said he feels fortunate that he can make a living doing what he enjoys most.

"It's like sports," he said. "If you have the opportunity to do it for a living, you are happy to do it."

Although he might be a native American, he has developed the Scottish accent when he talks.

He thought back about the question of what he would be doing if he wasn't a musician.

"If I wasn't playing music, I don't know what I would be doing," he said. "And I never, never want to find out."

He said being in The Battlefield Band has taken him throughout numerous countries, including the United States. Highlights included concerts the band did in Alaska and Hawaii.

Katz said it's been about two years since the band played in Pennsylvania. "We're looking forward to coming back," he said.

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