CLASP profile: Alexander Hess

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Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
My name is Alexander Hess from Dortmund (Northrhine Westfalia, Germany) and I got into piping by visiting local Highland Games and booking a piper for the wedding of friend.

How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
Due to short-time work days, I have more time to practice and a group of pipers in my band started to play at retirement homes. We also started to make online recitals.

Is there anything you can’t leave home without?
I have nearly always a practice chanter in my car and any pipe score.

What’s your favourite international food?
Highland chicken and haggis.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
The first time I tried haggis but now I love it!

When you travel is there something you particularly miss when away?
Depending on where I go some friends and family.

Do you have a set practice routine you could share with readers?
Generally, I search a recording to listen to a new tune or a tune I didn´t play for a long time and then I try to play it bar for bar and line for line.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo?
It was at the NPC WinterSchool Concert in Brüggen, when we students had to perform Mark Knopfler’s Piper to the End. We were almost piping novices and were very nervous. I also had to sing the tune! The other times were when I piped in front of the Scots Guards Club in Edinburgh and for guests arriving at the Clan MacLeod’s annual dinner during the Clan Parliament at Dunvegan Garden.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve heard – band or soloist? The 2017 RoyalEdinburgh Military Tattoo.

Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?
My teachers and my second band, the Amazing Piperazzi!  

How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies? 
At best I relax when I sit together with my family with a glass or more of white wine and a dram of whisky. My other hobbies are the German Macleod Society and playing golf.

Have you taken part in any show, concerts or recitals this year?
I entered several online competitions.

What’s your favourite destination, either for a holiday or on a piping trip?
Scotland, especially Skye, and going to a little mountain in Germany called Sackpfeife (in English: bagpipe!)

Do you have a go at the local language when abroad?
Yes, of course. I have also started to learn Scottish Gaelic.

Favourite piece of music – any music?
Celtic Bolero, The Sleeping Tune, Morag of Dunvegan.

Was piping something you wanted to do from an early age?
No, not really. It was after the first time I heard a piper play.

Which pipers did you aspire to, if any?
Roddy MacLeod, Willie McCallum, Stuart Liddell.

Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
Yes. It was at the International Highland gathering in Peine [in Lower Saxony, Germany]. I was very nervous but it was a fascinating atmosphere so I continued.

Favourite piobaireachd?
The one I still learn and perform at the moment: The Wee Spree.

Any humorous piping anecdote you can relate to the readers (keep it clean!)?
Well, I think it happens to every beginner, but it is always something special when you play for the first time at a gig or some other performances and you blow and blow to inflate the bagpipe and the air keeps disappearing. Then, after a few moments it dawns on you that a drone reed has left the drone …

• Thank you Alexander!