CLASP profile: Alexander Kinkade

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Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I am from the U.S.A., residing in the state of Ohio. Growing up in Utah, my dad played for the Galloway Highlanders, a regimental band. The band had me as its Drum Major at the age of five or six, marching in parades.

I learned how to play snare drum (poorly) since I didn’t have the lung strength for the pipes until I was older. I played in the drum corps all the way until I was about 14 years old, where I finally joined the pipe corps, playing live events.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I will try anything that is strange. What throws me off is when I don’t expect something strange from something normal. I studied abroad in Japan while I was in college. I went into a gas station one evening and got a hot dog. Well, it turns out nothing is safe from mayonnaise in Japan. I bit into the hot dog and was met with an unpleasant surprise filling. I didn’t realise that I had bought a hot dog with warm mayo filling. It totally ruined my appetite and all my friends laughed at the face I made after biting into it. It wasn’t the worst tasting thing I’ve ever tasted, but the surprise in flavour and texture definitely tricked me.

When you travel is there something you particularly miss when away?
Deborah (my fiancé), my bed, and a comfortable pillow. And my pupper, Orion who is a Norwegian Elkhound. He is very handsome and very fluffy.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo?
One of the band performances that I enjoyed the most was the US Air Force Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo. We played Amazing Grace as some aircraft performed flybys during the event. It was very unique and cool to be a part of a US Military Tattoo.

Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?  
I would have to say my teachers, specifically those who have mentored me in the past. My first teacher, Brian Kinkade aka my father, who started it all for me at a young age. Greg Martin who took me from a beginner to full band member. There are also teachers who have never met me, like Jim McGillivray and Bruce Gandy who have taught me through their materials who have been really helpful on my bagpipe journey.

How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies? 
I am an engineer for work so I often tinker for fun. Recently I built a home theatre in my basement with a 160″ diagonal projection screen. I love having people over to watch movies. I also enjoy golf, working on my cars or motorcycles, and playing video games with my fiancé.

Favourite piece of music – any music?
I’m a huge John Williams fan. All of his scores are incredible when played live. But my favourite has to be the Star Wars orchestral suites. They truly are incredible when played live in a room with great acoustics.

To which pipers do you aspire, if any?
There are too many to list, but I enjoy hearing Jim McGillivray, Roddy MacLeod, and Bill Livingstone play. Narrowing it down to three was hard enough. Don’t make me narrow it down more!

Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
Yes, it was last year! was fortunate to place in my first solo competition! I told my dad if I placed, I would buy a new set of bagpipes and return his first set back to him. I’m now eating those words. I put in an order for my first set. Virtual competitions have made it easier for me to transition from in-person band competitions into solo competition. I am excited to keep virtually competing and eventually transfer to in-person competitions when it is safe to do so.

Any humorous piping anecdotes you can relate to the readers (keep it clean!)?
Pipe Major Albert Rowe of the Galloway Highlanders, or Uncle Albert as I knew him, taught my dad how to play the bagpipes. Sadly, he never got to see me solo compete and play in a band, as he passed away when I started playing. A joke he liked to say was, “You know your reed is the right strength, if it causes small children to cry as you march past them.” He was a character, and a good friend to the family. We miss his humour and smile.

• Thank you, Alexander!