Their soft music, elegant moves and captivating parade attracts everyone’s attention at the Salalah Tourism Festival (STF). As soon as they start playing their pipes and drums, the crowd flocks in a semi circle around them and when they start marching, they start following them automatically, reminding us the story of Pied Pipers of Hamelin.
They are the members of the famous Scottish band called The Crossed Swords Pipes and Drums. They give three performances daily at the STF ground as people wait for the announcement which comes through soft yet thrilling tunes of the pipes and drums and parade command from one of the band members.
In an interview with Observer, the troupe leader of The Crossed Swords Pipes and Drums, Frank (photo below) admitted that this was the band’s first performance in the Middle East and all the band members were delighted to come to Salalah to witness the “great culture of Oman, its hospitable people and their lifestyle…my personal experience is amazing. Beautiful city and more than that beautiful people…everybody in Salalah is very kind to us.”
The band is an international civil band connected to the British Army. Its members come from seven different countries in Europe with headquarters in Lübbecke, Germany. Every month all the members come for one weekend practice to Lübecke.
The total strength of the band is 45, while 15 of them are performing at the STF. Men, women, young and old are part of the band. The youngest here is 25-year-old, while the oldest is as old as 70. Among the performers in Salalah, Paddy, a snare drummer, is the youngest and Andy, a tenor drummer is the oldest. The current group constitutes of five women and 13 men. Two women participants are partners of players in the band.
Music is passion for them. Some of them are exclusive musicians, while many others pursue their passion despite being serious professionals like engineers, software developers, nursing professionals, car body and painting workers, prosecutor, ICT specialist, paramedics, child medic and some are retired gentlemen.
“Our band has performed in Edinburgh, Scotland, Moscow, Rotterdam, Holland; Berlin, Germany; Londonderry, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland and many other places. Here in Salalah we are playing all different tunes from our 2018 performance set and in between some old Scottish marching and slow tunes,” Frank said.
Frank believes that music is always a peacemaker. “We feel in every event that music brings people together. For a moment people forget about problems, race and colour. It is music and only music in those moments.”
Besides Frank, who is a snare drummer, the 14 others who have come to Salalah are: Drum Major, Leroy; pipers Guido, Jörg, Marion, Rico, Kay, Steward, Berhard, Michel; Tenor drummers Linda, Andy; and Snare drummers Irmtrud and Paddy.
Frank is from Holland. Salalah Tourism Festival for him is a big and well organised event that attracts many people. “Here you can see different cultures at one place and it gives you a true picture of current and past life of people of Oman,” he said.