On Friday, October 10, King’s student and musician Cameron Barrett stood in the Quad and began playing his bagpipes. Piping has long been part of Cameron’s life, and life at King’s. At many special events, from formal meals to Encaenia, to a brief (by King’s standards) and memorable period that began in the 1970s when a piper played in the Quad each morning (referred to at the time as the “Tartan Alarm Clock”), pipers have been a part of King’s traditions.
Now, during a period of time when many aspects of university and everyday life have been adapted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is one part of campus life that President Lahey thought ripe for return.
For President Lahey, the reintroduction of a piper has a dual purpose: “The idea is to mark the end of every week and the beginning of every weekend, but also to provide our students with a little taste of one of the things that has been a constant at King’s over the years.”
As a third-year student, this is not Cameron’s first time playing the bagpipes at King’s.
“I’ve become accustomed to playing at formal meals as well as at the yearly Encaenia procession. I’ve missed these events a lot, as I know everyone at King’s has. By reviving the tradition of piping in the Quad, we’re able to experience a little bit of what we are all missing,” he says.
Noting that the bagpipes have historically been used to issue what he calls “a rallying cry,” Cameron hopes that the music he will play each week will help the King’s community to feel united, wherever they are. “My hope is that piping in the Quad can help lift everyone’s spirits a little bit, until we’re able to return to our normal traditions and ways of being together.”
A quick scan of the Quad during his first performance saw students filming one another as they attempted their best highland fling. Others simply enjoyed the music from open windows or while passing by. Under a blue sky that radiated with the clear light of early October the scene was lively—appropriate for a university campus on the last day before the Thanksgiving weekend.
Cameron will play a short set in the Quad each Friday afternoon at 3p.m., weather-permitting.