SURREY — If you've ever taken in the bagpipe performance at Whalley Legion for its Remembrance Day celebration, then you've heard the musical stylings of Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band.
But the Legion isn't the only place the group performs. They take part in the city's Canada Day celebrations as well as Fusion Festival and, this Sunday, runners will hear the pipers piping during Surrey International World Music Marathon.
The band is one of the many "Cultural Music Miles" performers - live music highlighting each mile along the route - and they will be hard to miss.
"Everyone knows the bagpipes," said Garth Newlands, pipe major of the band, which has about 14 members. "Everyone associates bagpipes with the Scottish culture immediately."
But interestingly enough, bagpipes have only been in Scotland since the 1200s, Newlands said.
"Before that, they actually came from India - they were actually an Asian instrument. When they got to Scotland, they were perfected," he said. "Not many people know that."
The band performed at the inaugural Surrey marathon last year, and the group is excited to be back again. Click on the video below to see the group perform at last year's run.
Newlands said it was natural for him to gravitate toward the event, not only because he loves to share his art, but because he is a fitness guy himself.
"I'm also a runner," he said, pointing to several medals hung above his dining room table. "It wasn't the prettiest time in the world," he said of his first half marathon. "But I got it done."
To date, Newlands has completed four half marathons, and also a full one.
But when it came to the Surrey marathon, the question was to pipe, or to run.
Ultimately, it came down to priorities, Newlands said with a chuckle.
"I would like to run it, being that it's in our own backyard, but it's a bigger draw for the pipe band to be there and for us to entertain people. It gives the runners something to look forward to," he said.
Newlands said the Surrey race is quite unique, both because it has a musical component and because it shows off the city's many cultures.
"This one is very much like Fusion Festival. You could almost call this the Fusion Fest marathon. There's that much diversity in it... There's Korean dancers, Irish dancers, all kinds of things going on... The music really gives people a chance to hear different things and takes their focus away from the pain. It gives them something else to concentrate on," he said.
And Newlands loves to share his art, because bagpiping is in his blood.
His grandfather was a piper as a boy and when the First World War broke out, he volunteered and joined the 48th Highlanders of Canada. He served for five years in battlefields as the pipe major of his band.
"He was in France a lot of the time, but they would have been through the different battle zones... Vimy and Passchendaele... all the major stuff that was going on. We're pretty sure he was at every major battle."
His grandfather returned home after the war and continued playing the bagpipes until he was 82 years old.
Newlands first picked up the pipes in 1997. That family history caught the attention of BBC director Andy Twaddle, who is working on a documentary on pipers of the First World War.
Twaddle was in Surrey for a few days earlier this month to film the pipe band and do interviews. And just one day after the Surrey marathon, Newlands is being flown to France for more interviews.
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