Celtic Percussion Collective

The Celtic Percussion Collective is comprised of several of North America’s biggest names in the Pipe Band and Celtic Music Communities. Recently we connected with founder Matthew Bell.

What is your own ethnicity/heritage?
My heritage, as best I know is Eastern European. Belarusian to be exact. People are often confused both because of what I do, and what my last name is. Ellis Island graciously shortened my family name to something that looks like Lowland Scots!

When and why did you get involved with the CPC?
I started the CPC in December 2012 to expose audiences to the truly unique percussion concepts inherent in Celtic music.

What’s the group’s mandate?
From a nuts and bolts perspective we offer workshops/clinics/masterclasses, individual lessons, performances, adjudication, drum score composition, merchandise, drum tuning/maintenance, and the addition of percussion parts to Celtic music recordings. From a philosophical standpoint we aim to promote Celtic music and culture, while building a community through educational and performance opportunities.

Who are your members?
All of our members are current or former members of the City of Washington Pipe Band; myself,  Alex Kuldell, Jon Quigg, Sam Johnson, Jake Otto and Bill Burdette.

What kinds of events do you participate in?
Highland Games, private events, anything and everything related to Celtic music. We have the ability to teach and perform as a group (adding pipers, etc.), or as individuals. It is what makes the CPC unique. We love to perform, and are also incredibly passionate about education. Although we all have a pipe band background, every member has something unique to offer in addition to pipe band drumming. That makes us versatile and open to any event that promotes Celtic music or culture.

From your perspective, are young people still interested in Celtic Music?
Yes, absolutely. There are amazing young musicians coming up in all of the genres in which we participate.

How else are you involved in the Celtic community?
Our particular focus is percussion, but we try to do everything we can to promote the culture via our social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). We have deliberately taken a broad approach to expose people to as much of the culture as possible. We believe a deeper understanding of the culture as a whole helps people understand and appreciate the music more.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?Yes and no. Personally I feel that there are some of the most incredibly talented and brilliant minds in Celtic music that the world has ever seen. But despite or possibly because of the fact that we have so much Celtic music in appearing in social media, the great things often get lost in the noise. People looking to learn about the music often just get overwhelmed.

What can we be doing better?
Teach. Based on all the things I’ve seen there seem to be record numbers of people wanting to study the music and learn about the culture. Those of us with the skills and passion need to come together and do all we can for and with each other to get the message out. What you do at Celtic Life is fantastic!

What’s next on the group’s agenda?
As much outreach as possible, primarily through educational opportunities.