As the sun sets on Good Friday, the sound of bagpipes will ring out across Oamaru.
For the second year in a row, the North Otago Highland Pipe Band will gather at Lookout Point to perform a variety of songs, concluding with Amazing Grace, at the request of a former Oamaru man who now lives in the United States.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said his family lived in Oamaru in the ’50s and ’60s and he continued to follow the North Otago town with interest.
He approached the pipe band last year to perform Amazing Grace as a tribute to his mother and the town he grew up in.
Amazing Grace was my Mum’s favorite hymn and a few years ago watching a YouTube video of bag pipers playing Amazing Grace, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the Highland band could perform the hymn at sunset on Good Friday’,” he said.
Growing up in Oamaru, he and his siblings were “blessed with a superb primary education” at South School.
While his family no longer lived in Oamaru, they had been sponsoring a Christmas dinner party for teachers and staff at Fenwick Primary School for more than 20 years, and in more recent years have also sponsored a graduation party for the year 6 class.
“There were several families of our generation from the South Hill whose children went on to achieve outstanding academic success, such as the Grants, Geares and my family with doctorates, masters and honour’s degrees – the first generation of our heritage to go to university,” he said.
He had fond memories of the North Otago Highland Pipe Band as a child, remembering them starting up their instruments for performances “like some heroic creature awakening and then swirling, twirling down the main street”.
His family were “so pleased” the band had embraced the project and made it an annual event.
“I hope the wind is blowing on Friday sunset in a way that more people can share in the beauty of the music and its redemptive message.”
North Otago Highland Pipe Band snare drummer Jennifer Gower said the band was looking forward to this year’s Good Friday performance.
Last year’s event attracted more than 100 people to the lookout, and the band had received a lot of positive feedback from the community, Mrs Gower said.
“It was so beautiful.”
The band had decided to make it an annual event, whether the man who initiated it continued to make a donation to the band or not, Mrs Gower said.
However, he had offered to financially support the performance again this year.
“We’re thrilled – it’s lovely of him,” she said.
It was also a great opportunity for the band to perform, after so many of their events had been cancelled over the past two years due to Covid-19, she said.
The band would arrive at Lookout Point about 5pm, and start playing from about 5.30pm.
They would perform a variety of traditional tunes, finishing about 6pm, with Amazing Grace, as the sun goes down.