Highland piper Andrew McLean (20) celebrates his graduation
from the University of Otago today. Photo by Peter
Despite living in the Edinburgh of the South, passionate
bagpiper Andrew McLean has found it frustratingly hard to find
somewhere to practise without neighbours complaining about the
skirl of the pipes.
He will today become the first participant in the University
of Otago's bagpipe performance programme to graduate from the
More than 310 Otago graduates, mainly in arts, music and
theology, will graduate in person at a ceremony at the Regent
''I'm really happy I'm graduating.
''I'm glad I came to Dunedin and had this experience.
''At the same time, I'm sad to be leaving my studies in
Dunedin, because I have so many friends here."
Mr McLean, from Warkworth, north of Auckland, who will
graduate in absentia, has strong Scottish roots and has
played the bagpipes since the age of 8.
During a visit to Scotland five years ago, he attended a
piping recital at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow. That
proved a life-changing experience and inspired him to devote
himself further to studying the pipes.
After completing a two-year music diploma at Unitec Institute
of Technology, Auckland, he applied to enter the recently
established bagpipe programme at Otago last year but was
initially ''devastated'' not to win entry to the
But, after beginning his bachelor of music studies at Otago
last year, he was this year accepted into the first-year
piping course, also winning a prestigious Alexander Leith
Critics have likened the pipes to wailing cats, but Mr McLean
hears ''a very sweet sound'' in a well-tuned instrument.
Nevertheless, he has found it hard to find somewhere to
practise and switched to more remote buildings on campus
after practice at his student flat sparked an angry complaint
from a neighbour.
Cross-crediting some of his earlier study means he has
already completed his three-year bachelor of music studies.
He will leave for Scotland early next year and hopes to
pursue piping study at the national centre.