. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Noisy' Piper Seeks Asylum Across Ocean

PERTH, Scotland -- One of Scotland's leading bagpipes players says he is emigrating to the United States -- forced out by "noise pollution" complaints by his neighbors.


Gary Stronach, one of only 25 professional bagpipe teachers in Scotland, has agreed to teach at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia, after his local council warned him about practicing at home.


"I am annoyed that they should call it noise pollution, especially in Scotland. The pipes are our national instrument," Stronach said.


Stronach, 28, plays his pipes for up to four hours a day to keep his place as one of Scotland's best pipers.


But neighbors in Perth, 690 kilometers from London, say Stronach's music can be heard up to nearly a kilometer away. They complained to Perth and Kinross council.


"I am really angry with my neighbors," Stronach said. "I would have assumed that they would have come round to see me face-to-face if they were upset with the noise.


"But the first I knew of it was when someone turned up on my doorstep from the council saying that they had received complaints. I told them I wouldn't stop playing as I had a major competition to practice for," he added.


The American authorities have already awarded Stronach a green card because they regard him as an "exceptional ethnic musician" and he is due to fly out to Virginia next week.


He has been playing the pipes since he was 11 and was a member of the award-winning Vale of Atholl Pipe Band for 14 years.


A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council said: "We had contact from some of Stronach's neighbors earlier in the year and they tried to deal with the matter through the local residents' association.


"There are no set rules as to what constitutes noise pollution -- there is no difference between someone playing the bagpipes and a ghetto-blaster," he said.


"I am extremely bitter that I have got to leave Scotland to do this," Stronach said. "It is my country and it will be extremely hard to leave."