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Attorney General William Barr wows Justice Dept crowd with bagpipe playing

AG William Barr hits the bagpipes

Attorney General William Barr took a break from his day job to showcase one of his hidden talents during an event with U.S. attorneys. Seated on stage Wednesday during the Justice Department event, the nation's top law enforcement official disappeared behind a curtain as a group of Pipes and Drums bagpipers from the New York Police Department, the Emerald Society, assembled in front of the auditorium stage. 

Barr re-emerged onstage and tucked a bagpipe under his arm as the crowd of government attorneys laughed and applauded. A low drum beat sounded and the traditional bagpipe march "Scotland the Brave" began with Barr joining in. The crowd gave him a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

Barr explained that this was the first time he had played since his daughter's wedding. He found out that the Emerald Society pipers were coming as a surprise for him -- so he thought he would surprise them by bringing his bagpipes.

The attorney general's bagpipe playing is far from just a hobby. According to Pipes and Drums Magazine, Barr takes the bagpipe very seriously -- he's been playing since before his legal career began. Barr was a member of the now defunct U.S.-based Grade 2 Denny & Dunipace Pipe Band – which later evolved into the Scottish & Irish Imports and City of Washington – from the early-1980s until the early-1990s. Barr played with the band in a number of competitions, including the World Championships.

Soon afterward, Barr joined the Bush administration to serve his first stint as attorney general, effectively putting his competitive piping career on hold.

Barr later went on to serve as a board member of the U.S. Piping Foundation, an organization that supports competitions for bagpipers, from January 2017 to December 2018. 

Alana Anyse contributed to this report.