A school teacher by profession, René (R P F) Cusson from Nanaimo, BC, on Vancouver Island, is in regular and popular demand as a piping teacher, recitalist, adjudicator, dance piper and composer. He has many years of experience in teaching, organising and heading piping workshops throughout Canada and the USA. In addition to teaching music on Vancouver Island, he travels extensively to teach bands and workshops throughout western provinces and states. As a student of Jamie Troy Sr., René was a founding member of the City of Victoria Pipe Band. He is also an alumnus of the Simon Fraser University Band. René is also a folk musician who sings, plays whistles and pipes. Together, he and his wife make up the duo, Ravenrock.
René has performed with a variety of other musicians including fiddler, Wendy MacIsaac and Beolach, The Cottars, folk icon, Eileen McGann as well as the Cape Breton supergroup The Barra MacNeils. René had the good fortune to participate as a musician on Eileen McGann's Juno-nominated, 2002 album, Beyond the Storm.
Presently in his music career, René is perhaps best known for his compositions. The first of many to gain international acclaim from the piping and Celtic music community was Bruce Gandy's Farewell to the Iron Horse (Gandy, Book 1). This has been one of the most popular 6/8 marches since it was published in 1989. It has been widely recorded by pipe bands, soloists, and Celtic groups. Whether at the the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland or a gathering in South Africa or New Zealand, its unmistakable, haunting, powerful phrases captivate listeners. While many of his tunes are published in books written by other noteworthy pipers, such as Robert Worrall, Bruce Gandy, and Gordon Magee, René himself has recently begun to compile a collection of tunes. While the majority of tunes will be his, the collection will include pieces by other well-known composers. The Iron Horse Collection of Bagpipe Music is scheduled for publication soon.
The majority of René's background in Ceol Mor has come from past Piobaireachd Society President, Andrew Wright. He has also been fortunate to receive instruction in the big and light music from Donald MacLeod, Robert G Hardie, Donald Morrison, John Wilson, Sir James Campbell of Kilberry and Evan Macrae, amongst others. He credits Jamie Troy Sr. with the musical and philosophical underpinnings of his knowledge of pipe music, playing technique and sound production. In his competitive career, René has won several prizes for big and little music. He enjoys passing on his playing and composition skills to students of the craft.