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World Pipe Band Championships — photo feature McCallum Bagpipes — the ubiquitous brand Angus MacKenzie — the only piper in the village Piping in Asturias — no drones, no happiness

Canntaireachd — blending traditions in Armagh

Oct/Nov 2010

N Y P B o S n e w s l e t t e r N o . 45

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Modern appeal. Bagpipes, fiddles and flutes... Yes, it can mean only one thing: the William Kennedy Piping Festival is back, bringing some of the world’s best pipers to Armagh on 11-14 November! Celebrating its 17th birthday, this year’s Festival is headlined by the amazing St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band and also features the brand-new ‘Hooley at the Hotel’ – a piping extravaganza with fourteen acts across two stages! It’s just one of the many music events coming up in Northern Ireland this autumn. To find out what they are, dance on over to

Breabach, William Kennedy Piping Festival, 2009

contents Editorial


Roddy MacLeod News


Piping Live! 2010


Glasgow International Piping Festival World Pipe Band Championships


Photo review from Glasgow Green The ubiquitous brand


McCallum Bagpipes Youngstars newsletter No.45 FRONT COVER MAIN PICTURE: Oran Mor Pipe Band from the eastern United States, are led by pipe major Andrew Douglas into George Square, for their performance at Piping Live! 2010. (More photos: pages10-14) Photo: John Slavin @


The National Youth Pipe Band Finding common ground in Armagh


The William Kennedy Piping Festival Stuart Robertson’s Nine Notes and more...


Kyle Warren — Reloaded The only piper in the village


Angus MacKenzie No drones, no happiness


Piping in Asturias Two Edinburgh Bagpipe makers


Adam Barclay and Hugh Robertson Recent additions to the collection


The Highland Library Lorne MacDougall — In the studio


A piper’s blog — part two EDITOR: Roddy MacLeod MBE, BSc • FEATuRES MANAGER: John Slavin • PuBLIShER: © The National Piping Centre 2010 CORRESPONDENCE: The National Piping Centre, 30-34 McPhater Street, Glasgow, Scotland. G4 0HW. Tel. +44 (0)141 353 0220 EDITORIAL ENQuIRIES: • ADVERTISING ENQuIRIES: DESIGN & ADVERT ARTWORK: John Slavin/DesignFolk - email: •

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For more information visit our website:

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A summer of achievements Patron HRH The Prince Charles Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB

The National Piping Centre Founders Sir Brian Ivory CBE FRSE MA CA Lady Ivory DL MA ARCM FRSA Sandy Grant Gordon CBE MA The National Piping Centre Board Sir Brian Ivory CBE FRSE MA CA Lady Ivory DL MA ARCM FRSA Alan R. Forbes BSc FFA Dr Martin J.B. Lowe OBE BSc PhD Allan G. Ramsay BA CA Fraser Morrison MA CA The National Piping Centre is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Registered in Scotland No. 139271 Registered Charity No. SC020391 The National Piping Centre 30-34 McPhater Street Glasgow, Scotland. G4 0HW Tel: +44 (0)141 353 0220 Fax: +44 (0)141 353 1570


Editor: Roddy MacLeod MBE BSc Features and all editorial enquiries: John Slavin / Designfolk email: Mob: 0781 513 1116 published by the national piping centre 2010

Unless otherwise noted, the text, photographs and adverts are copyright © of the writer, photographer or designer. All rights reserved. The contents may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without written permision of the editor, Roddy MacLeod. Excerpts and entire reviews may be printed as long as credit is given to the author, artiste and/or photographer and the Piping Today magazine.


irst of all, let me start this editorial by congratulating all of those who did so well at the summer’s major piping events including the World Pipe Band Championships, the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meetings. St Laurence O’Toole’s victory in the World Pipe Band Championship grade 1 was very pleasing to see given the tremendous hard work and dedication shown by pipe major Terry Tully and his stalwarts over a long period of years, and all the more sweet for them in their celebratory centenary year. A hallmark of their performance and style is their excellent choice of good musical tunes from the more traditional repertoire, arranged tastefully to give a modern and dynamic edge which is uplifting and entertaining. Sticking to these values has given the band its distinctive musical identity which has clearly paid off, and the sell-out pre-Worlds concert, which was so enthusiastically received, is an indication of how popular their style is. So a new name goes on the illustrious trophy, which is also good for the competition, and gives hope to other bands knocking on the door that the pinnacle can be reached. In the world of solo piping it has been a remarkable year too. Stuart Liddell has continued to have great success qualifying for the Glenfiddich Championships something like six times over; what an achievement! On top of that he has managed to guide Inveraray and District Pipe Band to a top 10 placing at the Worlds in their first year in grade 1. Well done Stuart. The other big talking point has been Faye Henderson’s Gold Medal victory at the Argyllshire Gathering. With an outstanding performance of Lament for Donald Doughal Mackay, Faye, at the age of just 18, not only became one of the youngest people ever to win a Gold Medal, but also the first female ever to win one, indicating that attitudes have come a long way from the days when female pipers, such as Rona Lightfoot, struggled to gain acceptance as serious contenders for solo piping’s top prizes. The standard of others such as Ashleigh Bell, Andrea Boyd, Margaret Dunn, Jenny Hazzard, Fiona Manson, Tracey Williams and Marion Horsburgh, who recently won Gold at Braemar, would suggest that it is highly likely that more big prizes will fall to the ladies. The Gold Medal win for Faye secures her place at the Glenfiddich Championships at the end of October and it is hard to imagine how proud her parents must be. Her mother Patricia was herself a Gold Medal competitor and amongst the first ladies to be accepted to compete at the major competitions. Her father Murray is one of the greatest pipers to have graced a competition platform and is a four-time Glenfiddich Champion. To cap off the remarkable story, Fiona Henderson, Faye’s older sister, will be competing in the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships on the same weekend. Clearly this is going to be a great family weekend and one which is bound to capture some press attention. Finally, I would like to thank all of those involved with Piping Live! for making this year our best yet. As you will read in the pages of this issue in Chris MacKenzie’s and Libby O’Brien’s reports, we had a fantastic week of music with many memorable performances. This was the best attended so far and we estimate approximately 30,000 visitors came to Glasgow for Piping Live!, showing clearly that the festival is a major event making a significant contribution to the cultural life and economy of Glasgow and Scotland. The World Pipe Band Championships was bigger and better than ever before too with reported audiences of approximately 50,000 attending on the day. It is self-evident that both events are thriving and are made stronger by the way in which they complement each other. Audiences for the BBC television programmes for both Piping Live! and the Worlds, as well as internet streaming and radio broadcasts, ensure that the audience for these events is truly global. At a time when funding is difficult to come by for just about anything, these facts do present a very compelling case for a return on investment.

by RODDY MacLEOD MBE, BSc Principal, The National Piping Centre



NEWS TWO young Scottish pipers are battling it out to earn the chance to represent the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at the closing ceremony of the Delhi Games in India in October. Craig Muirhead and Jonathan Graham – who have been given the title of Hero Pipers – have had a packed programme of preparations in the run-up to the sporting spectacular. Only one of them will be chosen to play at the Handover Ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 14, which will be beamed across the world to an estimated television audience of one billion people. The ceremony marks the moment when Glasgow becomes the next host city, and after the Commonwealth Games Federation flag is officially passed from Delhi to the 2014 hosts, there will be an eight-minute programme which will showcase Glasgow and Scotland to the rest of the world. The performance, which will involve a mass choreographed dance routine, will take place in front of a capacity crowd of 60,000 at the stadium. One Hero Piper will lead out hundreds of volunteer cast members on to the field. As with any performance of this size and scale, it is vital to have an understudy. The understudy Hero Piper will have other roles and responsibilities in Delhi. However, it won’t be until late in the rehearsal process that the decision will be made as to which piper will go forward to perform in the stadium. Craig, from Bannockburn near Stirling, and Jonathan, from Bishopbriggs near Glasgow, have had a busy time over the past few months getting ready for the event and being involved in Piping Live!. Craig also competed in the World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green, while Jonathan was working for Piping Live!, supporting the trade stands and spreading in the word about the Delhi Handover Ceremony. Both Hero Pipers, who have been involved with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, also took part in a three-week bootcamp in September to make sure they are at peak playing fitness. Craig said: “The World Pipe Band Championships have a terrific atmosphere and can be quite nervewracking, but it is a great warm-up for Delhi.”

News in brief... l The chairman of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Kevin Reilly, retired from the post on September 1. RSPBA Chief Executive Officer Ian Embelton paid tribute to his long service. He said: “Kevin has been a loyal servant of the Association as a member of the National Council for some 30 years and Chairman since 2003. “I would place on record the gratitude of the Association for PIPING TODAY • 6

Photo: Stewart Cunningham

Local heroes hope for Delhi delight

Indian summer – Craig Muirhead and Jonathan Graham will fly the flag for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Delhi

And Jonathan said of his Piping Live! experience promoting the festival and the Delhi handover: “It’s been a hectic week with a few extra gigs here and there, but it has been absolutely amazing. I am really looking forward to Delhi.” Chief Executive for Glasgow 2014, John Scott, is delighted by the dedication shown by the young

his substantial contribution over the years and wish him and his wife Jen all the very best for the future.” l Would you like to be a member of a pipe band touring China for four to six weeks next year? The trip is scheduled to take place sometime between April and June 2011. The tour is also looking for Highland dancers. Contact Anna Scott on ascott@ for details. l The National Piping Centre is delighted to be a partner

musicians and is convinced they will both do themselves and Glasgow proud. He said: “The Hero Pipers are a crucial part of the creative concept for the Handover Ceremony. “I am quite reassured to know that both our boys are in peak playing condition for both the rehearsals and the performance.”

with The Piper’s Corner (www. for the 2011 Bruggen Winter Piping and Drumming School, Germany. It will be held from February 6 to 13. Instruction for the school will be provided by National Piping Centre instructors and other guest teachers. Students attending the school will receive several hours of instruction per day with additional daily workshops and recitals. Piping and Drumming Examination Board exams will be offered during the event. To enrol,

email davidjohnston@piperscorner. com. l The Scots Guards Association Pipers’ Branch Junior Solo Piping Competition will be held on Sunday, November 21. The venue is the Army School of Piping, Inchdewar House, Colinton Road by Redford Barracks, Edinburgh. The contest is for pipers aged under 15 or in the 15 to 18-year age group. The closing date for entries is November 7. Entry forms are available from www.scotsguards

Piping Today magazine is published every 2 months. Subscribing is the best way to make sure that you get a regular copy of this magazine with the advantage of getting it “hot off the press”. Subscriptions can be for 6 or 12 issues.

Golden girl Faye joins Glenfiddich line-up Faye Henderson, who made history as the first woman to win the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in August, has been invited to compete in the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championship. The 18-year-old student, from Kirriemuir in Angus, will compete alongside Bruce Gandy, Andrew Hayes, Jack Lee, Stuart Liddell, Willie McCallum, Angus MacColl, Dr Angus MacDonald, Roddy MacLeod and Iain Speirs at Blair Castle in Perthshire on Saturday, October 30. The piobaireachd judges will be Dr Jack Taylor, John Wilson and Andrew Wright. The MSR judges will be Colin MacLellan, Malcolm McRae and Bob Worrall. Rona Lightfoot will be Fear an Tighe. Competing in the Glenfiddich is yet another honour for Faye, who is also one of the youngest Gold Medal winners. She triumphed over almost 30 pipers from Scotland, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the US and Northern Ireland to take the medal at Oban . Coincidentally, her win was exactly 36 years after her mother Patricia Henderson and Anne Spalding became the first women to compete in the competition.

UK 1 Year / 2 Year - £20/£38 Europe - £23/£42 Rest of the World - £26/£48 Name:___________________________ Surname:_________________________ Her father, Murray Henderson, is also a Gold Medal winner at Oban and Inverness, and a four times Glenfiddich champion. Faye also said she felt “privileged” to win the Gold Medal, although she didn’t expect it at the time. She explained: “It was a surprise to win. On the day I just set out to play a good tune in the hope I would come away happy with my performance. “It shows that more young pipers are coming through the grades to play at the top level.” She admitted to being nervous about playing in the Glenfiddich for the first time but she added: “I’m really looking forward to it.”

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Draw for SPS of London CLASP competition The draw has been made for the 2010 Scottish Piping Society of London CLASP Competition, which takes place on Saturday, November 6. The Society’s 71st Annual Competition will be held at the Kensington Conference Centre in London. The line-up is: Grade 1 – Piobaireachd: Alan Bradford, David McLauchlan, John Frater, Sebastien Boudigou, Jordane Guilloux. Grade 2 – Piobaireachd: Peter Weidig, Sandie Greenwood, Lachlan MacDonald, Joe Campbell, Andrew Park, Danny Rab, Janette Greenwood. Grade 3 – Piobaireachd/Ground: Daniel Del Piccolo, John Campbell, David Gatcum, Kate Spowart, Francesco Toiati, Clive Troubman. Grade 1 – March, Strathspey and Reel: Alan



Win is just what the Doctor ordered Dr Angus MacDonald won the Senior Piobaireachd prize at the Argyllshire Gathering. He took first place ahead of Angus MacColl, Iain Speirs and Jack Lee. As mentioned above, Faye Henderson won the Gold Medal, and the winner of the Silver Medal was Craig Sked. At the Northern Meeting, there was a triple success for Canadian pipers. Andrew Hayes won the Gold Medal, Andrew Bonar won the Silver Medal and the Clasp was won by Jack Lee. Dr Angus MacDonald toasts his success at the Argyllshire Gathering

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Bradford, Sebastien Boudigou, Jordane Guilloux, John Frater, David McLauchlan. Grade 2 – March/ Strathspey and Reel: Daniel Del Piccolo, Joe Campbell, Sandie Greenwood, Janette Greenwood, Peter Weidig, Andrew Park. Grade 3 – March/Strathspey and Reel: Danny Rab, David Gatcum, Francesco Toiati, John Campbell, Kate Spowart, Lachlan MacDonald. Grade 1 – Hornpipe and Jig: Alan Bradford, Sebastien Boudigou, Jordane Guilloux, John Frater, David McLauchlan. Grade 2 – Jig: Daniel Del Piccolo, Joe Campbell, Sandie Greenwood, Janette Greenwood, Peter Weidig, Andrew Park. Grade 3 – Jig: Danny Rab, David Gatcum, Francesco Toiati, John Campbell, Kate Spowart, Lachlan MacDonald.

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Dysart and Dundonald on the comeback trail Pipe majors take their final bow

Greig Canning playing with Manawatu Scottish at Piping Live! 2009

committee and excellent playing numbers in all areas of the band. “It is also important that the band functions within the community that supports us as we try to keep alive the strong identity that the band has forged over many decades within Cardenden and its outlying villages. We have a very strong, capable and young team at the helm for the upcoming season.” Regular practice sessions are already under way in Dundonald, and the band will have an open door policy to attract further recruits. They aim to be competing next season but it’s not yet known which grade they will be in. Dysart and Dundonald won the Worlds twice in 1977 and 1978 under pipe major Bob Shepherd.

Musical tribute to Inveraray author PIPING composers are being urged to enter a competition to create two pieces of music as a tribute to Para Handy author Neil Munro. The Neil Munro Society is celebrating the writer’s life by sponsoring the contest, which will be administered by The National Piping Centre. The Scottish author and journalist (1863-1930) was a native of Inveraray and wrote a number of historical novels about the Highlands such as John Splendid, The New Road and Doom Castle, as well as humorous stories about the sailor Para Handy and a Glasgow character Erchie. The competition is in two parts. Firstly, the Society would like to urge composers to come up with a piobaireachd to be entitled Salute to Neil Munro. The winner of this element of PIPING TODAY • 8

Photo: John Slavin @

DYSART and Dundonald Pipe Band has been resurrected under the leadership of new pipe major Greig Canning, right. The former World Champions from Fife bowed out of competitive action in 2007 but are now aiming to get back on the circuit as soon as possible. The revived band has Lee Innes as leading drummer and Greig Wilson as pipe sergeant and they already have more than 30 pipers and drummers committed to the project. Fifer Greig Canning, who used to play with Dysart and Dundonald and most recently was with Manawatu Scottish, said: “It is a fantastic honour to become the pipe major of a band with such an illustrious and historic past. “Leading drummer Lee Innes and I have been inundated with messages of good luck and best wishes from all over the world. “It just goes to show that people would very much like to see Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band competing once again and I feel that this level of support certainly makes our job a little bit easier. “Support from within the local community has been second to none and we look forward to performing once more within our locale in central Fife, as well as further afield.” The new pipe major said those at the helm of the venture were “very excited” about the challenges ahead of them. He explained: “The main tasks we faced in the initial stages of restarting the band were to put in place the infrastructure and the players required to ensure that the band could return to the contest field at as high a level as possible. We are well on the way with a strong

Author and journalist Neil Munro

the competition will earn a prize of £750. The tune will also be a set tune at Inveraray Highland Games from time to time, at the discretion of the Games Piping Committee. Secondly, the Society would like composers to come up with a march in 6/8 time to be entitled Neil Munro.

The winner of this element of the competition will earn a prize of £250. The manuscript should not have any other information marked on it, and should be accompanied by a separate cover letter giving the details of the composer. An email address must be included to allow confirmation of receipt of the manuscript. Composers who wish to enter for both competitions can send their entry in one envelope, with one accompanying letter supplying their details and email address. Entries should be sent to The National Piping Centre, ATTN: Neil Munro Society Composing Competition, 30-34 McPhater Street, Cowcaddens, Glasgow, G4 0HW, or can be emailed to The closing date for entries is November 12, 2010.

IT’S been a remarkable season in grade 1 with two of the longest-serving pipe majors stepping down and St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band winning the Worlds for the first time in their centenary year. Robert Mathieson revealed his decision to quit as pipe major of House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead the week before the Glasgow Green contest and at the end of August, Bill Livingstone followed suit and retired from leading the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Robert Mathieson Ro b e r t w o n 3 9 major championships with Shotts in 23 years, including five World crowns. It will be a hard act to follow for the band’s new pipe major Gavin Walker, who joined Shotts from Strathclyde Police in February, although Robert has said Bill Livingstone he would be happy to act as a mentor. Bill clocked up almost three decades in charge of the Canadian band and famously guided them to Worlds success in 1987. He has indicated that he would like to remain with the band, playing in the back Craig Campbell ranks. It’s understood that the new pipe major of the 78ths will be Doug MacRae, who has been with the band for 12 years. There has also been a change at the top of grade 2 band, Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye. Following the resignation of Craig Campbell, former pipe major Kenny MacLeod has returned to lead the band. Kenny said he was “delighted” to be back at Glasgow Skye, with which he has strong family connections. l For more on Kenny MacLeod’s other role as director of McCallum Bagpipes, see the feature on pages 22 to 25.


Eventful night as Piping Live! picks up a prize

A sPECIAL service has been held in Normandy in memory of piper Bill Millin who played troops into battle during World War II. Mr Millin died aged 88 in August, and the following month more than 200 people – including several pipe bands – gathered near the spot where the brave Scot came ashore at Sword Beach in Normandy in June 1944. The unarmed soldier was ordered to pipe his comrades ashore by his commanding officer Lord Lovat and marched up and down the beach playing Hielan’ Laddie. He continued to play as his friends fell around him and later moved inland to pipe the troops to Pegasus Bridge. Mr Millin’s bagpipes, which were damaged four days later by a piece of shrapnel, were donated to the National War Museum of Scotland in 2001, along with his kilt, commando beret and knife. His actions were later immortalised in the film The Longest Day. Mr Millin, who was originally from Fort William but latterly lived in Devon, had previously told how he had not noticed being shot at. “When you’re young you do things you wouldn’t dream of doing when you’re older,” he said. At the memorial service, the pipe bands played Amazing Grace as members of the CollevilleMontgomery town council and villagers threw flowers into the water where the troops came ashore. One of the organisers of the service, Serge

Photo: Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images

Memorial service for D-Day piper

D-Day piper Bill Millin has died at the age of 88

Athenour, from the D-Day Piper Bill Millin Association, said: “When I was seven I saw The Longest Day and I wanted to be the Bill Millin of the future. It was a great honour to meet him several times.” Serge, who is also a piper, is spearheading efforts to raise £75,000 for a bronze statue of Mr Millin to be erected near to where he came ashore. “He is an iconic figure who represents all the soldiers. We hope the statue will become a central tribute for people in the future as the soldiers will not be here soon.”

While Piping Live! 2010 has been a recordbreaking success, the 2009 event is still picking up accolades. Piping Live! — the Glasgow International Piping Festival 2009 – was awarded the title of Best Large Event at the Scottish Event Awards in September. The honour recognises the growth and significance of the festival in 2009, which saw 8000 pipers and 30,000 fans descend upon Glasgow for the traditional music calendar’s biggest week of piping. Piping Live! was also commended in two other categories, Best Cultural Event and Best Traditional Event. More than 300 of the country’s top event organisers attended the awards night at Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel, where nominations were judged by a panel of experts. Alberto Laidlaw, Director of Piping Live!, said: “We are delighted to have won Best Large Event and also to have been commended twice at such a prestigious awards ceremony. 2009 was a great year for Piping Live! and this year we saw it take another leap forward with a programme that was bigger than ever.” l For reviews from this year’s Piping Live!, see pages 10-15.

Festival performance brings piping to young generation Mid Argyll Pipe Band has been praised for making the bagpipes appeal to the young after their live sets at the 2010 Broadisland Gathering at Ballycarry in Northern Ireland in September. The band — which has collaborared with hip hop dancers in the past — added guitar and sampled beats to bring a modern twist to their music. Their efforts were rewarded when the band won the William Hall Perpetual Challenge trophy for the best musical band at the Festival, a prize which includes the Black Watch among its previous winners. Honorary Secretary of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland Branch, David Scott, was among the audience at the festival. He said: “It was great to see so many young people associated with Mid Argyll Pipe Band. “Playing the bagpipes can be seen as a very serious business. It’s important to maintain high competitive standards, but it is also important to introduce people, particularly young people, to the art of playing the pipes and drums. “The most amazing thing for me was seeing so many young people enjoy playing the bagpipes in Mid Argyll Pipe Band went down a storm at the Broadisland Gathering, one of the largest Ulster Scots festivals such an entertaining way.” PIPING TODAY • 9


by Chris MacKenzie

Piping Live! 2010 Glasgow International Piping Festival Ewen Henderson of Battlefield Band

All photos: John Slavin @

Stuart Liddell in recital

City of Regina Pipe Band

John Rowe of the 78th Fraser Highlanders



ith hindsight it seems blindingly obvious. It’s the height of the summer and the place is full of tourists sampling the delights of Scotland’s ‘other’ city. On top of that there is a World Championship attracting over 8000 competitors and more spectators than the average football game. The decision to create a festival of piping in the week running up to the World Pipe Band Championships was inspired and is now a draw all of its own with Scots and those from further afield planning holidays around the week of piping mayhem. Despite the concerts and recitals, the real genius was putting the pipes in the spiritual centre of Glasgow, George Square, and what’s more, making it free. As a start to the festival it doesn’t really get much better than one man, one Great Highland Bagpipe and the auditorium of The National Piping Centre — particularly when the man in question is the current Glenfiddich champion and the pipe major of the phenomenon that is the Inveraray and District Pipe Band. It may have been lunchtime on a Monday but a large crowd gathered to hear Stuart Liddell in recital. From the moment he struck into Leaving Port Askaig it was abundantly clear why he is the man in demand. With the effortless style he has in common with that other West Coast maestro, Angus MacColl, Stuart enthralled with beautifully presented tunes that sparkled and entertained. Over the hour Stuart played a delightful array of tunes, all with a strong melody at the heart of them, yet where appropriate he added his own or borrowed some variations, all to the good of the tune. The obligatory MSR, Abercairney Highlanders, Lady Louden and The Sheepwife, proved that for Stuart, even with the competitive tunes, it’s the music that matters. Some old favourites made an appearance such as the Train Journey North, Atholl Highlanders, The Conundrum, The Pumpkin’s Fancy and even a brief cameo of that much-abused tune, Scotland The Brave. All were played with

spirit and verve and bags of confidence. Indeed about 40 minutes in Stuart showed just how confident he is by asking the audience if there was anything they wanted to hear and then doing what he could to please. As the recital neared the end Stuart hit full stride with The Mason’s Apron given the ‘full monty’ treatment and then some showmanship as Stuart sat down and got the chanter to, what can only be described as ‘honk’ in perfect time as he played The Battle of Waterloo. He then attempted to emulate Fred Morrison (for the first and possibly last time, he said) and have the pipes copy electric guitar feedback. To close, it was Troy’s Wedding in waltz time, followed by Allan MacDonald’s Viennese Waltz. A classy ending to a classy show. The opening concert had perhaps the strangest ensemble of the entire festival. Ecletnica Pagus is an Italian group which includes oboe, harp, accordion, zampogna (Italian bagpipes) and tambourine. A strange combination it may well be but this group of talented musicians blend it altogether in a wonderfully joyous melting pot of sound. Piero Ricci played the zampogna with great panache and moved from slow to blisteringly fast with ease as the rest of the group sparked off the sound of the pipes. Ecletnica Pagus used the array of instruments to fantastic effect and in full flow created a maelstrom of noise that was as infectious as it was cheery. A key element of this was Antonello, the percussion player, who gave a masterclass in how to use the humble tambourine to add flair and drive to a performance. Their repertoire consists of tunes from their native region in Italy although their Christmas set had a few well-known melodies in it. I’ll be first in line for tickets for Ecletnica Pagus next performance in Scotland. Following them was a hard job, but fortunately next up was Seudan with five sets of Highland bagpipes all in concert A, made by Hamish Moore and based on the Black Set of Kintail (c1758). This group, also known as Na Tri Seudan (the three jewels –

FESTIVAL PROFILE Pipe Idol winner Alex Gandy

Marco Foxo

David Wilton of Frapigan

Charlie Lumsden of LA Scots Pipe Band

Richard King of LA Scots

University of Bedfordshire Pipe Band perform in George Square

Drum major Ken Misch leads the LA Scots in George Square All photos: John Slavin @

Xesc Forteza of Xeremiers de Soller

Gus Sicard and Iona Underwood of Inveraray and District Pipe Band

Roddy MacLeod performs Lament for Alan My Son at the Suite for Alan concert

Dr Angus MacDonald

Vanessa Guénolé of Bagad Cap Caval



St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band in Concert at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall • 11/08/10


ow in its 15th year, the Worlds concert, organised by the Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye Pipe Band, is firmly established as THE pipe band concert. To be asked to play is an honour and one that puts the band in the very upper echelons of the pipe band world. Some bands have ‘come of age’ on the stage and developed into global franchises, while others have discovered that a prize-winning pedigree doesn’t guarantee success with the discerning audience that inhabits the main auditorium. To succeed on this billing, the band must recognise that some of the best pipe band concerts ever have taken place on that stage (Simon Fraser University, the 78th Fraser Highlanders...) and be prepared to push their own boundaries a little to match those that have gone before. This year it was a packed auditorium that awaited the appearance of Dublin’s St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, under pipe major Terry Tully. Occasionally the audience for the pre-Worlds concert can have an “impress me if you can” air but there was none of that this year. Indeed it was very much a case of “feel the love”, such is the sense of affection that Terry and the band have created over the last decade. However, this being the world of piping, it was never going to be a case of play whatever and we’ll love it. Oh no, this is serious stuff and expectations were running very high. There was an atmospheric opening with drummers in the gantry and the band in the dark and when the lights came up it was into an opening set of jigs, played with all the panache and flair we have come to expect from the band. This was followed by the only MSR set of the night and with Lord Alexander Kennedy, The Islay Ball and Mrs MacPherson of Inveran, the band demonstrated why they had won the quartets the previous night and were many people’s favourites to take the World Championship. Displaying great confidence, they kept the pace brisk throughout and nailed the expression and execution. Two sets in and it was obvious that the band was in seriously good form. After a beautiful arrangement of the old folk song Midnight on the Water, which I suspect will spawn a thousand copies, and a blitz through a set of hornpipes including Michael Murphy’s unusual but intriguing Dust Gatherer, it was time for the band to take a break. Allan MacDonald then took centre stage for a couple of sets of pyrotechnic finger work and then there was a bit of competition introduced to the evening, as two quartets played off against each other with audience voting for their favourite. The first, led by Philip Tasker, played the Stuart Irvine suite William Dodds of Loughries and musical as it was, the quartet were on a hiding to nothing when the second quartet, led by Alen Tully, started with The Garb of Old Gaul and finished with the Stirlingshire Militia. Allan MacDonald returned with the band to explore the links between the piobaireachd Duncan MacRae of Kintail’s Lament, which Allan played more upbeat than normal, and the air The March of the King of Laois. When Allan finished, Terry struck into the air to be joined by the rest of the pipers and some sparse but effective keyboard and percussion accompaniment. This was delightful and proved once again that the despite the pervasiveness of jigs, hornpipes and all shades between, the humble air is often the most powerful expression of the bagpipe’s ability to stir our soul. The 2009 medley set, jam-packed with good tunes including Dr Flora MacAuley, Carradale and The Hen’s March, and then some jigs closed a cracking first half. The second half started with Terry soloing on the air The Irish Sea before the band launched into a set of jigs. This was followed by a set of hornpipes including pipe sergeant Alen Tully’s D/S Frank Saunders. The 2010 medley was a delight from start to finish and had many people pencilling in the band for a very good placing at the Worlds. Further colour was added to the evening when the band were joined by six of Bagad Cap Caval’s bombarde players and the folk group Pipedown for a set of traditional Breton tunes. Pipedown stayed on for a couple of fine sets but it did suffer from the band being stuffed in one corner of the stage. Leading drummer Stephen Creighton led his corps, wisely beefed up to nine snares from the five or so he used for most sets, through the obligatory drum salute, Boo Yackie, and even got four of the audience up to dance along. Next up was another set of hornpipes and then Lochanside as a march and then as a waltz and an international set to finish with one each of Italian, Irish and Galician tunes. For the encore Terry revitalised the tune that will be forever associated with the band, The Dawning of the Day. First as a solo, then joined by his son Alen, then by the band, this was a real crowd-pleaser and a fitting end to the night. The band upped the tempo and marched off the stage and down into the aisles among the audience. This went down a storm and the crowd rose as one to salute a magnificent band and a great night’s entertainment. l by chris mackenzie


a reference to music song and dance), has as a mission playing music as it was before it was gentrified through competition and the influence of various societies. The tunes may often be familiar —Tulloch Gorm, John Morrison of Assynt House, Alex C McGregor — but the rendition is not. This was music with emphasis on the rhythm and melody over technique and strict time and, when combined with the chanter in A, a sound was produced which was full of energy and bounced along like a greyhound on springs, particularly when they played tunes Cape Breton style. When joined by Allan MacDonald, the focus switched to piobaireachd and MacFarlane’s Gathering had Allan on vocals and smallpipes. With just Ross Martin on guitar as accompaniment there was nothing flash about Seudan, just terrific music played by terrific musicians on terrific sounding pipes. What could be more terrific than that? Closing the evening were the hardest working folk band of the last 40 years (yes, 40 years) Battlefield Band. Formed in 1969, the band has had some of the very best of the traditional music talent in their ranks (Iain MacDonald, Brian McNeill, the late Davy Steele) and has always played traditional music with a twist. This concert was founder member Alan Reid’s last gig in Glasgow as he leaves the band in the Autumn. It wasn’t a night to be maudlin as the band proved it still have it. Songs for the night included Bonnie George Campbell, Norman Buchan’s powerful The Auchengeich Mining Disaster and even a version of Nina Simone’s Plain Gold Ring — all carefully crafted and delicately presented. Alan Reid’s fondness for Robert Burns material is wellknown and his delicate version of My Love is Like a Red Red Rose to an alternative melody was a delight. Of course, it wouldn’t be Battlefield Band without the rousing tune sets and this line-up with new recruit Ewen Henderson can rock the rafters as well, and indeed possibly better, than any of the previous line-ups. Ewen has talent oozing from every pore and he is as happy on pipes, fiddle or whistle. This allows the band to get two sets of pipes up and really crank up the energy for sets that rocked the rafters and had the crowd yelling for more. Battlefield Band may never be the same without Alan but the name looks to be in good hands and here’s hoping there is another 40 years of cracking music yet to come Tuesday night saw the now well-established quartet competition. Seven quartets battled it out over MSR and medley rounds. This year’s competitors were The LA Scots, Inveraray and District, The 78th Fraser Highlanders, Bagad Cap Caval, The Pipeband Club, St Laurence O’Toole and ScottishPower. The audience in the packed Strathclyde Suite at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall were clearly anticipating a great night’s piping and they certainly got it. The MSR sets were first up and the standard was set high by the first band, the LA Scots, particularly with their march, Clan Macrae. Bagad Cap Caval also made a fine job of the tune. SLOT, with Alen Tully at the helm, played

FESTIVAL Julie Fowlis

Luigi Lai

All photos: John Slavin @

Eliot Grasso

DS Aaron Crozier and PM Iain MacDonald of City of Regina

St Laurence O’Toole quartet winners receive the trophy from Glenfiddich’s Liz Maxwell

Simon Fraser University Pipe Band

Lord Alexander Kennedy, The Islay Ball and Mrs Macpherson of Inveran and were very impressive, as were ScottishPower with Chris Armstrong in charge. The medley section saw the standard maintained. The 78ths played a very entertaining set and had a great finish and Inveraray continued with their trademark melodic tunes, which were well executed. Cap Caval entertained with some terrific harmony and counter point, particularly in their air, and The Pipeband Club, from Australia, also acquitted themselves well. ScottishPower were very solid and had a very strong sound, as had SLOT whose medley entertained from start to finish with playing

that was tighter than the skin on a snare drum. After what must have been some fairly intense debate by the judges SLOT took the trophy. Wednesday lunchtime saw a tough decision with a timing clash between Angus MacColl in recital at The National Piping Centre and the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in George Square. SFU it was, and they were brilliant. They started unconventionally by all shambling into the performance square, each piper playing random tuning phrases then slowly the sound morphed into the opening tune and the band formed into a semi-circle facing the crowd. What followed was a masterclass in entertaining an audience. The tunes were melodic

and superbly played, as you’d expect. There was also drum fanfare and a display from their drum major. Where else could you see musicians of this calibre and not have to pay for it? Friday night was the World Piping Night in the main auditorium of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Baltimore uilleann piper Eliot Grasso got the proceedings off to a flying start with a couple of cracking sets of reels and jigs which displayed his skills and warmed the audience up nicely. Next up was the extraordinary talent that is Luigi Lai, from Italy. Playing the Launeddas (mouth-blown Sardinian triple pipes) and using circular breathing, he played continuously for more than 11 minutes.

Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band perform with Capercaillie



A Kiwi

Karen Matheson

All photos: John Slavin @


Ross Ainslie

Treacherous Orchestra

The energy and passion Luigi put in to his music was stunning and he produced a glorious sound that filled the senses as you slowly stop wondering, ‘When will he breathe?’. The rest of the night saw Capercaillie take centre stage. They had Jarlath Henderson on uilleann pipes and assorted whistles. Jarlath was joined by Elliot Grasso on one set and the two sparked so well together that they surely deserve a concert to themselves next year. The opening set after the interval had Angus MacColl join the band and he kickstarted the second half with some blistering piping that got the half-time whisky flowing in the veins of the audience. Karen Matheson’s voice was to the fore on delightful versions of Both Sides of The Tweed and the evocative Iain Ghlinn Cuaich. PIPING TODAY • 14

The piping quota for the evening was further increased when the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band, under pipe major Roddy MacLeod, came on to the stage. They played Donald of Lagan with Willie McCallum getting them under way. The pipe band and Capercaillie played on together until the finale. Fear A’Bhata was the encore and then the pipers rejoined the band on stage for a rousing set of jigs to finish the night in style. Sadly, Friday night was the end of my P i p i n g L i v e ! w e e k a s I c o u l d n’t attend the After-Worlds Shindig on Saturday night. By all accounts it was a highoctane piping extravaganza with Breabach, Fred Morrison and the Treacherous Orchestra... oh well, there’s always next year! l

t’s the one-off trip of a lifetime for some pipers and drummers and it’s the annual pilgrimage thousands of miles for others. During the month of August, hundreds of pipe band musicians arrive in Scotland with excited thoughts of plenty of birls, masses of flams and the odd daydream of the striking spiky shape of the RSPBA Jubilee Trophy. As a Kiwi, I’m usually one of many pipe banders who spend a massive chunk of cash and annual leave on heading to Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships. However, this year it’s a little different. I’ve been living in Glasgow since 2009 and have had the pleasure of playing with the Robert Wiseman Diaries Vale of Atholl Pipe Band for the 2010 season, missing out on the usual dramas of queues at customs, skimpy baggage allowances and airplane food. So as an honorary Scottish resident and wanting to get the most out of the lead up to the Worlds, I booked a week off work, grabbed my Piping Live! programme and started to plan out my week. Of course, not everything I had in mind to fill up my week was printed in the festival programme. My first bout of excitement was the arrival en masse of my chums from my previous band, The Pipeband Club from Sydney. Like many international bands, they had arrived at the start of August to prepare for lead-up competitions at North Berwick and Bridge of Allan and had a hectic week of performances during Piping Live! in the lead up to the Worlds. Catching up with old band friends is always good fun and many hours were spent at their base at Strathclyde University, chatting non-stop between band practices. One of the main haunts during Piping Live! and the social hub of the week is Todds Bar, situated on the Strathclyde University campus. Also home to many performances during the week, The Todd, as it is affectionately referred to, is often buzzing with pipe band folk from around the world. One of the highlights is the popular Drumming for Drinks competition, organised by Innovation. Drummers go head to head in a freestyle competition where you play whatever you want, try to impress the crowd and leave your fate in the hands of the audience as they vote to decide the winner. This year’s show was a sell-out for the first time ever with more than 400 people attending to decide who was to be crowned Lord of the Todd for 2010. Snare drummer Steven Shedden from House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead emerged the eventual winner, with Australia’s Matt Mann taking the tenor prize and Scotsman Mark Stark winning the bass prize. The National Piping Centre is another of the main action spots for the festival and there was always something happening either inside the centre or outside in the Street Café. The Centre is perfect for soaking up a wealth of information about piping, mingling with international musicians and hearing some fantastic performances from around the world. The big bonus with the Street Café set-up is that you can not only get to listen to the likes of Fraser Fifield, Ecletnica Pagus and the Armagh Pipers Club, but you can also grab a beer, a burger, and if you’re lucky, a few cheeky rays of the shy Scottish sun. It’s always interesting to have a nosey at how other bands are sounding in the lead-up to the Worlds and the perfect place to get a fix of band performances


All photos: Libby O'Brien

by Libby o'Brien

was in George Square. Although it seemed to be a magnet for the rain every time I found myself in central Glasgow, the square played host to at least five bands each day who performed in front of tourists, office workers and piping types alike for 45 minutes each. Throughout the week I got to hear The Pipeband Club, Peel Regional Police from Canada, the LA Scots from the States and New Zealand’s Canterbury Caledonian and Auckland and District Pipe Bands. All five were getting set to compete in the grade 1 qualifier at the Worlds and their appearances were no doubt being treated as practice runs for the big day. A hidden treasure at George Square was the ‘Dol ar Teas an Righligh – Basking in the Warmth of the Reel’ art exhibition which in truth I visited to escape a downpour. The exhibition displayed works of art inspired by pipe tunes and each was complimented by an educational explanation on the tune’s background and history. Now it could be a cliché to say that us drummers know very little about piobaireachd, and I confess to having limited knowledge myself, but this exhibition made me want to learn more. The stories behind some of the ceol mor had me writing notes on the background of the tunes so that I could go home, look up the tune and listen to it with the story in mind. It definitely makes appreciating piobaireachd much easier when you can hear what the composer was trying to get across to the listener. Adding to the madness of the week was trying to get to band practices in Perth and staying on top of my own personal practice, which at times seemed impossible. The appeal of attending as many Piping Live! events as I could seemed to take precedence over spending time with drumsticks, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this problem with priorities. There are so many interesting events, gigs and talks that you simply can’t get to everything. One of my regrets was not making it to one of the Come and Try sessions at The National Piping Centre to fuel the hankering I’ve always had for learning the pipes. I decided against it for fear that I would have gotten the piping buzz and given up drums for the Great Highland Bagpipe. That’s what I told myself but in all honesty, I just didn’t want any drummers finding out that I was potentially considering a move to the ‘dark side’. The week passed quickly and Worlds day arrived. This was my third World Championships and it felt a little different as this time I had competed in three majors prior to the Worlds, where usually it’s just a two-week stint in Scotland. There was an air of excitement over Glasgow Green as I arrived early enough to beat the majority of the crowds. There has been much talk of the validity of the qualifier competition in grade 1 and although I was there early, there were many bands that had been on the park for at least an hour. It was going to be a long day for bands that were lucky enough to qualify and for others it was going to be a long day in the beer tent. Fortunately, The Vale qualified and we went


s d l r o W e h t d n a ! e v i L g n i p i P t a

on to play in the afternoon final along with 13 other bands representing Scotland, Ireland, Canada and little old New Zealand. After the Worlds there are always the usual moans about expensive food, warm beer, bad weather and even worse toilet facilities but as a whole, the RSPBA do an extremely good job with what is undoubtedly a huge undertaking. As a bonus, the weather was kind to us this year so the rain capes stayed on the buses and only a small amount of dirt needed to be cleaned off the brogues. Something I especially liked about the day was the large helium balloon that had been attached to the beer tent and towered over Glasgow Green which simply said ‘Beer Here’. Someone must know us piping types quite well! The day after the Worlds is a recovery day for most and this year the sun was out making it an absolute stunner of a day. After a leisurely start to the day and lunch at one of Glasgow’s best kept culinary secrets (the West Brewery Restaurant, nestled in a corner of Glasgow Green), I ventured to the infamous Park Bar with an army of thirsty antipodeans. Pipers and drummers from various bands all around the world (and the odd judge from the day before) had converged for an ale or two. After hearing some top pipers spontaneously bust out a few tunes we returned to the Todd Bar, which had become a second home for the past seven days, for some karaoke action. I managed to persuade pipe band pin-up boy and tenor drumming legend Tyler Fry up for a duet to cap off my week. It may not have been the best adaptation ever, but as we belted out I’ve Had the Time of my Life, I couldn’t help but think that our song choice seemed to be rather apt. Once all the excitement is over and you get a chance to think back over seven days immersed in piping heaven, it’s often hard to pick a highlight. Seeing your favourite piper or drummer perform in a recital? Could it be competing on Glasgow Green for the first, second or maybe 10th time? Perhaps it’s attending the pre-Worlds concert or simply making it through the week in one piece. But for me the best part of the week is the people you meet. Whether it’s catching up with friends you only see once a year, meeting people for the first time or even watching kids get excited as they meet their pipe band idols and get an autograph from them. August in Glasgow wouldn’t be the highlight of the piping year without all of the pipers and drummers that make it what it is. The worst bit about the second week in August coming to an end? It’s a syndrome that I like to call PWD – Post Worlds Depression. You might have suffered from it without being aware of it. It’s that feeling of emptiness, the thought hitting you that you have to go back to work, back to ‘normality’, back to struggling to explain your hobby and how pipe band competitions work to your colleagues. For those starting the epic journey home, it’s all of this on top of the jet lag and the joys of unpacking. But at least those of us that live in this part of the World got to attend the final major championship in Cowal where we got a chance to see everyone again (in between running for cover from the rain) before the pipe band hiatus over the winter. After that, I guess it’ll be time to start preparing for all the fun of Piping Live! 2011 and the next World Championships. All I know is, I can’t wait. l PIPING TODAY • 15


All photos: John Slavin @

by Chris MacKenzie

World Pipe Band Championships Glasgow GreeN, August 14, 2010


omebody must be doing something right. A pipe band concert sells out the main auditorium of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, all the seats for the grade 1 section of the Worlds are sold out (at £23 a head) a week ahead of the competition and on the day over 50,000 people decide that the best way for them to spend a Saturday is listening to pipe bands. Now it would take a discourse far longer than this article to examine the root causes of this upsurge in interest in the World Championships but the Piping Live! festival and the coverage given to it by the BBC must account for a good deal of it. Whatever the reasons, there was certainly a huge buzz around Glasgow Green for the pinnacle of the pipe band competitive season. All the grades attracted


large crowds and the standing section of the grade 1was more than 20-deep and ran right down the march-in lane. Indeed the crowds were so large that if you left the seated arena it was a bit of a struggle to get back in. With a mass of people come logistical issues and although the RSPBA did a good job this year, it is fair to say that everything was bursting at the seams and should the crowds next year be any larger then extra everything will be needed. It’s not just the RSPBA which needs to consider logistics as with the grade 1 qualifiers starting at 9am, it is an early start if you want to catch it all. With little more than an hour from the end of the qualifiers to the start of the MSR proper, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to squeeze in lunch, a pint and any of the other grades.

The grade 1 qualifying rounds saw 18 bands battle it out for the six places in the afternoon’s final. A very solid performance by the Fife Constabulary gave them the top place in the qualifier, followed by Auckland and District, the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Culleybackey, Robert Wiseman Dairies Vale of Atholl and Dowco Triumph Street. From that list the 78ths can consider themselves a little lucky as both piping judges had them at 10th position. Had they not scooped first in the drumming and ensemble they would have missed the final for the second year — clearly early starts don’t suit them. The MSR competition may be the unfashionable end of pipe band contests but there is still some fabulous music to hear. Inveraray and District, under Stuart Liddell, impressed in their first grade 1 Worlds, while

WORLDS All photos: John Slavin @

the main contenders — Field Marshal Montgomery, St Laurence O’Toole, Simon Fraser University and Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia — all had very impressive performances. Despite what must have been a very difficult decision the judges unanimously agreed the Irish band took top honours in the MSR. Tight as the MSR competition was, it was nothing compared to the medley section. Here it really could have been perm any one from three or four for the top position. There were fabulous performances from all the top bands with sets carefully crafted from tunes with strong melodies. Again Inveraray and District shone with a set including the Water is Wide and the Clumsy Lover Waltz, all played with the exuberance we have come to expect from the young band. It won’t be long before they are knocking on the door of the big prizes. Chris Armstrong’s ScottishPower grabbed the attention with Castle Dangerous as an opening tune while Simon Fraser University had a cracking arrangement of MacCrimmon’s Lament as their air. Field Marshal Montgomery were their usual powerhouse selves and were rock solid throughout their set. The

medley from Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, under pipe major Ross Walker, was a delight to listen to. If ever a band was setting out a marker for a future win at the Worlds, it is Boghall. St Laurence O’Toole’s medley was one of the classics with a great mix of tunes — Kenny Gilles of Portnalong, Buntata’s Sgadan, The Ferryman and a surprising and beautifully presented version of The Rose (yes, the very same as sung by Bette Midler). The judges clearly found this a very tough one to call and the scores were a little bit more spread out. In the final reckoning St Laurence O’Toole got first place and their first grade 1 World Championship. A fantastic result for pipe major Terry Tully and leading drummer Stephen Creighton. St Laurence O’Toole join that elite group of bands to win the Worlds. It might just be me but it did feel there was a new era on the horizon where it isn’t just Simon Fraser University, Field Marshal Montgomery and House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead taking the prizes but a wider spread of bands. Things in the grade 1 arena could be very interesting in the next few years. Just be sure to book your seat well in advance. l

RESULTS — Grade 1: 1. St Laurence O’Toole; 2. Field Marshal Montgomery; 3. Simon Fraser University; 4. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia; 5. The House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead; 6. ScottishPower. Grade 2: 1. Ravara; 2. Grampian Police; 3. Bagad Brieg; 4. Seven Towers; 5. Buchan; 6. Lomond and Clyde. Grade 3A: 1. St Finbarrs; 2. Cottown; 3. Cullen; 4. Police Service of Northern Ireland; 5. Pitlochry and Blair Atholl; 6. Isle of Islay. Grade 3B: 1. Geoghan Memorial; 2. Quinn Memorial; 3. Black Raven; 4. Manor Cunningham; 5. Colmcille; 6. Rob Roy. Grade 4A: 1. Gransha; 2. Moneygore; 3. Stamperland; 4. North Coast; 5. 2622 Highland Squadron RAF Lossiemouth; 6. Major Sinclair Memorial. Grade 4B: 1. Upper Crossgare; 2. Portlethen and District; 3. Tullintrain; 4. The RDG & QRH; 5. Ballybriest; 6. Stockbridge. Juvenile: 1. Dollar Academy; 2. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia; 3. St Thomas Episcopal School. Novice: 1. Oban High School; 2. Inveraray and District; 3. George Watson’s College; 4. North Lanarkshire Schools; 5. Paisley; 6. Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools. PIPING TODAY • 19


All photos: John Slavin @




by John Slavin

The ubiquitous brand McCallum Bagpipes


T’S GOT to be one of the most successful, or maybe the most successful business stories within the pipe scene. Within the last 10 years McCallum Bagpipes have established their pipes as a high-quality product; designed prize-winning band and solo chanters; created an extensive catalogue with lots of their own products; grown their business so much they have had to increase their premises size four times; employ over 30 staff who keep the workshop running 21 hours a day; and have promoted the McCallum Bagpipes brand so well that their ubiquitous logo seems to turn up at every


gathering of pipers — whether it is on an bag cover, pipe case, t-shirt or baseball cap. This list of achievements is mainly down to two men, Stuart McCallum and Kenny Macleod, who have very different, but complementary skills, and who started collaborating in 1997 without any idea or plan of where it would take them. Kenny and Stuart first got to know each other when playing for the Glasgow Skye Pipe Band almost 20 years ago, and to my surprise Kenny told me at the start of this interview that the evening before he had just been voted in as pipe major of the Glasgow Skye Pipe Band.

This renews Kenny’s family connections with the band that his father, Jimmy Macleod, formed in 1968, and who Kenny played with for 20 years until 1994. He played under his brother Donald Macleod and was pipe major for six years himself. He also played for ScottishPower and for the past few seasons Kenny had been a guest player with the grade 1 LA Scots Pipe Band. He also had a fairly successful track record in solo competition winning the Macallan Trophy at Lorient in 1990, he was second three of the times that Fred Morrison won in the late 80’s. He also was placed at various Scottish solo contests as well.

PIPE-MAKER Photos: John

Stuart also had several seasons with Scottish Power, and has played with Strathclyde Police Pipe Band for the past six seasons, winning at the European Championships 2006; Cowal 2006 and the Scottish Championships in 2007. Strathclyde Police Pipe Band looked like it would be disbanded on more than one occasion over the past 18 months, and this year Stuart says “has been about consolidating and making sure we did not slip too far down the prize lists — and I think we have done that”. Stuart first started making bits of pipes in 1996 as a hobby, while he was still working as a tool-maker for Ayrshire engineering company,

McCrindles. He bought a second-hand lathe for £350 and used some space in the premises of his father’s timber business. At this time, Kenny was living in Los Angeles and running his own bagpipe and Highland wear supply business as Kenneth J Macleod USA, and he asked Stuart if he could make him some mouthpieces and practice chanters, which eventually led on to a full set of pipes. “Stuart had a really nice set of Lawrie pipes which we based all our sizes on,” said Kenny. “Our tenor drones are still pretty much the same sizes as those Lawrie pipes, but we had to change the bass drone quite a lot to suit the pitch that modern pipe bands now tune to.” Stuart continued; “We also made slight changes overall to suit synthetic reeds and to make the pipes easy to reed and easy to play.” “One of the key factors to our growth was developing a good pipe chanter very early,” added Kenny. “That was vital to us, and there are still pipe makers who don’t make them at all.

“It was all down to Stuart’s tool-making expertise, as he made a lot of reamers and tools in the development of the chanter. That sort of development could have cost tens of thousands of pounds to any other company, but all it cost us was Stuart’s time. “One the first ‘names’ to play our pipes was Michael Grey in Canada — he tried them and loved them, and we owe him a lot for helping to give McCallum Bagpipes a high profile early on. As for the chanters, the first band to play them was MacLean of Annan in grade 3 and the LA Scots were the first band to play them, and give them some exposure, in grade 1.” When Kenny returned from LA in 1997, they decided to form McCallum Bagpipes and combine Stuart’s engineering skills with Kenny’s knowledge of the bagpipe marketplace. So Kenny worked on the business full-time, building it up for a few years, to eventually allow Stuart to give up his day job with McCrindles and give his full attention to McCallum Bagpipes. PIPING TODAY • 23

Bottom right: Stuart McCallum and Kenny Macleod

“I was doing a lot of work in the early years, often working a day shift with McCrindles and then working very late hours for McCallum Bagpipes, or even coming straight from a night shift to work a full day shift,” said Stuart. “There was a lot of hard work, and often with the added financial pressures of a young company; taking money from personal savings or borrowing money to pay staff wages. One of the most stressful times was giving up my full time job with a young family and a new mortgage to pay and I didn’t really know how McCallum Bagpipes would work out. Being a tool-maker to trade, Stuart’s speciality was programming CNC machines and he was always “going on” about them in the early years of the company. They eventually got their first one in 2000. Kenny explained: “I was sort of against it because of the cost involved — £6000 seemed like a fortune at the time, but once I saw it in operation I realised what a difference it would make. It was from that point in 2000 that we really moved the whole company up a gear”. At this time they were still operating in a cramped corner of Stuart’s dad’s premises, eventually buying a cabin and adding a few sheds for the extra space they needed. The business quickly outgrew the cabin and sheds, so that in 2002, out of neccessity, they moved themselves, their tools and five staff into their first workshop of 4500 sq ft. “It was a massive jump to make back then,” said Stuart. “We needed the space, but it was a rattling big building when we moved in. We had a couple of CNC machines at that time but we invested a lot of money on more CNC machines, as well as taking on the building and fitting out the shop. “It was another stressful time, and it is fine now that it all worked out, but there was a lot of sleepless nights and it was a real gamble taking that step as a business.” Eight years have passed since that gamble and it has certainly paid off. McCallum Bagpipes now sell around 2000 sets of pipes a year and they have just expanded into their neighbouring workshop in July, increasing their floor space to 9000 sq ft. It is an impressive transformation with the main benefit being workshop and office space for the staff. They have also added to the floor space in their shop, which is the main public area, and it now looks like a real Aladdin’s Cave for pipers and drummers. PIPING TODAY • 24

Photos: John


Main picture and bottom left: The newly expanded McCallum workshop and shop

The main reason for the expansion was driven by exactly the same as their previous growth: more room to allow them to develop and diversify their product range in the future. Kenny and Stuart have always listened to their customers and suppliers and are constantly driven to improve their products. Kenny explained; “Stuart’s worst trait is listening to some of the wacky ideas I come up with for developing pipes and then he always seems to find a way to make them”. “Our Clasp Collection came about from exactly that situation,” continued Stuart. “Kenny’s dad, Jimmy, had a real ivory chanter sole with a silver piece on top of it — it really was beautiful. For months Kenny seemed to be walking about with a projecting mount in his hand, and was forever on at me to make him something to be inlaid to the mount. Though I just kept putting him off saying ‘too busy, too busy’ till I eventually got around to it and we immediately thought it looked great. To be honest, the Clasp Collection is the model of pipes we have become most known for and has almost become our trade-mark.” McCallum Bagpipes are seen to be the trend-setter in the market place, and were the first company to offer a full two-year written guarantee. They helped move the image of pipe-making from a cottage industry and give it a modern profile with good customer service. They were also the first maker to offer beaded ferrules and a nickel and imitation mouthpiece as standard, both of which were once costly ‘add-ons’ from other makers.

As part of their ongoing development of their pipes and the company, Kenny and Stuart have just recently changed the manufacturing process and materials used in their Highland pipes. To the casual observer there is no big change in appearance, and none whatsoever in the sound, but they are now threading all their mounts which was a feature only found on pipes which were made by hand. They have also changed the plated nickel material, previously used in their projecting mounts and ring caps, to a light-weight alloy. Kenny explained; “There was a section of the market which liked the threaded mounts, so we decided to react to it and now offer threaded mounts across the whole of our range of pipes. The new alloy also allows us to remove one step in our production process and brings everything in-house.” ‘In-house’ is certainly an apt phrase where McCallum Bagpipes and their products are concerned, as there are few products that they don’t make themselves, or at least can offer the piper and drummer from their catalogue. The most high profile of all their products, apart from their Highland pipes and chanter, has got to be their solo chanter designed and played by Willie McCallum and their range of Fred Morrison Reelpipes, which were designed by Fred Morrison and each set is tested by Fred himself. They also have their own-reed making business, MG Reeds (featured in issue 41 of Piping Today), which is an equal partnership between Rory Grossart, Kenny and Stuart. Rory designs and makes all the reeds, and their

PIPE-MAKER MG Drone reeds have been such a success over the past two years that they have been able to grow the product range into developing chanter reeds and pipe bag seasoning for sheepskin bags. So as well as the obvious products which are made by McCallum’s they also have McCallum Highland Wear and The Ayrshire Kiltshop which gives them the ability to outfit whole bands or provide kilt hire to the local community. They also designed the ‘Killie’ tartan for Kilmarnock Football Club, which has proved a very popular local choice for sales and kilt hire. Their drum supply business is looked after by employee, Stevie Kilbride, who is well known in the pipe band world. Stevie has won every major championship under Drum Major Jim Kilpatrick when he was a member of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, and teaches tenor an bass to bands all over Europe, with his claim to fame being called up by Madonna

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to perform on stage with her on the European leg of her ‘Re-Invention’ world tour. The popularity of McCallum Bagpipes has taken their name and sales world-wide with orders coming in from far-flung parts of the globe such as Columbia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and over the past few years the Middle East has proven to be a growing market. This Middle East connection has also led to the development of their most unusual product: camel-friendly blowpipes. Kenny explained; “That came about because the army pipers are mounted on camels and the movement of the camels was causing the players’ teeth to be knocked out. As they are in the army, the pipers are just told to get back on the camel and get on with it, so they asked us if we could come up with a solution. We designed a very flexible blowpipe which has an adjustable mouthpiece and bends with the movement of the camel. It has proven to be a success and so far 48 sets have gone out to Oman.”

Roddy MacLeod Gold Medallist

Alisdair McLaren

Director of National Youth Pipe Band

All the above factors added together have taken McCallum Bagpipes to the position they are in today. “Over the last four or five years we have become the market leader and the largest bagpipe manufacturer, with a combination of hard work and quality products,” said Stuart. “We have not forgotten about all the people who have helped us out over the years when we were much smaller, and are grateful for that help,” added Kenny. “Although we have grown, we always kept a small business mentality for good customer service and respect towards our employees, who are very important to us. With the amount of pipers we have on the staff they often need time off for competing, and we are always happy to come and go with them.” With the amount of growth McCallum Bagpipes has seen over the last decade, I was wondering if Kenny or Stuart could predict their next expansion. “When we start making drums,” said Kenny — though I think he was kidding. I think? l

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NYPBoS Question time with... Youngstars

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland Newsletter No.45


Neil Bruce

Q. Where are you from and how old are you? I am 18-years-old and live in Carstairs, near Lanark. Q. how did you get into drumming and when? When I was 10, my big brother wanted to learn the snare drum with our local band, Lanark. I thought that if he was doing it, I might as well do it too. I didn’t really have any desire to play in a pipe band at first.

Neil in the final tuning area with Shotts and Dykehead at the Scottish Championships 2010

Photo: John Slavin @

Q. What made you want to play the tenor drum? I originally wanted to be a bass drummer until my mum explained that the band only needed one and they already had someone. My dad was a piper and my brother was starting on snare so to be different, I picked tenor. Q. What pipe band do you play with? I play with the House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead.



Youngstars Q. What bands have you previously played with? Lanark and District. Q. How many hours a week do you spend on drumming and how much practice is on your own or with a band? Most of my practice hours are at the band hall. It’s hard to practise playing with five other tenor drummers when you’re in your living room. When practising on my own I tend to play through the band material. If I’m on the train with new music to learn I try to go over it in my head, like they do in Cool Runnings with the track. Q. What are your drumming strong points and what do you most need to improve on? I think I’m good at writing and arranging scores. One thing I know I need to work on is my communication. I get a lot of blank faces staring back at me. Q. What do you want to achieve in drum ming? What are your drumming goals? I’m not sure that I have any big goals or dreams. I’ve had some great results in both solo and band contests and I’m happy with that. You always want to win more but if I had to give it all up now, there wouldn’t be anything I regretted not doing or winning. Winning the Worlds would be nice but I’m not going to be miserable if I don’t. Q. What is your favourite pipe tune and do you have a favourite score? My favourite score is Jim Kilpatrick’s Atholl Cummers. Q. Have you written any drum scores? And if so is this something you enjoy and why? I think this is something I’m quite good at. I play the snare drum which helps a lot in understanding what the snares are doing. Between writing scores for NYPB and Shotts, it can get a bit much at times but it’s always nice to see it go from paper to the finished product. I write the occasional snare score as well but purely for myself. This is more enjoyable but the scores aren’t as good. Q. What make of drum do you play, and what type of head is on it? Do you play a differ ent drum for solo work/competitions? I play a Pearl tenor with Remo Powermax heads. I won a Premier Hosbilt in a solo contest a few years ago but I’ve only played it four or five times. If I was playing solo again I’d probably use my Hosbilt. In a band I prefer the clarity of a Pearl. Q. What is the best trip or playing experience you have had with the NYPBoS? The trip to the Ortiguiera festival was an amazing experience. We played to thousands of Spaniards who responded to our


performances with the kind of passion you rarely get in Scotland. Q. What is your favourite part of being in the NYPBoS? I’ve made some really great friends and it’s nice to have fun with them on and off stage. Q. What are the other band members likely to say about you, or what are you most known for in the band? Probably nothing printable. I’d say I’m best known in the band for GS’s Nose. Q. What is the secret of your success? Luck. I was lucky I had a talent for drumming and lucky to get excellent tuition and help from the whole Shotts corps at a young age. Q. What would be your ideal uniform if you were allowed to choose it for your band? As much as wearing a kilt is an important part of playing in a pipe band, I think I’d prefer a slinky shirt/trouser combo. Something that’s comfortable to play in but still smart and distinctive. Q. What would you do or say to encourage other youngsters to learn the drums? Join a pipe band and see the world. Q. Do you have any superstitions or any pre-performance rituals? My “lucky” pants didn’t really work. Cool Runnings is my favourite film but I’d get arrested if I started asking people to kiss my egg.

Q. Who is your drum idol? Jim Kilpatrick. You learn something at every practice. Q. What are your interests outside of pipe bands? Drumming takes up too much time for anything else. It’s like a disease. Q. What do you want to do for a career? I’m studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering at university which covers big things like power stations and small things like microprocessors. I haven’t really made up my mind what I want to specialise in yet. Q. What other music do you like? What’s on your MP3 player? I’ve got quite a mix of stuff on my MP3 player. Kanye West features a lot. I spend quite a bit of time on the train so there’s a lot of podcasts. There’s some Pendulum as well to help catch the train if I’m running late or if I just need to get fired up. Q. Who are your heroes? Bobsleigh champion Irving Blitzer is a real inspiration. He was the man who said: “If you’re not enough without a gold medal, you’ll never be enough with one.” Q. Are you sporty, and do you follow any teams? I follow Formula 1 racing. My favourite driver is Sebastian Vettel.

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Finding common ground in Armagh The William Kennedy Piping Festival



Highland piper Aaron Coulter and Uilleann piper Conor Lavelle

Photo: Paul Eliasberg

he William Kennedy Piping Festival in Armagh, Northern Ireland, has 17 years of experience in bringing together pipers from all over the world to share their common love of the various different forms of the instrument. Piping traditions from Bulgaria, Belarus, Spain, Italy, Iran and Algeria to name just a few, have featured along with Highland piping and, of course, the cream of Irish piping. This year the festival has been developing a fascinating initiative much closer to home which has led to the formation of a new band, Canntaireachd. The band is almost a mini-reflection of what the festival has done — found a common ground for different instruments and cultural viewpoints. The project has also been breaking down barriers between parts of the community in Northern Ireland which perhaps would not normally have come together, never mind played together — having a fantastic time in the process. Comprising of members of the All Ireland Championship-winning grade 2 Killeen Pipe Band and Armagh Pipers Club, they made their debut performance in July at a Belfast City Council reception to mark the European Pipe Band Championships. The project to bring together the Highland pipes and the uilleann pipes was hatched by the Armagh Pipers Club development officer, Grainne Crothers. She wanted to find a way to consolidate the piping traditions and highlight the similarities, rather than the differences between the instruments and their associated cultures in Northern Ireland. Festival director Brian Vallely picks up the story. He said: “It sounded like a great idea. Part of the agenda of the festival was the fact that piping was something people could agree on — all pipers have the same problems with reeds, all the usual things.



by John Slavin

ARMAGH The project attracted funding from Armagh City & District Good Relations Fund and the Community Relations Council of Northern Ireland, not just to buy instruments or set up the group but to create some concrete dialogue between the people who played Highland pipes and uilleann pipes. Brian added: “It was to help bring together the two different worlds that we have lived in.

Photo: Paul Eliasberg

“We believe the uilleann pipes are the pinnacle of the bellows blown pipes and the Highland pipes are obviously the pinnacle of mouthblown pipes. The challenge was how could you bring them together to make musical sense. This was a huge barrier in all sorts of musical terms. “We were aware of the work Hamish Moore had been doing and we'd heard the pipes of his that they were playing in Na Tri Seudan,

From the left: Conor Lavelle; Stephen Wilson; Alana Henderson; Stephen Paynter; Conor Mallon and Aaron Coulter

but it hadn't really struck us which key they were in. “He had told us they were an old type of pipe and different pitch. Superficially to a non-Highland pipe ear they were still Highland pipes, but they did sound very sweet. “Hamish reckoned that they could play together and we could overcome the difficulties of the volume and acoustical differences between the two — so it started from there. “He also confirmed that they were in the key of A which we knew from previous experience with smallpipes and Border pipes could be played with uilleann pipes and other concert pitch instruments. “We explained the idea to a number of people and talked to the pipe major Philip Boyce and pipe sergeant Derek Boyce from the Killeen Pipe Band. The two of them worked together over this last decade building up the band. They were immediately enthusiastic about it. We asked Hamish about pipes and he agreed he would make specially commissioned Highland pipes from an 18th century design.”

We had taken it for granted that we had already created a level playing field and created the situation here where the pipers were all playing from the same piping music sheet. Everybody respected everybody else despite the very divisive nature of society in Northern Ireland.” They decided the band should be for young pipers – under-25s – and got to work on recruiting musicians. Two uilleann pipers from Armagh Pipers Club, Conor Mallon and Conor Lavelle, were chosen from the audition process with Highland pipers Stephen Wilson and Aaron Coulter joining from Killeen Pipe Band. Brian added: “Since all the music was going to be high-pitched, we wanted something that would counterpoint that. So we thought of the cello and had a very good cello player in the club, Alana Henderson, who is also a very good singer. She sings canntaireachd and puirt a beul. “We had a long discussion about what to call the band and suddenly the obvious name came up — Canntaireachd.”

The line-up is completed by All Ireland Champion drummer Stephen Paynter from the Killeen Pipe Band. The group has been mentored by pipe major Derek Boyce of the Killeen Pipe Band, Tiarnan Ó Duinnchinn of the Armagh Pipers Club and Eithne Vallely, Director of Music for the Armagh Pipers Club. When they received the pipes from Hamish, everyone involved in the project was surprised to find that the acoustical differences were not as insurmountable as they feared. He said: “The musical challenge was how to get two seemingly contradictory instruments playing in different pitches, and the huge volume difference. Until we actually got the pipes we couldn't really come together to test our ideas out. It was all theory until we got the Highland pipes from Hamish and brought them back to Armagh from Perth and had our first rehearsal with them. We were surprised and delighted to find it all worked when we finally brought the two instruments together. We stood away back and we could hear the uilleann pipes coming through, they weren't completely swamped. We realised it was going to work acoustically without having to mic up the uilleann pipe chanters. We didn't know until that exact moment. We just had this theory in our heads and believed it would happen. We were very very pleased that it did work out.” Although the acoustical difficulties had been solved, blending the two playing styles also took a bit of work. Brian explained: “The uilleann pipers were coming from a different musical tradition; it's more relaxed. They don't play tunes the same way every time, variation is added in. Highland pipes, particularly in the bands, are coming from a very strict, totally different approach. The uilleann pipers had to tighten up and the other guys had to loosen up. “It took a while because they had to start listening to each other, they had a common repertoire but played in totally different ways. It's been a real learning curve and we're building on it all the time. “The Armagh Pipers Club is different to lots of Irish traditional music clubs in that we teach a lot of Scottish music as well. We've been going to Skye with groups for years, and adding to our repertoire. “They play some tunes from the modern composers that they look up to — Gordon Duncan and Michael McGoldrick — who PIPING TODAY • 29


St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band

represent the two traditions we are bringing together “They knew a lot of tunes, for example a polka called Barrack Hill. It came from Cork and it’s the same as a march we play, but with slightly different emphasis so they had to relearn things like that.” Bands like St Laurence O’Toole have been playing Irish tunes in their repertoire for a number of years and this helped with the crossover. Brian added: “If you look at any pipe band medley or repertoire you see loads of Irish tunes. It takes our breath away – how in heaven's name are the Highland pipers playing those tunes with the vast ranges of notes? “I can always remember being blown away with Field Marshal Montgomery coming out and playing The Moving Cloud in march time. “All the reels have a Scottish background; the Irish tune Rakish Paddy is really Caberfeidh played differently. There is a lot of common ground. Certainly with this experiment, it makes it more concrete. It wouldn't surprise me if other people tried it.” As previously mentioned Canntaireachd's debut was in Belfast and they have already played at Piping Live! and Gig 'N the Bann, but the culmination of their efforts so far will be to play at this year's William Kennedy Piping Festival, which runs from November 11 to 14. Brian added: “The group aims to perform to the highest level taking on difficult tunes and arrangements and eschewing any lowering of their musical sights just to achieve a superficial compatibility between the two very different types of pipes. So many musical barriers had to be crossed to arrive at an artistically valid synthesis without any compromise on either side. “It will be a big challenge for them. They have to perform two 25 minute sets in Armagh. The concert will also feature two solo pipers. Dr Angus MacDonald from the famous Glenuig piping dynasty, and former All-Ireland champion and member of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, Jonathan Greenlees.” Everyone involved is keen to see what happens next with the band. Brian said: “It's a new direction and we don't know where it will go. We will expand the repertoire. It's benefiting us and it's benefiting the Highland pipers." The 17th William Kennedy Piping Festival has an impressive line-up, as you would expect. But the highlight for many will be a Saturday night concert by the new world champions. Brian said: “The big coup is that we'd booked St Laurence O’Toole before they won. It gave us a great buzz and tickets are selling like mad. “On the Friday night, we have 14 different groups playing on different stages in Armagh City Hotel. We've always wanted to have Julie Fowlis, who is a good piper and a singer. We also have the Portuguese group, Roncos do Diabo. They are very exciting. We had them last year and didn't really appreciate what we had at the time. They are very extrovert and dynamic. “We have Breabach from Scotland and we also have the PIPING TODAY • 30

Julie Fowlis


Mikie Smyth

Georgi Makris

Jacqueline McCarthy and Tommy Keane

Roncos Do Diabo

ARMAGH American group Millish, Goat System from France and the Griff Trio from Belgium. We also, for the first time, have pipers from Greece and Croatia. “Of course, there is also a strong line-up of uilleann pipers and the concert finale on the Sunday will feature players including Eoin Ó Riabhaigh, Tommy Keane, Ivan Goff, Mikie Smyth and Michael O'Connell.” Given the worldwide talent on show, it follows that the event will attract a global audience but it remains very popular with music lovers living in and around the Armagh area. Brian explained: “We have people travelling from America and Germany, Italy, Spain and France. We also have people coming from Sweden, Denmark, Japan and Australia. Having said that the main audience is still local — ­ it attracts the pipe band crowd, Irish pipe crowd, and also general traditional music fans. “We have loads of sessions and some musicians just come to take part in them. It's a bit like Piping Live!, there is a mixture of paying

concerts and free events. We send musicians to play at various locations and others can come along and join in. “We have loads of classes in various aspects of piping but also for people with any instruments to learn Galician music or Italian music or whatever.” While the early festivals featured only solo pipers, the line-up has evolved greatly over the years to incorporate a variety of pipe-focused acts. And another aspect which couldn't have been conceived of years ago — because of the divide in the community — is the addition of concerts in the cathedral and a religious service featuring the pipes. Brian said: “We have concerts in the Church of Ireland Cathedral and a religious piping service on the Sunday. We had it last year for the first time and it’s a major event. Canntaireachd played last month at the Charles Wood Choral Festival in the Armagh First Presbyterian Church. The majority of the Armagh Piping

Club members are Catholic and would not have been through the door of it before but the fact is, it is possible now. “We are breaking down barriers with the piping. Not by putting up banners saying we are solving this, we are simply creating the level playing field and the space where people feel comfortable and can identify with what they already know. “We have been developing since the first festival in 1994 and have probably done more for community relations than all the millions spent on programmes which quite often emphasise difference rather than trying to consolidate areas of agreement. The creation of Canntaireachd is a real milestone and really consolidates things in Armagh in a way you couldn’t possibly explain. “Piping is a great unifier. Locally, universally and in every way.” l To find out more about the festival, or to book tickets, log on to www.armaghpipers. org/wkpf.

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Nine Notes and more... by Stuart Robertson

Kyle Warren A

finalist in the 2010 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Kyle Warren has recently graduated with First Class Honours from the Scottish Music – Piping Degree at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He also performs worldwide with The Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Kyle played an integral part in progressing Lomond and Clyde Pipe Band from Grade 4B to Grade 2 in five years. While pipe major of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, he performed with some of the biggest names in traditional music, such as Carlos Nuñez and Brian McNeill. He also won a Danny Kyle Award with TNT – The New Tradition at the International Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow; won the Breton Championships with Bagad Cap Caval at the Lorient Festival in France, and competed with the grade 1 Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. Kyle is also a composer and recently signed to KRL Records to release a book of his own compositions, Tunez. He will also be recording his debut album later this year.


Photo: John

When did you start composing? The very first tune I wrote was a slow air when I was 12. It was for a local event I was piping at with the pipe band. Carol Smillie was the host and I remember presenting her with the tune and I got a kiss on the cheek. The rest of the guys in the band were jealous! I can’t remember that slow air now. The first tune I wrote that I remember now is called Reloaded. I wrote it when I was 15 and my band – Lomond and Clyde at the time – opened our competition medley with it.   What inspired you to write? It’s always something I have enjoyed. I guess music class at school was part of it, you have to compose as part of it and from there onwards I always enjoyed composing and did it in my own time.   What are your influences? I listen to a wide range of music — folk, Arabic, pop, hip hop and dance. I wouldn’t say my tunes have a distinct sound from any of these genres but I guess by listening to as much as possible, broadening your thoughts has an effect on what the fingers do.   What’s your opinion on modern composers, and who impresses you? I think it’s great that there are people out there composing and adding to the vast amount of tunes

Kyle playing at the launch of his new tune book, Tunez, at the Piping Live! 2010 street cafe.



Reloaded Hornpipe

that already exist, and my aim is to hopefully add a few good ones to that amount. I played in Strathclyde Police in the 2009 season under Don Bradford. I like his compositional style and we played some good tunes of his that year.   How do you mould a tune, from concept to completion? I think I should make a good story up here so it sounds like there is a method but to be honest there

Kyle Warren

isn’t. I often pick a key and time signature and play about on the chanter or pipes. I’ll end up with a few notes or a phrase that I like and keep building from there. Sometimes a phrase will come to me when I’m out and about so I’ll sing it into my phone so I can work on it later.   How did you come to write the tune published in the magazine? I wrote it for my music class at school. I remember

being frustrated as the course was very classical-based and the teachers didn’t get the whole piping thing. I had a fight to submit it as a legitimate piece but eventually got there. l Kyle Warren’s book, Tunez, was launched during Piping Live! in Glasgow. It’s available from The National Piping Centre website, PIPING TODAY • 33


by Alex Monaghan

The only piper in the village Angus MacKenzie


abou, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia: an area famous for its fiddle music and Gaelic culture, but not, it seems, for pipers at that time. Angus MacKenzie was definitely the exception rather than the rule when he took up the pipes as a child. “I grew up in Mabou Mines, just outside the village of Mabou,” explained Angus. “It’s a strong Gaelic-speaking area – my father came over from South Uist, and my mother’s family are Gaelic speakers from Mabou itself. There were also families from other Gaelic-speaking areas of the Scottish Highlands. I didn’t speak much English until I went to school. “I got into piping because there was a guy, Ed Rogers, going round teaching piano in schools and he happened to play the pipes. When I was eight or so, my parents decided it would be good for me to learn the pipes. Ed wasn’t well known as a piping teacher but at that time there weren’t many pipers around in Cape Breton. I was his only piping student – it wasn’t cool to play the pipes back then and I kept my piping pretty much hidden until I was about 16. Eventually Ed encouraged me to broaden my piping horizons, so I got involved with the Gaelic College in Cape Breton and joined their pipe band.” This opened the door to a world of piping influences for young Angus. “Bob Worrall ran the piping courses, he was a big influence. Bob is still probably one of the best tutors I’ve had, because as well as being a tremendous piper he was just such a great teacher. We also had visitors like Mike Grey and Bruce Gandy from Ontario. When John Walsh moved from Ontario to Antigonish, I was taught by him. Dr Angus MacDonald was living in Cape Breton at the time, so I would get lessons from him too: that wasn’t through the college, he was a full-time doctor and he didn’t do a lot of teaching then. The Hebridean connection introduced me to Dr Angus and his


Alex Monaghan talks to Angus MacKenzie, native of Cape Breton now living on Skye, who is a piper with the group Dàimh. brother Iain MacDonald, so they were both important influences on my piping.” Angus is modest about his piping achievements. It seems he always has been. “I was the only piper in the village. My mother taught in the school, so I used to arrange to get the last music lesson of the day, when everyone else was away. Nobody knew I played the pipes until I was coerced into performing at a concert when I was 15 or 16. I’d been playing for about seven years. The next day, everyone was saying, where the hell did that come from? We thought we knew you.” Once he was outed as a piper, Angus began to achieve recognition beyond Mabou. “I competed solo, and I toured with the Gaelic College pipe band. The pipe band and the competition scene were great for me from a social perspective: it meant I could get out of Mabou, and when other people would travel to play hockey on the weekends I would go to competitions. The college pipe band included people from all over Nova Scotia and the East Coast of the States as well. We were all about the same age, taught by the same people, so the social side was appealing. I was successful enough, but competitive piping wasn’t the be-all and end-all for me.” Success certainly wasn’t lacking for Angus, in solo piping prizes and pipe band competitions. Ironically, a trip to the World Pipe Band Championships — winning grade 3 in the process — was another step towards the formation of Dàimh. He explained: “Growing up I also learnt the fiddle. I was completely surrounded by fiddle music. My brothers played the fiddle,

so I was always exposed to that type of music, and I was always more interested in recordings of Battlefield Band or Wolfstone, rather than pure piping. The older I got, the more I found that my piping style was shaped by non-piping influences. The fiddle played a big part, but I found through my teenage years that my style grew less conducive to competitions. “There are so many different facets to piping, and competitive piping is just one of them. I don’t like the term kitchen piping, because it can be a put-down, and often the players who use that term couldn’t actually do what the so-called kitchen pipers do. Non-competitive piping, the sort of thing I do with Dàimh, is much more respected now than it was, and I would put that down to Fred Morrison, Gordon Duncan and the MacDonald brothers — ­ Allan, Iain and Dr Angus — who won the competitions and the medals but also played the pipes in other contexts. They gave it some sort of validity. There were always people who just played the pipes, went their own way and didn’t take part in competitions, but they possibly weren’t given the credit they deserved.” Visiting the Worlds with the Gaelic College Pipe Band led to a tour of the West Highlands and a hankering for Scottish sessions. “We came over in 1994 for two or three weeks, and went up to Lochinver and Ullapool to play. We needed to have a concert group that wasn’t just a pipe band,” said Angus. “Bruce MacPhee was our pipe major at the time and he put together a band with Ryan and Boyd MacNeil which was the beginning of Slainte Mhath. Then shortly before I left school, Hamish Moore started to visit Cape Breton. I

Photo: John

‘I don’t like the term kitchen piping, because it can be a put-down, and often the players who use that term couldn’t actually do what the so-called kitchen pipers do’


PROFILE I became friends with his sons and Hamish told me I should really get a set of Border pipes. This was something completely new to me, nobody was playing them in Cape Breton, but he said he’d make me a set. If it hadn’t been for Hamish, I’d probably have followed my plan to study accountancy. I came over to spend a year at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye before going to university and that’s where I met some of the boys in Dàimh. Gabe McVarish and Colm O’Rua both came over a couple of years before me, and they would come up to Skye or I would go down to where they were based in Glenuig or Glenfinnan. We kept on bumping into each other, and really enjoyed playing tunes together. “When Hamish delivered my set of Border pipes in A, suddenly I could play in sessions with other instruments. There was never a session scene in Cape Breton, just dances and house parties, although that’s changing now. Colm had an idea to play in the Highland Festival and I could drive a car so the boys rang me. Dàimh was supposed to be about Celtic kinship and it worked out really well.” Playing the Highland pipes with other melody instruments is always a challenge but Dàimh seem to have overcome that challenge without making too many compromises. I asked Angus how they managed this. “I was playing the Border pipes in A, and then moving up to the Highland pipes somewhere sharp of Bb, so there was a lot of sticky tape involved. But there was a sort of instant bond, an understanding between


Photo: Louis deCarlo

Photo: Eileen Bell

me on the pipes and Gabe on the fiddle. The ornaments he uses aren’t exactly how you would copy the pipes but they certainly fit in perfectly with how I play the pipes. We didn’t have to do a lot of work to find a common ground. “Playing with a fiddler like Gabe, I could start interpreting tunes differently and also taking tunes that don’t fit the pipe scale and adapting them. I was always frustrated that there were only nine notes to play with, so reworking tunes to make them fit on the pipes definitely appealed to me. I’ve never really written tunes, but I look back at old collections, even at non-Scottish tunes, and I spend a lot of time seeing if I can put these on the pipes. Sometimes it doesn’t work but it’s great when you do find a new tune that fits on the pipes.” This is certainly one of Dàimh’s

hallmarks: I’ve always been impressed by the range of tunes Dàimh can handle on the pipes. From John Kelly’s Slide to Malfunction Junction, Da Scallowa Lasses to The Stone of Destiny, nothing seems to be beyond them. Daimh added singer Calum Alex MacMillan to the band in 2007, giving them a full-time vocalist. I wondered what the reality is of setting a singer alongside the pipes. “Well we’ve always worked with singers, from Lisa MacKinnon, Anne Martin, Alyth McCormack to Kathleen MacInnes. The whole Dàimh thing was about the Celtic diaspora, songs and tunes were equally at the heart of it. Half of the band are Gaelic speakers, and Gaelic is as important to me as piping or anything else. I grew up speaking it, speak it with my wife and children, use it teaching music in the schools and I still live in a Gaelic-speaking area.


Arr. for pipes A. MacKenzie

The Antrim Rose Reel

Comp. Paddy O’Brien / Arr. for pipes A. MacKenzie

Both of the above tunes were arranged by Angus MacKenzie to fit on the pipes and all the C notes in Da Scallowa Lasses are natural — played with the B finger down and the C and low A fingers up. Da Scalloway Lasses can be heard on Dàimh’s most recent CD, Diversions, and The Antrim Rose on their Pirates of Puirt album.

“One thing about Dàimh is we’ve always been very good friends: we enjoy each other’s company, and we happen to play a bit of music. We were always waiting for the right person, a singer who really fitted in with the band. Calum Alex is that person. We tried a couple of songs at a gig and it went really well with him. It felt natural, an extension of what we were playing, so we decided to add a permanent singer. Calum Alex is also a piper and whistle player, so he’s fully incorporated into the band. It means we can have a more dynamic sound if we mix songs in with the tunes. Sometimes I do the whole set on the big pipes, so there’s that big sound behind the songs. It’s a bit of a leap of faith playing the pipes live with a singer, you can’t

always hear everything but it generally seems to work out well.” Although Dàimh is getting busier and the boys are keen to tour, Angus also has other projects, as well as a wife and kids, to keep him busy. “I was part of Hamish Moore’s show Na Tri Seudan, the three treasures of song, dance and music. Hamish made eight sets of Highland pipes in A for the show, copies of a 1785 set in Inverness Museum: they’re beautiful pipes, to look at as well as to hear, so Fin Moore and I decided to form a quartet playing these pipes with Calum MacCrimmon and Angus Nicolson. “We performed at Piping Live! and Lorient this year, and we’re taking the quartet over to

Cape Breton for the Celtic Colours festival in October, where we’re planning to record an album. I’ve also just finished an album with my brother Kenneth, who plays pipes and fiddle. That should be released at Celtic Colours as well. “We’ve put together some Cape Breton tunes and some Irish and Scottish tunes which I’ve wrangled onto the pipes. Ross Martin and Mac Morin are on the album too, guitar and piano, as well as Paddy Gillis and my other brother Calum. So it’s all a bit hectic at the moment. This has been the most manic few months ever.” Sounds like there’s more than enough happening for Angus MacKenzie just now. l PIPING TODAY • 37


Da Scallowa Lasses

VENUE feature

Elegant weddings with a Photo: Steve Campbell •

The National Piping Centre


etting married is one of the biggest decisions a couple will ever have to make. However, once a proposal has been accepted, there are many more daunting dilemmas ahead as the bride and groom-to-be plan their big day. Choosing the venue for the ceremony and reception is probably the most crucial part of the arrangements. There’s a bewildering array of choices out there. If you’re planning a wedding, or you know a friend or family member who is, then given your own interest in piping you might want to point them in the direction of The National Piping Centre in Glasgow.


It doesn’t mean the happy couple will be serenaded by pipes from morning until night – although if that’s the bride and groom’s wish then the staff will happily accommodate it. The Centre is a beautiful building with a sandstone exterior, spiral staircases, high ceilings and intricate strained glass windows. It has become one of the city’s most popular wedding venues and the staff, led by general manager Gemma Laidlaw, pride themselves on offering romantic weddings with a Scottish twist. Gemma has many years of experience in hospitality management and has helped to build up a fantastic reputation for the Centre.

She has been shortlisted three times for a Vows Award – the Scottish wedding industry’s Oscars – so brides and grooms-to-be will know they are in good hands. She said: “We believe that a couple’s big day should be as individual and personal as they wish. Our team offers couples the help and support to turn their dreams into a reality. We are here to help ensure that every wedding is perfect and memorable.” The main auditorium has stunning tartan drapes in The National Piping Centre’s own tartan in hues of blue, green and purple. It’s the ideal choice to host the ceremony, accommodating up to 120 guests, and of course

Photo: Steve Campbell •

Scottish twist

Tell us about yourselves, how you met, how long you’ve been together and do you have a piping connection which led you to The NPC? Scot and I originally met online which was rare at the time and some people thought was rather strange. Most people thought it would never work, meeting someone on the internet. By coincidence we were both going to the same nightclub one night with our friends and that was where we first met face-to-face. We have been together ever since. It turned out we knew a lot of the same people through school and because we both play golf. We have been together for more than seven years now. We have no connection to piping but we met Gemma the day before we got engaged. We were in an Italian restaurant in New York and were sitting at tables next to each other. Gemma was on holiday with her partner Tony, who went to school with me. It’s a small world! What sort of wedding did you have in mind? We wanted a traditional Scottish wedding. A piper was a must and we love the thistles and tartan. Also, the colour scheme I wanted was purple. For the venue we wanted somewhere old but modern at the same time. The NPC was the perfect place. How did staff make your dream day become reality? They were so organised and helpful. Gemma knew everything to ask and find out from us in the months before the big day. Nothing is too much bother for them. On the day I did not have to do anything except have a great time. The whole day was perfect and stress-free. The meal was lovely and enjoyed by all. The buffet of breakfast rolls and cheese board went down a storm. Did you get married in the Centre or elsewhere? The whole day was in the Piping Centre which was really good. The weather was so good that after the ceremony, everyone spilled outside and enjoyed the sunshine for the afternoon. When standing outside the NPC getting pictures taken you would never have known you were in Glasgow city centre. How many guests did you have? We had 80 guests. Originally we were going to have a smaller number for the meal and more people at night but the packages the NPC have available meant we were able to have everyone for the whole day. What was your favourite part of the day? Walking down the aisle with my Dad to meet Scot. I had my dress hanging in a cupboard for a year and was so looking forward to eventually showing it to Scot. What would you say to couples considering the Centre for their wedding? I would highly recommend the NPC. The price, service, food and staff are excellent. There was nothing I could fault about the whole day. Being in the city centre, it is very central for the guests. The building is lovely inside and out. It’s an old traditional building but is modern inside and provides an intimate and romantic Scottish setting. There are eight rooms in the hotel which was perfect for us staying over. I even enjoyed a cup of tea outside the next morning with my dress back on. l

the reception with a maximum of 150 guests at night. More intimate gatherings are also available for couples who prefer a smaller celebration. Regardless of the size of the event, there is the added benefit of being able to book accomodation at The Pipers’ Tryst for the wedding party. A range of food and drinks packages are available to simplify the whole process, suitable for varying budgets. Dishes include wafer thin smoked venison salad, breast of chicken with haggis served with a cafe au lait sauce and Glayva

and wild heather honey frozen parfait, so you can see that a range of fantastic food with a contemporary Scottish theme is on offer. It’s not just the food, drink and decor provided at the Centre they can advise on. The knowledgeable staff can recommend a range of other vital services from florists to photographers, and they also have their own in-house kilt hire service. All this can take the stress out of the preparations. So now that’s the venue sorted, the bride and groom can get on with worrying what they’re going to wear – and who’s going to pay for it all! l


VENUE feature


laine and Scot Cameron got married at The National Piping Centre in May. Here, Elaine tells us about their special day and why they decided to choose The National Piping Centre.


No drones, no happiness Piping In Asturias


PAIN’S rugged northern coast is home to five contrasting pipingrelated cultures: Galician, Asturian, Cantabrian, Navarran and Basque, although the gaita navarra, like the Basque doublepipe “alboka” has no bag, and the Basques’ xaranbel bagpipe is believed extinct. Not far away are the Catalonian sac de gemecs, the Zamoran-Portuguese gaita de fole and the Aragonese gaita de boto. Asturias, bordering eastern Galicia, owes its distinctive historical identity to the combative tenacity of its eighth century Visigoth overlords. In 718, a war band of Visigoths, clinging to their last stronghold, routed an army of Moors from the mountain glen of Covadonga and established a small, independent Christian enclave. The battle was one of history’s magic moments, inspiring the “Reconquista” that would ultimately oust the Moors from the whole of Spain. PIPING TODAY • 40

FAÇADE of the Casa de los González de la Vega, home to the Museo de la Gaita in Xixón… “the piper is the most important figure in the Asturian popular landscape. It’s not possible to understand traditional music here without the bagpipe. It appears in every celebration, religious or secular.”

Around this background Asturias formed an enduring identity, different from those of its neighbours. It remained a relatively poor, obscure region until iron and coal mining began changing the hitherto agricultural economy in the 19th century. Industrialisation helped prime Asturians against the fascist regime of General Francisco

Franco y Bahamonde, Spain’s dictator from 1936 until his death in 1975. Under his policy of suppressing minority cultures, Asturias became the “Province of Oviedo”. When Franco finally died, its old, more culturally assertive name was restored and Asturias became an autonomous community (a form of regional government created by Spain’s 1978 Constitution). Asturianu, its unique language, is not officially recognised but it is protected and, today, Asturias enjoys a reputation for its excellent seafood and cheeses and, particularly, for its tasty, head-spinning cider. Fieldwork began in the late 1970s to recover the long-suppressed traditional culture of Asturias, but piping enjoyed little support of the sort that Galician authorities were pouring into piping there. “The Asturian upper middle classes despised the bagpipe as a vulgar instrument, too noisy for their sensitive ears,” explained Juan Alfonso


by Mike Paterson

Covadonga Lakes in Asturias

Fernández Garcia, director of the Museo de la Gaita in Xixón (Gijón, in its usual Spanish rendering) when I first visited Asturias in 1999. “A consequence has been the slight interest of our cultural and political institutions. “The piper is the most important figure in the Asturian popular landscape. It’s not possible to understand traditional music here without the bagpipe. It appears in every celebration, religious or secular.” The traditional teaching system had survived and the local Universidad Popular was at that time offering six to ten places a year on its bagpipe courses. “While Galician pipers usually use open fingering for major keys and closed fingering for minor keys, the traditional Asturian chanter is diatonic and pipers use a half-closed fingering technique to play in the major keys,” added the museum director. “Recently, leading Asturian pipers have developed new fingering techniques, involving half holes and ‘tranquillas’, to produce the complete chromatic scale. “There is a new generation of baroque pipers very interested in the development of a flourishing personal style which amalgamates different influences, even Scottish. In spite of this,” he said, “there are still important differences be-

LLAN DE CUBEL from left: Xuan Muñez, Xel Pereda, Marcos Llope, Simon Bradley, Elías García and Fonsu Mielgo.

tween Galician and Asturian pipers, depending on the greater or lesser presence of traditional piping style in the personal mix.” Since we talked, a growing number of leading Asturian pipers — most notably José Angel Hevia Velasquez (“Hevia”) — and groups — like Llan de Cubel and Tejedor — have made their presence ever more vividly felt in international circles and the tradition at home has gone from strength to strength. The Museo de la Gaita’s collection of pipes and piping materials, which began as the personal passion of a bookseller, Raphael Meré Pando, is now installed in the historic Casa de los González de la Vega, a 17th century house

set back from the golden beach of San Lorenzo in a park beside the city’s sports stadium and the Rio Piles. It has a permanent exhibition of pipes from Spain, the rest of Europe and North Africa. There is even a set of English ‘Leicester’ small pipes, an experimental re-creation by the Peebles-based pipemaker Julian Goodacre. Also displayed is an assortment of other Asturian traditional instruments, along with art and photography relating to piping traditions. The low point for Asturias’ piping tradition and traditional culture came in the late 1970s, according to Fonsu Mielgo, a cultural promoter and co-founder of the 25-year-old Asturian traditional group Llan de Cubel. PIPING TODAY • 41


FONSU MIELGO… “When we started, it was especially emotional for old people; it was not so common to see pipes and drums in the festivals and old people liked the music very much. As it sounded ‘new’ and ‘modern’ to young people, they followed us too and we had every kind of audience.”


Photo: Derek Maxwell

Photo: Derek Maxwell

XUAN MUÑEZ: “We have some techniques, like reaching the second octave with overblowing, that make tuning difficult: you have to keep your pipes in good condition and you have to practise a lot. You have to know your pipes very well.”

“There were perhaps 100 old pipers left at that time, all old people. Very few young people were playing pipes in an area where the pipes had always been the most important and most popular instrument. “There were several sides to the revival,” he said. “In the 1980s, a lot of field work was done in dance, singing and music, mostly by enthusiasts working in a very academic way. Until the 1960s, there was no amplification at the festivals so music was provided by the loudest instrument there: the gaita. So the repertoire for the fiddle and flute was more in danger than that of the pipes and the work was harder there. Very good work was done with dance and we were lucky because this happened just in time to preserve almost all of the traditional dances and music. “Our piping revival was under way by the end of the 1970s,” said Fonsu. From the 1980s, pipe bands were being formed in Asturias. “We followed the example of Scottish and Breton pipe bands. That was a very big thing for Asturian pipes and now there are some very good pipe bands and there is a lot of interest. Asturians come to Scotland, to the Piping Live! festival and the World Pipe Band Championships, to see the best piping in the world and to improve. I think we can say that piping is now in the best shape ever in the history of Asturias. The repertoire is widening, techniques are improving, pipe bands… there are lots of very young players, very good bands, excellent pipers: it’s an excellent situation. “The pipe bands wear costumes based on dress used at the end of the 18th century and worn, more or less, until the end of the 19th century. It’s typical in the pipe bands but we’ve never worn costumes in the folk band.” Fonsu and his friends met as engineering students with a shared passion for their musical heritage. They launched Llan de Cubel in 1984 as a five-piece traditional band. Fonsu and two of the band’s other founders — Marcos Llope (vocals and flutes) and Elías García (bouzouki and pedal bass) — are still with the group. Today, Llan de Cubel

is the most widely recognised Asturian folk group and its six albums define contemporary music from the area. He added: “As a bunch of young people, we began to work with traditional music, trying to make it better known, not only in Asturias but also the rest of the world. We did field work too. We made recordings of old pipers, accordionists and fiddle players. I began playing gaita in the band and did it for a while …but it is hard and you need to practise every day. “Now I play percussion and a little accordion and we were joined by Xel Pereda (guitar and vocals) in 1995, Simon Bradley (fiddle) in 1996, and Xuan R. Muñez (gaita asturiana, low whistle and vocals) in 1998 so, for the past 12 years, we have had the same line-up.” Llan de Cubel’s approach is not strictly purist, according to Fonsu. “In olden times, a ‘bandina’ included gaita, drum, bass drum, fiddle, clarinet and accordion, in different combinations — but never a guitar, bouzouki or pedal bass like we use. “We think traditional music is alive: you have to allow development in traditional music or it will become a museum thing. At first, some people did not understand what we were doing and there was controversy, but time has been our justification. Now there are ethnic groups that play in the pure, traditional way with no modern influences but it is more an academic thing. Most young people are playing in new bands, improving things and writing new tunes. You need to write music to keep the tradition alive and young people are doing it. We are following the way that other Celtic countries have shown us. “In Llan de Cubel, we have always been very conscious of what we wanted to do,” said Fonsu. “The only changes we’ve tried to make have been to improve our playing and arranging techniques… trying to do things better. “When we started, it was especially emotional for old people. It was not so common to see pipes and drums in the festivals and old people liked the music very much. As it sounded ‘new’ and

ASTURIAS Photo: Mike Paterson

‘The drones are very important in Asturian music and for folk music we prefer a pipe with two drones; they make a good atmosphere and provide the basic tuning for us, we tune to the drone… no drones, no happiness’

Xuan Muñez and Fonsu Mielgo

‘modern’ to young people, they followed us too and we had every kind of audience. “Simon Bradley is a Scottish fiddler. He always wrote tunes in the Irish or Scottish way,” explained Fonsu. “Now, with us, he is writing Asturian music in the Asturian style and we play some of his tunes. He has good technical skills and we incorporate that in our arrangements of Asturian music in an Asturian style… enriched with his technique. The band has improved with his playing and arrangements. “We have toured the United States. Audiences there are older; you don’t see many young people following folk music. But in Asturias, it’s a bit like Scotland, you find all kinds of people and all ages in an audience.” Llan de Cubel’s gaita player Xuan Muñez began piping when he was 12. “I started with a classical band but, when they started a section of Asturian bagpipes, I began to learn. I preferred the pipes and I had a set of bagpipes from my grandfather at home,” he said.

“His pipes had been kept in his attic where they had lain unplayed for 70 years or more. The pipes were like new, in D, with one drone. The bag had been eaten by mice but the wood — boxwood — was perfect. It was a miracle. “The drones are very important in Asturian music and for folk music we prefer a pipe with two drones; they make a good atmosphere and provide the basic tuning for us, we tune to the drone… no drones, no happiness.” Today, he said, schools of traditional piping and Asturian and snare drumming are operated by a number of bands. He added: “There are about 50 schools in various towns and 3000 pipers.” However, band competitions have not proved popular. A championship launched seven years ago stalled in 2008 after none of the Asturian bands entered. “Not everyone wants to go to a championship,” said Xuan. “But there are competitions for solo piping and for the traditional ‘tonala’ ensemble: a piper with a singer where the singer

is the important component and the pipes are accompaniment. Some pipers play and sing at the same time. “The gaita asturiana is also played solo, particularly for Mass in church and, most popularly, with a drum for dancers. I used to play with my brother on the drum, I play for friends’ weddings and I play in the church and sometimes I play with a singer but not often because you don’t find a lot of singers everywhere. There are some younger singers but most of the older, experienced singers have pipers they perform with regularly.” Over the past 15 years, the Asturian pipes have come to be better tuned, according to Xuan. “We have some techniques, like reaching the second octave with overblowing, that make tuning difficult: you have to keep your pipes in good condition and you have to practise a lot. You have to know your pipes very well,” he admitted. Xuan said an old technique of pumping the bag for rhythmic effect had been lost. There was a piper who was famous because he did that — and there are some traditional tunes where you need to do it – but that piper died in the 1940s. He added: “Our chanter reeds are different from the Galician chanter reeds and this gives the Asturian pipes their particular sound. There has been some development of the reeds. “Earlier in the revival, we played the traditional reeds but they were unstable. So we made many efforts with makers to improve the traditional reeds. Now we play with modern Scottish cane reeds.” Local instrument makers have also played an important role in the revival, said Fonsu. “In the 1980s, and for maybe 100 years before that, the most important pipe tunings were D and C. B-flat pipes were not made. The B-flat tuning was the most traditional but makers had become used to making higher-pitched pipes. “We started to work with some young pipemakers to get them making B-flat pipes again because we need that pitch for the pipe bands and for the folk bands. It is better for the strings and tuning. We participated actively in the revival of the B-flat pipes in Asturias and this wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and interest of the makers. “Now they are making the Asturias pipes, the Asturian drum and other traditional drums and doing very good work.” l PIPING TODAY • 43


by Keith Sanger

Two Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers Adam Barclay and Hugh Robertson


mong the archives now at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale on Skye is a receipt dated Edinburgh, November 3, 1748, from one Adam Barclay on account of Sir James MacDonald as payment “To a sett of Hyland Pipes of cocawood mounted with Ivory at £3 - 3 sh”.1 Barclay was an Edinburgh-based wood turner and the earliest pipemaker we are able to identify by name, therefore an important figure in the history of piping. It is also now possible to add a little more to his background and the possible connection to another slightly later pipemaker, Hugh Robertson. Adam Barclay would have been born sometime towards the end of the 17th century as he was already working as a turner in Edinburgh by May 1712 when he received the sum of 18 shillings from James Nisbet, a soldier in the Castle of Edinburgh on account of Major James Conel, for making eight billiard balls for him. At that time billiards was played on a table covered with green woollen cloth, (to imitate grass), and with cushions stuffed with felt, but the two balls were struck with a sort of hockey stick shaped implement and the balls themselves were probably still turned out of wood.2 Between 1731 and 1737, Adam Barclay, turner, appears in the accounts of Colin Mitchell, an Edinburgh goldsmith. He was receiving payments for making the various wooden parts of objects like snuffboxes and so on, which the goldsmith was using as the base for his own work. Clearly, therefore, the turner’s work would have been of high quality as anyone able to afford the work of a goldsmith would have demanded a similar standard throughout.3 It is therefore surprising that he does not appear in the Edinburgh Burgess Rolls. Turners were certainly admitted as burgesses and he clearly enjoyed that status, if his presence among the 45 persons drawn from the Edinburgh great and good to form an assize, or court, in 1744 is any indication. The printed indictment for the trial of one James MacPherson, then prisoner in the Tolbooth of Lanark, for the crime of stealing PIPING TODAY • 44

‘...war was back in vogue and Napoleon presented a much larger threat to the physical security of the UK...This in turn resulted in more “Highland Regiments” being raised, all with two pipers on the establishment of their grenadier companies and therefore requiring instruments’ horses, included not just the names of the assize but also the list of the 21 witnesses, along with a resume of the indictment. A guilty verdict looked pretty much like a forgone conclusion.4 Adam Barclay, described as a turner, died in the West Kirk Parish, Edinburgh, in 1753 and was buried in the St Cuthbert’s graveyard on September 13.5 By the time of his death he was living in Mary King’s Close at the foot of the Lawnmarket, according to the Window Tax record for 1752,6 and he was paying the tax for 15 ‘windows’. (Technically a ‘window’ was any pane of glass which allowed natural light into a habitable area.) Since property owners with more than 10 windows were exempt from also paying an Annuity Tax and Adam is not listed on the Annuity Tax Roll, it would appear that he owned his property and was one of the more substantial residents of the close. One curious feature of the Window and Annuity Tax Rolls is that whereas nearly all the other residents of the close have their occupations noted against their names, Adam Barclay does not, perhaps indicating that he was no longer actively practising as a turner, which, if he can be identified with the Adam Barclay born in St Cuthberts Parish in 1680, might possibly be the case as he would have been around 73 years of age by that time.7 This then raises the question whether there is any connection between Barclay and Hugh Robertson who, just over a year after the older

man’s death, appears in the records described as a ‘turner’ on his marriage in December 1754 to a Margaret Maners. She was described as the daughter of William Maners Baxter in Cramond.8 An appropriate time to marry, if he was indeed a young man stepping into the shoes of an established turner’s business, and he does seem to have been a young man at that time. In 1821, the Highland Society of London made a payment of £2-2 to “Hugh Robertson who made the prize pipe since institution of the competition, a man upwards of 90 years of age confined to bed”.9 This would suggest a birth date of circa 1731 and therefore he can probably be identified with the Hugh Robertson, born in Leith in 1733,10 which would have made him just 21 years old at the time of his marriage. Presumably, in theory, he was not long out of his apprenticeship, except there is no trace of him in the Edinburgh Apprentice Rolls and neither, like Barclay before him, was he ever made a Burgess of Edinburgh. This implies that for whatever reason both these turners seem to have been outside the normal Edinburgh establishment. The first record of Robertson making bagpipes comes from the MacLeod accounts when, in 1765, a pair of Highland Pipes were bought from him for £2-10 shillings.11 This is followed by an account from Hugh Robertson to Sir Alexander MacDonald dated August 3, 1767, for a “set of Highland Pipes mounted with Ivory” at a cost of £3-0-0, which was paid in

HISTORY Pictured above is the receipt for a set of bagpipes from Adam Barclay to Sir James MacDonald in 1748. Piping Today would like to thank the Clan Donalds Lands Trust for their permission to print the receipt.

Edinburgh the same day by Mr John MacLean, who was a surgeon and Sir Alexander’s parttime chamberlain for the Trotternish division of the Skye Estate.12 From the timing of this purchase it seems likely that these pipes were being bought on behalf of John MacArthur whose father, Neil MacArthur’s testament had been belatedly recorded on July 18, only days before the wood to make the instrument had been purchased.13 Neil had actually died in August 1762 while serving as a piper with the 77th or Montgomery Highlanders in Havannah. Although the money in his possession at that time was given to one of the officers to be returned to his heirs, it had taken some time and effort by Lady Margaret MacDonald after the regiment returned to the UK to actually recover the money for the piper’s family.14 The legacy received by young John MacArthur amounted to £30 7sh 6d, (or £364 and 10 shillings Scots), either way more than enough for him to have invested in a new set of pipes. Some of these same people are involved in the next reference to the purchase of “Highland Pipes” to be made by Hugh Robertson, which comes from a letter written in 1774 by Dr John MacLean to Sir James Grant concerning the young Grant piper John Cumming. Cumming was at that time in Skye having tuition from Donald MacArthur in Trotternish. The doctor was suggesting that the pupil was at the stage where he needed some pipes and recommended that they should be got from “one Robertson a turner at Edinburgh who makes them well when under the inspection of a Skillful person”. He then goes on to suggest as that skilful person, Lord MacDonald’s servant then in

Edinburgh, who at that point would have been John MacArthur.15 Whether by that time Hugh Robertson’s work still needed ‘overseeing’ is an open question. It may be that Dr MacLean was harking back to when he was last involved in 1767, or possibly by then mouthblown ‘highland pipes’ may have been a relatively small part of the turner’s output. Certainly by 1770, Hugh Robertson was apparently making high-quality lowland instruments without any supervision, judging by a receipt among the Duke of Buccleuch’s papers. The receipt was in response to a letter from a Kenneth MacKenzie Esq in London to Mr John Alves, the Duke’s chamberlain in Dalkeith, stating that the Duke had requested that he was to pay the price of the bagpipes made for the Duke’s servant, a James Grieg. The pipes were to be sent at the first opportunity to London. The receipt was in two parts, “Hugh Robertson, Turner in Edinbr for a pair of Ivory BagPipes with silver Mounting sent to London in Feb 7 1770” ,and then under the date of February 19, 1770, “His Grace the Duke of Buccliugh, Do to Hugh Robertson Turner in Edinburgh, Feb 19, To a pair of Ivory pipes with silver mounting and Chains, £9- 19 - 6, Received the above accompt in full by the hands of Mr John Alves and the same is hereby Discharged (and signed) by Hugh Robertson”.16 Robertson had also started to have an entry in the Edinburgh Directories starting with the Aitchison-produced edition for 1774 - 1775 where he was listed as “Robertson Hugh, Turner, Castlehill”. As payment was required by the publisher for inclusion and was proportional to the size of the entry, then the entries provide an idea of how Robertson wanted to

appear to his customers, as well as reflecting changing circumstances in respect to the wider historical context of the period during which he was working. It is therefore significant that in his entry for the 1775 - 1776 directory he changed his description to “Robertson, Hugh, turner and pipe-maker, and curious in making all kinds of wind musical instruments, Castlehill” before in the 1776 - 1777 edition returning to just the description of Turner which he then retained through to 1792.17 So what had stimulated the expanded entry for pipes and woodwinds? As there would have been some time lag between entries being accepted by the directory publisher and the actual date of the directory’s publication, it is likely that Robertson was trying to attract the attention of the former customers of another bagpipe and woodwind maker called Nicholas Kerr, who had died in 1773.18 As it was, political events had already moved in Robertson’s favour when in 1775 in America, the rebellion (as it was viewed from the United Kingdom perspective) led to the raising of a number of Highland Regiments which by that time all had an establishment of two pipers which would certainly have provided more business for Robertson. Although the military demand for Highland pipes would have decreased at the cessation of hostilities in 1782, by then the Highland Society Piping Competitions had commenced and Robertson had become the supplier of the annual prize pipe. The next change to Robertson’s directory entries starts with the 1793-1794 edition where he is described as “Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker”, which continued through to 1797PIPING TODAY • 45


‘Robertson had made the Highland Society of London prize pipe ever since the inception of the competitions, but for a few years commencing in 1812 the society switched to ordering the instruments from Malcolm MacGregor’ 1798 after which it changes to just “Ivory Turner” until the last entry for Robertson which occurs in 1804. Once again the background circumstances suggest reasons for these changes. Firstly, through using ivory on a regular basis in his instrument work, he had probably gained far more experience of turning ivory than any other Edinburgh turners so pitching for a specialist part of the market would have made sense. Secondly, in 1793, a teacher of ‘Irish pipes’ also appears in the Edinburgh directories and Robertson would probably have been looking to make the ‘Irish pipes’ for any students who could afford them.19 In addition, war was back in vogue and Napoleon presented a much larger threat to the physical security of the UK and resulted in almost two complimentary forces being raised, one for use on the continent while another in the form of the Fencible Regiments providing a defence against invasion. This in turn resulted in more ‘Highland Regiments’ being raised, all with two pipers on the establishment of their grenadier companies and therefore requiring instruments. This time round Hugh Robertson had some initial competition from another pipe-maker called James Munro, who was also holding the post of piper to the Canongate. Possibly indicating that Edinburgh was not large enough for two pipe-makers, Munro moved to Inverness where he was presumably guaranteed some business from the regiments based at Fort George, including making the two instruments for Sir James Grant’s 1st (Strathspey) Fencible Regiment.20 However, one suspects that Hugh Robertson had a smile on his face when, according to the Visitors Book kept by the 1st Fencible Regiment after they had moved to Edinburgh in 1797, he signed in as visiting the regiment on business.21 Robertson had made the Highland Society of London prize pipe ever since the inception of the competitions, but for a few years commencing in 1812 the society switched to ordering the instruments from Malcolm MacGregor. Exactly why is unclear because there was certainly some confusion surrounding the change as, according PIPING TODAY • 46

to the 1812 accounts, Hugh Robertson was paid £4 4sh for the “pipe near finished before told Highland Society of London had ordered from Malcolm MacGregor”, and again in 1813 he received £3 3sh for “part of prize pipe already made”. It was probably a consequence of the system whereby a sub-committee of the Highland Society of Scotland organised the competition in Scotland but it was the Highland Society of London who actually provided the money to run it. It is probably significant that Malcolm MacGregor lived in London and no doubt had the London Society’s ear. It is not clear what sort of market would have existed for Highland pipes in London, probably not much, so it may also be significant that William Shepherd, of the Edinburgh music business Gow and Shepherd, died in 1812. That resulted in the company requiring to be dissolved, a lengthy process. They seem to have been MacGregor’s main outlet in Scotland, which would have represented a significant disruption to his sales and probably his cash flow as the winding up process ran from the 1808 accounts and was not completed through the Court of Session processes until 1819.22 However in 1816, the orders for the prize pipe eventually reverted to Robertson and he then resumed supplying the instruments at a price of £8 until 1821 when Donald MacDonald took over, charging the higher price of £10 10sh. Hugh Robertson died in 1822 and, according to the Edinburgh Burial Register where he was described as a turner, he was interred on March 28.23 He was survived by an only daughter called Catherine, born in 1755,24 and who, according to Sir John Graham Dalyell, played the pipes.25 In 1797 she married a James Winter, described as a ‘Butler’ or ‘manservant’, they seemed to have remained childless and she died in Edinburgh, described as a widow aged 80 years of age, in 1834.26 l 1. Sanger, K, Who Paid the Pipemaker, Piping Times, 40, No 8, (May 1988). 2. National Archives of Scotland, (NAS), GD26/9/74/85 3. NAS, RH15/176/9 4. NAS GD113/3/986 5. Old Parish Records, (OPR), Deaths 685/010148 Edinburgh 6. Gilhooley, J. A Directory of Edinburgh in 1752, (1988). 62. Of the 26 people listed in the close just six were paying

window tax and only one of them, a Glover, (with 19) had more windows than Adam Barclay. 7. OPR. Births 685/00200300185 St Cuthberts. 5 December 1680, Adam son of John Barclay and Helen Kilpatrick. 8. OPR. Marriages 685/00104800259. 8 December 1754. 9. National Library of Scotland, Deposit 268. 10. OPR. Births 692/00100300024, Leith North, Hugh son born 3rd February 1733 to David Robertson, Weaver and Agnes Lawson his spouse. 11. Grant, I. F, The MacLeods, (1959), p 491. where his name is given as ‘R Robertson, turner Edinburgh’ the ‘R’ presumably being a misreading for ‘H’. 12. Sanger, K, Who paid the Pipemaker, Piping Times, 40, No 8, (May 1988). Although the cost for the pipes was £3, the actual sum Robertson received was £2 5sh 4d as the account for the purchase of ‘44Lib Coccoa Wood at 4 pence per Lib’ which came to £ 0 14sh 8d had already been paid by the purchaser to a James Farquar on the 23 July. Indicating that the instrument must have taken only weeks to make. 13. NAS. CC8/8/120/873 14. Sanger, K, Niel MacArthur, Piping Times. 38, No 9, (June 1986); National Library of Scotland MS 1309, f 168 and f 173. The main problem seems to have been that the officer concerned had been deployed directly from the West Indies to Ireland without returning to Scotland first. 15. NAS. GD248/168/13/18 16. NAS. GD224/208/2/116 17. Edinburgh Directories (Aitchison’s) 1774 – 1775 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1775 – 1776 Robertson Hugh turner and pipe-maker, and curious in making all kinds of wind musical instruments, Castlehill 1776 – 1777 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1777 – 1778 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1778 – 1779 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1780 – 1781 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1782 – 1783 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1784 – 1785 no mention 1786 – 1788 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill ( following entry reads Robertson Mrs, lets rooms Castlehill) 1788 – 1790 no mention 1790 – 1792 Robertson Hugh Turner Castlehill 1793 – 1794 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker Castlehill 1794 – 1795 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker Castlehill 1795 – 1796 Robertson H Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker Castlehill 1796 – 1797 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker Castlehill 1797 – 1798 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner and Bagpipe maker Castlehill 1799 – 1800 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner Castlehill 1800 – 1801 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner Castlehill 1801 – 1802 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner Castlehill 1802 – 1803 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner Castlehill 1803 – 1804 Robertson Hugh Ivory Turner Castlehill 18. Sanger, K, Relics of an 18th century Lowland pipemaker, Common Stock. 23, No 1,(June 2008). 19. Sanger, K, An Edinburgh bagpipe teacher, Common Stock, 22. No 1, (June 2007). 20. NAS. GD248/413/12, GD248/686/1 21. NAS. GD248/442/12 22. NAS. CS96/2320. Over the period covered by these accounts Malcolm MacGregor received the sums of £20 augmented to £45- 3sh (with interest and expenses) and in 1813 ‘To goods invoice £34 6sh’. Not large sums considering that MacGregor made and supplied various wind instruments other than pipes. Or compared to the £10 14sh 6d that was owing to John Murphy the Irish Piper at Eglington Castle for sales of his books of music. 23. OPR. Deaths 685/010352 Edinburgh. 24. OPR. Births 685/00102900031 Edinburgh, 23 June 1755. 25. Dalyell, Sir J. G, Musical Memoirs of Scotland, (1849), 103. 26. OPR. Marriages 685/00105200234, Edinburgh, James Winter to Katherine Robertson Daughter of Hugh Robertson, Turner of Tolbooth Parish. 29 March 1797; OPR. Deaths 685/010313, Edinburgh. Catherine Robertson, 11 August 1834


Key of “D” Key of “Bb”

Key of “A”



by James Beaton

The Library The National Piping Centre

Recent additions to the collection The National Piping Centre’s Highland Library


he Librar y of The National Piping Centre has been fortunate to receive an archive of music books and manuscript copies of tunes belonging to Archie MacPhedran, a native of Loch Fyneside who was the manager of Henderson’s Bagpipe Shop in Glasgow in the mid 20th century. This donation from Archie’s grandson, Roderick MacPhedran of Bishopbriggs near Glasgow, includes some rare printed material, as well as manuscript and sheet music of tunes not known to the current pipers’ repertoire, and it makes a considerable addition to the holdings of The National Piping Centre Library. The Clan MacPhedran has a long history on north Loch Fyneside, with one of the clan’s traditions being that the first of the name (which means the son of Peadaran or Little Peter) was a ferry man who steered the boat which brought Robert the Bruce and Sir Niall Campbell of Loch Awe from Ireland to Scotland during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the early 14th century. Certainly, individuals of that name are on record holding lands near Loch Awe in the 15th century, their trade being as ferrymen on the loch itself. Other members of the family were armourers and indeed one Cormacus MacPhedran, who may well have held

this high-status profession, is commemorated on carved memorial stone dating to the 14th or 15th century and situated in the churchyard of Keills in Knapdale. Bridget Mackenzie in her Piping Traditions of Argyll, states that Archie, who owned this collection was born in 1885 and died in 1962. He was the son of another Archie MacPhedran and although by the mid 19th century the family was associated with the fishing village of Kenmore on the west side of Loch Fyne between Inveraray and Furnace, Archie’s family seems to have moved to Glasgow by the time of his birth. He was a pupil of John MacDougall Gillies, and by 1915, Archie was the Pipe Major of the 5th (TA) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. He seems to have been badly wounded during the First War, as in a letter quoted by Dr MacKenzie, Archie states that he met a relative who was “matron of No 2 Canadian General Hospital at Le Tuport in France [and] I met this lady there when I was in a very bad way on my road to Blighty”, which may suggest that his injuries were such that he was able to take no further part in active service. Archie became the manager of Henderson’s Bagpipe Shop in Glasgow in 1925 and he

retired from Hendersons in 1952. War wounds notwithstanding, he continued as Pipe Major of the 5th HLI until 1939, when he retired from this post. He was also Pipe Major of the Glasgow Shepherds Pipe Band and both were top competing bands of their day. The printed items in this archive bring a number of interesting additions to the Centre’s library. They include volumes one, three and four of the first Piobaireachd Society publications, which appeared in 1904, 1907 and 1910. These works were part of the first attempt of the Piobaireachd Society to provide “standardised” versions of tunes. However, this first attempt by the PS was met with condemnation due to the poor editing of both the music and the notes accompanying the tunes, for which the Secretary of the Society at the time, William Stewart of Ensay was responsible. These works however, add to the historical resource available to students and scholars with the Centre’s library. The collection also contains the fascicles of David Glen’s Ancient Piobaireachd, which complement the library’s current holdings of this work. In terms of printed collections of light music, the most interesting is a copy of Alexander Glen’s The Caledonian Repository of Music, for the Great Highland Bagpipe, published in Edinburgh in 1860. The only other known copy of this work is owned by Geoff Hore, New Zealand. The book is signed by John MacRae of Culkein, Achnacarnin in Sutherland. As well as printed material, the collection also has over 100 tunes in manuscript, some of which appear to be unpublished. Of particular note are manuscript versions of Corrienessan’s Lament, written out by

The title page of Alexander Glen’s ‘The Caledonian Repository of Music for the Great Highland Bagpipe


LIBRARY Dr Charles Bannatyne for Pipe Major Alex Mathieson. Bannatyne has written on the back of the manuscript “This piobaireachd is arranged by Dr Charles Bannatyne from the melody to which John Dall MacKay set his poem “Cumha Choire an Easain”, The Lament of the Little Stream for the Corrie, more commonly called Corrieness. The piobaireachd with its doublings is treated somewhat like Donald Dughal MacKay’s Lament, but more like Donald MacDonald’s doubling of the urlar of the Sister’s Lament in the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia. Charles Bannatyne, Dec 16th 1904 to Pipe Major Alex Mathieson, Glencorse.” Alex Mathieson was a native of Sutherland who joined the Royal Scots as a Piper in 1889, and served until 1914 in various regular and territorial battalions. He also served in South Africa. Another piobaireachd manuscript in the archive is a version of the Old Woman’s Lullaby,

written out by G F Ross, the author of Some Piobaireachd Studies, published in 1926, and A Collection of MacCrimmon and Other Piobaireachd, published in 1929. Ross writes on the manuscript “This is not a Lament, but a croon or Lullaby. I have written the second variation in 8/4 time, as it is perhaps more clear, but it should of course be written in 4/4 with the time values of the notes reduced by half. I have written the tune line by line, as comparison between the ground and variations is facilitated. The Second Variation is not slow, and should be played fairly ‘round’. Every note as written should be heard on the chanter, especially the Low As marked (a) which are always cut out by the Piobaireachd Society and quite wrongly so. GF Ross, 12/12/41.” Archie MacPhedran also appears to have been in contact with pipers overseas. From the town of Cayley, near Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, come manuscripts of piobaireachd and light music from a composer named A W Dur-

ham. His piobaireachd compositions include The Battle of Vimy Ridge, where many Canadian soldiers were killed during the First World War, and Lament for Lord Tweedsmuir which marks the death of John Buchan, 1st Lord Tweedsmuir and Governor General of Canada from 1935 until his death in office in 1940. A series of light music compositions from Australia also feature in the archive, these from James Walker of Melbourne, pipe major of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band from Melbourne, a band which is still in existence. The collection also holds a tune by Peter R MacLeod, entitled Mrs Campbell, Highlanders’ Institute, Partick, which to the best of my knowledge has not been published. This archive adds to the resources available to The National Piping Centre Library, and a fuller archival description of it will appear on the Centre Library portal in due course. The Centre is very grateful to Mr MacPhedran for this kind donation. l

Piper’s Corner and The National Piping Centre Winter School Sponsored by Wallace Bagpipes

Brüggen, February 6 – 13, 2011 This fantastic school is celebrating its 5th year and for the first time, The National Piping Centre is proud to be sending our World Class instructors to join the teaching team. Students attending the school will receive several hours of instruction per day with additional daily workshops and recitals. Piping and Drumming exams will be offered at the school. Fees for this school start from €290 The National Piping Centre, Glasgow, is the international centre for excellence in piping instruction. Its teaching staff include Gold Medal winners, World Pipe Band Championship winners and successful recording artists. The National Piping Centre is delighted to be a new collaborative teaching partner in the Brüggen Winter School.

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by Lorne MacDougall

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A piper’s blog — part two

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’M FEELING quite anxious about starting to record today. I guess that will be a good thing if that turns into adrenaline and I end up giving energetic and focused performances. The first set that we are going to record is a set of jigs. They were put together for a Radio Scotland Pipeline session last year and make a good duo set between myself and Ross Kennedy on the bouzouki but I still want to add a lot of other colours to it for the album. We get a couple of takes down and then choose the best to work with. We’ve decided not to use a click track for this one to try to keep it as natural sounding as possible. I really think there are certain sets that are enhanced by using a metronome and others that would have real charm left more loose. Brian McNeil, my producer, suggests that I add some harmony pipes — sounds like a good idea, so we try it out and I think it works. Then we add whistle — I hear a lot of this on Chris Armstrong’s album where high whistle and pipes really compliment the crispness of each other. We get this done and it’s time to put these jigs to bed now until Adam Brown comes in on Wednesday to add some bodhran. A couple more are recorded today — The Gravel Walk and John Paterson’s Mare. It becomes easier as the day goes on.


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In the studio

A couple more sets on Highland pipes to be recorded today, then we move on to the whistle and smallpipe tracks. The pipes take a wee while to get warmed up and happily in tune, then we fire into it. Even as I record, ideas are coming to me. I’m perhaps thinking of adding a practice chanter to one of the sets, a bit of harmony pipes towards the end and maybe even some electronic percussion. We’ll see. Afternoon now and we’re on to the title track Hello World. Truth be told, I still haven’t finished the tune! So let’s see what comes out — I’m hoping this will be a chilled-out, groovy set of reels and so will sit somewhere early on in the album. Somehow, a nice part materialises and we can move on to the waltzes on Border pipes. Time to do some tuning again! I really want to marry Border pipes and smallpipes together seamlessly in this track. Ross has an idea to get Brian to add some mandocello to it — Brian’s there as my producer but I’d be a fool not to use his instrumental skills too. We try it and I like the sound — a lot! Nice and busy, yet sitting well over the simple melody. I think I’ll get the smallpipes to imitate that part also.


This is Ross’s last day and we are in good shape with just one track to record — two reels. This gets nailed

quickly then Ross sticks down a few chords to play about with. I’m determined to get a reverse bouzouki chord in it somewhere — don’t care if it’s tasteless, I love it! About lunchtime, Ross goes back off to Campbeltown leaving us very happy and awaiting Adam’s arrival late afternoon. Adam’s here and he’s on my laptop rehearsing to the roughs. He seems a little unsure if what he’s doing is what I’m after but it very much is. It’s been tough to decide which tracks suit bodhran and which tracks suit a bigger kit sound but by the sounds of what he’s rehearsing for the jigs, I think we’ve chosen well so far. Adam bangs his stuff down by the early evening. Shortly after, James McIntosh arrives with his kit and gets set up to start recording. I’m struggling to contain my excitement — I have one of my favourite percussion players to work with and I’m really looking forward to getting him to help out with the more electronic side of things tomorrow.


We start the kit stuff today. James tries out some different rhythms for each of the sets and we choose the ones that we prefer. Once we get recordings down for the drum kit, we move on to Hello World. I’m looking for a certain sound for the percussion in this one, and James finds it easily with a clay pot. Everything went great with James. Now it’s time to get some bass down. Duncan Lyall is up to play it. Bass is a great instrument that really fills things out and I think it is essential to have this when I have drum kit in some tracks. I think I’ll use mostly acoustic bass and a little bit of electric.


Big day today. This is the day we get the sessions from Troy MacGillivray (who recorded in Canada) and Martin Simpson (who recorded in England). They both sound amazing — I am totally speechless. Martin’s part has really made the lament I wrote. It makes it really hypnotic, just the way I envisaged it. I can’t believe how good these tracks sound now. We still have a small amount to record but are going to do some quick mixes to give us an idea how it’s going to work and sound. The Trip to Aviles jigs are the most complete so we have a bash at mixing them. I leave Brian and Nick to mix, then go in and have a listen and give my comments if I want anything changed. This seems to be a good way to work and makes life pretty easy for me (and my ears!). That’s it for a few weeks now — back in to finish off a bit later. Overall, things really could not have gone any better. Looking forward to the mixing now. l Find out more about the recording process in the next edition of Piping Today.

McCallum Bagpipes are now supplied with threaded mounts for no extra cost

Ne w McCal lum al loy and imitation ivor y with threaded mou nts

w w w . m c c a l l u m b a g p i p e s . c o m

Piping Today Issue 48  

Published by The National Piping Centre, Scotland, to promote the music, history and study of the bagpipes.

Piping Today Issue 48  

Published by The National Piping Centre, Scotland, to promote the music, history and study of the bagpipes.