Match Report 26th November 2013

SaltireAs Scotland heads towards perhaps the most important vote in its history and ponder on the contents of the ‘White Paper’ there are, of course, a few things that are of paramount importance.  Most of them go without saying, Education, The National Health Service, The Economy, Currency, Homeland Security, Employment and the like but some would argue that to achieve a balanced life sport and the arts are also key.

With regards sports it’s not easy being Scottish. As a small Nation we find it hard to achieve World status. Our rugby and football struggle to compete at the highest level with no strength and depth in either field. Perhaps the focus on academic achievement has become omnipresent in our education system or have our youth just become more familiar with the games console? A discussion for another day!

You would think then, that when occasion arises, where we can bind and bond together to support a Scottish team in Europe it would be a no brainer. Wrong. Some people-I mention no names here-just don’t get it, or worse they do get it and chose to cheer on the enemy with an eye towards Ladbrokes.  Shame I say and to paraphrase the great Sir Alex Ferguson-Not proud, not proud.

IMG_0595While I am on the sporting theme, hats of to the Irish who somehow managed to lose a brilliant rugby match to the All Blacks. 14 out of 14, you cannot argue with that, but the strange thing is and a question yet to be answered is when next England next face the Kiwis who will I support?  That says it all !Ireland

As I got he evening under way Tam Peterkin of ‘Scotsman’ fame came into the room clutching the above-mentioned ‘white paper’. That promoted a wee chat over the yes or no vote ! What do you think? By the way some people do look like their names. Nicola Sturgeon is one. I smell something fishy.

Next up was Jenny who gave us 15 minutes of magic that included the MSR Kantara to el-Arish, Arniston Castle and The Little Cascade.

Next for shaving was Nils who, at the audiences request, kindly gave us a reprise of The Clucking Hen- fast becoming his signature tune. It was preceded by the Braes of Castle Grant and Maggie Cameron. Nils ended with the ground of Lord MacDonald’s Lament.

Pies were served.

The PPP was Iain Dewar who took a wee bit of cajoling declaring that he was very nervous. Iain started off with The Argylls Crossing the River Po. This was composed by Robert H Brown, who was a regular at the Eagles back in the day. Bob was a prolific composer but this was his number one hit.  Iain played a couple of 6/8s on his fine looking Gillanders and McLeods. Well-done Iain.Iain Dewar

Lachie Dick finished the evening off in grand style playing some lovely wee strathspeys and reels.

images-1Dates for the diary

The final Eagles night of 2013 will be Tuesday 10th December. There will be a festive break and we will resume on Tuesday 21st January 2014.

Sunday 8th     16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Fred Morrison           £10

Sunday 15th   16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Knock out competition

Margaret Dunn v Grieg Wilson.                                                                             £10

January 12th 16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club                       Knock out competition

Sarah Muir v Craig Sutherland
                                                                              £10

February 16th 16.00hrs Scots Guard’s Club          Knock out competition

George Stewart v Angus MacColl Jnr                                                                  £10

The P/M Diary

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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Eagles fly along to meet the Royal Scottish Pipers 15th November 2013

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Last Friday saw the resurrection of an old regular piping event as the Eagles flew along to Rose Street Lane South to visit the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society.

Some of the faces may have changed but the format thankfully is as was. A quick welcoming beer, then upstairs to play as a massed band, lead by the new RSPS Pipe Major Andy Cook.

P1030129As the group played a few standard traditional tunes an old friend looked on from the corner. The Eagle that once sat omnipresent in the upstairs bar of the West End Hotel (back in the days when it was harder to get out the hotel than in) looked resplendent and it was somewhat comforting to be once again having a tune under her watchful eye.

After half an hour or so the group withdrew to the comfort of the downstairs bar for a few libations and some solo playing. I started the evening off with a few ¾ Marches while Jenny remained upstairs to prepare for the piobaireachd. Jenny played Too Long in this Condition. On a rock steady bagpipe she produced a beautiful flowing piece of music that got to the very sole of the audienceP1030139

JennyAfter that it was two hours of music, a few beers and a pie. The players were, in no particular order, Peter McAlister, Colin MacLellan, Jimmy Banks, Lachie Dick, Andrew Frater, Bill Fraser, Iain MacDonald and Donald MacLeod. The quality of the playing was outstanding and there were top class instruments on the floor. Without wishing to single anyone out it was nice to hear P/M Jimmy Banks. Jimmy is the Society’s tutor/mentor and he gave us a no nonsense army style selection that included 5 x 2/4 competition marches on the bounce. First class.  A tune at the Eagles if you please P/M?Jimmy Banks

It was also nice to see Andrew Wright who had popped along for a tune with the band. I had not spoken to Andrew for some time and he was in fine form and back to full fitness.

What a great night and our thanks go to the members of the RSPS who were outstanding hosts. The hospitality was top drawer and while the Eagle pie still remains unrivalled a mince pie still does the job.

And that was the evening’s evening-well not quite. As we decanted ourselves into Rose Street a nightcap appeared to be the order of the day.  As we turned the corner looking for an P1030163appropriate watering hole, there, right in front of us, was ‘Dirty Dicks’. As we had the young pristine, clean Lachie Dick with us, it seemed very appropriate. While Lachie was at first a bit resistant and certainly disappointed in his elders ‘schoolboy’ humour, he warmed up announcing to staff that he had been a Dick all his life and asked if there was any student discount on the go. Luckily for Lachie he was in the company of one of Scotland’s finest Detectives who was able to preserve his integrity, ensuring that he did not become a ‘Dirty Dick’. However that said he did, along with others, find himself back at 14 DPC where the bar remained open until 05.15hrs. This time no technical pyrotechnics were on display as a new Mac book was on show gleaming on the breakfast bar.

Dirty DicksAnother memorable night moves into folklore and it has to be said, it was Jolly good.

 

 

 

Euan Anderson

The Eagke

The Eagle

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Match report Tuesday 12th November 2013

Piper warWith the poppy still in flower it was with a nod to the ‘old soldiers’ and those still serving that got the evening under way with the PM rolling some old favourites that recognised the WW2 campaign.

Allan Harper was up next and in his selection he played the little heard Heroes of Oosterbreek. This is a 2 parted ¾ retreat march written by Angus Lawrie who was pipe major of the Strathclyde police band.  In 1978 he visited Arnhem where, in 1944, the parachute brigade had tried to capture the bridge crossing and had suffered heavy losses. He decided to compose the tune when he found the grave of a young soldier called McCullough who was from his hometown, Oban.

Allan Harper

Allan Harper

Note: Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.

Field Marshal Montgomery’s goal was to force an entry into Germany and over the Rhine. He wanted to circumvent the northern end of the Siegfried Line and this required the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to encircle Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr from the north. It made large-scale use of airborne forces, whose tactical objectives were to secure the bridges and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.

Initially, the operation was marginally successful, and several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured. However, Gen. Horrocks’ ground force’s advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, an extremely overstretched supply line, at Son and failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal before 20 September. At Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle, only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them, they were overrun on 21 September. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on 25 September. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force and the river remained a barrier to their advance until the offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945. The failure of Market Garden ended Allied expectations of finishing the war by Christmas 1944.

Craig Martin

Craig Martin

Craig Martin was next for shaving and warned up with Old Adam followed by the 10th HLI Crossing the Rhine.

Note Donald Shaw Ramsay was born in 1919 in Torphichen, Scotland. When he was eight, his first teacher was Sandy Forrest, who was then Pipe-Major of the Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band, which exists today, led by Pipe-Major Gordon Stafford and promoted to Grade 1 in October 2008. Ramsay enjoyed early success in solo competition, doing well in the junior categories at, among other events, the Northern Meeting. At 19, he became pipe-major of another local band, and the next year joined the 10th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, recruited by the colonel of the battalion to establish a band who pulled strings to ensure that Ramsay was part of his group. At the time, however, the minimum age for a British Army pipe-major was 21, but corners were cut and Ramsay became the latest “youngest pipe-major ever,” a title that seems to have been given to numerous people over the years. It was with the 10th HLI during the Second World War that Ramsay saw action, and wrote one of his first great compositions, the 6/8 march, “The 10th Battalion H.L.I. Crossing the Rhine.”

Craig finished off with a double MSR Donald MacLellan of Rothsey, Duncan McColl, Maggie Cameron, Sandy MacPherson, Broadford Bay and Dr. McPhail’s Reel.

Next up was Hon Pres Colin MacLellan who opened with My Faithful Fair One. His next selection started with the P/M John MacLellan tune The Plains of Normandy.P1030115

Note: Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June; more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August.

Fresh from a recital in Troon, Colin continued with a double MSR before finishing off with some musical hornpipes and jigs.

P1030118The PPP was Lachie Dick and once a wee adjustment was made to the F he was off and running into John MacDonald of Glencoe, Struan Robertson and The Smith of Chilliechassie. (Killiechassie is just outside Aberfeldy). Lachie finished off with some small reels before handing over to Roddy Weir who was on piobaireachd duties.

Roddy settled the pipe and played a lovely MacDougall’s Gathering. This is a very bold tune and at one time may have gone under the banner of a Salute. It certainly has that robust proud makeup that requires the piper to step up to the plate with a bold approach. Roddy did exactly that and it was a fitting end to the evening.

A fine warm up for a visit to the Royal Scottish Piper’s Society on Friday 15th November. More of that later!

Roddy Weir

Roddy Weir

Euan Anderson

TrophyHon P/M

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November 18, 2013 · 9:52 pm

Match Report 29th October 2013

The Castle hallIt feels like quite a lot has happened since the last match report and some of it I can actually remember.

If you recall in our last MR we had an evening with Iain Speirs and Cameron Drummond who were heading up to the Glenfiddich. As you will all now know Iain rolled out two magnificent performances to defend his title and become the 2013 champion. No mean feat and very well deserved. Cameron played a superb Unjust Incarceration and was unlucky not to feature in the prize list. He also acquitted himself well in the MSR and must be pleased with his inaugural performance. Both pipers had family and friends in support and the celebrations ran well into the following morning. This is where there is a wee memory lapse.IMG_0595

I do recall a fire that everyone seemed to ignore (apart from the staff), proving that a free bar is indeed a powerful magnet.

I do recall being in the company of Callum Beaumont and speaking ‘Fife’ to Greig Canning. Both Callum and I are from a rather refined and cultured background and it was hard to keep pace with the lingo but Greig eventually got his message across. It unfortunately cannot be printed here but suffice to say I have a few new words in my vocabulary.

I do recall falling asleep with my contact lenses in. I managed to prise them out with the Sgian Dubh so all is well.

I do recall have the annual visit to the life saving services at Ballinluig with Colin, Jenny and Tracey on Sunday morning. A full fry up and a pint of blood saw me back on the road.

Yes another great Glenfiddich. I blame this all on Liz Maxwell. If you read this Liz please put my tickets aside for next year. :)

Of course the celebrations that Sunday morning were a bit muted as we bade farewell to Tracey Williams who was returning home the following day. It was somehow quite appropriate that she was crying while I was trying retain my breakfast. That’s piping!

Wee Spoon, Tracey and Fiona or WTF.

Wee Spoon, Tracey and Fiona or WTF.

So as I took to the floor to warm up the evening it was with a nod and a wink to absent friends and one who had already arrived in Melbourne on the last leg of her journey home. As I was playing some 6/8s there was apparently some spooning going on in Melbourne. Katherine Belcher aka ‘the wee spoon’ had found herself a new and shiny Big Spoon.  ‘The Spoon is dead. Long live the Spoon’ Aye right enough, the morals of an alley Kat-Kat !

Roddy Weir

Roddy Weir

Next for shaving was Roddy Weir, the first of our London competitors who were having a warm up at the Eagles. Roddy was in fine form and had a bagpipe to match. Once it had settled he trotted out Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque, Donald MacLennan of Rothesay, Arniston Castle, Caberfeidh, Broadford Bay and Dr MacPhail’s Reel. Roddy finished with a couple of hornpipes and volunteered for the piobaireachd slot in two weeks time. Great stuff.

Lachie Dick was up next and he was also straight into the big stuff playing The Pap of Glencoe, Susan McLeod and Bessie McIntyre. Lachie is one of the young stalwarts of the society and its great to see him make such great progress.

Lachie Dick

Lachie Dick

Time for pies. No rush this week as you know who had left the country (OK a cheap shot but you can’t do anything about it). We did set aside two and have a minutes silence.

IMG_0589

Tracey’s pies

The PPP was none other than the Hon President himself who wanted a run out in preparation for a recital he was preparing for in Troon. As usual Colin deftly stepped through some light music during which he played two little heard Donald McLeod reels Neil Angus MacDonald and Roddy MacDonald’s Fancy. Once he had brought the pipe into line he gave us the lovely Earl of Seaforth’s Salute.

James Logan says in his notes to MacKay’s Ancient Piobaireachd: “The rising for King James under the Earl of Mar, was promoted in the North, chiefly by the MacKenzies, who distinguished themselves at Sherriffmoor. They were the first clan who were called by General Wade to deliver up their arms, which they did at Brahan Castle, 1725. 

Colin plays The Earl of Seaforth's Salute

Colin plays The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute

This was composed by Finlay dubh MacRae, Seaforth’s Piper, when his master was in exile, and expressed the wish of himself and the clan, that he might soon return, and in good health. During his absence, the rents of the estate, although forfeited, were regularly remitted to France, and 800 men escorted the money to Edinburgh.” 

 A rather more plausible-sounding account in notes to David Glen’s Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd: “‘The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute (1715) Fàilte Uilleim Dhuibh Mhic Coinnich.’ This ‘Uilleam Dubh,’ or Black William, was the fifth Earl of Seaforth. 

He lived in a most critical time in the history of the Highlands. He was present with his Clan at Sheriffmuir, and after that battle he followed James III. (The Pretender) into exile. His estates were forfeited, although it was found extremely difficult to carry the forfeiture into effect. For several years after the estates were forfeited the rents were collected by the Earl’s faithful henchman at Sheriffmuir, Donald Murchison, and conveyed to his exiled master in Spain.

There is a story told of a faithful Kintail man, who, when he found the Earl of Seaforth casting peats in Spain, expressed his astonishment in what has since become a proverb, by exclaiming, ‘Bha latha eile aig muinntir na mòna,’ the peat-cutter shave seen better days. The Earl was equal to the occasion, and promptly replied, ‘Cha’n’eilneach gun dà latha ach fear gun lath’ idir,’ there is none without a change of days but he who has no day. 

The final player of the night was High Tower. We have all had times when the bagpipe just decides to have a mind of its own. In its devilish make up it sucks you in to try harder and harder to sort it. The harder you try the harder it gets. The bagpipe smiles knowing you should put it down and go for a beer. Tomorrow is always another day. Andrew did just that and by all accounts had it singing by the time he arrived in London. Hopefully it had a cover on the bag. I say no more.

That was the evenings evening.

We are back on Tuesday 12th but more importantly is our night with the Royal Scottish Pipers Society the following Friday 15th November 19.00hrs at their rooms in Rose Street Lane. Please come along and support the night. It would be very helpful if you could let Douglas Gardiner know if you are going for catering etc.

P1020382Euan Anderson

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Iain Speirs wins the Glenfiddich Championship 2013

http://www.pipesdrums.com/ViewObject.aspx?sys-Portal=57&sys-Class=Article&sys-ID=19294

 

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Match report Tuesday 15th October 2013

P1030078Tonight’s Eagle Pipers was a rather special affair due to the fact that we were treated to a sneak preview of the aural delights that await those of us who will be attending The Glenfiddich Piping Championship on 26 October. Current Champion Iain Speirs and rising star Cameron Drummond were both in very fine fettle with 10 days of preparation remaining. Hon. President pointed out that one-fifth of Glenfiddich competitors will be EPS members – indeed Committee Members. A proud representation indeed.

A good crowd had assembled at Haymarket, somewhat dazzled by the lack of fencing which has been removed with the completion of the ever-controversial tram lines. Tom Peterkin had a new haircut for the occasion, and the Hon. P/M drew the curtains – sure signs that a fine night of music was awaiting us.P1030082

With his Naked Niall drones sounding warm and rich and resplendent in his new Strathallan attire, Cameron got the evening underway with some small 4/4 marches, George Morrison CSO, Flett From Flotta and Lord Lovat’s Lament. Cameron’s pipes are fast becoming iconic – he started playing the pipes before the mounts were completed, and hasn’t yet stopped playing them long enough to have them added. He continued with a jig set of The Loch Ness Monster and Dr. Flora MacAulay of Carradale. Cameron then stopped to give us the tune names, and I have come think of this interaction with the audience as a trademark of Royal Conservatoire-trained pipers. At the end of each semester, the Degree students are required to present a recital that includes an element of history or context for the tunes they are playing. I have often noticed that players who have completed the course have incorporated this aspect of presentation into their standard practice, and I feel it is a welcome addition.

P1030083Cameron then launched into a double MSR – the requirement at The Glenfiddich. He opened with the seldom-heard marches Glengarry Gathering and Mrs Duncan MacFadyen, continued with The Caledonian Society of London and The Shepherd’s Crook, and finished with Miss Proud and John McKechnie. This was impeccable playing, and a privilege to have a front-row seat with such a player.

Lament for the Earl of Antrim was Cameron’s piobaireachd, and while it may not be a difficult tune to memorise, the length of the lines and number of variations makes it a reasonably long tune, testing the concentration, bagpipe and player in a long-distance style of event. As with any piobaireachd, the truest test is in the musical interpretation, and the nuances Cameron brought to the tune were lovely.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZOk1mub-kMP1030090

Time for pies, and there was a bit of a scrum for them tonight. While enjoying my pie in the company of EPS Comms Manager Douglas Gardiner and EPS Romeo Nils Michael, the latter posed the question: What did The Thief of Lochaber steal?

Iain was keen to get the second half kicked off, and with his own trademark sound and pipes that rarely require tuning, he got warmed up before settling into a mammoth, triple MSR. If elite athletes train for long-distance events by going further than the race for which they are preparing, then this must be the training regimen for which Iain is opting. Donald MacLellan of Rothesay, The Knighstwood Celildh, The Duchess of Edinburgh, Susan MacLeod, Dora MacLeod, Arniston Castle, The Smith of Chilliechassie, Loch Carron and John McKechnie were the tunes, delivered with style and polish. Iain’s piobaireachd was Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie, another seldom-heard tune which begs the question: why do we not hear such a musical, interesting and challenging composition performed more often? A rare treat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZOk1mub-kMP1030094

That was the end of the evening’s playing, however, the night was far from over. The Hon P/M was dropping us home at Dean Park Crescent when the Hon Pres. kindly offered an invitation to taste some recently purchased cherry vodka. The front seat passenger, Iain Drummond (Cameron’s father) claimed that he had “never tasted cherry vodka before”, and of course our Hon. Pres. felt obliged to rectify this matter.

In we went and consumed said cherry vodka and a fair amount of Limoncello. It was then we were treated to the finest performance of the night. The Hon Pres. gave us the little heard ‘The Lament for the Acer’ It had a very distinctive rhythm, strong pulse and was smashing. The evening concluded sometime around 3am and that was that.

http://youtu.be/4KVHRB5EY24

On a personal note, this was my last Tuesday night at Eagle Pipers as I am returning to live in my native New Zealand after nearly a decade in Scotland. Such a difficult and heart-wrenching decision was far from easy to make, and as I am currently embarking on my “Victory Lap” of Scotland, I am thinking a lot about my time here and my involvement with piping for all of those years. I am reminded that we are in danger of taking for granted that which is easy to access. We can quickly become complacent. Of course it is impossible to do everything all the time, but I think sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that because it is there, it will always be there, or WE will always be there to make use of it, and we fail to support and enjoy the treasures that are on our doorsteps. I know there are many people around the world who would give their eye teeth to be able to be in the audience on a night like tonight or at Blair Castle next weekend, and yet for many of us who live within a relatively short drive, life gets in the way, and we simply don’t manage.

P1030098

I feel very fortunate to have had so many opportunities to be part of a generation of pipers and piping in Scotland, but particularly to have witnessed the reincarnation of the mighty Eagle Pipers, which embodies two of the greatest treasures that piping gives us: music and friendship.

I will miss both very much indeed.

Jimmy and Me

Jimmy and Me

TW xx

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Visit to The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society – Friday 15th November

The RSPS has very kindly invited us to join them for a meeting on Friday 15th November at their premises on Rose Street Lane South, Edinburgh.

The format is very similar to ours except there is an informal band session at the beginning of the evening.  Everyone is therefore encouraged to bring pipes although there will be limited slots for playing solo in the bar afterwards.

The warm hospitality of the RSPS is well documented and they even have pies to match our own.

On display in the RSPS is the grand sea eagle which used to grace Eagles meetings in the West End Hotel.  Any plans to release or relocate this bird on the night of our visit would be, at best, ill conceived.

Please can you email me on eaglepipers@btinternet.com if you would like to attend.

Douglas Gardiner

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