With the President in London on business, our secretary Craig Robertson on safari/honeymoon in South Africa and others posted missing in action a quiet night was anticipated for our opening evening of the year. Far from it. 15 pipers on the floor and a good blast was had that blew away the New Year cobwebs.
We were pleased to welcome Kiwi Malcolm Galloway into the fold. Malcolm is over in Scotland for a year or so with his wife and family. He is keen piper and was introduced (from afar) to the Society by our old chum Tracey Williams.
The post pie was Mikey Upton who knocked out a few tunes including the great 2/4 marches the 79th Farewell to Gibraltar and Captain Norman Orr Ewing. Excellent stuff. Callum was our final player of the evening and as usual produced a couple of tunes that had the audience head scratching for the names. He was not 100% sure of the names either and is off to do some research.
Dates for the diary.
Scots Guards KO competition resumes this Sunday 29th at 16.00hrs with John Dew taking on Calum Brown.
(Scots Guards Club membership is up for renewal for those interested)
Celtic Connections is up and running with a multitude of events in Glasgow. Saturday 4th February 12.30 Royal Concert Hall sees the return of the annual pipe band concert.
I am very pleased to announce that on 31st January 2023, we will be hosting The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming (ASBM&HD).
Most of you will be aware of the close association between the Army School, Captain John A. MacLellan and the original founders of The Eagle Pipers’ Society, so this will be a particularly special evening. It has been nine years since the ASBM&HD last visited us.
Please note meetings resume again on Tuesday 17th January.
The final night of the year saw our traditional members Christmas competition organised and run by President Douglas Gardiner. On the pen were Simon Grant, leading tip with the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band and our own venerable Drum Major Pete Toole.
There is handicap system that only the luminary understand and what takes place on the judges bench stays there. The Hon P/M was on stewarding duties and first up was Kenny McBride who played Bonny Glen Quaich and the jig, The Slalom Skier, that may be one of Gordon Duncans compositions? The bench mark was set high and next up was Ian MacDonald who gave us the John Wilson composition, Leaving Lochboisdale and The Jig of Slurs.
Craig Robertson was next and he did a bit of judging peeheeing by starting with the ground of Cabar Feidh Gu Brath followed by The Kitchenmaid. Looking resplendent in his festive gear Martin Wilson was on next and gave us his arrangements of The First Noel followed by, I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In and Deck the Halls. Quite the party piece and the audience had a wee sing along.
Graham Farr, sporting a very nifty hat, was on next with She Moved Through the Fair and the great jig, Skylarks Assention. George Campbell was not only wired for sound but the drones were decked with fairy lights. (see below). Clearly a contender for dress and deportment. George played Lt. Col. Grant-Peterkins Farewell (Cameron Highlanders) written by the late great Evan MacRae in the early 1950s and the jig, Rory MacLeod.
Fergus Perks gave us a nice nod to the late sovereign Queen Elizabeth ll but playing Salute to Willie, the Royal Fendersmith, composed by Jimmy Banks and the Gavin Stoddart jig, The Golden Jubilee of H.M. Queen Elizabeth ll. Ninnian Christie started well with a lovely Leaving Lismore and was on fire with, I Laid a Herring in Salt before his hands overtook his brain in the last part. The crowd gasped but cheered him off the floor.
Peter McCalister played next and paid tribute to his mother in law Rosie, who sadly passed away recently. She was a big supporter of Peters and provide encouragement and support when it was most needed. He did her proud by playing a lovely Pipers Waltz followed by Kenny Gillies of Portnalong.
Pre pie piper was none other than the inimitable John Murphy. Sporting a lovely jumper with the logo ‘Who ate all the pies”. John treated us to a lovely slow air version of Calon Lan followed by a couple of parts of The Kesh Jig and finishing off in grand style with the Banjo Breakdown.
Pies-there is only only thing better than a pie. 2 pies.
During the break President Douglas Gardiner made a couple of presentations. The first was a framed copy of Ian Camerons piobaireachd, The Scots Guards Club, (that took 2nd place in this years composing competition), to the Club steward Pauline who looks after us so well. The second was a belated wedding gift to Eagles Secretary Craig Robertson, who recently tied the knot with his lovely wife Viki.
Post pie piper was new member Colin Bathgate who has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks. He gave us Leaving St Kilda and Rory MacLeod. Alan Harper was up next playing The Highland Cradle Song and The Curlew. Mike Upton was next on and played a very melodic Mhairi Bhan Og and a very solid Jig of Slurs.
Last but by no means least was Tam Lewin. Always one to entertain he played Leaving Glenfinnan and some jigs the came under the bracket of The Galatians. Whatever they were he belted them out in fine Galatian style and it was great finish to the contest.
After quite some deliberation and with the handicaps applied the results were:
1st Colin Bathgate
2nd Tam Lewin
3rd Fergus Perks
Best Dressed: George Campbell, Most Entertaining: Martin Wilson and Most Spectacular Breakdown: Ninian Christie.
What a wonderful night and great to be amongst friends who don’t take things too seriously. Many thanks to all those who played and it was obvious to all quite a bit of practice and preparation had taken place.
A very fitting close to what has been magnificent year for the Eagle Pipers’ Society. Merry Christmas to you and yours. We will leave the last word/tune to George Campbell….
Another Tuesday evening saw the usual congregation of pipers at the Scots Guards Club in Haymarket. We started in usual fashion with some group playing and it was pleasing to see a few new faces to the group. Included in that group was well known piper and former adjudicator Neil Mulvie. Whilst a previous attendee to the Eagles this was his first time playing.
This session was kept short to allow time for an informal quiz night. The rules were simple: name all the tunes and place their destination on a map of Scotland. About 6 teams were formed and the quiz was underway.
I opened with the popular slow air Leaving Lismore followed by the 6/8s The Dundee City Police Pipers and Benguillion. The second tune proved challenging for some as it has some similarities to The Trees of North Uist. Only a few were able to correctly place it on the Kintyre peninsula. A couple of hornpipes followed on from the slow air The Braes of Lochiel; Raigmore (Inverness) and Crossing the Minch (The Minch). My set concluded with the ground of the piobaireachd Salute to the Isle of Iona. This tune, composed by John Goodenow, can be found in the Piobaireachd Society 20th Century Collection and was a set tune for the senior piobaireachd competitions in 2018. Two teams stood out here with both correctly identifying the tune name as well as the island’s location.
After a short pie break the quiz continued. The Society was pleased to welcome back John Dew for a few tunes. He opened with the tunes Loch Maree and Borve Castle, the latter of which is on the Isle of Benbecula. A classic MSR combination followed on. Surprisingly, The Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band proved difficult for some, as did the strathspey The Doune of Invernochty. However, the well-known Mrs MacPherson of Inveran was correctly identified by most teams. A couple of jigs were next on the setlist for John. Dr Alexander MacAskill of Bernera was one of them. There was some debate as to which Bernera the tune refers to: Great Bernera, which is of the coast of Lewis, or Berneray (which incidentally is where I grew up), which is a small island located between North Uist and Harris. After much discussion the decision was to accept either.
To finish, John played a set of wee strathspeys and reels. This concluded with the popular Mrs MacLeod of Raasay which was correctly identified as being off the coast of Skye by most people.
Whilst the results were being worked out, Douglas Gardiner gave us a few tunes. He concluded with the piobaireachd The End of the Great Bridge. The tune is thought to relate to the Battle of Inverlochy although is likely to have been composed sometime after. Douglas gave us a lovely rendition on an equally lovely sounding bagpipe.
And with that the night was over. Our quiz was a tight fought race by 2-teams however ultimately it was a successful first meeting for Neil Mulvie as his team who took home the spoils. by 1 point. (gold chocolate coins-no expense spared on the prizes).
Our antepenultimate meeting of a very busy year saw (a record?) 20 members on the floor for a quick blow before handing over to our guests from Fettes College.
Under the expert guidance of Cameron Drummond and Alasdair Henderson, a contingent of eight students provided a wonderfully played selection of tunes on superbly set up instruments. In the competitive world of Scottish school piping, two establishments tend to dominate the prize lists. On the evidence tonight, Fettes’ pipers have all the potential to upset this established order.
After settling the pipes, they played a short selection of Aros Park, Bride’s Jig and Dr Flora MacAulay of Carradale followed by a set of 2/4s including the wonderful Walter Douglas M.B.E by Donald MacLeod. The octet finished with the last tunes of their medley, in part inspired by Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, including Air in D Minor and Mrs McLeod of Raasay. All superb melodies played with great maturity and poise.
The Post-Pie Piper was Fettes pupil, Henry Reynolds, who played a very polished solo climaxing with the outstanding Fred Morrison jig, Skye. Henry may not have been aware that he was playing in front of one of the world’s most popular and successful pipers, sat a mere five feet away. Tonight, we also enjoyed a visit from Roddy MacLeod MBE and Wilson Brown introducing new member and pupil, Giovanni Giulianini, to the Society. A very warm welcome Giovanni!
Alasdair Henderson took the floor to finish the evening, fresh from narrowly missing out to Fred Morrison in the Hornpipe/Jig contest in London on Saturday. He was on fine form and warmed up with some delightful Argyll tunes including Colonel Maclean of Ardgour, composed by Ally’s famous great-great-great uncle, John McLellan of Dunoon. He then gave us the piobaireachd, The Battle of Waternish, on an immaculate bagpipe with some clever musical touches.
A brilliant night with some fine piping from future and current piping stars.
Next meeting is Quiz Night so dust down your tune recognition skills…
Tonight saw a healthy turnout of Eagles and guests for our last meeting of October. The downstairs bar filled up quickly with chat from friends old and new, a quick libation then the pipes were out for the first half band session.
The pipey’s previous advice on pitch seemed to have paid off with some 14 pipers turning out not too shabby a sound straight from the box as we warmed up to a few favourite 6/8s. The Glendaruel Highlanders first, a quick tune of the drones, Farewell to the Creeks then the Eagle Pipers March – our very own anthem, and a very fine tune at that! Next was a first run of some wee 2/4s, a trio of Teribus, Corriechoille’s 43rd Welcome to the Northern Meeting, and Highland Laddie. No surprise that, for an eclectic group of pipers, there were as many versions of these well-known tunes played as there were pipers playing! Fine tunes, nonetheless. And with that it was the end of the first half and the pies were ready.
After a short break the second half was kicked off by Dr. Lachie Dick, a piper of some repute who is well known for entertaining us with his MSRs, lively jigs and hornpipes. He is no stranger to the solo contest scene, appearing frequently in the prize lists and who, we are proud to say, is an Eagle Piper first joining when he was a young 19-year-old student. Soon to be heading for the London contest Lachie warmed up with the tune Domhnall Ban of Kyles Flodda, a 6/8 composed by Alex Muir a piping tutor in Uist. After a few tweaks his setup of McCallum pipes, G1 chanter and MacLellan reed were sounding bright and harmonious as he in his usual manner ran out a faultless MSR comprising Major David Manson at Clachantrushal, Ewe wi’ the Crooked Horn, and finishing with Miss Proud, all tunes with a good degree of technical and musical difficulty and most suitable for competition. It was another solid performance from Lachie and you can hear more from him on his Youtube channel:
We wish Lachie the very best of luck on the 5th in London.
Next up was Dave Mason who joined our ranks only recently after returning to the UK last year and settling in Scotland having emigrated to South Africa at the tender age of seven. Dave learned the pipes from his tutors at the King Edward VII School in Johannesburg including at one point Angus MacDonald. Dave set about warming up his shiny Niall pipes with the lovely slow air Loch Rannoch and was soon experiencing the downstairs bar tuning trap where mysterious forces are known to lurk and interfere with the unsuspecting piper trying to tune drones (nothing to do with Halloween, but the stepped ceiling and dishwasher vibrations, they frequently catch unsuspecting pipers out!). Once settled it was on to two great 6/8s Mrs Lily Christie (Donald Shaw) and Bruce Gandy’s Farewell to the Iron Horse (René Cusson) before an MSR starting with his own composition Pipe Major Paul Selwood, Scots Guards. This was a fine tune, followed by the strathspey Arniston Castle and finishing with the reel, Over the Isles to America.
This took us to Dave’s Piobaireachd which the Hon. Pipe Major dedicated to the memory of Andrew Wright who sadly passed away on the 23rd October. Andrew was well known and respected throughout the piping world as a distinguished piper, tutor, mentor, author, judge, and recipient of the Balvenie Medal. Dave’s tune was his own composition, penned and submitted for the recent Eagles’ Piobaireachd competition where all tunes were ‘nameless’ and anonymously judged. Despite not winning his tune is a strong composition and was delivered to an appreciative audience with all the expression and feeling we come to expect from a good piobaireachd. It was an appropriate tribute and fitting end to the night that would have appealed greatly to Andrew’s sense of Piobaireachd tradition.
Bringing the evening to a close Euan Anderson remarked on the difficulties faced by the Piobaireachd competition judges, namely Tom Speirs, Iain Speirs, and himself. Judging took hours, days, and even then extra time was requested. There were high quality entries to be considered and every tune had to be listened to many times, perhaps as many as 20 times or more, until a fair judgement could be made. This was brought home when his better half was heard in the background humming one of the tunes. That could well have tipped the winner!
And that was it for the night, great company, pipes, tunes, pies, pints and craic!
I am pleased to announce that we will be holding our annual handicap contest on Tuesday 6th December.
Pipers are to play a Slow Air and Jig of their own choice.
In line with all the other major solo contests, we have a knowledgeable bench of judges comprising Drum Major Peter Toole and Simon Grant. Simon is Lead Drummer of The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band and led his corps to a very successful debut season in Grade 2 this year. Peter is of course a familiar face at Eagles. Both served in The Queens Own Highlanders/The Highlanders and so know a thing or two about the tune Cabar Feidh.
A handicap system will be applied to ensure a level playing field between top soloists and less seasoned players.
The Solo Piping Judges’ Association Code of Conduct will not apply. Members are free to attempt to influence the bench in any way they choose, preferably only on the evening of the competition.
There will be prizes for the top three performances plus the following:
Best dressed piper
Most amusing performance
Most spectacular break down
The contest is open to all paid up members. Entries on the night.