AGM: 2nd March 2021

Please note we are holding our AGM at 2000hrs on the above date.

Attending AGMs is not why you join Eagles, but it is certainly a way of making your voice heard if you want to change (or even compliment) the management of the Society.

History is littered with the skeletons of piping clubs and associations that failed to change or listen to its members. We do not intend to join them.

Zoom log in details:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8893982698?pwd=UmMvQXZWSmRZTnJ2Sm5wMWhrQXBtZz09

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698
Passcode: 598139

Douglas Gardiner

Hon. President

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Match Report Tuesday 16th February 2021

When the programmers were designing Zoom they forgot to take into account the Great Highland Bagpipe. Whatever were they thinking? However, in a way, it is quite nice that a fine instrument like ours can still bring modern technology to its knees. 

Some 33 people tuned in, or perhaps logged on, to listen to the musical maestro at work. He did not disappoint. Hands and pipe were in sparkling form but the main ingredient was the rich cocktail of music that he produced. Traditional tunes, new tunes, tunes of his own, time signatures that raised the eyebrow, tunes where the fingers need to be well oiled, waulking songs- We got the lot. 

Mike did what he could at his end with his microphone levels and bespoke background drops- (that were all very effective) and at the end of the day we had great session on the big pipe amongst friends from all over the world. 

There is no doubt that his own compositions will stand the test of time and they sit proudly amongst the best there is. He has written some all time classics that have been played by pipers and bands all over the world. 

In Scotland we have a tendency to be rather reserved when dishing out praise. ‘Aye, no bad son’ ‘Aye, that was decent’ ‘Aye, that was a’ right ye ken’, when what we really mean is brilliant, fabulous, great. 

To be clear Michael was and still is one of the best composers of our music that there has ever been.

On the night he gave his a wide selection of tunes that included a brisk Ceol Mor-The Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick.

Mike started with The Glasgow Police March Past composed by John MacDonald,South Uist, followed by two of his own compositions Katy Grey’s Welcome From Scotland and 5 Ardveenish, a tune made for Donald Patrick Nicholson and his home in Ardveenish, Isle of Barra. Donald and his son Duncan were present in the online audience. How neat is that?

Mike then went into his next set that included his own tune, Blustering Home, that is in the Society’s music book Page 33. (I hope we asked for his permission?)

He started his next set with another of his own tunes, The Old Days. This showed off his musical abilities to the full as the tune has no strict time signature. It probably comes under the term ‘Tempo Rubato’  (literally Italian for ‘”stolen time”) It is a musical term referring to expressive and rhythmic freedom by a slight speeding up and then slowing down of the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the performer. Rubato is an expressive shaping of music that is a part of phrasing. 

Lovely stuff.

Up next the Ceol Mor. Squinting Patrick lends itself to being attacked and Mike put a positive spin on it without losing any of the musical value. Lovely to hear a tune outwith the restraints of competition where the player can do as he wishes.

Time for a background screen change and mouth music, waulking songs and reels were up next, including Michael’s arrangement of The Sinecure Policeman. Sinecure means someone who receives money for a job who does little or no work. A cushy number if you will. Written well before my time! 

The picture shows the original setting of the tune but MG has given it a significant upgrade and it will have your fingers flashing.

Mike then finished up with three lovely Gaelic Airs ending with Aitearachd Ard. (The Surge of the Sea). A tune dear to him and one that he would like played at his funeral. An occasion that, we hope, is somewhat down the line.

So there you go. Quite the rich cocktail of music and our heartfelt thanks go out to him for the time and effort put into a performance that lasted the better part of an hour.

As Mike himself said ‘Zoom is hollow substitute but it is better than nothing’. 

This was much better than that. In an era where we have all been facing significant challenges and where perhaps a tad of apathy has set in, Mike stepped up to the plate to entertain and cheer us up. He did that in spades.

Aye-no bad son.

Euan Anderson 

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Michael Grey Zooms in….

Please find below the Zoom meeting details for this Tuesdays piping session given by none other than Michael Grey. The Zoom call opens at 20.00hrs UK and Mike will probably start around 20.15hrs.

Michael has been a supporter of the Society for many years and it is a pleasure to welcome him next Tuesday 16th February. In these challenging times that we are all facing this will be a real treat.

You do not have to be a member of the Eagle Pipers’ Society to join in on our Zoom platform meetings, however new members are most welcome. The Society was founded ‘by pipers for pipers’ in 1963 and it is not profit organisation with funds being recycled back into our art. Membership detail can be found on the web site.

Please join us if you can.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8893982698?pwd=UmMvQXZWSmRZTnJ2Sm5wMWhrQXBtZz09

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698

Passcode: 598139

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Future Dates

The calendar for the next three months is as follows:

16th February: Guest Piper: Michael Grey, Canada

2nd March: AGM

16th March: Members’ Night

13th April: Guest Piper: Dr Simon McKerrell

All will be on the following Zoom account:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8893982698?pwd=UmMvQXZWSmRZTnJ2Sm5wMWhrQXBtZz09

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698
Passcode: 598139

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Guest player-Michael Grey

Is it not a strange human idiosyncrasy when we say ‘this person needs no introduction’ and then go on to describe their life and achievements in detail?

Our guest piper on Tuesday 16th February is none other than Eagle Pipers’ member Michael Grey from Canada, and he needs no introduction.

Despite the time difference Mike has stepped up to give us ‘tunes and chat’ 15.00hrs Canada-20.00hrs UK. 

You can find out all you need to know about Michael at Dunaber music. Have a read through ‘Greys Notes’ where you will find fabulous articles and observations. Michael is in the the final stages of editing his latest piece for the blog-“Life around Bagpipes” and perhaps he will give us a sneak preview into that?

MG is no stranger to the Eagles and launched his book Damned Suites and Other Music at a Society meeting in the Scots Guards Association Club, Edinburgh, I think back in 2013.

Anyway a session not to be missed.

Zoom sign in details to follow.

http://www.dunaber.com/michael-grey

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The Seagull Pipers’ Society. Founded 2020

Those with a penchant for ornithology and piping may be interested in hearing about The Seagull Pipers’ Society in Utah, USA.

Founded in December 2020 by a group of like minded pipers from the Utah Piobaireachd Society, the group has met three times so far (online) and openly take inspiration from our very own Eagle. Why the seagull? Apparently the California Gull is the State bird of Utah.

Founding member, Marc Pehkonen, an ex-pat Brit, explained that piping in Utah has a long history, in part because of Scots who emigrated there to join the Mormon church. He moved there (for non-religious reasons) in 2005, and found a flourishing pipe band and solo scene. 

Check out their website for Match Reports: Seagull Pipers’ Society

The depth of talent in Utah is surprisingly strong with pipers competing in the successful Grade 1 Triumph Street band and most recently winning prizes in the 2020 Scottish Piping Society of London online C Grade contest.

It is possible we may invite them to join us one night. There is no word yet if they have a Society tie.

We certainly wish them well as the “other” avian piping society.

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Match Report – 12th January 2021

We started 2021 in outstanding fashion with a recital from Gary West on small pipes, vocals and guitar.

Our Zoom session was joined by 25 members from across the globe including California, Switzerland, and Lesmahagow. We welcomed new member Alan Beveridge from Ontario and said hello to old member Ninian Christie who recently piped the funeral cortege of mountaineer Hamish MacInnes through Glen Coe village.

The Hon Pipe Major led us through The Eagle Piper’s March on chanter before handing over to the dulcet tones of Gary West. For a piper of Gary’s skill it must be frustrating to be better known for your speaking. However, Gary gave us one of the best recitals ever heard at Eagles. His expertise as a broadcaster was clearly evident though with hugely engaging chat and informative dialogue between playing.

Playing a set of Hamish Moore small pipes in A, Gary kicked off with the 3/4 march, The Atom of Delight. This was written by fiddler Derek Hoy (and uncle of Sir Chris) and as Gary suggested, would make a fine pipe band tune with the opportunity for some clever harmonies.

After the lively jigs, Scarce of Tatties and The Gold Ring, Gary introduced his next tune, The Jedburgh Ba’ Game composed by himself. The tune commemorates the ancient village football played annually in the Borders town. According to Wikipedia the game is played all over the town centre and “can prove awkward for shoppers, trying to avoid getting caught up in the game, and shopkeepers, who put shutters on their doors and windows”. Thankfully the tune is more charming and is composed in a theme and variation style, much like piobaireachd. The melody is wonderful – enjoy the clip below. It is published in one of the LBPS collections and as with The Atom of Delight, would make a fine swaggering pipe band march. Pipe Majors take note.

Gary followed with the slow air Drum Corry and Ian Green of Greentrax. The latter was composed by the late and much missed Gordon Duncan, a school and bandmate of Gary’s. The Pitlochry genius and finger gymnastics were evident in the next set She Moved Through the Fair, Pressed for Time and The Fourth Floor.

Proving his voice is not just good for radio, Gary then sang the moving and melancholic The Last Trip Home by Davy Steele and John MacCusker of Battlefield Band fame.

This was a recital par excellence and proved that whilst online meetings can often be sterile, in the hands of a master, they can bring genuine delight. Gary leaves his role as Professor at The University of Edinburgh at the end of this month to focus on fresh ventures. We wish him all the best of luck. Anyone looking to buy any of his music, please visit: Home – Piper, Professor, Performer, Presenter (garywest.scot)

Douglas Gardiner

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Membership subscription update

The secretary, Craig Robertson, can be contacted on the following email address, eaglessecretary@outlook.com regarding any membership enquiries.

New membership to the Society remains at £30 per year for UK residents and £20 for overseas. This covers the annual membership, a tie, music book and postage.

Annual membership renewal has been reduced for existing members. As of 1st January 2021 renewal will cost £20 for UK members and £10 for overseas. Please remember to alter your payment method if it an automated process.

Happy New Year

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Gary West, Guest Piper – 12th January 2021

Happy New Year to all.

I am very pleased to announce that Gary West will be joining us on Tuesday 12th January 2021 to play a recital on small pipes.

Gary is of course a well known voice to all pipers. Aside from presenting BBC’s Pipeline, he is Professor of Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh and was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame last year alongside Fred Morrison. He is also a superbly accomplished piper having played with The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, Ceolbeg, and Clan Alba.

We are exceptionally honoured that Gary has accepted our invitation. It will be a very memorable session and outstanding start to 2021.

Join us at 2000hrs. Log in details below:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8893982698?pwd=UmMvQXZWSmRZTnJ2Sm5wMWhrQXBtZz09

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698
Passcode: 598139

Douglas Gardiner

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The Pipe Major’s Christmas message

Merry Christmas

Our last Eagles meeting, in the Scots Guards Association Club, in Edinburgh, was on Tuesday 3rd March. It looks like we will not be back before a full calendar year has passed. Who would have thought 2020 would have thrown up such personal and social challenges?

The piping calendar was decimated. No pie, pint or piobaireachd for us and no live solo or band competitions. No standing in the beer tent to queue for 4 pints that will empty your wallet and you know you can’t carry. 

Throughout the year the piping and drumming community rallied and kicked in with all sorts of online entertainment. What pleasure we had taking part in and watching all the fun and music that was created by our peers. During lockdown, on Thursday evenings, we saw pipers from all over the UK and beyond playing a tune or two in support of our NHS.

In the face of such adversity it was simply a joy to watch our ‘art’ unite and stand firm. 

Yes we have missed the music but perhaps we have missed the social interaction and human bonhomie even more? Isolation was, and is, necessary to combat the virus, but that comes at a price and brings its own psychological challenges.

We lost some dear friends along the way and I dare say we don’t know the full story yet. Our hearts and sympathies go out to all those effected in any way by Covid 19.

The heart beat of the Eagles goes on and we have continued to meet online once a month. 

In an attempt to support young artists and provide some form of ‘live’ entertainment we have run excellent zoom sessions. (We have already booked Gary West and Scott Wallace in January and February 2021 respectively).  This and other forms of Eagle’s evenings will continue until, once again, the doors of the Scots Guards Association Club are open.

To our members, especially those from overseas and those who can not visit us regularly, I can not thank you enough for your support and encouragement. 

Being an Eagle Piper is not all about attending every meeting and having a tune. It is about being part of a group of people who are of a common mind and understand the importance of supporting our small community. It is an investment in our culture and future. 

Piping societies are a small cog in the wheel and perhaps the last bastions of friendly live social piping but perhaps, now more than ever, they offer the hand of friendship, both at home and overseas, when it is most needed.

To those who continue to support the Eagle Pipers’ Society, I can not thank you enough. 

To our members and all within our community and beyond, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Best wishes to you and yours.

Yours Aye

Euan

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