The P/M broke the ice with a few tunes before handing the baton onto Iain Kirkwood who, it is nice to see, is becoming a regular attender with the pipe. Iain played a few tunes and finished with the little heard but lovely 6/8, Lord MacPherson of Drumochter.
High Tower made a welcome return with the pipe and gave us a few pre pie tunes on a solid robust pipe. It’s that time of year so new reeds were being blown in. Andrew finished his spot with the classic jig Kenny Gillies of Portnalong.
The post pie piper was Cameron Drummond. Cameron started off with a couple of small tunes before banging out 2 classic 2/4 marches that were full of music.
A batch of reels followed next under the banner of ‘experimental’. Cameron is heading out to the USA in a few days in advance of the band (Inveraray and District), who are playing at an event in Virginia. He is giving a couple of recitals with Ally Henderson and is evolving his repertoire for said events.
The standard of playing and finger dexterity displayed in this set of tunes is only possessed by the very few ‘naturals’ we have in our midst. Stuart Liddell is the obvious example of the current art form of transforming standard time signatures into masterful alternative settings. Gordon Walker is another. To mention Cameron in that company is not a step too far.
There is a distinct difference in class between the standard kitchen piping we hear all too often and the stuff these guys produce. It is mind boggling and scarily good.
(Interestingly Andrew Gray is also heading out to Virginia with the Fife Police Pipe Band. It sounds like a great trip. What could possibly go wrong?)
As good as the experimental reels were they were not the highlight of the evening. That came in the form of the Carlsberg setting of The Stewarts White Banner. Ok it was the Donald MacDonald setting but if Carlsberg did piobaireachd then they would all sound like this…..
Donald MacDonald, born around 1750, became a pupil of the MacArthurs, hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of Skye. He later moved to Edinburgh, establishing himself as a maker of Highland and other bagpipes. At that time, the premier award for playing of the piobaireachd was a Prize Pipe, awarded annually by the Highland Society of London, which Donald won in 1817.
In 1822, he published a book of piobaireachd, written in a staff notation of his devising, which has remained the basis on which subsequent editors of piobaireachd have worked.Although well received, the book’s financial return prevented publication of Donald’s projected second volume.
Donald therefore presented the manuscript to the grandfather of General C.S. Thomson. Thomson used the MS as a reference in compiling ‘Ceol Mor’, a comprehensive collection of piobaireachd published in 1900.
Stewarts White Banner
‘Donald MacDonald‘s rich and ornate setting contains many points of interest including a variable throw on D, the high A/G introductory movement before E echo beats, and the interesting possibilities presented by the similar movement approaching D echo beats, whether to play these long or short, as a demi-semi quaver run as written, or to give time value to the F as seems often to happen with these compound appoggiaturas; likewise with the cascading runs down from high A which prefix the eallachs at the end of the part.’
While this is still a work in progress for Cameron, as this is one of the set tunes this year, it was breathtakingly musical. Cameron is playing in the Donald MacDonald Quaich competition this year, an event he won in 2013. As a set tune this year it will be interesting to see what the competitors do with this tune but this setting is a stick out and it is a must listen for any piobaireachd aficionados. Hopefully Cameron will play the complete piece prior to the Quaich competition.
Dates for the diary.
Sunday 17th April 2016 16.00hrs Callum Beaumont recital Scots Guards Association Club.
Friday 6th May 2016. Eagles visit to the Royal Scottish Pipers Society
Saturday 7th May 2016 Annual dinner Scots Guards Association Club. Piper Angus McColl Snr.
15th May 2016 16.00hrs. KO final. Callum Moffat v Ross Miller. Scots Guards Association Club.
Friday 27th August 2016 Captain John MacLellan memorial dinner