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 (

Douglas Gardiner

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Membership subscription update

The secretary, Craig Robertson, can be contacted on the following email address, 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

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



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Members’ Handicap Contest Results Match Report 16th Dec 2020

The results of the Handicap Contest were announced during our Zoom meeting on 16th December. We were joined online by two new members from Canada; Kevin Shand and Grant Iaconis. They were treated to the best handicap videos played back “live”.

The prize winners are as follows:

1st: Lachie Dick

2nd: Martin Wilson

3rd = James Carnegie and Bethany Bisaillion

Best Dressed: Iain Dewar

Most Entertaining: Martin Wilson

Worst Video: Bethany Bisaillion

Huge thanks to the judges; Drum Major Peter Toole and Steven McWhirter. They entered into the spirit of the contest superbly.

Special mention must go to Bethany Bisaillion of Ottawa, Canada, who submitted three videos. Before any cries of foul play are made, only one was judged. Her playing justly merited a prize. The intermittent bleep from a smoke detector low on battery and the accompaniment of a Highland Hornpipe (?) saw the recording qualify for Worst Video. Whilst the title of this prize is a little harsh it does replace the Best Breakdown prize from previous years. There have been some legendary winners of this (Ninian Christie 2018 springs to mind). 2020 did not disappoint. It is a must watch! See below.

First Prize

Most Entertaining

Worst Video

Best Dressed

I am pleased the Society has embraced the changes 2020 has forced upon us. We will start 2021 in the same Zooming way with Gary West as our very special guest on Tuesday 12th January.

Huge thanks for your support.

Happy Christmas etc.

Yours aye

Douglas Gardiner

Honorary President

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Next Meeting – Wednesday 16th December 2020

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday (yes!) 16th December at 2000hrs on Zoom.

We will be revealing the winners (and losers) of the Handicap Contest and playing back a selection of the videos. Having seen some of the recordings already I can assure you this will be a very amusing session.

Dial in details below:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698

Passcode: 8byjr2

Douglas Gardiner

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Match Report – 17th November 2020

This was our second ever Zoom meeting and was an outstanding evening with 18 joining from all over the world including USA (2), Canada (1), England (3) and Lapland (1).

The Hon P/M ran over our beautiful new slow air Cearcal a’ Chuain (pronounced Key-ar-cull a choo-ein (thank you Kaitlin)) including pre-recorded seconds before the Virtual Pie-Break.

We then handed over the rest of the meeting to Ross Miller and Kaitlin Ross.

Ross is already a fine (Grade 8) trombonist having played with the RSNO. He can pipe pretty well too and won The Worlds last year with Inveraray and was a finalist in the 2019 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition. He is Secretary of The Competing Pipers’ Association – taking on a role which Eagle Pipers Tracey Williams, Peter McAlister and Donald MacLeod performed so well at.

He played live from his flat in Glasgow. Was this the first genuinely live Scottish piping recital since March 2020? Others have taken place over Livestream but were largely competitions. I’m happy to be corrected.

Ross played a number of sets from his new album, The Roke, on both big and small pipes. For the latter he was joined by Kaitlin Ross on guitar. Kaitlin is a star in her own right and is more well known as the Lead Singer of Eabhal.

The recital was outstanding with some brilliant tunes, playing and musicianship. It provided a reminder of what we are missing in real life.

Ross and Kaitlin are professional musicians at the start of their careers and both have created albums which were nominated for Album of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards (Ross 2020; Kaitlin 2019). I urge you to buy both albums, particularly if you are fortunate to be working from the boredom of a home office. You will not be disappointed and will be supporting an industry in dire need of a boost.

Links here:

I enclose You Tube clips of two sets recorded on the night. They comprise the opening two tracks off Ross’s album. The quality is a little fuzzy and is no reflection on the professional set up Ross and Kaitlin had in their flat. Sadly Zoom is very useful but not perfect.

Our next meeting will be on 15th December when we will be playing back the best videos and prize winners of the 2020 Handicap Contest. Entries close at 2200hrs on 29th November 2020.

Douglas Gardiner

Honorary President

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Next Meeting – Tuesday 17th November 2020

Dear Eagle Pipers,

Our next meeting will take place via Zoom at 2000hrs on Tuesday 17th November.

I am pleased to advise Ross Miller will be our guest piper to play a short set after the “pies”.  Ross was a finalist in the 2019 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition and is a member of Inveraray and District Pipe Band.  His album, The Roke, has just been nominated for Trad Album of the Year at the MG Alba Awards.  I can heartily recommend it.  For more information go to his site:

Dial in details are set out below:

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698

Passcode: 8byjr2

I am aware the time may not suit our overseas members.  We are reviewing this issue.

I look forward to seeing you on the 17th.

Yours aye

Douglas Gardiner

Hon President

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Members’ Handicap Contest 2020

Dear Eagle Pipers,

Here are details of the 2020 Members’ Handicap Contest.

Steven McWhirter and Drum Major Peter Toole have very kindly agreed to judge. 

Steven is Lead Drummer of Inveraray & District Pipe Band and 10 time winner of the Solo World Drumming Championship.  Peter is of course a well-kent face at Eagles.  Whilst serving in the Queen’s Own Highlanders he was Alasdair Gillies’ Drum Major so he knows a good tune when he hears one.

The rules are as follows:

  • Competitors must be paid up Members of the Society (no glory hunters please).
  • Tunes are own choice but must be a Slow Air (two parts) and Jig (four parts).
  • Highland Dress is compulsory but can be accessorised by humorous items of your own choosing if you think it will help your performance.
  • At the start of your video please state your name and tunes.
  • Competitors are free to attempt to influence the judges verbally if they feel their musical efforts will be insufficient.
  • No drumming.
  • All videos must be received by 2200hrs on 29th November 2020.

I will apply a handicap based upon the competitor’s experience to ensure a level playing field for everyone. 

There will be prizes for the top three pipers plus the following special awards:

  • Best Dressed
  • Most Entertaining
  • Worst Video.  This replaces the usual Best Breakdown.

Now comes the hard part.  Please make video recordings on your phone or laptop.  They must then be uploaded to YouTube.  You will need to register an account (this is free).  Then follow these steps:

1.            Sign in to YouTube.

2.            At the top right, select Create a video or post  Upload video.

3.            Select the file you’d like to upload.

4.            Create a title for your video.  Your name would be helpful.

5.            In the Description section, list the names of your tunes.

6.            Audience section, select “No, it’s not made for kids”.

7.            Click the “Next” button.

8.            Video elements. Skip this section. Click the “Next button”.

9.            Visibility. Select Public or Unlisted. If you select Public, it will be visible to everyone on YouTube. Do NOT select Private — this prevents the judges from viewing your video. Click “Save”.

10.          Share or take a copy of the link and email to the following address:

Entries must be submitted by the deadline (see above).

Please remember this is a fun contest. 

Good luck!

Yours aye,

Douglas Gardiner

Hon President

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Online Meeting – Tuesday 20th October 2020

Dear Eagle Pipers,

We shall be hosting our first online meeting at 2000hrs (UK time) on Tuesday 20th October.

There will be a group practice chanter session over a selection of Society tunes, led by The Hon Pipe Major, and a short solo set from Dr Peter McCalister on small pipes.  For Zoom virgins, the key is to stay on Mute until you have something stunningly exciting to say (or play).

We shall endeavour to try and recreate the social element of our meetings however, the format is partly experimental and we will review how successful it is.

The plan is to limit this to 40 minutes before Zoom kicks us out.  If all goes well we may pay for a premium subscription to avoid this limitation.

To join the meeting you will need to download Zoom (this is free), click the link below and input the Meeting ID and Passcode stated.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 889 398 2698

Passcode: 8byjr2

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Yours aye,

Douglas Gardiner

Hon President

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