Eagle Pipers – Ottawa, Canada Meeting

The first ever Eagle Pipers Society meeting outwith Scotland and Edinburgh took place last Wednesday evening, May 12th at the Junior Ranks Mess in Cartier Square Drill Hall. A large and enthusiastic attendance of more than 60 people listened as Eagle Pipers President Colin MacLellan gave a presentation and talk on the history of the Society, which was founded in 1963. Playing followed with several area veterans mixing with younger and less experienced who combined to provide a tremendous evening of quality performances.

Pipe Major Alan Clark, fresh from his success in the Piobaireachd at the recent Toronto Indoor Games, kicked off with a selection of six eight marches and then competition music and he showed what a fine player he is – army tempos in the 6/8’s providing a fresh contrast to the over-cautious approach so many take these days to the playing of these tunes.

Will Ridley, resident in Ottawa but now playing in the 78th Fraser Highlanders followed on a deeper toned bagpipe and he played an inventive set of tunes before Colin MacLellan took to the floor playing some RS MacDonald compositions and a MSR before playing the Piobaireachd “The King’s Taxes” which was received well by all present. The Ottawa version of the famous Eagle Pipers pies were then served, and  it was observed that very few remained from the 100 which were available.  A lengthy break then ensued and it was heartening to see so many in the audience sporting their new Eagle Pipers ties – 31 new members joined on the evening and were welcomed by the ten or so who were already members in good standing before the meeting.

A very interesting conversation during half time was had between the President Colin MacLellan and a lady called Joan Kahn. Joan related that as a young woman she had had lesson in J and R Glen’s shop in the Lawnmarket and had actually been invited and attended tea with Willie Ross in the Castle in 1956. Colin had related how he felt that Willie Ross’s “ I am going to the BBC” (he was actually going to the Eagle Bar in the Lawnmarket) utterings to his Army classes before taking his leave for the afternoon were in fact the very first origins of the present Eagle Pipers Society.

Following the break Ross Davidson of the Glengarry Pipe Band gave an interesting  selection of tunes on a fine pipe and then thirteen year old MacGregor VandeVen stunning the gathering with a thoroughly professional performance ending in a flurry of excellently played and controlled jigs culminating in the full  eight parted version of Gordon Walker’s “The Fiddler’s Rally. One to watch. MacGregor had travelled away up from Kingston along with his tutor Ross Brown and father and mother. Chris Dodson followed after reminding Colin that he had been a student of his a long time ago at the summer school in Fort Q’uappelle, Saskatchewan for a number of years. It was great to see and hear Chris again and his expert set of tunes brought great applause. Andrew Hayes who needed no introduction to the audience (and who is in great form these days) brought the evening to a close with a great selection of music.

Colin MacLellan
The Eagle Pipers’ Society

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