The evening got off to a great start with local member Iain McDonald giving us a few tunes on an old Glen pipe and Sinclair chanter. Iain is a great supporter of Edinburgh piping and is also a member of the Highland Pipers’ Society.
Next up was Nils Michaels from Germany playing a lovely set of silver and ivory Lawries.
Alan Harper played next and he is clearly enjoying being able to get up and play in this friendly casual environment.
An unusual and welcome departure from the norm came in the form of a power point presentation from the Hon President Colin MacLellan. Colin was assisted on the technical front by his wife Jenny and together they gave an excellent potted presentation on the Society’s history.
This was the talk Colin gave at the Junior Ranks Mess in Cartier Square Drill in Ottawa two weeks ago and it was well very well received in our own rank of around 30 people.
It was nice to see some guests from overseas and one or two new local faces such as Craig Muirhead and Laura McMillan who is in her first year on the piping course at the RSAMD. Laura is also a member of the recently promoted grade 1 band Inverary and District.
Josien Teerlink-Wiegerinck from Holland, but now resident in Edinburgh, presented the Society with a signed copy her book ’50 Years of Piping and Drumming in the Netherlands’
After the traditional pie break Peter McAlister gave a very interesting presentation on the piobaireachd he was about to play. Peter told us ‘
The Nameless tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd don’t get played much – and I think that is simply because they don’t have a name. For this reason the tune I played at the Eagle Pipers probably hasn’t had a public performance since Colin Campbell wrote it down in 1797.
When looking at the canntaireachd, it is important to realise that it is the record of a piper singing to his pupil. For example, to simply say “Hihorodotra, cherede che” is fairly meaningless – but to SING it, brings it instantly to life. Picture the scene in the mid – 1700’s when Colin Campbell was being taught – by canntaireachd alone – by his father Donald, probably during the long wet winters they experienced on the Isle of Seil. Many years later Colin started to write down the singing, and the result is the incredible 168 tunes we have in the Campbell Canntaireachd. Donald was a pupil of Malcolm MacCrimmon on Skye – so you could argue that this is a record of the MacCrimmons singing to their pupils, though academics argue back and forth about that issue.
2 volumes of the Campbell Canntaireachd are available for anyone to see in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. You don’t need permission or an appointment to see them – just walk in – though you will need photo ID. They are incredibly neat and tidy considering their age – and a beautiful record of the tunes.
I believe that the lost 3rd volume is still out there somewhere. The search for this is described on the Piobaireachd Society website, under a button on the left of every page called “The Search”. In my family, this is known as “The Quest”, and I will be doing a talk on “The Quest” during the Piping Live festival in August, with a solo piper playing tunes from the Canntaireachd.’
Peter backed up this first class introduction with a fine performance on a historic set of McDougalls he got from Sandy Spence a few years ago.
The Society then took a moment to pay tribute to the late great Willie MacDonald-Benbecula, who passed away a few days ago. Willie was a great character and a close friend of my tutor David Aitken, as they both served in the HLI together. After the regimental amalgamation and the RHF were born I recall Willie and David, after a few drams of course, giving the battle cry ‘The HLI will never die’.
This brought the evening to a close and yet another fine evening was had by all.
Up and coming events are Bathgate Highland Games, Saturday 29th and Blair Atholl the following day.
Our next evening is on Tuesday 8th June 19.30hrs, so come along and if you play please bring your pipes and give us a tune.
Hon. Pipe Major
The Eagle Pipers’ Society