We were a trifle late in getting the pipes going tonight, owing to the fact that by 7.45pm there were 25 people gathered including guests from abroad (this means lots of blether), and also the fact that a pack of cards was produced by some of the younger attendees which captured the Hon P/M’s imagination. Euan is getting into the swing of the delegation, palming off both the photography and recording duties in addition to the Match Report tonight. The camera battery lasted until Pie Time, however I had no such difficulties with the ink in my pen…
Better late than never, and having fielded multiple compliments on his Duck Egg ensemble (see last time’s Match Report), the Hon P/M boldly lifted his c. 1940 Lawrie pipe straight from the box to get the evening’s music underway. This is a glistening set of pipes, newly refurbished, and much to my chagrin, he hardly needed to tune them at all. Isn’t that a wee bit of magic when you can lift the pipe straight from the box, set the bass drone and simply play.
Mike Gray took little persuading to follow on, and got the competition tunes out with the forthcoming London competition in mind. Mike’s first 2/4 march is one seldom heard, the very pretty yet unusual Stornoway Highland Gathering. There is some debate over the composer of this tune – it is published in Donald Macleod’s collection with the composer listed as “The Competing Pipers”. However, in other sources JA Centre is credited. I wonder what the definitive answer is, and if we shall ever know.
Colin Campbell then treated us to, amongst other tunes, a selection of 4/4s on another stunning instrument. One of the tunes he played was “The Dawning of the Day” or “Raglan Road” as I first knew it from the singing of Sinead O’Connor. What a superb wee tune this is that the World Champions St Laurence O’Toole have revived in our repertoire.
Looking around the room tonight, I smile at the idiosyncracies of pipers. Most of those in the room are clasping a glass of some description and are playing along. Toes are twitching and many heads are bowed in concentration. Here’s a thing – Tom Speirs is smiling as he’s listening! I am of course accustomed to seeing him wearing his Adjudication Face (or perhaps it’s just my playing at which he frowns…)
One of Tom’s students, Nils Michael, was next to play. Again some good competiton sets and also a nice set of jigs beginning with a tune written by John Patrick called P/M Angus MacDonald – Scots Guards. How fitting in our Eagles home. Nils finished his set with a lovely ground of The Little Supper which appropriately brought us up to Pie Time and ensured that the pies had cooled from nuclear to bearable!
Hon Secretary/Treasurer himself was our Post Pie Piper, and was tonight playing a magnificent set of ivory Hendersons circa 1920. I am told these are a set of his grandfathers. Reader, I am at a loss as to express the tone and steadiness of this instrument as commanded by Iain Speirs. Rock solid, harmonics abounding…simply glorious. I had a couple of flash-forwards to the thrill of hearing such a magnificent instrument and player in the epic acoustics of the Great Hall at Blair Castle in a few weeks’ time. I’m excited already!
Our penultimate player of the evening was Cameron Baskerville, one of our international guests for the evening. Cameron’s mother, Wendy MacGillivray-Baskerville and friend Kyle Rothschild-Mancinelli completed the exotic trio from across the pond. Cameron is studying at Edinburgh University and plays with the Glengarry Pipe Band, of which our President was at one time Pipe Major. We hope that we’ll see plenty more of Cameron at Eagles now that he is a local.
And so to our final piper of the evening, Taylor Townsley. Taylor has played at the Eagles several times, but is at 13, the youngest so far to present the evening’s piobaireachd. Tonight she gave us a lovely rendition of MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart, reminding us all that although it may be a relatively short tune, there is so much that can be made of it.
And so, next time Iain Speirs shall be polishing his match fitness with the piobaireachd. Do come along and help us to replicate conditions of the Great Hall at Blair Atholl (hard chairs excepted). 7.30pm Tuesday 26 October. The Hon P/M may even be completing the Duck Egg ensemble with the addition of Duck Egg hose. I for one think that this would be a simply splendid addition. Be there to find out.