After two weeks of drinking cheap sparkling wine and forced civility to weird and/or deaf family relatives, the first EPS meeting of 2011 allowed a return to normality.
It was fitting that Ed Seaman kicked off the new year’s proceedings as he was the first piper (after the Hon P/M) to play in 2010. Ed is a piping student at the RSAMD and the Gaelic influence of his tutor Allan MacDonald is clearly evident in his playing. Ed managed to secure two playing slots (is this an EPS record?): one on his Naill highland pipes; and the second on his whistle in D. He played two very musical selections including Allan’s attractive waltz, We’re A Case The Bunch O’ Us.
Young Connor Sinclair from Crieff, official piper to both First Minister Alex Salmond and Sir Sean Connery, took the floor next on a wonderful instrument, tuned and handled with great maturity. His tunes included the demanding competition march Bonnie Anne which he played with much aplomb.
Next for (non)shaving was National Piping Centre tutor John Mulhearn, showing a style of facial hair that Connor can look forward to sporting. His outstanding instrument was a fine advert for his father’s bagpipe making skills at the Ayrshire Bagpipe Company (www.ayrshirebagpipes.co.uk). The highlight for many of John’s selection was the 2/4 march, Pipe Major Sandy Spence, written by Gordon Duncan. A melodic, swinging march in the traditional competition idiom. It would be a fitting tribute to both the late Sandy Spence and Gordon Duncan if this tune became an established feature in the competing pipers’ repertoire.
The Post-Pie-Piper was EPS stalwart, Allan Harper, stretching his muscles ahead of the amateur CLASP contest in the Scots Guards Club on 29th January. His vintage Glens responded well to the dramatic change in temperature between the tuning room and bar area playing a solid MSR of classics including the deceptively tricky Leaving Glenurquhart.
I was next up to play and demonstrated that not only have I spent the Christmas period dealing with peculiar relatives but had also adopted a practice regime more akin to Donald Duck than Donald MacPherson.
The headline act of the night was 17 year old Nick Keyden, Pipe Major of The Edinburgh Academy Pipe Band. Nick is competing next week in the Scottish Schools CCF Piobaireachd contest and used this opportunity to test his match nerves. He settled the pipe with a couple of musical sets including the marvellous Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie. He then played a promising and very controlled Massacre of Glencoe finishing with an excellent display of dexterity in the crunluath a mach.
Roll on 2011. It’s going to be a fine year!