Tonight was a celebration of multiculturalism for the EPS with four of this evening’s pipers from foreign shores.
Colin Campbell of Northern Ireland, UK, opened up playing a recent purchase of 1890s Glens. The drones were wonderfully sweet and curiously were once played in the ranks of The London Scottish Regiment – the band of which was once commanded by Pipe Major Jock Speirs – father and grandfather of Tom and Iain respectively.
One of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s finest pair of hands (with a scalpel), Dr Fergus Perks, graced the floor next. Fergus has been a regular attendee but has only played once at EPS before.
He surprised everyone with his natural ability – not least as he had the handicap of learning pipes at Stewart’s Melville College. He played a majestic sounding set of Sinclair drones turned by Tim Gellaitry in 1983. Tim sat quietly looking very proud with his work as Fergus played – and quite rightly so.
Pipe Major Cameron Stevens, CD, of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada treated us next to a very melodic set including some classic Canadian Black Watch tunes such as The Red Hackle, composed in 1943 by P/M Sutherland, and the more recent 175th Anniversary of The St Andrew’s Society of Montreal. Cameron is visiting Scotland to indulge in some hard core tuition at the National Piping Centre.
Pre-Pie-Piper was Nils Michael of Germany and demonstrated why he is at the forefront of the bagpipe revolution in central Europe. His pipe had never sounded better as he played a classic double MSR in preparation for next weekend’s Duncan Johnstone contest.
John MacDonald managed to sneak another playing slot giving him his third appearance in as many meetings. Perhaps an EPS record. John claims to have no relation to any of the famous piping MacDonalds and even suggested he has never been to Glencoe. Given his very natural prowess with a beautiful sounding set of drones he is either lying or we have discovered yet another lineage of talented piping MacDonalds.
Arguably Canada’s most famous and successful lady piper, Jenny Hazzard, graced the floor next with a superb set of tunes including the charming 4/4 Mrs Flora Duncan. Jenny showed how effortless the very best players can make piping look.
Finally and most certainly not least, Donald MacPhee, originally of Detroit, USA, closed the evening with an outstanding interpretation of Rory MacLoude’s Lament on a bagpipe which only a top professional piper or a world renown reed maker could produce – Donald is of course both. The first and second variations, in particular, of Rory MacLoude’s Lament are so strongly thematic and enchanting that even a non-piper would have been mesmerised by the music. A fitting end to a great night.
Diary dates to look out for are the Duncan Johnstone contest at the National Piping Centre on Saturday 26th and perhaps more importantly, EPS Committee member, Cameron Drummond, versus Ally Henderson in the Knock Out contest at The Guards Club on Sunday 27th at 1600hrs (includes a free curry).