Tonight we welcomed a group from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPB) under the direction of Alisdair McLaren.
Alisdair brought with him four pipers. With a pool of 65 pipers to choose from, selection must have taxed his ears considerably. After the weekend’s drenching in Dumbarton, it was perhaps those with the driest pipes who made the cut. Either way, they put on an outstanding display and were a great advert for the creativity and musicianship of the NYPB. The chosen four were Griogair Norris, Ross Miller, Calum Watson and Scott Wood.
They kicked things off playing as a quartet with a selection of sets including the NYPB’s (first ever?) MSR of Captain Carswell, Blair Drummond and John Morrison of Assynt House. Their medley showcased some of the innovation and showmanship for which the band has become famous.
First to take the floor as a soloist was 14 year old Griogair Norris playing a set of McCallums. When not
performing with the NYPB, Griogair competes with the Grade 2 Dumbarton & District Pipe Band and takes solo lessons from Gordon Lawrie. His tunes included the MSR Donald Cameron, Shepherd’s Crook and The Smith of Chillichassie before finishing with the slow air Kilt Rock and a classy performance of Adam Quinn’s infectious Blue Cloud.
Ross Miller was the Pre-Pie Piper. Ross competes with the Juvenile band of Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia. With his talent, and under Greig Canning’s guidance, making the step up to Grade 1 can’t be far away. Ross was playing a beautiful set of Henry Starck drones apparently purloined from his Great Auntie’s attic. His MSR was Leaving Glenurquhart, Cabar Feidh and The Rejected Suitor followed by a selection of jigs and reels the highlight of which was Legless in Lisburn. As a 16 year old, Ross would be well advised to avoid the true inspiration for this tune in years to come.
After the break, Calum Watson of George Watson’s (no relation) College graced us with his well set up
McCallums. He played the 9/8 Bathgate Highland Games – not only a marvelous tune but a fine plug for the event itself taking place this Saturday. His MSR was Mrs John MacColl, Maggie Cameron and Sandy Cameron. This was delivered with a panache and style way beyond his 16 years.
Rounding off the night was 17 year old Scott Wood, one of the longest standing members of the NYPB. A pupil of Gordon McCready’s and competing member of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, Scott was playing a beautifully sweet set of Lawrie drones and Strathmore chanter. After an MSR of Leaving Glenurquhart (is there anyone still there?), Piper’s Bonnet and Cecily Ross, Scott gave us a selection including one of his own compositions, Ian and Lorraine Woods Silver Wedding Anniversary. He finished the evening with a mature and strong interpretation of the ever popular but demanding Battle of Auldearn No 2.
Not only did all the boys play with great composure and skill, they all took the time to engage the audience and introduce their tunes.
They were a credit to the ethos and influence of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. The remaining 61 pipers can rest assured that Griogair, Ross, Calum and Scott did them proud.