Tonight we welcomed a group from The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society (RSPS) under the stewardship of their Hon Pipe Major Walter Gray.
The proceedings got underway with a combined band playing various popular sets. An attempt to play the charming retreat, Dream Valley of Glendaruel, was thwarted as conditioned reflexes ensured everyone went straight into Lochanside instead after Battle’s O’er.
The RSPS then returned to the floor unfettered by any Eagle Pipers. Their 10 players gave us an exceptionally musical display including the Australian Ladies and the Crags of Tumbledown Mountain – a choice of tune with particular connections with our host venue. The tone was of a very high standard. The members of the RSPS are fiercely independent in their personal choice of reed and chanter making the task of creating such a true sound even more of an achievement. P/M Jimmy Banks, the RSPS tutor, can no doubt take a little of the credit for this.
The amateur golfer, Douglas Gardiner, played next whilst the RSPS members slaked their thirst. Douglas’s success on the golf course is currently inversely proportional to his success on the solo boards. This trend looks set to continue.
EPS stalwart, Pipe Major Michael Gray, played a brief selection to his usual high standard before allowing the RSPS’s Alan McGhie to grace us with his piping.
Alan gave a superb account of himself with tunes such as Dugald Gillespie and Achmore Loch. Alan was a member of Glasgow’s Red Hackle Pipe Band his youth and this was clearly evident in his stylish and confident 2/4 marches, The Glenfinnan Highland Gathering and The 91st at Modder River.
Post pies (five pie record still unbroken), the combined band reformed for more tunes and another attempt at the Dream Valley. Thankfully the dream eventually became a reality.
The Hon P/M, Euan Anderson, made an announcement congratulating Kiwi Gold Medallist, Richard Hawke, on his recent award of the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to piping in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. A thoroughly well earned recognition.
EPS Hon President, Colin MacLellan, followed with a master class of piping borne of years playing at the highest level.
His pupil, Cameron Drummond, took over in the same style and gave us some of his new competition repertoire including the Shepherd’s Crook and Little Cascade. Cameron is coming to the end of his first year as the piping instructor at Strathallan School, They are lucky to have a tutor of Cameron’s calibre to continue the sterling work of Jenny Hutcheon.
The piobaireachd player for the evening was Alan Forbes. Alan is of course well known outside the RSPS for his work with the National Piping Centre, Piobaireachd Society and most recently as Piping Convenor of the Northern Meeting. He played a sparkling selection of hornpipes and jigs on his James Center pipes – a set formerly belonging to Jock Percival, Pipe Sergeant of the City of Edinburgh Police Pipe Band and a regular attender at the Eagles. Alan then gave us a marvellous rendition of the beautifully melodic Lament for Donald Duaghal Mackay.
The evening ended with a final ensemble of the RSPS playing Lonely Loch nan Eun and Happy We’ve Been A’ The gither.
Indeed we had and we very much hope to make their visit an annual celebration of all things good about Edinburgh piping.