There had been a bit of a ‘do’ in the gardens of Holyrood Palace this Tuesday afternoon in the form of the annual Royal Garden Party. While the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh sent their apologies and Peterkin had changed out of his finery, several Eagles attendees, who had been present at Holyrood, continued the party at the Scots Guards Club throughout the evening!
First to serenade us was our Honorary Pipe Major with some 3/4 marches, including the lovely Colin’s Cattle which saw the P/M striding the length of the floor area, possibly in imaginary pursuit of the aforementioned cattle.
Our President was next to take the floor on a lovely set of pipes that he has been working to set up on behalf of Eagles-regular, Donald MacKinnon. Colin related the story of the pipes, which are a rare set made by Sandy Robertson for Donald. These are one of a relatively few sets, and were the last set that Sandy ever made. Colin noted that they had been set up to be very easy to play, and that his father, Captain JA MacLellan, had firmly believed that a pipe was at its optimum when it was easy to play. Colin played a lovely set of tunes and the pipe did indeed sound sweet and true, and belied its ease. When Colin had finished his set and passed the pipe back to its owner, Donald’s face was similar to that of a lad in a sweet shop!
We had a trio of Speirs in the house tonight, with Gregor coming for a visit while he is in town. Tom tells me he now has six grandchildren, and was vigilant in his grandfatherly duty of making sure that Gregor was home in time for the 11pm feed of the newest addition!
Tonight’s Pre-Pie Piper was adrenaline junkie and Eagles regular, Nils Michael. Nils confessed before his tune that he reckons the Eagles audience is tougher than any competition platform – hence my conclusion that he is an adrenaline junkie. Despite this (or perhaps driven by the need to fuel his addiction?!) he pulled the pipe straight from the box and began the rounding up of the Colin’s Cattle again.
Nils continues to push the boundaries at Eagle Pipers and tonight presented some Eastern European dance tunes, mazurkas, which are compositions of the Australian piper, Murray Blair. A truly international affair. As Nils finished his set in a blaze of finger-fury, all that was missing was a disco ball, strobe lights and possibly some fireworks.
After we all tucked into the ubiquitous pies, Kyle Rothschild-Mancinelli got the pipes out. Kyle has clearly been putting in some hard yards, and has also joined the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band. With drones sweet and steady he gave us a classic competition MSR followed by some of his own compositions, which are as yet unnamed. The hornpipe would not have sounded out of place being played up to the line by a pipe corps of 20 and the jig has the unusual feature of only having 7 bars in the first part.
Douglas Gardiner then began the final set of the night with some swinging 6/8 marches to settle the pipes before launching into tonight’s piobaireachd, The Gathering of the McNabs. If I may quote our Hon P/M’s introduction to the tune: “There was obviously a gathering, some McNabs were there… and it went swimmingly”. This is a tune set for the Silver Medal this year and Douglas has clearly put a lot of time and effort into its interpretation, displaying the pleasure there is to be gained for both player and listener in lifting a little-known tune off the page and giving it life.
Our next Eagles meeting on 19th July may be a slightly quieter affair due to holidays and Games being held at the same time. The meeting will still go ahead, and members are encouraged to take the pipes along for a very informal tune. (Hon P/M won’t be there to boss us about.)
Enjoy the tunes!