With the holidays all but over and the serious solo contests looming, it was back to the usual busy routine at Eagles tonight.
Chris Lee, Hong Kong’s answer to Gordon Walker, had the honour of kicking off the night. Chris is over from the Far East for two months to play round the games and treated us to some splendid 6/8s and an MSR including the reel 57 Tassie Street composed by Bruce Gandy (Chris’s tutor). The reel is named after a former residency of EPS President, Colin MacLellan. Iain MacFadyen apparently also lived on the same street. Piping is a small world.
Having bought practically everyone a drink in his usual generous fashion, Douglas Gardiner took the floor next for a few tunes. His double MSR left few in the audience in any doubt as to why he had spent Saturday admiring the prize heifers at the Peebles Agricultural Show instead of competing at the World Pipe Band Championships.
It was left to Jenny Hazzard to restore order with a classy display of competition tunes in readiness for Oban and Inverness.
Her double MSR of Braes of Castle Grant, Inveran, Susan MacLeod, Maggie Cameron, Cecily Ross and Lochiel’s Awa’ Tae France proved she is on fine form. A dazzling set of jigs lead us all to the pie break in fine fettle.
We were joined this evening by a large (non-playing) delegation from the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band, Ontario, under the direction of Pipe Major Bethany Bisaillion.
As well as being enthusiastic aficionados of Scottish beer, they have a marketing strategy that would shame most bands and have played at numerous high profile engagements including for HM The Queen at Balmoral Castle and for the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Ottawa. We felt honoured by their presence.
With the pies all gone (although Chris Lee appeared not to finish his), Iain Speirs took his pipes straight from the box and produced a musical performance par excellence – showing why he won a strong second prize in the piobaireachd at Sunday’s Masters Invitational. He gave us our third double MSR of the night including The Knightswood Ceilidh, Lady Loudon and Bessie Macintyre.
The piobaireachd tonight was played by probably the most organised person in solo piping, Tracey Williams. As well as providing our fourth double MSR, Tracey used the occasion to test her mettle in advance of the Silver Medal next week and even submitted tunes to the audience who chose Duntroon’s (MacDonald’s) Salute. She will be hoping to go one (or two) better than her excellent 3rdprize last year. On the strength of this showing; a trip to the bookies could prove very rewarding.
Tracey is also organising the inaugural Captain John MacLellan Memorial Trust competition on Saturday 15th October at the Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh. More details will be announced shortly but this promises to be a memorable and historic occasion with some great music.
Good luck to all those competing at The Argyllshire Gathering. We look forward to hearing some prizewinners at our next meeting.