At a time of year when most pipers keep their instrument tucked away under their bed, we expected a small turnout of players tonight. However, it would appear that sadly many Eagle members sought the comfort of their bagpipes this Christmas to provide respite from nagging in-laws and embarrassing uncles. In all we had eight performers including two debuts.
The Hon P/M started the year in fine form opening with the little heard Loch Monar before moving into some Gaelic airs. He then played a few 9/8 marches. That was 2013 on the move and the P/M was clearly in good fettle-notwithstanding lingering worries over signs of incipient Tourette’s syndrome.
Next up was well known vegetarian, Dr Peter McCalister. After a festive diet of Linda McCartney “sausages” and Quorn turkey, it was no wonder Peter had self-diagnosed himself with man flu. His playing was unaffected thankfully and he included the ground and first variation of the piobaireachd, A Welcome for Patrick Struan by Captain John A. MacLellan MBE – a beautiful tune which deserves to be heard more often.
Marie Ross made her very welcome debut next. She was recently persuaded to marry EPS member, Robert. This would appear to have been a good decision, at least for her piping. Now under the tutelage of Tom Speirs she played a very musical MSR and finished with A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick. Marie captured the strong pulsing of this tune perfectly and brought to mind the drum beats in the version recorded by the 78th Fraser Highlanders in 1998.
The Pre-Pie-Piper was special guest, Dr Jack Taylor, President of the Piobaireachd Society, making his first visit to Eagles. Jack had ventured all the way from Aboyne, Royal Deeside, en route to Winter Storm, Kansas City. Jack picked up the Hon P/M’s pipes and despite the ‘retro’ blow stick produced a lovely tone. After a couple of sets Jack played most of the classic piobaireachd, I got a Kiss of the King’s Hand with beautiful phrasing and expression. We were left wanting more but the pies awaited kissing too.
Post-Pie-Piper was the aforementioned romantic, Robert Ross. This was (probably) the second ever husband and wife combo to play at Eagles (answers by email for the first). Robert treated us to a few entertaining sets finishing with his own setting of the Highland Wedding in jig time.
This was a most interesting interpretation and seemed to have evolved a little since its first outing here last year.
Christmas wasn’t all a struggle for our next piper, Lachie Dick, as Santa had left him with a new quieter instrument in his stocking. We enjoyed some big tunes though including Colin Thomson and the Little Cascade.
Rounding off a busy night, the final two soloists were EPS regulars Andy Gray and Donald MacLeod who both gave us performances to their usual high standards on bagpipes which have clearly not been gathering any dust. This is particularly impressive given Donald’s new parental responsibilities.
We very much look forward to the rest of 2013. It promises to be a good one!