In the absence of the Honorary Pipe Major who was away on policing duties it fell to the Honorary President to take care of the evening’s proceedings. And what a night it was!
We had superb playing, superb company, and tunes which had most of those in attendance no doubt humming and whistling well into the week following.
First to play was Eagle Pipers stalwart Donald MacLeod. Donald is playing well just now, and has confidence in his broadly toned, sonorous pipe. He kicked things off with the simple marches My Land and Stornoway Bay, following with the 6/8’s 10th HLI Crossing the Rhine and Bengullion. Edinburgh – connected tunes these, and then we were treated to big strathspeys and reels, big marches, slow airs and jigs, before Donald finished with a strong and boldly played groundwork of the MacCrimmon tune, The MacLeod’s Salute.
James Gore was up next, and was invited to give us the evening’s piobaireachd. James arrived in Edinburgh about a year or so ago, and has been a great addition to the Edinburgh piping scene, and particularly to the Eagle Pipers Society. He plays a lovely old set of Robertson pipes, and they were certainly going extremely well during this performance. James elected, after playing a varied and finger – bending selection of lighter music, to give us the piobaireachd “The King’s Taxes” and he played the tune in great style. Immaculate fingering and a nice way of phrasing had the audience held in great interest, and James surprised us by completing the tune with the addition of the very rarely heard (if at all, these days) open crunluath fosgailte finish. Certainly in this tune it provided a great flourish to the end of the piece and prompted discussion afterwards as to why this is no longer done in tunes such as this and the Groat, the Big Spree, and the Viscount of Dundee. I believe it was once very popular with Cameron players, and was a favourite way in ending these tunes of the great Robert Reid.
Continuing on we had the Honorary Secretary, Iain Speirs, who showed that there are no “off” months, or a close season, nowadays for the big guns of the piping world. What a treat it was to hear Iain in his very top form, opening with Ronnie Ackroyd’s The Festival March, then Dugald Gillespie and Lucy’s Song – nice to hear again Edinburgh tunes in the selections. A slew of wee tunes followed, Mrs Donald MacPherson, Donald Morrison, Chur I Glun Air a Bhodach, The Rusty Gun, Miss Lily, Upper Denton, Marion and Donald, Heat from the Furnace, Humors of Tulla, and The Famous Ballymoat. The big stuff followed, and Iain ended with four jigs. Wonderful playing on a wonderful bagpipe.
Young Andrew Gray (HighTower) had cruised in just in time for the pies, and surprisingly needed little persuasion in following Iain’s performance. This was because Andrew had been putting the work in in preparation for his strenuous recital exams at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. He was in great form also, and gave an entertaining and polished performance of his recital tunes which included the air Loch MacLeod, the MSR Kantara to El Arish, The Shepherds Crook, and Angus MacDonald’s Kalabakan. Then we were onto the fancy stuff, and the fingers were flying with the hornpipe McKerrell’s Fancy. Andrew finished with the Allan Macdonald jig Flora Macauley, Carradale and a new tune to me, Ray Anderson . Good luck Andrew, on this kind of form you do not need any.
Upcoming events include the second Captain John A MacLellan MBE Dinner Recital at the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh on Saturday June 8th. During the dinner in the luxurious surrounding of the Club Gordon Walker will play “Am Bratach Gorm”, Stuart Liddell will play”Salute to the Queen’s Own Highlanders”, Faye Henderson will play “The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairick”, and Iain Speirs will play “A Welcome for Patrick Struan”. This is one of the very best piping events and there are a very few tickets left at £37.50 – to reserve please call Colin MacLellan at 07528377704 or go through the Trust website at http://www.johnmaclellanmemorial.com