50 pies had been ordered to sate the appetite of our foreign guests who were expected to attend our extra night. Enough or not?
The evening started out quite slowly as the P/M took to the floor but as he stepped through a variety of light music the room gradually filled, including our usual August visitors The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band.
As soon as the P/M had finished a young piper from Israel, Martan, asked if he could have a tune on the P/Ms pipe. This was to set a wee trend. Up he stepped and played The White Sands of Gaza, apparently composed by David Siegel from Israel. Predictably there was not much romance behind the tune as
Martan explained it was about an invasion and bloody incident in 2008 where many people were killed. He advised that while the white sands sounds nice, it is a very dangerous place. And with that he was done. 1 tune and off.
However before the P/M could get the pipe in the box another newcomer from Falkirk, Andrew Allison, who plays with Newtongrange Pipe Band, asked for a shot. Andrew,aged 19 settled down with a slow air and 6/8 and then launched into Maggie Cameron and The Cameronian Rant. The fingers were on fire and then……he stopped. No reels. That was it, he was done. Reels
next time Andrew please but great to see you at the Eagles for a tune.
The P/M’s pipe was then handed to a young Canadian from Ontario, Andrew Steel, who opened with the 6/8 Lilly Christie before playing the Andrew Hayes composition, The Hip Breaker.
The P/M finally got to put his pipe away as Harry Richards, fresh from his pipe idol performance, gave us the pre pie selection. He included a bit of his pipe idol selection for us including a very well played Little Cascade.
Just before the pies we had time for a Edinburgh Fringe Festival plug from Claus Riess from Denmark
‘Claus tells about the rock’n’roll career of his life as a full-time bagpiper. He combines his show with improv and
plays the most unexpected tunes. He is the only bagpipe comedian in Europe – no shit! ‘His set was incredibly inventive and very funny’ (Leicester Comedy Festival). ‘Impressive ability to embrace the audience’ (Randers Amtsavis, Denmark). Bonus info: He is the only man in the world who has done a parachute jump while playing the bagpipe – in a kilt.’
We are not in a position to recommend or not but when in Rome………….
The 50 pies were produced and they went like snow off a dyke. Malkie Bow (the man behind the video and audio on Pipes/Drums) saw off 3 and he didn’t get out of second gear to do that.
It was nice to see so many guests including Martin Wilson Snr. whose daughter Julie, had chummed her husband along, Andrew Berthoff, who did not stray very from the pies either. It was nice to see Andrew Hayes along for a visit. Andrew is a regular in Scotland and once again is doing very well here in the solo contests.
The P/M brought the audience to order with a couple of 4/4 Marchs before handing over to Jenny Hazzard who was in her usual immaculate form. Jenny’s reel in her MSR was the John Wilson composition, Tom Kettles. Little heard but worthy of look up.
‘John Wilson was born In Edinburgh in 1906 and learned to ply pipes ay a young age. However as a 12-year-old when he found and accidentally ignited the detonator of a stray hand grenade and blew off the major parts of the thumb and first two fingers of his left hand. Only short stumps remained extending from the knuckle of his hand. The majority of young pipers might have abandoned the pipes, but no so the young John Wilson.
In 1924, still in his teens, he began capturing the top prizes. He won the Marches at Oban that year, and the following year the Gold Medal at Inverness. In 1927 he won the Gold Medal at Oban and the Strathspeys and Reels at Oban and Inverness.
He was a professional piper, achieving sustained success throughout the 1920s and ’30s against the likes of Robert Reid, R. U. Brown, Willie Ross, J. B. Robertson and Malcolm R. MacPherson.
It was a Golden Age of piping, and John Wilson was one of the great pipers of the age. During what he called his peak year in 1936, he received 70 prizes in 72 events, winning first in 35 of them and second in 24. Two of these firsts included the Clasp at Inverness and the Former Winners’ March, Strathspey and Reel at Oban.
In June of 1940 his life changed forever when he and the unit, including General Fortune, was captured by the German army at St. Valery, France. He would spend the next five years in prisoner-of-war camps, cut off from friends, family and piping, until liberated by U.S. forces in April of 1945.
He would not compete again until 1948, and the next year his life would bring about great change again when, on the prompting of his friend George Duncan, he decided to immigrate to Canada.
He quickly became a regular competitor around the games and shortly after arriving in Toronto he began offering Saturday piping classes at Fort York Armoury. These lessons, along with private teaching in his home, would dramatically change the face of piping in Ontario over the next 25 years. Reay MacKay, Billy Gilmour, Bill Livingstone, Bob Worrall, Gail Brown, Michael Grey and many others – all owed much of their piping success to the rigorous teaching of John Wilson in Toronto.
His exacting standards as a teacher and judge raised the level of technique and instruments in Ontario to unparalleled heights. It was without doubt due to the influence of John Wilson that Ontario pipers earned reputations in Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s for impeccable technique, flawless performances and strong, steady pipes.
The last player of the evening was Andrew Gray who was a bit late arriving as he was on a tight piping schedule having played already at a couple of venues and indeed after the Eagles he headed through to play at the Festival Club at the Piping Centre. Good effort.
This was a big test for Andrew as the room was packed and was not short on top players in the audience. There was nothing to worry about as Andrew quickly got into his stride with 9/8’s – John Campbell and Sailing Together, both Chris Armstrong compositions. He then played the hornpipes, McKerrells Fancy, again by Chris Armstrong and Ray Anderson, composed by Duncan Johnstone. First class and the bagpipe was humming. He then played a MSR before settling down and giving us the evening’s piobaireachd, I Got a Kiss of the Kings Hand. A first class tune, full of music played on a rock steady pipe. The tune will soon be available on our You Tube site.
And that was Edinburgh’s wee antidote to the World Pipe Band Championships that are a two-day event this year. Good luck everyone. Hope the weather holds out for you.