Tonight saw the last player in our ‘young guest piper’ series that has been a huge success this year.
At 25 Steven is actually well established on the solo scene pretty much dominating the B grade arena. He earns an honest crust as an architect with Sheppard Robson in Glasgow and with arduous university studies behind him he is back to a full practice schedule. Not just the solos mind you as Steven is a member of the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia pipe band that produced a superb pre-worlds concert earlier in the year.
Steven started his piping life with Irvine and District pipe band and quickly progressed to the Strathclyde Police Pipe band, which he joined at the age of 15, spending 8 years in their ranks.
While Steven warmed his pipes up the stairs the band had a few sets to build up a thirst.
On a relatively new Duncan MacRae pipe, that is interestingly made from Ebony, Steven settled himself down with some traditional 9/8 marches. The pipe was rich and sonorous from the start and the audience were hooked from the off.
He then went into some competition strathspeys and reels starting off with The Islay Ball. With a quick tweak of the drones he was straight into three big 2/4 marches that ended with The Pap of Glencoe.
Steven ended his first spot with the slow air setting of I Got a Kiss of the Kind’s Hand, followed by the hornpipe, The Kiwi, ending with the great Allan MacDonald jig, Dr Flora MacAulay. Great music and a superb first half.
Steven resisted the temptation of the famous pies (his only mistake of the night) and kicked off the second half with some lovely 3/4s.
He then went into a hornpipe and jig set playing the John Wilson composition, The Finger Control, followed by two classic jigs, Donald MacLellan’s tuning phrase and The Biddy from Sligo.
A competition MSR followed that showed why Steven has been so successful this year on the boards. Musical and good technique on a great pipe is hard to beat.
To conclude his performance Steven gave us the little heard The Battle of Bealach nam Brog. Steven has been going to Willie MacCallum for tuition for some time and it shone through in this performance. This tune is a wee gem and more players should have it in their repertoire. Steven stepped his way through this with ease and it was a joy to listen to.
The tune would appear to mark an incident in 1452 where a battle was fought at Bealach nam Brog, when the Earl of Ross, having discovered a plot against him, attacked and slaughtered his foes, including Mackenzie’s the Kinlochewe men. Bealach nam Brog lies about 20 miles northwest of Inverness in the parish of Fodderty.
And with that we were done. A great night of piping and we can only thank Steven for taking time out his busy schedule to come and play for us.
The next big event is the Captain John A MacLellan Memorial competition this Saturday, the 7th of October. Held at Inchdrewer House within Redford Barracks, this event features some of the best solo pipers in the country, with separate Piobaireachd and Light Music events in P, A, B and C grades and a Hornpipe and Jig contest open to all competitors.
Remember the Glenfiddich is at the end of the month so if you have not secured your tickets now is the time.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 17th October when we hope Lachie Dick is on piobaireachd duties.
See you then.
PS As guests were departing the club this old codger almost took some of them out. Cycling on the footpath in quite an aggressive manner. Any suggestions regarding his identity would be greatly appreciated.