With Remembrance Sunday fresh in our minds it was nice to see John Fraser and Craig Robertson back from their travels and hear tales from their trip. Young Josh Robertson, aged 10, was of course, the star turn and he learned a thing or two on the tour. John had him under his wing for nearly a week so no doubt the young lad has now a taste for Bundy rum? What goes on on tour, stays on tour. So they tell me.
A remarkable 19 pipers turned up to have a tune and as space was going to be very tight we migrated upstairs. However the first half hour was spent on the practice chanters going through the strathspey and reel. With only two meetings left before we break for Christmas there is much work to be done. Good progress is being made with all the 3/4s in the book and we have moved onto the final set, The Kilworth Hills, The Shoals of Herring and The Argylls Crossing the River Po.
Such were the number John Fraser ran round the drones with a tuner and quickly got them all in the ballpark, which enhanced the overall sound. The aim is to have chanters around 478/480 and go from there. The band was in good form and actually managed a wee tilt at the MSR, getting through it without actually breaking down. Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban is a fairly challenging tune but it is fair to say the strathspey and the 3rd part of the reel are the main challenges.
We continued after the break and after a pie and a pint the sound actually improved. This is clearly a band that needs fed and watered. Not necessarily in that order.
Once the band was done we headed back down stairs where Kenny McBride and Andrew Yu gave us a few tunes. Kenny started off with two classic 6/8 marches, The Sweet Maid of Mull and P/M
John D Burgess. Once the pipe was settled he was off and running, playing a set that, in the main, were tunes composed by Gordon Duncan. They included The Day the Co-op Was Flooded and The High Drive.
Gordon Duncan was widely regarded as one of the most skilled and innovative traditional music performers and composers of modern times. While steeped in the art of traditional highland piping, his approach to his music was always imaginative, fresh and at times radical, to the extent that his influence can be heard within an entire generation of younger musicians across Scotland and well beyond. It is hard to believe that he passed some 12 years ago at the tender age of 41.
The Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust was formed to raise funds for the promotion of piping and other forms of traditional music amongst young people in Scotland and goes from strength to strength.
Andrew Yu finished the night off playing some 3/4 marches before giving us the ground of Donald MacLeod’s, Queens Elizabeth II Salute.
An excellent evening and what a turn out. With a few still missing in action, to get so many players on the floor is very encouraging.
The Society will have two more meetings before the end of the year, the last being on Tuesday 12th December. The penultimate meeting will be on Tuesday 28th of this month.
Merchandise will be available for Christmas purchases in the form of bag covers (4 left) £30 each, cuff links £15, Bow ties £15 and umbrellas £25.