Pipe Major Robert L Kilgour MBE

IMG_7812I had the honour and privilege of playing at Bobs funeral yesterday and it marked the passing of one of the most significant figures in Edinburgh piping.

Bob was born on the 25th June 1924, in Edinburgh, and started piping at a young age, buying his first practice chanter from David Glens, for the princely sum of ten shillings.

And that was the start of what was to be quite the illustrious piping career. Many had an influence on Bob’s career. In his early years he was taught by P/M George Ackroyd of the Black Watch, then by Willie Ross at the Castle, his lessons costing him three guineas. Bob would later join the Scot’s Guards and in 1947 he attended his Pipe Majors course. John MacLellan was on that course and he and Bob were the only two pupils to pass with distinction.Unknown

I first met Bob long after he had left the army, at the Highland Pipers’, in the Sgian Dhu Hotel, Royal Terrace in Edinburgh. Myself and Colin (MacLellan) were both still at School and it is fair to say we were young and impressionable. And what an impression Bob made on us. Certainly one of the smartest men I have ever seen in a kilt.

I had never seen silver so highly polished and it was the first time I had ever seen black wax being used on the tuning pins to contrast against the silver. Brogues were spit and polished. On occasion he would wear red laces in his gillie brogues. Lots of little classy touches.

IMG_7732Now at the time I didn’t really know who he was or his background but a kinder man you couldn’t meet. Sharp as a tack and always there to offer praise and encouragement. If you thought you were playing poorly he would have none of it and would always come out with some pearl of wisdom.

His catch phrases and delivery style were classic. When looking for the next piper to play he would ask ‘who’s next for shaving?’ and if you were on the floor too long, out would come the pocket watch and the eyebrow would be raised.

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Eagle Pipers’ 2010

This was the man for us. Oscar Wilde said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we followed Bob to the nth degree, probably not really realising what an influence he was actually having on us.

Colin and I were honoured to play at his wedding to Bente, who was from Denmark.

Bob set up a wee bagpipe making business in Grove Street with his brother George.

ScanOf course ultimately Bob was to move to Denmark and Edinburgh’s loss was certainly Denmark’s gain, as Bob took the Danish piping scene by the scruff of the neck and became one of its corner stones.

In 2003 Bob returned to Edinburgh and once again immersed himself in the piping scene. He regularly attended the piping events in the Scots Guards Association Club and with his good friend Kaj Larsen, he always made the journey North for the Northern Meetings.

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Bob and Chris

Latterly we would have great sessions at the knock out competitions on a Sunday at the Guard’s Club. Bob was always on top form and enjoyed debating about politics, history and the like. It is no exaggeration to say that right up until the very end he was mentally razor sharp.

He was not overly fond of the flash-fingered kitchen style of piping and if any piper caught his attention by playing in that fashion he would applaud only using his two pinkies. So funny.

IMG_1948Bob and my uncle Chris Anderson, also a Guardsman, who recently passed away, spent many hours on a Sunday reminiscing about old times. Bob was Chris’s Pipe Major and it was fantastic to sit and watch two old soldiers chew the fat.

He was in his 94th year when he passed. What an innings.

Thank you Bob from me and the other countless pipers you helped and cajoled.

I am glad to have known you and had you in my life.

As you said many a time,

‘Here’s tae us

Wha’s like us

Damn few

And they’re a’ deid’

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Bob raising a glass on his 90th birthday

Rest in peace.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Eagle Pipers’ Society

 

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Match Report Tuesday 17th October 2017

The King is dead. Long live the King.

IMG_7732The circle of life is exactly that. With the passing of Bob Kilgour, (funeral arrangements- Warriston Crematorium, Thursday 26th at 13.00hrs.), you automatically feel an unfillable void has been created in the piping world. While the evening was to be dedicated to his memory young Josh Robertson, aged 10, had never heard of him and unabashed got the pipe out the box ready for a tune. Bob would have been so pleased to see a youngster, who has just made it onto the pipes with 2 tunes under his belt, step up to the plate. He would have said something like ‘ Well young man, let’s see what you have got for us’IMG_7766

So the band took to the floor and welcomed our other new addition to the fold Kiwi, Elliot Couper. Now Bob would have taken one look at Elliot’s pipe and an eyebrow would have gone north. A touch of TLC and maintenance required on the old pipe but what a lovely set of drones they are.

IMG_7770With the band on a mission it was ten past nine before a pie and a pint were welcome guests. Time was spent on the 3-4 set P/M J.K. Cairns, The Banks of Allan Water and My Land. These will be played at the next meeting.

After the pies the Pipe Major took some time to pay tribute to Bob Kilgour telling the company a bit about his background, a few stories and of course a few of Bob’s idiosyncrasies, some of which the P/M has adopted. ‘Who’s next for shaving’ would be Bob’s cry when looking for the next piper to take the floor, followed by a quick look at the pocket watch.IMG_7767

And with that said the P/M played a few tunes in tribute to Bob that included the beautiful 3/4 march, The Kilworth Hills, a tune Bob played regularly when settling his pipe.

Now who was going to follow that? Josh Robertson. That’s who. ‘I have no drones going and can only play 2 tunes. Bonnie Galloway and The Rowan Tree it was. Josh made such a good job of them we IMG_7774have decided to include these tunes in the next print of the Society’s book of tunes. They are now in the band repertoire.

Next up was George Campbell who, once he had warmed the pipe with a couple of 6/8s, gave us the 2/4 marches Duncan MacFadyen of Melfort and Donald MacLellan of Rothesay. George finished his spot with a hornpipe and jig that started with Chasing Shadows.

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George

Fergus Perks was the final player of the night and he was straight into the big stuff with The Braes of Castle Grant, Atholl Cummers and Locheil’s Away to France. A great reel with quite a bit of history behind it.

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Fergus

‘Donald Cameron of Lochiel 1700 –1748), was an influential Highland Chief known for his magnanimous and gallant nature. He was the hereditary leader of Clan Cameron, traditionally loyal to the exiled House of Stuart, whose leaders had once been tasked with enforcing the King of Scotland’s will in the Highlands. By the early eighteenth century, the Camerons’ supremacy was being overtaken by the rival Campbell’s Lochiel’s support for Bonnie Prince Charlie was pivotal to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, However, he was effectively pushed into a corner by the issue of a warrant for his arrest for conspiring with the Stuarts. 

Donald Cameron of Lochiel was the eldest son of the 18th Chief, Lord Lochiel.

After his father, a key participant in the Jacobite Rising of 1715, fled into permanent exile in France, Donald Cameron assumed the role of acting Clan Chief at a time when the old customs were rapidly changing. ‘

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Locheil

Fergus finished his spot with a slow air and a couple of jigs and with that we were done. Excellent stuff.

It was nice to see two old soldiers keeping an eye on proceedings, George Lumsden and Martin Wilson, both looking well and in fine form.

IMG_7773A couple of the new Eagles Pipers’ umbrellas flew off the shelf. £25 to members. £30 to non members.

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The next big piping occasion is the Glenfiddich Piping Championships on Saturday 28th October and there is a round of the knock out competition in the Scots Guards Club the following day, Sunday 29th at 16.00hrs, where Ben Duncan is taking on John Dew.

https://www.glenfiddich.com/uk/explore/latest-events/glenfiddich-piping-championship

See you at our next meeting on Tuesday 31st October.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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P/M Robert Kilgour

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Match Report Tuesday 4th October 2017

IMG_E7663Tonight 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.Dumbarton-2014

While Steven warmed his pipes up the stairs the band had a few sets to build up a thirst.

UnknownOn 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.IMG_7661

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.

Pie time.

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.

IMG_7667A 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.

scan0020-1The 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.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/MIMG_7668

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.

 

 

 

 

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Match Report Tuesday 19th September

IMG_3317We saw a good turnout at the Eagles after a fresh and sunny autumn day, but missing from the ranks were our P/M, President and Secretary, who were indisposed.

Being the well-disciplined lot that the Eagles are the pipes were quickly out the boxes, warmed up and ready to go without any coercion. But without the foresaid incumbents who would lead? It seems, according to Martin Wilson Jnr., whose expertise on this matter is unquestionable, that if you have a set of ribbons on your drones and an Eagles bag cover then your it for the night. Thus it was for Iain Dewar who took on the task like a duck on an icy pond!

The Band consisting of 9 players and sounding perfectly respectable took off with the Green Hills set of 3/4s. This was followed by two lively 2/4s Corriechoillies Welcome and Terribus, with a quick round of drone tuning provided by Martin.

There was some debate about what 6/8s to play and in what order before settling on Leaving Port Askaig and Farewell to the Creeks. Slow airs followed with My Home and Mist Covered Mountains. The pipes were sounding pretty good by now so we ended on Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban. Not too shabby, but will we ever get round to that Strathspey?

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Iain McDonald

The stand in P/M sorted a batting order from the many volunteers and up first and pre-pie piper was Iain McDonald who warmed up his Glen pipes and started with a slow air, hornpipe and jig – Braes of Lochiel, Liverpool Hornpipe and Snug in the Blanket.

A quick re-tune and then into The Kilworth Hills, a very fine 3/4 from one of the piping world’s most famous composers Pipe Major George S. McLellan. Iain finished his selection with a couple of great 2/4 marches – MacLean of Penny Cross, and Captain Campbell of Drum a Voisk, which took us to the pies.

After a short pie break and glasses suitably refreshed it was the turn of the post pie piper

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Andrew Yu

Andrew Chun-kit Yu who came hopeful to pick up an Eagles tie and book of tunes.

Not too disappointed when the man with the goodies was absent, Andrew warmed up his set of Duncan MacRae’s with a rendition of The Auld Rustic Bridge. Fingers and pipes warming nicely he then played his MSR before finishing with a selection of well-known jigs – Pipe Major Jimmy McGregor, Glasgow City Police Pipers, and Alan MacPherson of Mosspark.

Don’t worry Andrew, you’ll get your tie and book!

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Martin Wilson

Next up was Martin Wilson Jnr with his set of Henderson’s with a vintage WarMac chanter. How we remember those chanters, the first synthetic chanter made of polypenco back in the 70s. It was a shortage of good quality African Blackwood that drove Andrew Warnock to look for alternatives and found it in the material Police Batons were being made of! It was the chanter that changed the pipe band world for ever not least by Pipe Major Tom McAllister who went into partnership with Warnock (War-mac bagpipes) and whose reeds the chanter was optimised for. That combination put Shotts and Dykeshead and WarMac firmly on the map for all time.

So back to Martins pipes! They warmed up well and the chanter was bright, and he was clearly not blowing one of the famous Tom McAllister reeds as his face wasn’t inside out! The old favourite tunes were out again, this time it was – The Meeting of the Waters, and Laird and Lady Morris of Burntisland. Suitably warmed up Martin followed these with a rendition of some of his own 6/8 compositions, and fine tunes they were – Angus Malcolm McKinnon, Sir William Sutherland QPM, and The Peeping Toms. Martin rounded his spot off with a well-executed MSR – Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal, Caber Feidh, and the Brown Haired Maid.

 

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Dr Jack Taylor

Our final piper and piobaireachd player of the night was Dr. Jack Taylor, who was taught by Bert Barron and latterly by Robert Brown and Robert Nichol.

Jack won the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1973 and although retired he is currently President of the Piobaireachd Society. Jack warmed up his pipes with more old favourite 4/4s – Within a Mile o’ Edinburgh Toun, and The Hills of Alva.

The pipes settled well and after a little drone tweaking Jack then played the Fair maid of Barra followed by The Curlew, a well-known jig written by Donald MacPherson. Jacks’ Niall chanter delivered a classic and finely balanced sound, just the ticket for Jack’s final tune of the night – the Lament for Mary McLeod (The Sky Poetess), a melodic and beautiful tune.

Mary McLeod was a Gaelic poetess who was banished to the Island of Mull for some bardic offence committed in the stately Halls of Dunvegan. She made a death-entreaty that she should be buried face downwards in token of the ignominy which would for ever consume her conscience, although she slept in Rodel of her ancestors, the idyll of her heart. (Fionn’s Notes).

That was it for the night, old favourites all round!

Next meeting will be 3rd October where we will be entertained by Steven Leask on what promises to be a great evening.

See you there and all the best.IMG_5407

Iain Dewar.

 

 

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Match Report Tuesday 5th September

Many of you reading this will be aware that due to the untimely death of Euan’s Uncle – Chris Anderson, it was not possible for the P/M to attend this meeting. I have posted some details on the Facebook page about Chris and indeed the funeral arrangements.

On behalf of the Eagle Membership I would like to extent our sincere condolences to the whole of the Anderson family at this difficult time.

I am sure that Chris however, would be the first to say that the ‘show must go on’ and it did.

Numbers on the floor this week were down slightly and it’s hardly surprising.

It has been a busy old season for most, whether as competitors, in bands or as soloists. Recitals, judging duties, tutoring or indeed commitments to social functions all take their toll in one way or another.

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It then got me to thinking back to Euan’s visit to the Birnam Hotel earlier this year, where he delivered a talk on the success of piping societies in modern times.

I suppose for me and many others The Eagles is a society where the only pressure that is put on you, is that pressure you put on yourself.

We are very privileged to have people within our ranks that have achieved the highest accolades but modesty and a willingness to help others improve is a true testament to their abilities.

For me, coming back to piping has been a breath of fresh air and the Eagles gives us all an opportunity to play and talk about the instrument as well as having a bit of craic

On Tuesday we were fortunate to have Kenny McBride take the helm for what turned out to be a rather good evening.

Kenny and George Campbell signed up for the Pipers’ Trail this year – which for those of you who don’t know is essentially a civilian band which performs with the massed bands at the Tattoo.

 

Neither, Kenny or George are strangers to the Tattoo as they played there with Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band in 1995. Both thoroughly enjoyed their time at the Castle and as you would expect this has meant that they have forged new friendships and potentially recruited new members.

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One of whom was Shona Duncan from Edinburgh, who turned up for a tune.

Kenny got us all sorted and actually we had pretty good sound going. We went through a good bit of the book before the pies and although he never said too much  – I think he was happy enough at how we played.

Kenny played a nice selection of 3/4’s and 4/4’s and with his pipes suitably warmed up settled he launched in to a few MSR’s before finishing up with a Hornpipe and Jig set.

As usual Kenny is extremely modest and also his biggest critic but true to form he can certainly deliver. I quite often ask Kenny what this tune was or that tune was after he plays and he very rarely can remember. All I know is it is great to hear him play and he is a huge asset to the Society.

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Next up George Campbell with his Robertson’s. George has been playing the Ezeedrone Super Moisture absorbent reed since August and they sound great in his pipes. With minimal tuning George just got straight into it and again never put a foot wrong from start to finish.

I am very pleased that the Eagles give these guys an opportunity to play and allows others to enjoy their respective talent which would otherwise go unheard.

John Murphy has never played in front of the group since joining and this was really a bench mark for him. John played a selection of 3/4’s including Miss Mary Grant of Lochgelly (Scots Guards III). It was a great effort by Murph and well received by the group.

Although he didn’t have his pipes this week (black mark against his name) Gordon Hislop was about and having a good chat about the CPA (Competing Pipers Association) and what is required from applicants.

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It turns out that Graeme Farr has made his submissions with a view to competing – this is great news. What better way to get the ball rolling than to give your mates a tune and that is exactly what Graeme did.

Playing Alan Dodds Farewell to Scotland in his MSR set, it was great to see Graeme up there and strutting his stuff.

For me as Secretary these are significant events for these two guys and I am fair chuffed to have been there to listen to it.

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As a Society the Eagles has a large membership and as membership secretary it’s my job to try and ensure that those people who are down ‘on the books’ as members, get the most out of the society.

Many will have received emails asking for updated details and others I know haven’t – because the emails come back to me undelivered.

So here’s the rub, to continue to be successful we need to communicate and communication is a two way street. To that end, if you haven’t heard from me please get in touch at eaglessecretary@outlook.com with your up to date contact details.

That’s all from me folks. Next meeting is on 19th September but please bear in mind that the Scots Guards Knockout Competitions start on Sunday 24th September at 1600 where Callum Moffat will square up to Jonathon Simpson

Remember we also have Steven Leask visiting on Tuesday 3rd October for what I am sure will be another grand evening.

All the best to you and yours

Craig Robertson

Secretary

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Steven Leask – Guest Piper – 3rd October

We are very pleased to announce that Steven Leask will be our guest piper on Tuesday 3rd October.

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Steven is a member of Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band and former member of Glasgow Police.  He has also won many notable solo prizes including the B MSR at this year’s Northern Meeting and Strachan Memorial and Overall A Grade at London in 2015.

It promises to be a superb evening.

 

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Match Report Tuesday 24th August 2017

IMG_6882With the main event being in Oban this week, The Argyllshire Gathering, it was decided to have an informal practice night and run through some tunes in the new book. It turned out to be a worthwhile exercise, in more ways than one. Settings were agreed, gracenotes altered and in some cases harmonies sorted. All alterations and harmonies will be included in the second run of books down the line.IMG_6881

After the pies and some good old war stories, the band took to the floor and blew the dust off the pipes. All in all a very different, but rewarding evening. It is hoped that there will be another couple of like sessions over IMG_3318the winter months and, if all goes according to plan, we may hire a mini bus and inflict ourselves on an as yet to be identified victim. Sister Societies beware!!

The John MacLellan dinner is this Saturday and there are still a few tickets available.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

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