PP Editor’s Blog 26/9/14

Pleased to report that the dates for early March next year have been sorted out with the Uist and Barra now taking place at the College of Piping on March 7, 2015, with the Duncan Johnstone competition at the Piping Centre on March 14. I’m told that invites for the U&B will be based on the prizewinners at the major championships in 2014. I think everyone will be pleased to see a qualifying structure for this very important competition.
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The May 1985 Piping Times reported on the Piobaireachd Society Conference….’In the afternoon Peter Cooke of the School of Scottish Studies continued the fascinating talk which he gave last year on the playing of John MacKay of Raasay as notated for piano by Eliza Ross (later Lady D’Oyly). ….After dinner on Saturday evening a formal piobaireachd ceilidh was held….. Among those who played were Andrew Wright, Robert Wallace, Dr Bill Wotherspoon and two Canadians,  Dr Pat Taylor and Brian Williamson…’
I remember doing the recordings for Peter for broadcast on the BBC. I wonder if they are still available. Whilst an interesting and enjoyable exercise, I’m not sure that getting a piper to play a piobaireachd score as interpreted by a pianist really tells us anything. As I have written many times, music changes depending on the mode of delivery.
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Stuart Letford has sent this: ‘Just a quick note to say the Soldiers of Killiecrankie event went well. Crowd could have been bigger but there were five other events that weekend in Perthshire. Good feedback though, and it’ll probably go ahead next year again. Anyway, here’s another couple of items which may – or may not – be suitable for your blog. It’s a photo of the For Sale sign outside Dunolly House in Aberfeldy, which has been used for a number years as an outdoor centre, and which was the building pipemaker Duncan MacDougall built to use as his workshop and house. Apologies for the quality of the pic but it was a really bright evening and I was in a rush.

letters - stuart letford
The SPA’s WW1 Pipers event at the CoP reminded me of a couple of stories my grandfather used to tell about an old uncle of his, Robert, who was in the Cameronians and who was present at the Battle of Fromelles. He would tell of how their brave fighting in the terrible muddy conditions drew admiring comments from a French regiment which was fighting with them nearby. After the battle they went down the line to where the French regiment was positioned, and were welcomed by the French Commanding Officer who made a speech of congratulation to the impassive ‘Jocks’, which finished with a flourishing and emotional exclamation, ‘Ah! vous Ecossais! Vous etes tous couverts de gloire!’
‘Whit’s he sayin?’, whispered one soldier to Robert, who replied, ‘He’s just sayin’ that we’re a’ covered wi’ glaur (mud),’ and after a quick glance around, ‘Aye, and he’s no’ far wrang’.
Robert would often also recount a fellow Cameronian who suffered from severe earache, of which he had a particularly bad spell just prior to a big German push. With many others he was a casualty in the engagement. When Robert retrieved the poor chap and placed him on a stretcher he began to show signs of reviving consciousness. Soon he opened his eyes wide and exclaimed: ‘Ma earache’s awa!’
At the same time he lifted his hand to the side of his head and his expression of joy gave place to one of abject despair: ‘So’s my ****** lug!’ Thanks to surgical skill, though, his ear was saved.
* The next Scottish Pipers’ Association WW1 concert is on December 6th at the College of Piping.
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PP Newspaper Watch

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From the D-Day commemoration report in the Daily Telegraph…’Other leaders included David Cameron, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada, and pointedly in view of President Putin’s presence – Petro Poroshenko, president-elect of Ukraine. The veterans sat through this all with admirable patience, garnering applause when, occasionally, they appeared on the big screens. They were hot and red in face and some were a little bemused with the extravaganza before them, but they bore it all. How strange it must be to sit through such a performance and look across the sand that forms its backdrop and remember the deadly theatre of 70 years ago. The same flat expanse they had trod under withering fire, yet a universe away in time and experience. It was a relief when at one point a piper played his lament, walking slowly across the vast impromptu set, an injection of simple dignity into a transient 21st-century son et lumiere.’
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If you don’t already know this, Pipe Band Magazine will be available as a free download from rspba.org from Oct 1. Features include a spotlight on the Worlds, a review of WUSPBA’s new book, a look back at the history of the Edinburgh City Police PB, a Tribute to Hawick P/M Bert Short and all the branch news and Headquarters news and pictures. The magazine will also be available from the pipingpress shop from the same date.
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Congratulations to Jake Jørgensson on being appointed leading drummer of Scottish Power. Jake is another from the Shotts stable and takes over from many times World Solo Drumming Champion Barry Wilson. The World Solos are on the 18th of October at Glasgow Caledonian University. Some years this can clash with the Glenfiddich competition at Blair Atholl but thankfully not this. It means that we have a very good run of piping, and piping related,  activities next month beginning with the Captain John MacLellan Memorial solos at the Army School, Inchdrewer House, Edinburgh, on October 4. The following week it is the National Mod piping in Inverness, then the World Solo drumming, then the Glenfiddich and then London. We’ll all need a break after that lot.
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