A Different Take on Piping Centre Recitals

npc-header-logo-195Following the review earlier this week by Bill Robertson of New Zealand, Nicholas Taitz of South Africa has weighed in with his own critique….

IMG_0515Nicholas writes: Here are a few of my notes on the excellent series of recitals, during Piping Live, which were all of amazing streaming and sound quality.  Thanks must go to the National Piping Centre for this wonderful set of recitals and their successful efforts to make them available to those of us not in Glasgow for the week.

Jack Lee: Lovely pipe tone throughout, and evidently a Sinclair pipe

Jack Lee with the Senior Piobaireachd trophies at the Argyllshire Gathering
Jack Lee with the Senior Piobaireachd trophies at the Argyllshire Gathering

chanter, rather an unusual sight in solo piping.  Jack’s playing of War or Peace was excellent, though he played it better in the Masters Competition the day before.  Of note was his historically accurate use of the redundant low A in the leumluath, taorluath and crunluath movements of this little heard tune.  Very impressively, Jack can play with or without the redundant A.   The melody line stayed with me for a few days after.  A very enjoyable recital, lots of band style tunes in there which may not be to the ultimate purist’s taste, but were well played on a fine pipe and I enjoyed all of them too.   Jack is a class act.  He has a really attractive piping posture and attitude, which is quite majestic.  This is an all too often neglected part of the piper’s art – especially by lower grade pipers – and Jack shows how good it can be when you play well and have a fine posture.  It’s really an unbeatable combination.

Gordon Walker:  A perfect pipe from the great Gordon Walker, and Gordon’s usual fine playing was accompanied by humorous and entertaining commentary by the piper, telling the names of tunes and a few stories.  As always, Gordon’s crisp technique and pointing were on display.

The incomparable Gordon Walker in full Army fig
The incomparable Gordon Walker in full Army fig

A memorable moment was when he said something to the effect that he was to play a set of jigs, and this was not a competition, so if he dropped a few gracenotes the audience shouldn’t worry about it, they could be swept up after.  Gordon then proceeded with a set of jig after jig, and not a gracenote was dropped.  Classic piping from a true master of the art.   Gordon is the piper you would show to a learner to emphasise correct posture, technique, and pointing, in my book.  There are many fine pipers out there but Gordon is something quite special in my opinion, and is just the archetype of good piping method.  A piper every student and indeed moderate player should look to emulate.

Fred Morrison: Wonderful recital from Fred, rather surprisingly (to me) he played seated. He had a very sweet, easy Highland pipe.  His drones were quite incredible, and his overall tone perhaps the best of the recital series.  Fred played many of his fine compositions, with his usual perfect technique and musicality.

Brilliance all the way from Fred Morrison
Perfectly tuned and balanced pipe from Fred Morrison

He had a very fine piobaireachd, MacFarlane’s Gathering, delivered with great musicality on a perfectly tuned and balanced pipe.  One of the most enjoyable recitals I heard.  Fred also gave the audience a taste of his versatility and musicianship with the low whistle.

I missed Angus MacColl,  but no doubt he played to his usual high standards.  I also missed Willie McCallum but heard him in the Masters competition where he was in his usual fine form on a perfect pipe.


ppresshop pic


The general standard of Highland piping from the top pipers today, must be among the finest we have ever seen in piping history.  The tone in general is incredibly good, and execution is generally of consummate standard.   It’s even better that, as a complimentary element, this piping can be shared so widely by internet streaming so the audience for this wonderful piping is truly global.  It’s a good time right now for the solo Highland pipe and piping enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “A Different Take on Piping Centre Recitals”

  1. Mostly very positive, but less critical than I was. With a discerning/perceptive ear some soloists not at their best. What about Gordon’s low G that was out! , and waywardness at time in some of his tunes – at this time not as fine a performance as in recent past years. Certainly the recitals are very good overall for those not as critical as I am – others too perhaps, to help Piping higher standards. Angus MacColl was the other piper held in high esteem by me, but negligent musically in the 3/4 retreat airs, and at times wayward in his control, surprisingly. All the best, Bill/Robbie Robertson — 7 Oct. 2014
    I like the look of your magazine Rab — Bill

  2. Please add: I did not manage to listen to Jack Lee who in the recent past I held up as a very good role model for promising pipers, as much as Angus MacColl, Gordon Walker (good boldness in 2/4 marches), and Willie MacCallum.. Bill

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