PP Editor’s Blog: Gwen Macpherson/ Govan Pipers Film/ SPA KO/ EUSPBA Piob. Conf.

Like many, I was sorry to learn of the passing of Gwen MacPherson, Donald’s widow. Gwen (86) died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, on December 2, after chest infection complications. Her funeral service is today, Dec 14, at Mortonhall Crematorium, Pentland Chapel, Edinburgh, at 10.30 am, to which all family and friends are invited.

The death notice in the Edinburgh Evening News read: ‘Gwen, very dearly loved wife of the late Donald, mother of Heather, Fiona, Katrina, mother-in-law of David and John, gran of Michael, Kirsty, Stuart and his wife Kirsty and nan of Mila and Bailey.’

Gwen met Donald when he was based in Wiltshire with the RAF post WW2. They married in July 1947 and were together for 64 years. Gwen was very well known in the solo piping world and was a constant companion for Donald during his wonderful playing career, always encouraging him on to greater heights. She was instrumental in organising the memorial concert held after his death and which featured an array of top pipers, all pupils of the maestro.

Gwen and pipers at the memorial concert held in Donald’s honour. L-R: Douglas Murray, David Shedden, Stuart Shedden, Andrew Travers, Iain Speirs, George Stewart

Gwen is pictured up top next to the portrait of Donald which was on show at last year’s Piobaireachd Society Conference where a paper was given on his life and career. Donald died in 2012.

A new film has been made of the outstanding work being done in Govan, Glasgow, teaching local kids the pipes and drums. The film’s publicist Lucinda Broadbent has sent this:

‘I know that you’ve been a great supporter of the Govan Schools Pipe Band. I expect you know we’ve been making a documentary about them for BBC ALBA? It’s just finished, and this week we held a sneak preview for the families and a few key people in the birth of the band (such as Iain White, former Head Teacher at Govan High School). I’m writing to ask if you could kindly publicise the film on the Piping Press website?Pipers-publicity_V2

‘We have agreed with the BBC a media embargo on full-length articles about the film until 23 December. The broadcast date is 1st Jan 2016 at 8pm. Could you consider putting something short on your blog in the near future, and then a follow-up or two later in the month? What we’d love to you to share now if possible is the attached digital ‘card’ with the basic info, and the first of a series of short clips from the film that we’ll be releasing in the coming weeks. Here’s a link to the 50-sec clip on YouTube:

We hope very much that the documentary will help spread the word about the value of pipe bands.’

Still with the schools bands here’s the poster for the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships to be held in March in Broughton High School. SSPBC_Advert_V4More info and entries here.

SPA President Tom Johnstone has emailed to say that the next round of the Knock Out competition will be held on January 9 when the contestants will be Angus MacColl and Alasdair Henderson. The final is on May 7 and the winner will receive a substantial cash prize courtesy McCallum Bagpipes.

 US reader George Barlow has forwarded this notice about a Piobaireachd Conference being organised by James Stack of EUSPBA (ceolmor@comcast.net)

‘The Piobaireachd Conference, c/o James Stack, 34 Lowell Ave.,
Summit, N.J.  07901. Good Morning, I hope that this email has found you well and in good spirits! All is well here and with the competitive piping season now over, my time has primarily been spent on getting my students focused on technical improvements and beginning the preparation for the start of next year’s individual competition season.  As for me, continued learning primarily focused on Piobaireachd and its many interpretations.  On that note, I have put together what I hope will be an annual event here in the New York Metropolitan area called ‘The Piobaireachd Conference’…not the most original name I’m afraid!  
‘The idea here is to have a weekend event, presided over each year by a different ‘authority’ on Piobaireachd and geared primarily toward exploring the musical diversity and interpretation of our great music.  In addition, the weekend will be open to all, from start to finish.  I am delighted to say the this event is being sponsored by the EUSPBA and The Piobaireachd Society and will take place on President’s weekend, a three-day weekend falling on February 13 and 14 in 2016! 
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‘Colin MacLellan has agreed to come across and cover a wide range of topics and tunes including a selection of Silver and Gold Medal tunes for 2016.   This is shaping up to be a wonderful weekend of Piobaireachd study benefiting our adjudicators, competitors and enthusiasts alike. In conjunction with The Piobaireachd Conference, the EUSPBA is holding a Premier Piobaireachd and MSR competition.  The Piobaireachd contest will be taking place on Friday night, February 12 and the MSR contest will be taking place on Saturday night, February 13. 
The Piobaireachd Conference and Premier Piping Competition will be held at The Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ.  The Hotel is located within a 20 minute ride from Newark Airport and is easily accessible from all major highways.  In addition train service is also available to the Hotel on New Jersey Transit’s Morris and Essex Line.  The train stop is “Convent Station” and this lets you off in the back parking lot of the Hotel.  A very reasonable discounted rate of $109 + tax inclusive of a continental breakfast and Wi-Fi has been made available to us.
The cost of The Piobaireachd Conference weekend is $80. (Please see attachment for additional details)  Please make your checks payable to EUSPBA and mail to: EUSPBA, c/o Matt Wood, 14 Meadowview Ave., Succasunna, NJ  07876.’

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