The PP database of Gold Medallists at Oban and Inverness has now been updated and includes all of the tunes played by all of the winners since the competitions resumed after WW2. The lists make very interesting reading and show a remarkable breadth of tunes played.
When we consider that at the turn of the last century there were probably no more than a handful of tunes heard round the Highland games and at the main competitions, we can see just how much progress has been made in the decades since.
This paucity of repertoire was one of the reasons for the founding of the Piobaireachd Society in 1903. The Society was tasked with collecting and recording all the tunes extant and with encouraging their performance. Later the committees of both the Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting took the decision to prescribe tunes for the Gold Medal competitions and asked the PS to provide the annual list.
This has proved wonderfully successful and I think it would be fair to say that today there are more tunes being played by more pipers around the world than at any time in history. Ceol mor has gone from being the preserve of a few devotees to a form of music enjoyed and appreciated by thousands.
The Society’s collection of Books 1 – 16, with all its flaws, is a marvellous achievement, perhaps the greatest feat of folkloric collecting and editing seen in these islands. We’ve all benefited from it – even the staunchest critics of the Society like the late Mr Campsie and Dr Donaldson would surely have to agree.
Membership of the Society is open all with an interest in this music and anyone can attend the Annual Conference (March 18-20).
Entry forms for Dundee, Perth & Angus, full band and trio competition on April 23rd are now available here.
We all know P/M Barry Donaldson is a great guy. His achievements are legion and his colleagues at the City of Edinburgh pipe band and pupils round the world doff the glengarry in admiration as he passes. But even they might be surprised at the news this morning that the man himself is to have a planet, yes a planet, named after him! If reports are to be believed, ‘Planet Barry’ is to be the name of the ninth in our solar system. Those of us who have worked closely with the P/M feel this is the least the world’s scientists could do in recognising his stature, and whilst the knighthood has yet to happen, immortality has been thrust upon the pipe major’s breast regardless. ‘Heavens above’, I hear you cry, and indeed, greater forces than we have clearly had a hand in this latest accolade to come the P/M’s way.
The pic up top shows the march of pipers at, we believe, Lonach Gathering. On the left is P/M William Grant of the Scots Guards and to his right P/M George Cruikshank of the Gordon Highlanders. This shot (below) shows P/M Cruikshank (left) playing at a society wedding in the 1930s. We have nothing on the other piper who we presume was also from the Gordons.
We’d be interested in any background information on P/Ms Cruickshank and Grant as we have heard it said that they made a significant contribution to piping in the north-east.
There’s sure to be a packed crowd at the Gordon Duncan concert tomorrow night in Glasgow. Here’s the line-up: Ross Ainslie, Ali Hutton, Jarlath Henderson, Angus McColl, Allan MacDonald, Stewart Liddell, Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis and the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and the Tannahill Weavers group. Click the link for tickets.