PP Editor’s Blog: Uist & Barra/ BB Contest/ Letters/ Eden Court Fears etc.

To the Uist & Barra contest tomorrow for the annual professional competition. I hear that the tuning times have been restricted to four minutes in the piobaireachd, three in the MSR and one (if needed) for the H&J. Tuning lights will be in force to ensure these times are stuck to but by my calculation we will still have to endure a collective two hours of tuning time during the day. 

Lots of pot-boiler tunes in evidence in the ceol mor – but they are all great pieces and, played well, give enjoyment no matter how often they are heard. Get the full list here.

First on at 9am is double Gold Medallist Finlay Johnston with the King’s Taxes. The picture above shows Finlay leading the march to the games at the Argyllshire Gathering after winning his first GM in 2012.

New letters added today on the Wheel of Fortune contest, William Ross, Queen’s Piper, and Peter MacLeod’s tune, the Loch Ness Monster.

Aberdeenshire Council are recruiting a piping and drumming instructor. The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is co-funding the posts which will be aimed at  Banff Academy and its cluster primary schools. To find out more and to apply, go to: https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/councils/aberdeenshire-council

This is yet more evidence of the magnificent work being done by the Trust who managed to get this testimony from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the Trust’s forthcoming schools pipe band championship.

Everyone thought that the election of a Scottish National Party government in Scotland would lead to greater financial support from politicians for the national music. You know what? Nothing happened.

Some of the BB winners
Some of the BB winners

Bryan Sinclair reports: The Glasgow Battalion Boys’ Brigade held their annual band contest on Saturday 20th February 2016. The competition was held at Ibrox Parish Church, home of the 163rd Glasgow Company & Glasgow Battalion HQ for the second year running.

Piping adjudicator Alasdair McKay (ex-member 214th Glasgow) commented: ‘A former BB lad myself, I know the influence that this organisation has had on my life and it’s great to see that it continues to do the same for so many young people. There was a good standard of competition and lots of potential from all the performers.’

Glasgow Battalion would like to thank all those involved for making the day a success. The next event in the BB musical calendar sees the turn of Dundee & Angus Battalion to host their annual Solo and Bands contest on Saturday 19th March 2016 at Lochee Baptist Church.

Trio Piping: 1st 145th Glasgow 2nd 5th Glasgow 3rd 128th Glasgow
Mini Band: 1st 145th Glasgow
Pipe Band Contest: (Glasgow Confined) 1st 145th Glasgow
Pipe Band Contest: (Open) 1st 44th Dundee/ 1st Monifeith

Adjudicators: P1: David Watson, P2: Alasdair McKay (Glasgow City PB); D: David Jack; E: Andrew Clark (Lomond & Clyde PB)


Eden Court Theatre

Looks like critical times at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, home of the Northern Meeting. Highland Council has cut their funding and they are threatening increased charges as a result. If that goes ahead the Meeting will have to pay more to hire the place and that could mean an increase in entry fees for pipers. Here’s part of a circular sent out by the theatre:

‘On Thursday Highland Council decided to cut their grant to Eden Court by £100,000 – a cut of 17% in the funding we receive. We were expecting a cut of 10% – £59,000 – which was in line with the cut to many other funded organisations and which the Council had asked us to plan for.

‘We are surprised and devastated at this unexpected decision. Because it has come without any warning, and because we operate the theatre on such tight budgets, we don’t yet know what the effect on Eden Court’s services to the public will be.  We will have to look at all areas of our operation – including our vital arts education work. Eden Court is one of the most successful regional theatres in the UK and it operates on funding of around just 20% from the public purse.  We generate 80% of our own income and of the remaining 20% over half comes from Creative Scotland and slightly under half from Highland Council.

‘Far from being a drain on the public purse, Eden Court contributes at least £6million to the Highland economy each year. Eden Court’s reaction to successive cuts in funding has not been to put our hand out to ask for more, or to cut the vital services we offer to the public. Instead Eden Court has reacted to cuts by making efficiency savings and increasing our commercial revenue. 

‘We will have to examine all areas of our business to see where savings can be made:

  • classes may have to be cut
  • we may have to stop serving an area of the Highlands with arts education leaving no provision for dance and drama for young people
  • prices may have to increase,
  • booking fees may have to increase,
  • we may have to charge for parking
  • charges to local performing groups and charities may have to rise’