PP Ed’s Blog: Junior Contests/ School Champs./ Hugh’s Picture/ Tattoo Piper/ I’ray Concert

With the demise of the Craigmount Junior solos is there any competition for young pipers in the city of Edinburgh? If not I hope someone steps forward to fill the gap. The capital has a much changed piping landscape since the great days of the Eagle Pipers Professional contest held each November, the British Legion contest and the Edinburgh Police contest. Maybe there were no junior contests back then either, though the Highland Pipers Society did run one if my memory serves me well.

The amateur pipers have the members’ contests at the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society, the Piobaireachd Society’s Archie Kenneth Quaich and the Piping Centre often hold heats of their popular CLASP events at the Army School. On the professional front today Edinburgh has the Army’s excellent Captain John MacLellan Memorial at Inchdrewer House each October and the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’ in February. There is also the Invitational John MacLellan contest run by the current and energetic Eagle Pipers’ committee. Whether this black tie do can survive the William Grant Foundation cuts remains to be seen but if not they have a great opportunity here to do something for the youngsters. N’est pas?

Still in Edinburgh, the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships entries close on January 20th so if your band intends playing best to get the entry in sooner than later. Here’s the link. This year the Championships are taking place at James Gillespie’s High School on Sunday 12th March.

Hugh MacCallum has confirmed that the photograph posted the other day is of his good self. Hugh writes: ‘The picture is indeed myself with John MacFadyen. It was taken at the old Argyllshire Gathering ground at Oban Games in 1960. The previous day John had won the Gold Medal and I had won the Open Piobaireachd (now the Senior Piobaireachd). I was in the uniform of the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as the band had an engagement playing at the Games that day. The picture was taken for The Oban Times newspaper.’

Great days and happy memories, Hugh. Thanks for sharing them.

Scottish Pipers’ Association: Tonight sees a recital by John Patrick at the College of Piping (7pm). Full bar and entry at the door.

The latest issue of the Edinburgh Tattoo’s magazine ‘Salute’ has this: ‘Lance Bombardier Megan Beveridge of the 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, The Scottish Gunners, had already achieved another first before she stepped on the tarmac of Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade….. she became the first female to pass the Pipe Majors course at the Army School of Bagpiping and Highland Drumming….As well as coming second overall on the course, Megan won the course prize for best Piobreachd [sic] and was the top student in theory. So it was only fitting that Megan became the first serving female soldier to be Lone Piper…. For many of our audience, this is the most compelling and poignant moment of the whole show.

Megan and Elaine

‘There has only every been one other female Lone Piper in the Tattoo’s history, Officer Cadet Elaine Marnoch, who played in 1977…Elaine, now Mrs Potts, was there to wish Megan luck on this momentous occasion, as they celebrated being two of the most famous women in the Tattoo’s long, illustrious history.’

A great day is in store at Celtic Connections for those who love the big pipe band concert occasion. For only £15 you can see and hear Inveraray & District and the Bagad Kemper, two of the world’s top pipe bands. Date: Jan 28; Place: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Get your tickets here. Inveraray are pictured on stage up top.

Here’s the blurb: ‘In the space of just 11 years, Inveraray & District Pipe Band – founded by Pipe Major Stuart Liddell, one of today’s greatest Highland pipers – have climbed the rankings from Novice Juvenile Grade to being crowned Grade 1 Champion of Champions in 2016. With its strong focus on the quality of both individual and collective playing, the IDPB is now a recognised centre of excellence within the piping world, featuring members from several continents, including multiple prizewinners, RCS graduates and numerous skilled composers/arrangers.

‘Bagad Kemper are the pre-eminent ensemble among Brittany’s flourishing pipe-band scene, with a renowned track-record of spectacular large-scale collaborations. Their latest production Melezour – Breton for ‘mirror’ – features such stellar compatriots as singers Marthe Vassallo and Sylvain Girault, saxophonist Bernard Le Dreau, bassist Erwan Volant and guitarist Tibo Niobé. Exploring and celebrating the very essence of Breton music, the music creates a constant play of reflections, echoes and responses between songs, words and instruments.’