Piobaireachd Society Reveals Full Line-up for Conference ’17

The 2017 Piobaireachd Society Conference will take place on Saturday/Sunday 25/26 March at the Birnam Hotel, Perthshire.

Booking arrangements are slightly different this year than in the past. Those staying at the hotel for the weekend should contact reception directly on 01350 728030. Rates are available for two nights bed and breakfast including conference dinner on the Saturday evening.

A conference fee of £40 is payable directly to the Piobaireachd Society via their PayPal account. The link is here. A piping ceilidh will follow dinner on the Saturday evening.

During the weekend papers will be given on the following:

  • Angus McKay revisited – Robert Wallace
  • CLASP – Margaret Dunn, Gordon Hislop, Gill Cairns.
  • New Tunes from the Campbell Canntaireachd – Patrick Molard and Jack Taylor. This includes a book launch of 45 unpublished tunes from the CC. (Patrick is pictured above piping on Skye in a study by Cailean Maclean.)
  • Fiddling and Piobaireachd – Pete Clark
Robert Frater piping at the PS ceilidh in the striking Birnam Hotel great hall

On Sunday morning the 2017 set tunes will be demonstrated by John Frater, Peter McCalister and Bill Wotherspoon. There then follows the Society’s AGM.

For further information contact Roderick Livingstone, PS Treasurer:
Email: roddy66@gmx.com; Telephone: 07801 014885

Dr Jack Taylor, President of the Piobaireachd Society

President Jack Taylor said: ‘Everyone, including, non-members, is welcome to attend the Annual Conference. We believe we have put together an interesting programme which will appeal to all lovers of ceol mor and those who are new to it will hear fine music and discussion all delivered in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.’

The Society was founded in 1901 and is charged with researching Scotland’s classical pipe music. Since its founding it has published many books including sixteen in its own collection and has rightly been credited with encouraging the worldwide upsurge in interest in this music. Its website states:

‘When the Highlands and Islands of Scotland adopted the bagpipe, perhaps some six hundred years ago, they began to develop the instrument and its music to suit their needs and tastes. What emerged was the instrument we know today as the Great Highland Bagpipe, and a form of music, piobaireachd (pronounced pee-broch), which is unique to the instrument.  

‘The music consists of a theme (ground) and variations on this theme. The theme can express joy, sadness, or sometimes in the ‘gathering’ tunes, a peremptory warning or call to arms. The theme is developed in a series of variations, which usually progress to the ‘crunluath’ variation, where the piper’s fingers give a dazzling technical display of embellishment or gracenotes. The Piobaireachd Society was founded in 1901 to encourage the playing, teaching and study of this music.’

Membership of the Society is open to all with an interest in the music and currently stands at around 600. Join the Society here – only £15 for a one year membership and for this the member gets access to a wonderful archive of material both written and aural and the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing something to preserve part of Scotland’s unique musical heritage.

Leading piper Iain Speirs performs at the Piobaireachd Society Conference in 2015

The Society sponsors major events such as the Argyllshire Gathering, the Northern Meeting and the Bratach Gorm in London and has a bursary programme providing tuition for young pipers. Each year its music committee is charged with selecting tunes which are offered to the promoters at Oban and Inverness for their senior piobaireachd and gold and silver medal contests. Check out the 2017 set lists here.

The Birnam Hotel is situated in the village of the same name on the edge of Highland Perthshire. Riverside and hill walks are popular with PS attendees during breaks at the Conference. The village is on the main A9 trunk road and mainline rail link from the central belt to Inverness. Bus services are frequent and convenient with stops only a few yards from the hotel.