The recital/annual competition for the ‘cuaich’ took place on June 2 in the Stables Cafe, Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles, Sleat, Isle of Skye. The winner was Callum Beaumont. Callum is pictured at the Lochaber Gathering last year where he enjoyed another success.
Pipers and tunes were:
Iain Speirs, A Cholla mo Ruin or The Piper’s Warning to his Master
Finlay Johnston, Cumha an Aona Mhic or Lament for the Only Son
Stuart Liddell, An Grota or The Goat
Ian K. MacDonald, Cill Chriosda or Glengarry’s March
Callum Beaumont, Cumha Dubh Shomairle- Lament for Samuel or The Stewarts White Banner
Adjudicator: C MacLellan
The Clan Donald Lands Trust (CDLT) website gives some background to the contest and their support for piping:
‘CDLT aims to preserve traditions relating to Clan Donald and the Gaidhealtachd (Highlands and Islands) by supporting the music traditions of the Highlands, and by holding the Donald MacDonald Quaich Annual Piobaireachd piping competition at Armadale Castle.
‘CDLT sponsors junior piping competitions at the Isle of Skye Highland Games and the Northern Meeting in Inverness. It also funds local clarsach (Highland harps) tuition and has provided twelve clarsachs on long-term loan to local schools.
‘Donald MacDonald, born about 1750, became a pupil of the MacArthurs, hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of Skye. He later moved to Edinburgh, establishing himself as a maker of Highland and other bagpipes. At that time, the premier award for playing of the piobaireachd was a Prize Pipe, awarded annually by the Highland Society of London, which Donald won in 1817.
‘In 1822, he published a book of piobaireachd, written in a staff notation of his devising, which has remained the basis on which subsequent editors of piobaireachd have worked. Although well received, the book’s financial return prevented publication of Donald’s projected second volume.
‘Donald therefore presented the manuscript to the grandfather of General C.S. Thomson. Thomson used the MS as a reference in compiling ‘Ceol Mor’, a comprehensive collection of piobaireachd published in 1900.
‘Donald died in 1840 but his book has been reprinted and several of his arrangements have been played on Radio Scotland. By his own account, Donald embraced several schools or styles of playing and the way in which he wrote the standard movements in different tunes varies, providing scope for individual interpretation and expression.
‘Without his work, it is conceivable that much Highland musical heritage would have been lost. Although the piobaireachd arrangements usually heard today are those published by the Piobaireachd Society, derived mainly from the collection of Angus MacKay, the Donald MacDonald Quaich honours the memory of this revered piping pioneer.’