PP Ed’s Blog: Argylls Book/ Perth Reminder/ Glenfinnan/ Ulster Juvs./ Strathallan

The new Argylls book

The launch of the must-have Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Pipe Music Collection is on the 10 August during Worlds Week at the National Piping Centre at 12.30pm. Admission free. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about this historic collection and hear some the tunes played by leading pipers. All the compilers will be in attendance: Jim Henderson, P/M Ian McLellan, Walter Cowan, Jimmy Banks, their exuberance controlled by the Director of Army Bagpipe Music, Major Gordon Rowan.

The men behind the new Argylls book, P/M Ian McLellan BEM, P/M Jimmy Banks MBE, Major Rowan, Walter Cowan and Jim Henderson

The composers with an Argyll connection are legion: Willie Lawrie, John McLellan, Dunoon, George McIntyre, John MacColl, Ron Fleming…..the list goes on. But the book does not just contain tunes by Argylls composers. It also has many tunes written FOR Argylls and it will be particularly pleasing to me to see the tune by P/M Peter MacInnes, Capt. John Young, Assam Regiment in the book. A few years ago I ran a competition for a tune  to commemorate the incredible heroism of this Glasgow soldier, an Argyll, and Peter was the winner. Also pleasing to know that a piobaireachd by P/M John MacKenzie, Salute to the Soldier, is to be included. We’ll have a review of the book in due course.

The organisers of Sunday’s Perth Highland Games have asked us to remind everyone that entries close this Friday, July 28, so if you want to play at this important gathering get your name down now. Call the secretary Brian Whyte on 01738 827664. Check out our PP Guide to the Games here.

Returning from Tobermory via the remote but beautiful Ardnamurchan peninsula we stopped off at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. It now seems rather run down and no credit to the National Trust for Scotland for letting it become so. A lick of paint and a clean up of the entrance area (littered with cigarette butts and bin mess) would help enormously and getting rid of the quota system for those wishing to climb the ’45 commemoration monument would help too. An employee told us it had reduced the visitor numbers from 300 a day to less than 100 – a significant loss of revenue for the Trust.

A glorious day at the Glenfinnan monument. The piping competitions at the games take place at the foot of this iconic column

And try as I might I couldn’t find the recording by Hugh MacCallum of his fine piobaireachd the Raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan which used to be available at the exhibition via audio link with the score on screen. I learned later that the exhibition had reduced in size and made less ‘elitist’ – whatever that means. No wonder the NTS seems to stumble from one crisis to the next if this is the sort of warped thinking they employ. Give Hugh’s tune the prominence it deserves! After our visit I climbed up the hillside to the spot where the late Donald Bain, NZ, was snapped back in the early 70s (top), a picture used extensively by the then Scottish Tourist Board.

Glenfinnan Games are on August 19 – a clash with nearby Lochaber and with Nairn on the Moray coast. The first two clashed last year as well and some pipers managed to play at both.

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Dining at the splendid Glenfinnan House Hotel I noticed this poster for Wednesday’s Arisaig Games on the wall:Good prizemoney I’m told, so if you have the day off why not head north and west for a few tunes in front of two highly respected adjudicators in Iain MacFadyen and Archie Maclean. Check out our PP Guide to the Games here.

P/M Andy and some members of the band

John Kelly reports from Northern Ireland: The Ulster-Scots Agency Juvenile Pipe Band with Pipe Major Andy McGregor entertained a large audience at an open air concert in Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park on Saturday afternoon (22nd July) as part of a packed ‘Rose Week’ programme:

Strathallan School’s newsletter has an update on their piping programme via their main instructor Craig Muirhead: ‘It has been another busy year at Strathallan. We now have 60 pupils on the piping timetable, and individually they’re all coming on.… A real highlight for me has been taking two bands to compete at the Scottish Schools Championship – it’s been really nice to see them performing so well. On an individual level, we’re also seeing several pipers continuing to progress. Robbie MacIsaac is one piper in particular, who has done incredibly well. He won the solo piping competition at the Combined Cadet Force Championship, and he’s just been named Pipe Major for the year ahead. We’re really proud of what he has achieved, and it’s great to have his experience to lead the group. All the pipers respect him, and that can only be a positive thing. We’ll now focus on events such as the Musical Showcase at Perth Concert Hall next term and on putting on a fine performance there.’ To hear more about piping at Strathallan, contact the school on 01738 812546.

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