PP Ed's Blog: Schools/ Queensland/ Argylls Book/ Folk Awards

The Northern Winter School starts today in Lohheide, Lower Saxony, Germany, and not far from Fallingbostel the former British Army base. A great team of teachers brought together by Principal Ronnie Bromhead and at the last count there were around 50 students. There will be classes on all branches of piping and drumming, a concert, exams and evening ceilidhs. Report and pix to follow.

Talking of schools, Jack Williamson, P/M of the Kansas City St Andrews Pipe Band, is joining the teaching faculty at the South Florida Pipe & Drum Academy. Jack will be a valued addition to the team of myself, Barry Donaldson, Donald McBride, Matt Pantaleoni, Tommy Johnston and Andrew Elliot. 
Jack is only 20 and spent three summers in Northern Ireland as a member of Bleary & District winning numerous Grade 2 competitions including five major championships and two second place finishes at the Worlds.
After a successful amateur solo career he has now started in the professionals. Among his teachers Jack lists Donald McBride, Jack Taylor, Brian Donaldson, Nigel Davison, and Harry Stevenson.

The Queensland Highland Pipers report: ‘About 150 people squeezed themselves into the Walrus Bar at the Regatta Hotel for our International Recital. This would have to be one of our best crowds in a long time. With the ever energetic Tyler Fry as the compere, it was certainly a night to remember…..
‘The first recitalist was Kyle Warren, who is now a resident of Melbourne and a great acquisition to the Australian piping scene, with a great playing background and academic qualifications to match. He started with an air and then into some jigs…..

‘Next to play was Finlay Johnston who is currently cutting a swathe through solo contests in Scotland. He started out with some 3/4s. Next was an air followed by jigs and after a quick re tune an MSR. Next bracket was a number of tunes in 4/4 time and he finished up with strathspeys and reels.
‘Finally we heard from the master, Stuart Liddell, fresh from Inveraray’s first win in the World Pipe Band Championships. He marched in playing to great applause. His selected tunes were many and varied from all parts of the repertoire and he held the crowd transfixed throughout. Some of his tunes were Fair Maid of Barra, Donald MacLennan’s Tuning Phrase, the Little Cascade, and the ground of the piobaireachd In Praise of Morag.’

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The editors of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders collection met yesterday to plan a possible Book 2 and the next edition of Book 1. I am reliably informed that Lochanside will be included in the Book 1 reprint in its original setting (the usual C grip in the first part is replaced by a C – high A – high G – F run. Book 1 has sold very well and whilst on the train to London well-known judge Bob Worrall interrupted the fun to get Walter Cowan, one of the distinguished editors, to sign his copy:

Walter puts a big X on Bob’s book

Bob tells me that his own three books of ceol beag continue to sell well and are to be reprinted with spiral binding for greater ease of use.

Bands forward for the Scottish Traditional Music Pipe Band of the Year Award (sponsored by Glenturret Single Malt Whisky) are Inveraray & District, Royal Burgh of Annan, Lochalsh Juniors
and Dollar Academy.
All these bands have had very successful  seasons. What more can be said about Inveraray? Annan, with sterling help from home boy Ross Cowan, won the Worlds in Grade 3b, but my vote would be going to either of the two kids’ bands, Lochalsh Juniors (pictured top), the Novice B World Champions, or Dollar the Juvenile Worlds winners. Maybe, given his scant resources, Niall Stewart, pipe major and teacher at Lochalsh, would get the final verdict.

Pictured at the games, Brighde Chaimbeul

Young piper Brighde Chaimbeul is nominated in the ‘Up Coming Artist’ category. All success to Brighde but I hope she doesn’t give up on her serious piping in favour of the folky stuff. She has too much talent for that. She can do both.
The awards ceremony is on Saturday 2nd December at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre. Cast your votes here.

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