PP Ed’s Blog: Band Numbers Poll Result/ Piob Soc Recital/ Ulster Petition to BBC

I think it is a bit far-fetched for yesterday’s Sunday Mail newspaper to say there is a boycott of the Worlds over band sizes. Quite the opposite with record numbers signing up every year. 

Still, good that they picked up on the Wall Street Journal story and gave the issue some publicity as best they could. Shouldn’t expect the SM to get everything right and I had a laugh at the sub-editor’s blundering ‘American Pipe Major Robert Wallace’ line.

I say again, my view is 20 playing pipers should be plenty for any band with 25 max registration. Readers seem to agree that something needs to be done with a huge proportion of the votes in our poll in favour of a cap. Here are the figures:


So 73% of respondents want some sort of legislation on the issue with over half convinced there would be more quality bands around if numbers were capped. It’s over to the RSPBA now to see if there is the will to enact a change to their rules.



The Piobaireachd Society have announced that they are promoting a major recital of ceol mor in Edinburgh in August. Four pipers will play  a selection of tunes in continuous fashion (no tuning!). The venue is the beautiful 200-seat St Cecilia’s Hall and the date August 12. The plan is to keep the evening as affordable as possible so tickets for this must see event will not be too expensive. They will be available via the Fringe box office in due course.

The show will follow the format pioneered by Allan MacDonald at the Edinburgh Festival it must be oh, 20 years ago now. First piper walks in playing his tune and out on the return to the ground. As he does so he is met by the next piper making his way into the auditorium. As one tune decreases in volume so the other grows; somewhere in the middle there is an amazing cross-pollination of melody before the new tune achieves pre-eminence.

St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh. Not seen is the cupola which lends light and an airy feel to this delightful performance space

The packed audience for Allan’s show was ecstatic at the result. Pipers back then were myself, Roderick MacLeod, William McCallum, William MacDonald (Benbecula) and Barnaby Brown playing an eclectic mix of tunes. I’m sure Aug 12 will produce a similar response to that evening especially when we see the expert pipers who are taking part:  Ian K MacDonald (pictured top playing at Glenfinnan), Jamie Forrester, Callum Beaumont and Glenn Brown. Four of the very best. A printed programme with notes on the pipers and the tunes will obviate the need for any announcements. Refreshments will be available at the evening’s conclusion (circa. 9.30pm).

St Cecilia’s Hall is a particularly apt venue. Not only has it been tastefully refurbished by its owners Edinburgh University, but they have a fine collection of pipes and other musical instruments on show (bellows pipes above). Therefore if you get cornered by some boring pibrochologist you can wander off and look at the display.


Alastair Campbell of the Inverness Piping Society: ‘An update on our recitals. In addition to Willie MacCallum, we are delighted that Roddie MacLeod has also confirmed he will give a recital in April. The dates are: Willie MacCallum 23 March 2018, Roddie MacLeod 20 April 2018. We look forward to seeing you on both occasions.’


Brilliant drummer Mark Wilson is the popular host of the ‘Pipes and Drums’ show

I hope everyone will support the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA in their bid to have their pipe band show restored to its former frequency. Ian Burrows of the RSPBANI writes: ‘BBC Radio Ulster has reduced Mark Wilson’s Pipes and Drums Radio programme to just a summer series for 2018, which is only six programmes. This is a reduction from 16 programmes two years ago. Please click here to sign the petition for the BBC to restore it to 16 programmes.’


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