PP Ed’s Blog: Fife Police/ Silver Chanter/ Ensemble Judging/ Cameron’s Winning Tune

Congratulations to P/M Douglas Murray and his brother Jim for their ten years at the helm of the Fife Police band. It is a very difficult thing to take a band from nowhere and lead it into Grade 1 – and then start to pick up prizes among the elite. Jim, now in Western Australia, kicked things off and Douglas built on his work to such an extent that the band can look forward to the coming season with optimism.

Fife Police – ten years and counting

I am told that the concert, reviewed yesterday, was an outstanding evening of music and camaraderie attracting a large audience some of whom had travelled a considerable distance to get there. Here’s to the next ten years at Fife Polis and I’ll be listening out for the band at the British at Paisley next month.

It is good news that the Silver Chanter name will live on following the takeover by the National Piping Centre announced yesterday, yet whatever anyone says, I’m afraid the contest as we know it has gone. Glasgow is not Skye; Cowcaddens is not Dunvegan.

And I find it disappointing that Mr Addington of the William Grant Foundation could find the money to stage it here but not on the Misty Isle. I thought it was part of the Foundation’s remit to spread their largesse to areas in need of financial support, areas such as north-west Skye. Glasgow has plenty of piping and the Centre sure as heck doesn’t need the money.

Thinking more positively, my advice to Lady Ivory and her team would be to hold it in NPC West (the CoP) in Otago Street. There there would be a much better chance of recreating the intimacy of the drawing room of Dunvegan Castle, the previous venue. For one thing, opposite the handily placed tuning rooms there is already the large mural depicting the MacCrimmon musical heritage, complete with pictorial allusions to their music, tunes such as I Gave a Kiss the King’s Hand, Too Long in this Condition, MacLeod’s Rowing Tune (part of this mural, by artist Fyfe Christie, is our main picture up top).

And remember too that the late lamented College of Piping was instrumental in setting up the original Silver Chanter contest and still owns that plot of land round the MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn at Borreraig. So to set the mood, deck the Otago Street auditorium with a big pic of Dame Flora and a few choice snaps of past winners. Then behind the stage add a massive blow up of one of Cailean Maclean’s brilliant scenic shots of Waternish.

To complete the theatrics release a few trillion midges as everyone arrives and departs and after a few choice drams we might just be able to pretend, with half closed eyes and the tunes ringing in the head, that we are actually in the land of MacCrimmon on the misty, magical isle of Skye, the land of legend and lore so passionately portrayed by Dr Ross and captured for posterity in this week’s film.

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It seems that the vast majority of our readers who took part in the poll ‘Does Ensemble Matter in Pipe Bands’ are in favour of the status quo. Here are the outcomes:

So it looks like most agree with Alistair Aitken who wrote for us on Ensemble last week. Read Alistair’s article here.

John Dew, Gordon McCready and SPA ceol mor champion Cameron MacDougall

Many thanks to Cameron MacDougall for giving us permission to broadcast his winning tune from last week’s SPA professional piobaireachd competition. The Old Men of the Shells has never been played so well by one so young. A real credit to Cameron’s teacher Niall Matheson, the double Gold Medallist. Thanks too to Dr Peter McCalister for supplying the recording. Cameron (right)  is pictured with last week’s big winners John Dew and Gordon McCready. Check out the recording here. You won’t be disappointed.

With its connection to the famous MacDougall bagpipe-making firm we always knew Aberfeldy had a strong piping heritage. Is this the thinking behind this particular street name in the picturesque Perthshire town?

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