Editor’s Notebook

The Argyllshire Gathering have asked us to remind everyone that entries for the MacGregor Memorial Competition close at the end of the month. The contest is run by the Gathering on behalf of the Highland Society of London and is a leading event for aspiring young professionals. The winner is usually guaranteed a place in the following year’s Silver Medal at Oban. Entries here.

En route to the top….a young Callum Beaumont receives the MacGregor Memorial prize in 2003 from the then AG piping convenor Jamie Fraser

Piping Convenor Torquil Telfer tells me that the draws for this year’s Gathering, Gold Medal, Silver Medal etc will be announced early next month.

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Two other outstanding young pipers who came up through the MacGregor route are brothers Sandy and Finlay Cameron.

The boys have now completed their tune commemorating the thousands of men who trained at Achnacarry commando training establishment in Lochaber not far from where the Cameron household is today.

Braemar 2018 and Finlay, winner of the Strathspey & Reel, receives his trophies from Braemar Secretary Mr Jim Wood

The squaddies would detrain at Spean Bridge and march the eight miles to the training camp.

A piper would be waiting for them on the platform to cheer them on their way. Many of the soldiers had never been in the Highlands before and most would probably never have heard the pipes.

Finlay and Sandy’s tune commemorates their service. Here it is:

Get a copy of the tune here.

Correspondent Ian Forbes has written re the recent UK Pipe Band Championships: ‘A further comment on pipe band judging. 

‘Looking at the results for Grade 1 and Grade 2 in the UK Pipe Band Championships, there is an excellent correlation between both piping judges.

‘This demonstrates to pipe bands and their followers that judging consistency IS POSSIBLE. I don’t know whether the piping judges have been given a ‘talking to’ by the RSPBA following the Grade 2 fiasco at the British Championships last month, or whether the optional judges consultation was used at the end of the competition, but it is clearly a most welcome situation.’

I agree Ian; most welcome and long may it continue.

City of Dunedin, Florida, G2 World Champions in 2018

Still with the bands, I hear that P/M Ian Donaldson’s City of Dunedin (Florida) are very much the coming force in North America.

Well, they may already have arrived actually. They beat the 78th Frasers, and 78th Halifax band too at the recent Georgetown contest.

I don’t know if Ian’s band are coming over for the Worlds this year but with this kind of form it will be hard for the authorities to keep them out of Grade 1.

Gilbert Cromie in Northern Ireland: ‘I have some recordings of a Peter McAllister [not Dr Peter McCalister the Gold Medallist] playing the Scottish system Brian Boru pipes from around 2001.

‘I met Peter in 2001 when he was working with a man now deceased called Billy Roleston who had got a Scottish System Brian Boru chanter made and they were working on perfecting / improving it.

‘The instrument was in the development stage and needed some work, however I have always thought that the playing was very good. 

‘Here is one of seven recordings that I made in 2001:

‘The instrument was very much experimental but I think there is evidence that the piper is a good player.  I think that a company called Hawkes & Sons may have developed the Scottish System Brian Boru bagpipe.’

Does anyone have any more info on this? And thanks to Gilbert for sharing.

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