Piobaireachd Society Announces Affiliate Membership as Archive Receives Boost

The Piobaireachd Society is now accepting affiliate memberships from piping societies, bands, forces regiments and other corporate bodies with an interest in ceol mor. Memberships cost £15 per annum and in return the secretary or chairman or other nominated official has access to the Society’s website and music archive.

The Society has also announced a major boost to its archive with the addition of recordings of double Gold Medallist William M MacDonald (Inverness).

PS President Robert Wallace said: ‘It has always been in our rules that we should allow memberships from ‘battalions of the regular forces’ and ‘other societies with similar objects’ but this has lapsed over the last several years.

‘The General Committee of the Society now wishes to encourage such memberships. Not only will it hopefully be another small income stream for the Society, but the affiliate member will have the satisfaction of knowing they are supporting the Piobaireachd Society in its work preserving and promoting ceol mor.

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‘The affiliate member will be entitled to carry the Society’s logo on its website and/or paperwork and have access to our considerable archive of manuscripts and recordings. This might be useful for a teaching body, radio station or competition promoter.’

If your band, piping society or club would like to take advantage of this new offer go to the Society website at www.piobaireachd.co.uk and click on ‘Join’ at the top of the page. Other available memberships are: Student (1 year): £5; Individual (1 year): £15; Individual (3 years): £40.

The Piobaireachd Society was founded in 1903 and has 650 plus members worldwide. Its Patron is HM The Queen. The Society has published 16 books in its own series plus the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor and other popular publications.

The Society sponsors an annual teaching bursary for young pipers and also sponsors the major competitions at Oban, Inverness and London.

Next month it is promoting a recital of piobaireachd as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The venue is St Cecilia’s Hall; the date August 11; the time 7 for 7.30. The invited pipers Darach Urquhart, Niall Stewart, Stuart Easton and Dr Peter McCalister will play two tunes each in continuous fashion – no tuning.

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The Society has also announced that it now has several recordings by William M MacDonald (Inverness) in its archive. WM MacDonald (pictured top) was a pupil of John MacDonald, Inverness, Robert Nicol, Balmoral, and P/M Donald MacLeod.

He won the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness in the same year, 1955, playing the Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon (Inverness) and The Vaunting (Oban).

In addition to his Gold Medals he won the Clasp at Inverness in 1956 and the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban in 1957.

In his retirement he recorded many tunes. The Society has obtained permission from his son Brian to publish these and former President Dr Jack Taylor has prepared and uploaded them to the PS archive. Of particular interest will be the Lament for the Laird of Anapool during which recording Mr MacDonald discusses the setting of the tune. This tune has been set for senior competition in 2020.

The list includes the following: The Lament for the Children, Lament for the Laird of Anapool, the Big Spree, the Unjust Incarceration, Lady MacDonald’s Lament and other such classics.

View the full list on the Piobaireachd Society website. Access to the full archive of tunes is available to members only.

Willie MacDonald was born in 1918 in Kingussie, Inverness-shire. His early teachers included Jockan MacPherson, son of Calum Piobair. Willie served in the Cameron Highlanders during WW2 and after capture at St Valery with the rest of the 51st Highland Division was a PoW from 1940 – 45. He escaped three times and as punishment was sent to work in Polish salt mines in Silesia.

William M MacDonald piping at the graves of fallen comrades

Willie MacDonald was a sportsman and excelled at shinty and football and his inherent strength and stamina enabled him to recover from wartime depredations (he weighed only six stones on his liberation) and in 1947 he resumed his professional piping career.

Towards the end of his life Willie issued a book of tunes the ‘Glencoe Collection’. He died in Inverness in 2002. In 2007 Highlander Music published a series of CDs of his playing with editorial input from Niall Matheson and notes by historian Bridget MacKenzie and audio work by her husband Alex.

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