A new piobaireachd has been composed in memory of the late P/M Alasdair Gillies. It is by Niall Mathieson, for 10 years a colleague of Alasdair’s in the Queen Own Highlanders.
Listen to the ground of Salute to Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies played by Niall here:
Here is a score of the full tune courtesy of Niall:Salute-to-Pipe-Major-Alasdair-Gillies
If you would like to download it you can do so here:
Niall, a double Gold Medallist, spoke to Piping Press about the tune and of his memories of Alasdair: ‘We were in the Army for ten years together and saw some great times, some great trips abroad. We were together all the time. I was Pipe Corporal when he was Pipe Major and we were two of the lucky ones who managed to get away to compete.
‘Even after we left the Army he would come and stay with me and we would go round the games together. He was here during the Northern Meeting and we shared all the highs and lows. I think everyone was affected by his loss.
‘I thought it would be quite nice to have a tune for him, a sort of fitting tribute. I have tried before to put something together but failed. However a couple of weeks ago I was just sitting with the practice chanter as you do and started to play a few phrases and linked them together and then I thought, ‘here, I might have something’!
‘So I recorded it on my phone and an hour and a half later that was it. Alasdair loved Donald MacLeod’s piobaireachd Cabar Feidh Gu Brath and there may be elements of that tune in my tune for him. I don’t know.
‘I happy to put the tune out there and would be pleased to get any feedback from your readers good or bad!’
Niall is currently schools instructor for piping in Ross & Cromarty, taking over from the late John D Burgess in 1996. He has been in that role for 23 years and has been an outstanding servant to piping tuition in the north.
Niall had the honour of playing at Alasdair’s funeral in Ullapool in September 2011. The tune? Cabar Feidh Gu Brath. The funeral was recorded for posterity by PP Editor Robert Wallace and can be viewed here.
Alasdair Gillies was one of the great pipers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His unprecedented success in the Former Winners MSR event at the Northern Meeting where he won eleven Silver Stars presented by the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society is a record unlikely to be broken for many years to come.
Read more about this piper’s life and times here as part of our Famous Pipers series. If you would like to comment on Niall’s tune please do so below.