Editor’s Notes: P/M Iain MacDonald/ Virus/ PS Meeting/ Jacques Pellen/ Oban Composing Contest

It was with considerable sadness that I learned of the passing of Iain MacDonald, Pipe Major of the Neilston Pipe Band, and a man who did so much to build bridges between the piping world and the folk. Iain, who was 70, was a great enthusiast and collector of bagpipes of other countries and amassed an estimable personal collection.

He had a great life travelling to folk festivals the world over with his band. Often he would be found in business class enjoying the ‘scenery’ on his way to some unheard of region in Turkmenistan and the like.

On one occasion he found himself closer to home getting days of five star treatment in Reid’s in Madeira. If you’ve been you’ll now what that means.

A friendly, convivial, welcoming man, Iain was a great help to me when I was researching the lowland pipes back in 1975 and even got his father-in-law to make me a common stock in the the Rolls Royce factory in Hillington, Glasgow.

Here are some pictures of Iain and how we should remember him:

He was one of the first to peform Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s ‘Orkney Wedding with Sunrise’ and was generous in loaning out his ‘A’ chanter to those who followed him in that orchestral role.

Iain lived to learn with pride of his son Finlay’s new job as Principal at the National Piping Centre and for that we can be grateful. This hateful virus means no attendance at the funeral but those who knew him can be there in spirit and with a feeling of grief and gratitude.



I don’t think my contact’s info re the Lockdown was too far out. Given the politics, it is no surprise that it doesn’t yet apply to Scotland but it won’t be long before the general gist is adopted here.

Provided social distancing is observed, there would be nothing to prevent an outdoor solo piping contest being held in late summer. I forget, however, that there is a great fear in the land – much of it irrational – but fear nevertheless.

Don’t be surprised if it extends into October and beyond. I would not hold faith in ANY piping events being held during 2020. I hope I am wrong.

Those whose social lives revolve around our music would do well to look elsewhere for their human contact and diversion.


The next ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ meeting for members of the Piobaireachd Society will be held tomorrow evening on Zoom. The first attracted 50+ from all over the world and we had a lively discussion on books, teaching, state of the piping nation etc.

If you’d like to take part in future gatherings you can join the Society here.


Parick Molard in Brittany: ‘In memory of the great Breton guitar player Jacques Pellen who just died from the Covid 19. He loved ceòl mòr and was very inspired by this music including pieces like the Earl of Seaforth’s Salute, Sir James MacDonald of the Isles and Lament for the Children on his albums.’ Here is Jacques with the first:

Patrick has also intimated a new piping channel for piobaireachd lovers on YouTube. It’s called Pipers Meeting and here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sn_iDfX_aI


Have you got your entry in yet?

Entries are coming in for the Argyllshire Gathering 2/4 ‘competition’ march contest. There is one prize: £1,000. Entries close May 31. Get more information here.


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