Editor’s Notebook: Online Contests/ NHS Tribute/ Painting Challenge/ VP Day Tune/ John’s Job Lot

Pipers in the CMU contest

One thing struck me when looking at and listening to some of the recent online competition submissions was how much more of an occasion it was when the pipers were dressed properly. In the last one I watched (the USPF) there was a decided lack of dress sense and not a kilt in sight as far as I could see.

Earlier this year Andrew Carlisle’s contest at Carnegie Mellon set the trend in more ways than one. All the participants recorded their tunes in Highland dress. It somehow made the event much more authentic, more believable, closer to the real thing.

I know that the Argylshire Gathering and the Highland Society of London have insisted on the usual dress code for Oban for pipers in the online MacGregor Memorial and quite right they are to do so. I think Margaret Dunn’s CLASP contestants all look the part too. It does make a difference.

A newspaper in the north had this picturs of piper John Watson (61) playing for the NHS. His father Hugh salavaged the Marilyn Munroe statue from a local pub that was being demolished:

Both of our Lockdown Challenges for a new tune and for an essay on piping are now closed and we will have the results shortly. The painting/drawing competition continues until the end of July and here is the latest submission from reader Bob Simpson:

The painting is of Bob not by him. The submission states: ‘A painting of U.S. Piper, CPO Robert Simpson, representing the US Navy. At his feet are his trusty pipe loving dogs Kody Ray the Irish Setter, Boodle Doodle the toy poodle and Benji the Yorkshire Terrier. The painting was completed in 2018 by painter Marcos Harto in Spain.  

‘Robert plays a set of Wallace pipes. He is based out of North East Florida, USA, where he performs the duties of Pipe Major for his local pipe band, First Coast Highlanders. Robert originally served under, and was instructed by his Pipe Major, Commodore Jim Perry.’ 

Reader John MacLay has intimated that he received many offers for separate parts of his instruments and tools but that he wishes to sell them only as a job lot. Everything for £4,000. This includes two sets of pipes, miniature pipes, ivory, chanters. More details and contact info here.

Close-up of the Irish warpipe which is included in the sale

Here in Europe and the rest of the World we have had our VE Day. VJ Day is to follow. In Australia it is known as VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) and Pipe Bands Australia have commissioned composer Mark Saul to write a piece to mark this important occasion.

The band in the background of the tune montage below is the Mildura Pipe Band which enlisted en masse at the start of the war. The men were taken prisoner after the surrender of Singapore and spent the remainder of the war in horrific conditions in Changi Jail. Read more here.

Chris Earl, President of PBA, writes: ‘A tune specially composed for the 75th anniversary of VP Day – the end of World War Two – has been released by Pipe Bands Australia for the nation-wide piping tribute on Saturday 15 August.

‘We invited Mark Saul to write the new tune that he has simply called VP 75 – Lest We Forget. The Australian piper, educator and internationally-renowned composer was earlier this year named as a recipient of the PBA national award for performance.

‘Mark’s latest work for pipes will also provide a poignant new tune for performance at commemorative events. The 15 August performances across Australia will be at 9.30am local time, marking the hour 75 years earlier when the Prime Minister announced to the nation that the war was over and began a day of celebrations on the streets of cities and towns across Australia.

‘Pipe Bands Australia is inviting pipers to participate in the commemoration. After registering at http://www.pipebandsaustralia.com.au/events, players will receive the sheet music for VP 75 – Lest We Forget. A recording of the tune is also available on the website.

‘All participants in VP 75 – Our Piping Tribute will receive a special commemorative certificate. Pipe Bands Australia sincerely thanks Mark Saul for composing the new tune for performance on VP Day and continuing to share his musical skills for the benefit of pipers across Australia.’

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