Editor’s Notebook: Red Hot Chile Painting/ Pipe Major Identity/ Covid Crisis Proposal for Piping

Reader Mario Zuniga writes from Chile: ‘I’m a piper from Chile. I have seen the news about the painting challenge and I would like to participate with my last piper painting, but for this I think I’m out of time.

‘Here I attached a picture for you my first bagpipe’s topic painting. ‘The Lone Piper’, oil on canvas, 70×35 cm. Thanks. Regards from Chile.’

Well done Mario. Pity you missed the Lockdown Challenge. Who knows, we might have to have another one over the winter. Contact Mario here.

Last week we asked for the identity of the Pipe Major in the centre of a picture submitted by Ian Wood, Northern Ireland. PP correspondent Harry Stevenson replied: ‘Re the photo from Ian, the piper in the middle is Jim Murdock who was P/M of the 29th BB Old Boys Pipe Band.

‘Jim was a good player and had some very good successes with the 29th. They were second in Grade 2 at the 1962 Worlds in Belfast and I think a couple of seconds at Cowal through the years.

‘Jim was a near neighbour of mine in the Ballysillan area of North Belfast and we often walked our dogs together in Carr’s Glen and put the pipe band world to rights. Jim was a great admirer of the Edinburgh Police band and on one occasion judged the SPBA Quartette Piping Competition and placed them first.’

Thanks too to Ed Montgomery who provided similar information to Harry’s.

I’ve had a letter from a reader in Inverclyde who raises some interesting points about the pandemic and its effect on piping. He wants to remain anonymous but writes: ‘I recently heard that some local authorities are suspending piping tuition, in any form, until the pandemic is over.

‘This comment, coupled with some of the recent articles in Piping Press on the state of piping at this challenging time, brought home to me that our art could be seriously impacted if we cannot keep a high interest in piping in the Scottish community overall, but especially within the young generation. If young people don’t get the opportunity to learn the pipes they will take up other hobbies and interests and be lost to piping forever.

‘I believe it is appropriate for the various piping organisations to get together to develop a plan to maintain the interest in piping in all forms and at all levels. When we do come out of this pandemic we will not return to the previous ‘normal’ immediately so thought has to be given to (a) what we do during the present restrictions and (b) the roadmap during the period from the present restrictions being lifted to conditions returning to a pre-pandemic state, if that ever happens.

‘Organisations that should be involved should include RSPBA, National Piping Centre, representatives from relevant local authorities and/or Scottish Government, Scottish School Pipe Band championship organisers and representatives from bagpipe manufacturers. The meeting(s) should be chaired by an independent respected person, who has a piping and possibly successful business background.

‘Who is going to be the leader, who steps forward and initiates such a focussed forum or are we just going to allow the promotion of our art to stagnate and consequently decline?

‘In addition, would it not also be helpful to the overall piping community, if well respected pipe majors e.g. Richard Parkes, Stuart Liddell suggested ways for band and soloists respectively to continue practicing and developing in order to keep motivation and interest high in these times.’

The writer makes some important points. What do we do if there is no band or solo season next year? We need to prepare for the worst and, given that they are by far the biggest organisation in world piping, then I think the lead should be taken by the RSPBA. It should be easy enough to convene a Zoom meeting to thrash things out. Piping Press would heartily support such an effort and help with the organisation.

Round the Games 1998
South Uist
1 John Angus Smith
2 Graeme Roy
3 Frank Nicholas
4 Alain Cras
5 Margaret Houlihan

1 Margaret Houlihan
2 John Angus Smith
3 Graeme Roy
4 Alain Cras
5 Donald MacLeod

Judges: R Morrison, N Mulvie, J Young

6 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Red Hot Chile Painting/ Pipe Major Identity/ Covid Crisis Proposal for Piping

  1. The link to contact Mario Zuniga doesn’t work on my feed. Would it be possible to provide details of how to contact Mario please? As a fellow piper born in Chile I have an interest!

      1. Hi Robert! I’m Mario Zuniga, I haven’t seen this publication with my question to Piping Press!!! It was a big surprise! Please give my email to Dugald Macleod if he wants to contact me! mazunigam@gmail.com
        Thanks! Regards from Chile


  2. Love the photo of Jim Murdock. Back in the ’60s I was a piper with the Sinclair Memorial along with Eddie Montgomery under Pipe Major Leslie McCourt. Eddie was, and still is, a great mate of mine though I have been living in Australia since 1974. The 29th Old Boys under Jim were a top class band and competed at the top level North & South of Ireland along side top bands like the Ballycoan, Fintan Lalor and St Laurence O’ Toole. I don’t recall Robert Armstrong Mem. being on the scene in those days? They are something we all should be so very proud of.
    Love the painting of the Chilian piper. Also the Piping Press, excellent work

    Ronnie Oliver – Adelaide – Australia

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