Editor’s Notebook: Lockdown Hopes/ International Piper/ Moira and Evan/ Lochaber Contest/ Duncan Campbell

After the recent raft of competition cancellations I hope we can have a period of calm during which summer promoters and their committees stand back and look at the overall picture. They should take on board all the considerable changes to lockdown there will be from next month onwards.

Rather than just take the easy way out, approach difficulties with a ‘can do’ outlook. You have a responsibility to the music and those who work and play within its milieu. Young and old are currently missing out on opportunities to put down an indelible marker in their musical lives.

The pandemic has exposed our reliance on the ‘live’ contest system, therefore, when we come out of it, we should not give up on online events. Whilst lacking the seriousness of in-person competition, they have allowed enterprising promoters to apply a global perspective.

For example Margaret Dunn’s recent CLASP competition had pipers from Hawaii and Europe. The resultant international bonding has to be a good thing. A worldwide body like the Piobaireachd Society, through its online ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ sessions, has brought its membership together like never before. One cannot call Zoom ‘cosy’ but there is genuine contact and personal communication from which there will be no going back.

So the lockdown has not been all negative, but we must get back out playing again and the promoters have a serious role to play here. Don’t make ‘see you all in 2022’ your glib response to perceivd difficulty. If you can put on your contest then for goodness sake do so, even with restrictions if needs be. There is no substitute for live music; it is piping’s lifeblood.

The pandemic didn’t stop the massed pipe bands of the Indian military and police from Beating the Retreat at the end of their Independence Day celebrations a few weeks ago (see picture above). There were bands from the Indian army, navy and airforce, and the Central and Delhi Police.

Incredible to realise once more the international reach of the great Highland bagpipe. As I have said in my lectures abroad, it is no longer a Scottish instrument, it is an international instrument. It has been assimilated into the musical culture of the world in the same way as have the guitar, the violin, the banjo.

Pleasant memories and comments yesterday on Evan Macrae’s new book. Check out the extensive response from Duncan Watson in our comments section. It is hard to estimate how great Evan’s contribution was to piping in Lochaber. Start at great, I would say, and work upwards.

Silver medallist Moira Robertson (née Morrison) has followed up on her tribute to her mentor with this charming photograph. It’s of the two of them after she won the Under-15 March at the Northern Meeting. Do you see what I mean about ‘indelible markers’?

Still in Lochaber, Ken Cameron of the Lochaber Piping Society has sent this about his forthcoming junior contest: ‘As there’s no chance of holding our annual junior piping and drumming competition on its usual end of March date, we are, instead, holding an on-line Medley competition, open to all players 18 and under, with  separate classes for 15-18 and Under-15 age groups.

Our facebook page has the Rules/Guidelines and a link to the Entry Form. There has been a slight modification to the guidelines. Closing date for entries is 20th March.

Following our story on Duncan Campbell of Foss, he of the manuscript, reader Barney Anderson, has sent this better quality photograph of the one used in the article:

The back of the picture dates it as either 1871 or ’91 and states it was taken at ‘Crown Hill Cemetery’. The print was made for a Duncan MacDiarmid ‘as requested by my wife, Jean Anderson’.

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