Editor’s Notebook: Online Contests/ Ian’s Idea Adopted/ Fintan Lalor/ Detroit Highlanders/ Kenny’s Win

The 1910 band of the Detroit Highlanders. The band was immortalised in Archie MacNeill’s march, the Detroit Highlanders (available in my ‘Glasgow Collection’ in its original setting I might add)

Bruce Gandy made the point to me when he was playing for the Piobaireachd Society the other night that it doesn’t cost much to upgrade video and sound recording equipment – and for those competing online it was well worth the investment. Bruce had done so, and his performance of Jimmy McIntosh’s Salute to Andrew Carnegie was beautiful, and clear as a bell.

If you have an old computer with a dodgy internal mic and a weak broadband link you are not going to sound or look your best are you? Investing in a new camera and microphone, and better connectivity, might well enhance your performance.

Online contests will be here for a while yet, and even after the pandemic is over some promoters may still like the idea of being able to ‘internationalise’ their event (and double their entry) by involving the web.

Plaudits to our correspondent Ian Forbes. His suggestion that the RSPBA reduce the playing requirements for the remaining majors of the season has been taken up by the Association’s Music Board as you will have read the other day.

Should the Scottish and the Worlds get the go ahead bands will have much less to worry about and have a far better chance of playing well. Perfecting one MSR or Medley is a lot less demanding than perfecting two.

Champion piper Gordon Walker has asked us to point out that the Gordon Walker who featured in our Comments section recently is a different Gordon Walker. Happy to do that Gordon.

Patrick Byrne in Dublin: ‘Great article by Gilbert on Ballycoan Pipe Band. Attached is photo of the Fintan Lalor prior to Ballycoan’s success. Kindest regards.’

Tyge Cawthon in Detroit: ‘A small group of pipers and drummers are slowly forming a band in the Detroit area. We are planning on using the name Detroit Highlanders for the band name. Some of our members were taught by the original members of the Detroit Highlanders.  

‘To preserve the history of the band name, we would like to re-publish, with your permission, the Piping Press article posted January 31, 2020. Full credits would be given to Steve Thomson from Dumbarton, and we would have a link from our website to yours to help promote Piping Press.’

Publish away Tyge and all success to your project. Picture of the band in 1910 top.

This from the Oban Times. No date but it must be early 60s. It concerns a contest run by the ‘Highland Piping Society’ a body about which I know little, unless it is a misnomer for the Highland Pipers’ Society based in Edinburgh.

It reads: The solo bagpipe competition organised by the Highland Piping Society in the South Govan Town Hall last Saturday afforded prizemoney which raised the prestige of the art to a considerable degree. The position was summed up by Sheriff Stewart Bell in his position as Chairman, when he remarked that it was a magnificent day’s piping.

He paid special tribute to two groups of people: those who had donated the prizemoney and the competitors who provided the music…….’We are grateful to Mr William Macdonald who has stimulated such performances by sponsoring such an event.’

Winner Kenny MacDonald competing at Strathardle Games in the same era (going by the cars) as the Highland Piping contest

The remainder of the report:

This competition is significant in that there is no mention of Seumas MacNeill, a man who made it his business to be involved in all matters solo piping in Glasgow. There may well be something in the Piping Times but I haven’t found it. Any info welcomed.

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