International Piper Lives Again as Part of Piping Centre Project/ Ontario Composing Contest

Following the success of its crowdfunding project to digitise the back issues of Piping Times and Piping Today magazines, Finlay MacDonald, the National Piping Centre’s Director of Piping, has announced a new target to allow them to add Captain John MacLellan’s magazine the ‘International Piper’ to the endeavour.

The new aim is to garner £33,500. The NPC have already raised £31,000 in just two weeks. Finlay said:

‘The generosity of the crowdfunder supporters will now allow us to digitise the Piping Times and Piping Today periodicals, as well as produce a new annual Piping Times title.

By Robert Wallace

‘We would love to reach our new target of £33,500 to be able to digitise The International Piper alongside the two other periodicals.’

The International Piper ran for three years from 1978 until 1981 and was edited by Captain John and his wife Bunty. It was a welcome rival to the Piping Times, the dominant publication in world piping since 1948.



Unfortunately John and Bunty ran into legal trouble with Alistair Campsie (1929 -2013), the author of the book ‘The MacCrimmon Legend, the Madness of Angus MacKay’, which alleged that the whole fundament of our piobaireachd tradition was questionable given that MacKay was confined to Crichton Memorial Hospital in Dumfries with serious mental illness in the last years of his life believing that he was married to Queen Victoria.

Though Campsie’s book was very well written and made some interesting observations, its basic premise was nonsense. Angus’s seminal work, his piobaireachd collection of 1838, had been written years before he succumbed to illness brought on by tertiary syphillis.

That did not save the IP and after publishing comments about the book, Campsie went to court. Faced with substantial legal bills and other difficulties John and Bunty had no option but to cease publication. This was a real pity. The magazine was full of information and articles by informed individuals some of whom had fallen out with Seumas MacNeill, the Piping Times editor. Without the International PIper their work would never have had an airing.

Such was the IP’s popularity that it was a relieved Seumas, displaying all the facile generosity of the victor, who announced its demise in an editorial in 1981.

The PT’s hegemony continued, only to be rivalled by Ontario’s ‘Piper and Drummer’ magazine, which under its then probing, professional editor Andrew Berthoff, rose to the top of the magazine pile. The EUSPBA’s ‘Voice’ edited by Paula and Charlie Glendinning (and helped by Jimmy McIntosh’s prompting) matched the P&D until it too ran out of steam.

All were, of course, trumped following the emergence of Piper Press in 1996 and subsequently bought out by the then ailing Piping Times in 1999.

Is there any plan to digitise the P&D’s back numbers? Now there’s a project for the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s new President Michael Grey to get his teeth into.

And whilst we are over that side of the pond, there is news of a composing contest to mark the PPBSO’s 2022 75th Anniversary.

There are three prizes in each category for a 4/4 march (Society members only) and a 2/4 march (Open).

Judges for the contest are the respected Bill Livingstone and Bob Worrall, the Ontario-based piping authorities. It is generously sponsored by Jim MacGillivray and MacCallum Bagpipes.

The plan is for the winning 4/4 to be played by massed bands at Ontario contests next year. The winners will be announced in August this year. Get more information on the contest here.


1 thought on “International Piper Lives Again as Part of Piping Centre Project/ Ontario Composing Contest

  1. A great project. Your readers might be interested to know that many of the a Piobaireachd articles from International Piper, also Jim MacIntosh’s articles from Voice magazine are available on the Piobaireachd Society website for Piobaireachd Society members.

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