I am not surprised that bagmaker Jim Begg got almost universal support for his views on the dearth of contests this year. Piping Press has been banging on about this for some time too. It is rather late now to do anything for this summer but the performance of our promoters in keeping the national music alive over this difficult period has been poor, it must be said.
Part of the reason will be the lack of support from central government and by that I mean the Holyrood administration. Since its founding this weighty bureacracy has been a real disappointment for piping.
How we cheered at its instituting, surely the bagpipe will be front and centre in all cultural decision making, lots of teachers in schools, a formal acceptance that Scottish kids have a right to learn their Scottish instrument.
In the early years it was the Labour party who did nothing. Now it is the Nationalists of all people. I don’t know if the Conservatives would be any better for our music but I do remember the late Bob Logan a Tory councillor for Glasgow City and the only one who took the time to atttend Willie Baxter’s ‘Piper Above All Others’ contests of the 1980s. The late Bob, a civilised and cultured man, was probably an exception.
The political parties are all much of a muchness when it comes to our music and it is this lack of respect and regard for the bagpipe that has led to the problem Jim Begg has highlighted. Without encouragement and insurance back-up from the politicians, our promoters, particularly in the bands, have been reluctant to take any initiative.
One other point. Glasgow Life, the promoters of the Worlds are in dire financial straits. They have just announced that 500 jobs are to go and 70 of their cultural venues, libraries etc., remain closed for the moment.
It does not augur well for Glasgow Green 2022, and if there is the slightest threat, a contingency must be put in place ASAP. If not Glasgow, then somewhere else for goodness sake.
Definitely the last point: There is still time to have some sort of drumming championship in October in lieu of the World Solos, so come on RSPBA, how about it?
Absolved from all criticism re the above are the Piping Centre who will be pressing ahead with Piping Live! next month with, unless told otherwise, live audiences at the Silver Chanter, Masters Piping, Piobaireachd of the Day and other festival events.
There could be as many as 40 seats available at each I hear, but everything will be livestreamed anyway.
And don’t forget the Piobaireachd Society’s recital on August 29 in Glasgow (Otago Street) and the Lochaber Gathering in Fort William on August 27.
Correspondent John Hunt: ‘I am studying with the Open University just now and while doing some reading this afternoon I came across this poster. Thought it might be of interest.’
Thanks for that John. Do any of our readers on Erin’s green shore know anything about this ‘Greatest Pipe Band Championship’?
This is from an Oban Times from the 1970s (dateline is obscured):
The caption reads: ‘Personality girl Andrea Thomson displays the Bhratach Oir (Gold Banner) presented by John Player and Sons for the winner of the senior piping competition at the National Mod in Oban in October. Richly embroidered with the insignia of An Comunn Gaidhealach, the banner took skilled needlewomen two months to complete.’
I think the first winner was Iain McLeod, the late P/M of the City of Edinburgh Police band. I remember watching him on television piping into the winners’ concert, must have been at the Corran Halls, before playing his winning MSR set.
I wonder where the banner is now? That’s a good picture of Iain up top isn’t it. He’s pictured in 1987 in his Gillanders & McLeod Shop in Edinburgh.
Iain had an illustrious career as both a soloist and Pipe Major. He won the Worlds in 1963, ’64, ’71, ’72 and ’75. In addition to his Mod success, he won the Northern Meeting March and Strathspey & Reel on the same day in 1963, and the Former Winners’ MSR on three occasions, 1969, 1970 and 1973.