Editor’s Notebook: Gordon Duncan Trust/ Robin Morton/ Barlinnie Highlander/ Piper’s Eczema/ COP26 Appeal

Chatting to Ian Duncan at the weekend he tells me in his understated way that the memorial trust for his brother Gordon has now donated more than £110,000 to help young pipers and other musicians with their lessons.

Isn’t that worthy of the highest praise? A fitting tribute to Gordon too. He would have been both amazed and delighted. Though he died 16 years ago, Gordon’s spirit lives on – thanks to the work of Chairman Ian and his board of trustees. Find out more about the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust. here.

The website has this poignant bio: ‘Gordon lived in in the town of Pitlochry in Perthshire, Scotland, and was widely regarded as one of the most skilled and innovative traditional music performers and composers of modern times.

While steeped in the art of traditional highland piping, his approach to his music was imaginative, fresh and at times radical, to the extent that his influence can be heard within an entire generation of younger musicians across Scotland and well beyond. Gordon died in December 2005, aged 41.

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Sorry to learn of the sudden passing of Robin Morton folk singer, concertina player and proprietor of Temple Records. Robin was 81 and from Armagh.

It was Robin who was behind the ‘Controversy of Pipers’ album which brought together those of us playing pipes in the folk scene in the early 80s.

The LP helped legitimise the practice and paved the way for the explosion of piping in folk groups we have today. Though old Seumas panned the disc, Robin was rightly proud of it and through it made his own contribution to piping.

Robin at the console at Temple Records

(Quite a storyteller when you got him going, Robin told me once of how Van Morrison used to get kicked out of his folk club in Belfast for singing the blues when it was Irish traditional music they were after.)

To mark this sad occasion I can think of no better a tune than Robin himself leading his group, the Boys of the Lough: Aly Bain, Dave Richardson and Cathal McConnell, through ‘Lochaber No More’ the opening and title track of their album from 1978:

Reader Christopher Boyles: ‘I have Dyshidrotic Eczema and suspect it’s from exposure to African blackwood. I understand from my teacher, Seumas Coyne, there’s a Piping Press post on dyshidrosis.

‘I would like to read the article and show it to my dermatologist if at all possible. Will someone from Piping Press reply with a link to the article?’

Seumas is wisdom personified on anything to do with the pipes Christopher but I’m afraid on this occasion his recollection is awry. He must be thinking of some other magazine or website. Perhaps one of our other readers can help. Has anyone else suffered from contact with ABW?

Back to Ian Duncan for a moment. When we were up at Lochnell for last weekend’s contest he emailed me this photograph:

It’s of the Barlinnie Highlander, Jimmy Stuart. Jimmy is in the garb of the Vale of Atholl Grade 3 band. I won’t bore you again with the story of the tune, but it was, incidentally, played very well by Jamie Forrester at the Argyllshire Gathering contest in August.

Organiser Amica Dal has been in touch about a possible COP26 project (something to do with the environment, not the College of Piping).

She writes: ‘I wonder if you could help me. I’m looking to make contact with a community piping band in the Glasgow area to see if we could invite them to join a performance at COP26 being organized by an international group of mothers around the issue of children and air pollution. 

‘We have a small amount of funding, so we would like to support people to take part, we understand there will be a lot of asks on people’s time during that season. 

‘If you’ve got any suggestions for people I might be able to get in touch with – please do let me know. I’m happy to also jump on the phone if that helps, to explain a bit more about the idea.’ Contact Amica here  

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