News from the Piobaireachd Society: Conference, Summer School and Plea for Stewards

The Society has reluctantly had to cancel its 2022 Annual Conference, writes President Robert Wallace. Difficulties over dates at the venue, the National Piping Centre, and ongoing covid concern over attendance made the decision inevitable

The Society’s General Committee has determined on a re-launch of the Annual Conference for 2023, the venue again being the Piping Centre and the dates March 24/25.

The Society has also announced that it has reached a preliminary agreement to hold its first summer school at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, on the isle of Skye.

Sabhal Mor Ostaig, venue for the proposed PS summer school

Dates are June 26 to July 1 and places – members only – will be capped at 20 or so. All levels of player will be catered for.

The cost of the week are still being worked on. Tutors would be myself and Dr Jack Taylor. Anyone interested in the school should email me at president@piobaireachd.co.uk to express their interest.

If the school goes ahead then the plan is to fill each day with teaching with a piping ceilidh in the evenings. There is also the possibility of day trips to the MacCrimmon Cairn at Borreraig and to Raasay, home of the famous MacKays. 

The organiser of the Society’s Archie Kenneth Quaich competition, Peter McCalister, is looking for volunteers to help him steward the contest. It is to be held in the Scots Guards Club, Haymarket, Edinburgh, on March 12 from 9.30am.

Peter writes: ‘We have been supported for some years by stewards from the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society. Covid has meant a change of venue for this year and I wonder if anyone would be kind enough to come to the Scots Guards Club for the day to learn the gentle art of stewarding.

‘It’s an easy and enjoyable contest to steward, with pipers moving from one floor of the club (tuning) to another (to compete). The contest is always a very friendly one, with competitors being well-behaved!

Prizewinners at the AKQ in 2019, the last time the contest was held in person

‘If you were able to come for the morning or the afternoon, or all day as you see fit, that would be great. Please get in touch with me directly on peter.mccalister@doctors.org.uk 

‘The other helper we usually have is a ‘tuner’ to advise players, if they wish, on tuning of the chanter and/or drones. Andrew Frater has done this for some years now and is asking if anyone would like to assist him. Again (as above) he would show you the ropes, for all or part of the day.’

The Archie Kenneth usually attracts an entry of circa 30 amateur piobaireachd players.

In other news, the Society has purchased professionally made scans of the invaluable Angus MacKay MSS and these can now be enjoyed by members on the website. There has also been a major improvement in the Search facility on the site with the entry of the tune name sufficient to direct the researcher to all the relevant documents and recordings.

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