Editor’s Notebook: Silver Chanter/ Piping Live/ British Championships/ Letters

Pipers at the 2019 Silver Chanter

For me the most significant announcement in the Piping Live press release yesterday was the news that the Silver Chanter recital/competition is to be moved back to its spiritual homeland on the island of Skye.

This is something we have been campaigning for ever since the National Piping Centre took over the running of this showpiece event from cash-strapped Skye Piping Society in 2018.

It was totally unsuited to Glasgow in August and judging by the attendance the piping public seemed to agree with us. Seumas MacNeill and the College of Piping successfully ran ‘the Chanter’ on Skye for decades from Otago Street. Why couldn’t the Centre do the same from McPhater was our argument.

Not only that, but having it in Glasgow city centre was contrary to the ethos of the sponsor the William Grant Foundation, pledged as they are to support the arts in rural Scotland.

Judges at the Silver Chanter 50 years ago, John Burgess, Charles MacTaggart and Alasdair Milne. The contest was then held in the iconic drawing room at Dunvegan Castle. Cash issues forced a move

All credit therefore to Finlay MacDonald and his team at the NPC for doing the right thing and restoring this prestigious event to its rightful home.

The Chanter, now in its 56th year, was established by Dame Flora MacLeod, 28th Chief of MacLeod, in 1967 at the prompting of John MacFadyen and Seumas MacNeill. The aim was to encourage more top pipers to compete at the Skye Gathering.

The 2022 Silver Chanter will be held at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College, Sleat, Skye, in August. More details later.

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Piping Live

As to Piping Live! itself, the line up features the usual appealing mix of folk and mainstream piping events featuring Callum Beaumont, Finlay Johnston, Sarah Muir, Angus MacColl, Matt MacIsaac, Masters Solo contest, Pipe Band Quartets, Rura, Ross Ainslie, Brighde Chaimbeul, and a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the National Youth Pipe Band. The festival runs Aug. 6 – 14th. Full details here.

British Pipe Band Championships

The readership response to our coverage of the British Pipe Band Championships was very significant. Thousands, I mean thousands, of readers tuned in to read the informed critiques of our writers Robert Mathieson and Alistair Aitken OBE.

Some comments: ‘So interesting to read the great Robert’s analysis.. comments you never get on your sheets. Most of the time it’s ‘not together on E…poor integration etc’

‘Interesting and enjoyable…I am glad to hear you remark about how harmonies are overpowering some melodies…hope, some bands will read this article and maybe think a bit about some of their arrangements’ 

‘A brilliant insight by a true piping great, and the situation regards brollies is ten times worse at the seated stands at the Worlds, but remember it is Scotland.’

‘A great read and I’m glad I’m not the only one who was getting lost with some of the harmonies in a few of those medleys
‘Very educational. Thank you for the views.’

‘Interesting. Your most critical comments were about I&D. And they won.’

Thanks to Alistair and Robert for their expert insight and it is good to know that the RSPBA are in favour of more of this sort of transparency of views from judges and former judges. This is how we get better.


Professor Andrew Bosch PhD writes from Cape Town: ‘I have followed Piping Press for a long while, and before that was a reader of Piping Times for many years, so I know that you have a good knowledge of bagpipe historical fact.

‘This might be rather random, but history has it that when the standard was raised at Glenfinnan at the start of the ’45, the sound of the pipes could be heard as Lochiel arrived with his men. I don’t know how much of that might be romanticism, but if correct, is there any record of what tune might have been played?’

The Raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan. This painting hangs in the Glenfinnan House Hotel today

Going by this painting you would be right that the pipes were played at Glenfinnan Andrew. Indeed it is hard to imagine such a gathering without the pipes being heard. As to the tunes I have no real idea. Possibly March o’ the Cameron Men, You’re Welcome Ewan Lochiel, Cameron Quickstep? More generally would My King Has Landed in Moidart, War or Peace, the Prince’s Salute have been played?

Over to you readers; all suggestions welcome.

Chris Lee in Hong Kong: ‘Greetings from HK! I have a question here. I have been looking for Robert Meldrum’s manuscripts. I am wondering if they are available to access anywhere. Would be appreciated if you can get back to me. Thanks very much in advance.’

Can anyone help Chris?

Yvonne Cavanagh of ‘Kilted Cousins Family Trees’: ‘I am looking to try and find out about a competition back in 1887. A client of mine said her grandfather came back from Canada and took part in this. I wondered if there might be a historic article on it or a book I should source. Can you point me in the right direction please if you can?

If anyone can help please contact Yvonne here – with a copy to PP.

2 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Silver Chanter/ Piping Live/ British Championships/ Letters

  1. Whit! The famous Silver Chanter taken (via Glasgow) from Dame Flora MacLeod and MacCrimmon’s lands in Dunvegan/Boreraig down to enemy MacDonald territory in Sleat? Jings crivvens help ma Birls!

  2. The Robert Meldrum MS is in The National Library. I have a very rough copy of it which is barely readable. During the pandemic period doing one of those PS Talks I covered Corrienessan’s Lament which does appear in the PS books —-which book, I cannot recall—must look. There is reference in the editorial notes to the tune which had been of interest of John MacColl and that it appears in the MS of Robert Meldrum. Unfortunately the page was missing from my copy. I was wanting to do as much research as possible.
    I did contact The National Library and from memory it was confirmed that they had the MS, but due to the pandemic they didn’t have the staff etc to do the search for me.
    There are some interesting aspects to the MS in some of the tunes. Of course Robert Meldrum attended Calum Piobaire and bits of the MS is reminiscent of the teaching of Bob Nicol.

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