Editor’s Notebook: Northern Winter School/ Andrew Wright/ French Piper/ Sun Belt/ Howard Memorial

To Germany’s Northern Winter School today for another week of hard work imparting the finer, and not so finer, points of the art of the great Highland bagpipe.

The school, at a youth hostel about an hour north of Hannover, is growing in strength and sells out almost immediately it is advertised. That is due to the quality of the teaching and the marketing and organisational ability of the Principal, Ronnie Bromhead, ex Scots Guards.

This year we will be instituting an exam curriculum so that every piper who leaves next Friday will have a certificate telling him or her where they are on the piping ladder. The exams will either be formal or by continuous assessment during the course of the week.

There are several piping schools going on in Germany throughout the year and all this teaching is sure to produce a crop of good, if not champion, pipers in the near future.


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Andrew Wright

Patrick Molard: ‘Still on the  shock of Andrew Wright’s passing. I have with me an audio archive which might interest you and your readers. It is the recording of Andrew playing Lament for Mary MacLeod at the Théatre de la Ville of Paris in 1992 broadcast by the French radio France Musique.

‘It was a recital of ceòl mòr organized by the Brest concert hall Le Quartz featuring Andrew, Allan MacDonald, Tom Speirs, Ronnie MacShannon, Jakez Pincet and myself. And a week after Brest the same concert was held in Paris at the Théatre de la Ville.

‘In Brest, 1500 people attended, and about the same in Paris; quite a feat! You will notice that Andrew starts with a slow air on his way to the stage, and leaves the stage playing Var 1 of Mary MacLeod instead of the ground. Great playing and great pipes!’

[Here is the performance split into two section. Apologies for the earlier technical glitch. PP]


French Piper

What a wonderfully artistically sensitive people the French are. Can you imagine those sort of crowds for a piobaireachd recital in Scotland? Not a chance. We can barely muster a few dozen for the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness.

Just to re-inforce the point, here is a cutting from a local newspaper in Brittany giving the pipe its place and talking seriously of the various formations for presentation of the music and of one local piper Loïc Denis:

Unimaginable in Scotland’s press……


Sun Belt Contest

Organiser Eric Stein: ‘Here are the piobaireachd that have been selected for each player at the forthcoming contest in Florida on November 12. The Piobaireachd event will start at 1pm at the Orlando Sheraton North. 

‘The tunes were selected by our adjudicators Mike Cusack, Jim MacGillivray, and Colin MacLellan. The medley event will start at 6pm. Players will perform a medley of their choice. There are no  tune or time requirements.’

Stuart Liddell: Unjust Incarceration; Ian K. MacDonald: MacLeod of Colbeck; Glenn Brown: Lament for the Departure of King James; Callum Beaumont: Phantom Piper of the Corrieyairick; Ben McCalmrock: Scarce of Fishing; Angus MacColl: Nameless, Cherede Darievea; Andrew Donlon: End of the High Bridge; Connor Sinclair: Kintarbert’s Fancy; William McCallum: Raising of the Standard at Glenfinnan; Bruce Gandy: Battle of Waternish.

The Piobaireachd Society are one of the main sponsors of this competition.

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Howard Memorial

This well-known band from Northern ireland celebrated their 75th Anniversary in 2000 and (I assume they are still going) will be getting ready for their 100th in a couple of years. This pic of the band in 1994 is from a brochure they produced for the 75th:

The band in 1994 under P/M Lowry Ferguson. Six years later they won the Worlds and the Scottish in their grade. I think it was Grade 2 but may be wrong there. A great way to celebrate their 75th year.

A wee trip down memory lane for our friends in the Province.


Tutor Books 1-3 (USA)

60 lessons in three outstanding tutor books taking the complete beginner to intermediate level and introducing the classical music of the pipes, piobaireachd. All books have free audio and/or video back-up fully explaining the exercises, tunes and the required expression. Since they first appeared in 2015 these books have sold hundreds of copies worldwide. Price includes mailing of £12.

£44.00


1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Northern Winter School/ Andrew Wright/ French Piper/ Sun Belt/ Howard Memorial

  1. Patrick Molard speaks about these fabulous concerts of Ceol mor which were held in 1992 ( Brittany and Paris ) where Andrew Wright played with other pipers . It shows , I think , the difference of approaching piobaireachd : in Scotland , it tends to be something for an elite if I dare say ; in Brittany , many efforts were made to make this exceptional form of an art open to everybody , connoisseurs as well as non specialists . This what happened with the APPB ( Association pour la promotion du piobaireachd en Bretagne ) who coorganised these 1992 concerts and others afterwards . And this is what happens with ” Pibroc”h en bord de mer ” , an other association in Cancale ( Brittany ) with solo piping by the seaside held every september by a group of devotees ( specially Jackie Pincet ) who do their best to welcome around 20 pipers during the whole day , with , I insist , only Ceol Mor . They play in the open air in front of a wide public of people who know and love the music, or just discover it . And this mixture of listeners makes I think the strenght oh this sort of event and the best tribute to a wonderful art like Ceol Mor which is not kept in the hands of specialists through competitions but in in those of an open public through concerts .

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