Editor’s Notebook: P/M Barnes BEM/ Lady Lever Park/ John MacFadyen/ SPA Amateurs 1970

P/M Robert Barnes BEM (centre) and the boys and girls of Methil & District

Welcome back everyone and I hope you all had a good New Year break. First off I want to congratulate my old mucker Robert Barnes on being awarded the BEM in HM The King’s New Year Honours.

No one deserves recognition more than Barney. He’s been teaching kids in Fife and generally contributing to the Kingdom’s piping for 50 plus years. He is what we call in Scotland a ‘lad o’ pairts’, a character, never taking himself too seriously but always serious about his work for piping.

He follows in a long line of Fifer pipers, all significant figures in bands or solos and sometimes both: Jim Penman, Walter Drysdale, Jack Taylor, Bob Shepherd, Jimmy Banks, Allan Russell, Brian and Andy Donaldson, Peter Snadden, Chris Sutherland, Brian Lamond, JB Robertson, Bert Barron, the Murray Brothers, and many, many others.

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Lady Lever Park

Reader Michael McBride in Northern Ireland: ‘Whilst sorting out some old music books I came across a hand-written manuscript by Peter R McLeod. It’s for his 2/4 March, Lady Lever Park. It’s beautifully written out in what appears to be blue fountain pen ink and signed, By PR McLeod, Glasgow. No date on it and I guess from the age of it, not in that bad a condition. It’s a pity it’s not one of his more famous marches, strathspeys or reels but that said, I’m just pleased to have found it.

‘I think your readers might enjoy seeing it. I see that Andrew Wright wrote a lovely piece on both Peter R McLeods in the Piping Times, Vol 66, No 9 with a picture of Peter Jnr on the front cover playing an ivory chanter. Andrew goes on to say that Donald MacLean, (Oban and Glasgow), had said that the fourth part of Lady Lever Park second time through was the finest ever written. Personally, I’ve always thought the fourth part second time through of The Conundrum was a masterpiece.’

Yes I remember commissioning that article from Andrew, Michael. He actually had lessons from Peter Snr. so wrote with some authority. I’m not sure that your copy of LLP would be in Peter’s own hand (checking Andrew’s article Peter MacLeod was his usual signature not McLeod), but certainly well written out in a lovely script. A treasure if it is by him.

Lady Lever Park is one of our best 2/4 beginner marches, suitable for all juvenile and amateur grades. Tutors are well advised to teach this level of tune – Glen Caladh Castle and Mrs MacDonald of Dunach are two others – before putting youngsters on to the heavier stuff.

I used to think of Lady Lever Park as a double barrelled name, but it is an actual park in the grounds of Lews Castle, Stornoway, and was named after the wife of Lord Leverhulme the man who tried so hard to bring employment to Lewis (Peter’s native island) and Harris. Leverburgh in South Harris retains his lordship’s name to this day.

John MacFadyen

Norwegian piper Åge Jonny Jørgensen on our story of John MacFadyen and his review of Angus MacKay’s book: ‘I remember John MacFadyen. I was 18 at that time. He was invited by The Caledonian Society of Norway in February of 1975, and he held two recitals: one on a Sunday at the Henry Onstad Art Mueseum that was situated south-west of Oslo. He played the Desperate Battle of the Birds, and took breaks to explain the tune. Then he played some ceòl beag as well.

‘I learned that he was going to have a recital also at the British Embassy in Oslo the day after. I called the embassy and was allowed to come. I just had to ask for a gentleman. My teacher on the practice chanter also came along, and he asked me to bring my practice chanter with me. John MacFadyen held exactly the same recital this Monday. Before he started he shook his sporran, and said: ‘Hello kids, this is where I keep all my money!’

‘He explained the music he was playing. After the recital my teacher took me over to John, and said: ‘Here is a young boy who wants to play a tune!’ I played the first part of Brown Haired Maiden from the Green Tutor. John asked for the second part to. My nerves got the better of me and I said, ‘I don’t remember it.’ Then John just said: ‘Well then, lets have a cup of coffee!’ 

‘Later that year I received my first set of pipes from CoP, tested with a certificate, from Hugh MacPherson in West Maitland Street, Edinburgh.

‘I’m afraid no photos were taken on that occasion. The only thing I have is my own memory. A few years later I visited Sweden. There I met an older man who told me that he had exactly the same experience. Funny.’

Scottish Pipers’ Association Amateurs 1970

1 Roderick Barron, St Andrews, Lament for the Departure of King James
2 Robert Barnes, Kelty, Tulloch Ard
3 Norman Graham, Glasgow, His Father’s Lament for Donald MacKenzie
4 Kenneth MacDonald, Newton Mearns, Lament for Mary MacLeod

Anne Johnston, née Sinclair, winner of the SPA Amateur March in 1970

March: 1 Anne Sinclair, Tiree 2 George Morris, Gorebridge 3 Roderick Barron 4 Robert Pinkman, Gorebridge 5 Kenneth MacDonald
S&R: 1 Roderick Barron 2 Anne Sinclair 3 Alex Thomson, East Kilbride 4 George Morris 5 Robert Pinkman
Slow March: 1 Robert Pinkman 2 Thomas Johnstone 3 George Morris 4 Kenneth MacDonald

Judges: Hector MacFadyen and Andrew Wright; Venue: Highlander’s Institute, Glasgow.

1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: P/M Barnes BEM/ Lady Lever Park/ John MacFadyen/ SPA Amateurs 1970

  1. Heartiest congratulations Barney! It is hard to think of a more deserving recipient of this honour. Now for your life-long dream – a piping academy for the Kingdom! Andy Hunter, Lorient.

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