Editor’s Notebook: John Burgess Gold Medal/ Recordings Mystery Solved/ Jimmy McIntosh Memorial/ Reminders

John Burgess at Glenfinnan in the 1960s with Donald MacPherson centre. Piper far left?

Referencing my earlier post about young lowlander Norman Graham being denied a place at the Northern Meeting in 1970, it occurred that special dispensation must have been given to John Burgess two decades earlier.

We all know that John was the youngest ever winner of the Gold Medal when he was awarded the coveted prize in 1950 playing Castle Menzies.

Twenty years later young Norman, also 16, was denied the same opportunity being told he had to wait until he was 18. Who knows if he would have equalled John’s achievement?

As a young BB band player I used to compete against Norman and he certainly had that special something, the pipe, the finger, the music, no doubt all absorbed from his tutor Iain MacFadyen.

Were the more mature pipers of 1950 so embarrassed at being soundly whipped by whippersnapper John D that they got the rules changed so stymying Norman in 1970? Or had strings been pulled by the influential Willie Ross to let his star pupil, young Burgess, compete?

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Recordings Mystery

Thanks to everyone who responded to our request for help in identifying Youn Pensec’s piobaireachd recordings. Check out the Comments section for the responses.

The playing was indeed by John Burgess and John MacLellan with vocals from Calum Johnston, all from two discs produced by Robert Lorimer on the Waverley label in 1964, with sponsorship from the British Council.

Here is John Burgess with the ground of Lament for the Viscount of Dundee:

You might still find these worthwhile recordings online or in your nearest vinyl shop, folk music section.

McIntosh Memorial Weekend

Andrew Carlisle reports: The second annual Jimmy McIntosh MBE Piobaireachd Workshop took place last weekend at Carnegie Mellon University.  We had a great turnout of 48 students from 14 US states and two Canadian provinces.  

Students came from as far away as Albuquerque, New Mexico, San Diego, California, and Calgary, Alberta. The weekend was organised by the Pittsburgh Piping Society.  Instructors were all longtime students of Jimmy’s: Mike Cusack, Amy Garson and myself.

Students and staff at the workshop

The students were divided into three classes by ability; the top class had twenty pipers that were all Grade One or Open level. After eight hours of piobaireachd study on Saturday, students weren’t quite finished with piping and attended a ceilidh at a nearby cocktail bar.

There was a high level of playing during the weekend, as the workshop participants included many Open pipers and multiple judges. This was in keeping with Jimmy’s philosophy that with piobaireachd, you are never finished learning.

We have already received applications for the 2024-25 cycle of the Scholarship and will be announcing our winner in March. Applications are open until February 29th. North American piobaireachd enthusiasts should contact jimmy.mc.scholarship@gmail.com .

We would like to express our appreciation for the donations we have received from individuals, and for the generation donation the Dunedin Chapter of the New World Celts for the upcoming cycle. 


Poster for Angus MacColl’s gig at Inverlochy tonight:

Piping Convenor John Angus Smith has confirmed that the Uist & Barra Professional competition will be held in the Piping Centre in Otago Street, Glasgow, on March 9 from 9pm, not March 7 at McPhater Street as we wrongly reported earlier.

1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: John Burgess Gold Medal/ Recordings Mystery Solved/ Jimmy McIntosh Memorial/ Reminders

  1. Re Yuan Pensec’s recordings, I have two non-commercial CD’s that John D gave me about 1999 with these recordings on them, I was taking The Viscount from him at the time and had already taken The Old Men, he gave me them as references. He said they were old recordings of himself and Capt John. The tunes are Clan Campbell Gathering, Black Donald’s March, Old Men of the Shells, The Viscount, Patrick Og, Pass of Crieff and Old Woman’s Lullaby. Old Men is on the Pipe not sung.

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