Editor’s Notebook: Piobaireachd Society Conference/ Three Tenors/ Ian Green/ Northern Meeting/ Band News

Ruaridh Brown piping at last year’s conference

Places are filling up well for next weekend’s Piobaireachd Society Annual Conference, March 22 – 24 in the Royal George Hotel, Perth.

Fees are £200 for a single room and £300 for a double. This includes two nights bed and breakfast, and lunch and dinner on the Saturday. Day tickets are £15 and include lunch.

We will meet on the Friday for informal drinks, a meal and perhaps a tune or two. Papers for the Saturday are:

‘Military Bagpipe Music and the Role of the Piobaireachd Society’ – John Forbes (9.30 – 10.15am)
‘Piobaireachd in North America’ – Mike Cusack (10.45 – 11.30am)
‘Piobaireachd and its Composition’ – Stuart Samson (1.30 – 2.15pm)
‘Campbell Canntaireachd Settings of Well Known Tunes’ – Jack Taylor (2.45 – 3.30pm)

Remainder of the day: Members’ Piobaireachd Ceilidh: 4 – 6pm, dinner 7pm (black tie), followed by a recital by young professional pipers Andrew Ferguson, Luke Kennedy and Brodie Watson-Massey. More info here.

MacRaeBanner ’19
Ayrshire Bagpipes Nov 2020
shepherd banner ’22

BASS DRONES: I suppose my comment that there is a lack of bass drone in some modern bagpipes could give a whole new meaning to the term ‘the three tenors’.

Since my comments were published it has been confirmed to me that moisture control systems plugged into the bottom of bass stocks can be the problem.

Couldn’t pipers just do without the one on the bass or link the kitty litter to the blowstick, leaving the drier air a free passage to the drones? Another dodge I’m told is to put in rough reeds and rely on the plugs to kill half the sound.

Personally I’ve only ever used the long piece of tubing and never had any problems. But then it all depends on whether you are a wet blower or not. A weakened bass might be the price you have to pay for a dry, steady instrument.

IAN D. GREEN: Ian, the boss of Greentrax Records died last week aged 90. Pipers owe him a debt of gratitude. Not only did he record a number of soloists and bands but he was also the man who altered the face of piobaireachd education by agreeing to run the archival ‘Masters of Piobaireachd’ series.

I had known Ian from my folk group work for many years beforehand and when, in 1997, I approached him about the idea of a run of teaching CDs featuring the work of the Bobs of Balmoral he was sceptical. Remember there was nothing like this at the time. He was taking a gamble.

Ian Green

After some pleading he agreed to go ahead with the project, the ground-breaking series was born and a successful template established for others to follow.

Ian was the honest John of the Scottish music world. He paid his artists and gave us proof of sales in a regular, audited fashion. As such he set a new standard for propriety in the shady world of royalty payments. As I reported not long ago, the money from the MoP sales still trickles in and goes to Braemar Junior piping.

NORTHERN MEETING PARK: Now all those committee people worrying about the finances at the Northern Meeting in Inverness can rest easy. There’s an outdoor alternative!

The UK government confirmed this week that they are to spend some money upgrading the Northern Meeting Park (it’s next door to Eden Court), renovating the Victorian grandstand, building a new ‘community pavilion’ and improving the site’s suitability for large scale events.

The Meetings used to be held outdoors at the park. Here’s John MacDonald, Inverness, playing there in the 1920s:

Check out this video:

PIPE BAND NEWS: Congratulations to Reid Maxwell, leading drummer of Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and the current World Corps Champions. Reid has just been given the university’s highest honour that of an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.

Dr Reid Maxwell

Reid becomes the third band member receiving SFU’s highest honour with former Pipe Major Terry Lee and Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee being awarded Honorary Degrees by the university in 2013.

Other news: Sad to report the sudden passing of RSPBA director Paul McAndrew. Paul did a huge amount of work with the Music Board and was only in his early 50s. June Nolan, Dublin based drummer and adjudicator, has also passed away after a long illness.


1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Piobaireachd Society Conference/ Three Tenors/ Ian Green/ Northern Meeting/ Band News

  1. Congratulations to Reid Maxwell, indeed – well deserved for a lifetime of stellar contribution! Thank you for specifying exactly which degree has been conferred.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *