Conference Report 2011

It was another good conference by all accounts with a good mix of talk and tunes.  It might have been subtitled MacDonald as there was much reference to John and Donald.

The COP lecture was given on Friday evening by Piobaireachd Society President Jack Taylor who talked about the future of Ceol Mor.  He said that Piobaireachd need not be afraid of the current excitement in piping and that its history suggests that it could be more free stylistically than it now is.

The conference was started by Captain Steven Small director of the Army School who gave an excellent presentation on 100 years of the Army School.  In particular the sound clips of previous directors and a Willie Ross story were fascinating.

Jakez Pincet played his 2009 composition “The Piper’s Praise to the Mont St Michel” then talked of the similarity between Breton slow tunes and Piobaireachd, the historical and cultural links between Brittany and Scotland, and of how piobaireachd started in Brittany when Seton Gordon gave some lessons.  There is now a flourishing 3rd generation of Breton Piobaireachd players, thanks in no small measure to Jakez.

John Shone has a manuscript of 10 common piobaireachds which might have been written by John MacDonald of Inverness.  It is not certain and he asked the audience if they might know of any music written by MacDonald so that comparison could be made.  He was delighted when a hand went up so it remains to be seen whether this will give an answer.  Robert Wallace played Lament for Mary MacLeod beautifully, including an F instead of high G in the last line of the Taorluath and Crunluath doubling as written in the manuscript.  Further conversation revealed that, although this is not noted elsewhere, it is known about, certainly in Ireland.

Tunes were played after dinner.  Glengarry’s March Donald MacDonald (Jack Taylor) Lament for Captain MacDougall (Bill Wotherspoon) Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick (Alastair MacQueen) MacDougall’s Gathering (Tom Graham) Lament for the Old Sword (Walter Gray) Nameless Campbell Cannraireachd Vol 2 No 65 (Rory Sinclair) Glen is Mine Campbell Canntaireachd (Peter McAlister) Colin MacRae of Invereenate (Jakez Pincet) Lachlan MacNeill Kintarbert’s Fancy (Andre Reinhardt) King’s Taxes (John Frater) My Dearest on Earth give me your Kiss (Duncan Watson).

The set tunes for this year were demonstrated on Sunday morning by Bill Wotherspoon (Mrs Smith’s Salute, Menzies Salute) Stuart Samson(Keppoch’s March, MacKenzie of Applecross’s Salute) Decker Forrest (Vaunting and Pipers’s Warning to his Master from Donald MacDonald) Jack Taylor (Lochnell’s Lament, John Garve from Donald MacDonald).

At the AGM Dugald MacNeill stepped down as Honorary Secretary after 15 years.  His enormous contribution was warmly applauded. Bill Wotherspoon was accepted as his successor.  Roderick Cannon has now stopped editorial work for the Society and his outstanding work was duly acknowledged.  It is particularly pleasing that the Society can now announce that the publication of Roderick’s edition of the hitherto unpublished Donald MacDonald manuscript will now go ahead and that it is due to be available at the Donald MacDonald Cuaich on 10th June.

Full details of the conference including illustrations and sound clips will be available to Piobaireachd Society members in the Proceedings in due course.