2013 Capt. John A. MacLellan Medal goes to Iain Speirs

Published: June 10, 2013
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Iain Speirs was the recipient of the 2013 John A. MacLellan Medal on the evening of June 8th at the Royal Scots Club, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, the second annual version of the invitational dinner/recital that showcases four of MacLellan’s piobaireachd compositions.

Speirs played “A Welcome for Patrick Struan,” which MacLellan composed on the birth of his second grandson in 1989.

Also competing were Faye Henderson (“The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairick”), Stuart Liddell (“Salute to the Queen’s Own Highlanders”), and Gordon Walker (“Am Bratach Gorm”).

Henderson was invited to take the place of her father, Murray Henderson, who won the inaugural Captain John A. MacLellan Medal last year, but later in the year retired from solo competition.

Faye Henderson played “The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack,” composed by MacLellan for an incident in 1958 in the Great Glen near Fort Augustus when at base the pipes were clearly heard signalling the arrival of a Cameron Highlanders route march in bad weather. Due to the horrendous conditions, the pipers, who included the great soloist Iain MacFadyen, were told not to play miles earlier by Colonel David Murray. It is thought that this was the Phantom Piper playing in Corrieyairack Pass, where legend has it that Montrose’s Army will march once again if he is heard to play.

“The Phantom Piper of Corrieyairack” won the Saltire Association’s piobaireachd composing competition in 1963.

“Salute to the Queen’s Own Highlanders” was given to Stuart Liddell to play, and the tune was the first of MacLellan’s piobaireachd compositions, commemorating the creation of the Queen’s Own Highlanders as a result of amalgamation of the Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders.

Gordon Walker played “Am Bratach Gorm.” John MacLellan composed the tune in 1986 for the Scottish Piping Society of London’s annual Bratach Gorm, or Blue Banner, piobaireachd competition. The banner was originally presented by Dr. Calum MacCrimmon.

John Wilson judged the contest, and Euan Anderson delivered as the Fear an Tigh for the evening, which was attended by 100 enthusiasts.

The event is organized by the Capt. John A. MacLellan Memorial Trust, which was started in 2000 to honour the late, great piper.

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TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: Always ask yourself, Where has the reed been? Remember that all makes of pipe chanter reeds need a bit of moisture. To put some into it without a lick or a sook try the “heavy breath,” like when you want to “fog up” a window or your eyeglasses.
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland