If it’s Tuesday it must be Glasgow and the third day of the 2013 Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping, when it’s guaranteed to be warm and sunny, and when those in the mix on The Green on Saturday (and maybe Sunday) start to look up at the sky and wonder if it’s going to hold or if it’s just a cruel teaser for the wet stuff sure to come.
Never mind. It’s only Tuesday, so there are plenty of pints to quaff in the sun, unless of course you’re in line to compete in the knee-jangling International Quartet Competition in the evening, where Chris Armstrong’s ScottishPower emerged victorious in a grueling event before a sold-out crowd at the New Athenaeum theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, just doon the road from The Centre.
ScottishPower bested a truly international mix that included Canada’s 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), Dowco-Triumph Street, and Toronto Police; New Zealand’s Canterbury Caledonian Society and Manawatu Scottish; Scotland’s Greater Glasgow Police Scotland; and Ireland’s St. Laurence O’Toole. Nothing is more nerve racking than exposing oneself in a quartet, not once but twice, and everyone participating is guaranteed to wonder at least once during the performance: “Why is it we do this again?”
The quartets finished a great day of Piping Live! festivities that featured a well-attended lunchtime recital by Callum Beaumont and Alex Gandy, both solo pipers enjoying mini-”purple patches: that both piers hope will carry through to the big solo events at Oban and Inverness, after all the World’s dust (or mud) has settled. Beaumont and Gandy have that effortless thing that happens with those in their early-twenties: Nerves? What nerves?
Outside at the Street Café at 1 pm was the Xeremiers De Soller of Majorca, who dished up some dulcet continental tones in their ethnic dress as folks enjoyed the first burgers off of the barbeque and hoped that the wind would change direction and blow smoke out of the marquee.
Which it did for the third annual Pipes+Drums Recital that brought the day’s largest crowd, heaving across the sun drenched steps as Pipe-Major and Leading-Drummer duets from Great Glasgow Police Scotland, Inveraray & District and Peel Police each delivered 20 minutes sets and flawless pipes and perfectly tuned snares to an appreciative audience. There was some doubt as to whether P-M Stuart Liddell of Inveraray would actually make the drive from his hometown, through roadworks and what-not; but make he did, virtually getting out of the car, opening his box, giving his Hendersons a twist or two and joining L-D Steven McWhirter on stage for another mesmerizing display. (Video to come.)
The crowd thinned just a bit for the second round of Pipe Idol. The day before saw Scott Barrie qualify for the Friday Final, surviving Ross Miller, Harry Richards and Ben Murray, while the Tuesday round featured Jack Williamson, Andrew Clark MacGregor van de Ven and Iain Crawford, all in fine form for the three “secret” judges (i.e., the ones in the crowd paying the closest attention) having their work cut out for them, but in the end it was van de Ven of Ontario who went through to the final round.
As the Quartets started to think about getting ready, most folk headed for pubs for a pint and pie to tide them over for the evening, while a few others ventured over to the brighter side in Edinburgh, where a special edition of the Eagle Pipers Society was holding a gathering at the Guards Club at Haymarket.
Unknown to many beforehand, the Quartets were stream live on the net, and after the first three or four endured technical difficulties, enthusiasts around the world at home – and not a few at work, we’re sure – settled down to watch the clacking knees, at once thanking their lucky stars that that wasn’t them on stage and silently wishing that it was.
Wednesday’s forecast is not quite so bright, but these things are known to be wrong.
Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more from Piping Live! as the week moves on.