Tribute to Alasdair Gillies planned for Spirit of Scotland Celtic Connections show

Published: January 31, 2012
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The annual “Piping Concert” at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow next week features two bands that will make their first appearances in a full-length show, when the Spirit of Scotland and Lothian & Borders Police pipe bands share the stage at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall a noon on January 28th in a double bill that has had both groups going all out to prepare material in the off-season.

It will be the first time since Spirit of Scotland has performed as a full band since it competed at the 2008 World’s. The group has assembled especially for the show, with players travelling from various parts of the world and practicing on their own before the week of the concert.

According to Pipe-Major Roddy MacLeod, listeners can look forward to a special tribute to the late Alasdair Gillies, who played with the band in 2008, but who sadly died suddenly in August of last year. MacLeod would not elaborate, but indicated that it will key in on Gillies’s army background.

“The concert is presenting a big challenge for us again with such limited opportunity to bring people together,” MacLeod said. “Hopefully, we have put some nice music together that people will enjoy and our tribute to Alasdair Gillies will be a feature within the concert that I am sure will be a poignant moment for many people within the band and  the audience.”

MacLeod said that other material will be almost all new, and a special “tag team” of the band’s most famous solo players is planned during the band’s 50-minute spot.

The Lothian & Borders Police will be playing in public for the first time under new Pipe-Major, Neil Hall, who did not respond to inquiries about his band’s plans for the show.

The 2012 Celtic Connections will be the eighteenth festival, which also features several other piping-related performances, including an annual Gordon Duncan Recital on January 29th at the National Piping Centre, featuring invited performers Angus MacColl, Alexis Meunier and Robert Watt.

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TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: Need to manipulate your pipe chanter reed? – use a pen knife or Xacto knife instead of sandpaper. You have much more control on the amount of cane you take off with a knife vs. sandpaper. And it is much better for the cane itself; other woodworkers call this technique “feathering.”
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland