Published: July 31, 2011

Angus MacKay chanter to return to Scotland at Piping Live!

The practice chanter that Pipe-Major Donald MacLeod MBE said belonged to the legendary Angus MacKay will be returned to Scotland in a presentation at the Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival in August.

The chanter was given to Iain MacDonald of Regina, Saskatchewan, by MacLeod’s widow, Winnie, after her husband died. MacDonald was a pupil of MacLeod and became a close friend of the MacLeod family, which he continues to enjoy today.

The chanter will be presented at piping scholar Hugh Cheape’s seminar on the MacKays of Raasay at Piping Live! at 1:30 pm on Monday, August 8th. The chanter will then be put on permanent loan to the National Piping Centre’s museum.

The instrument is the lower section only and is expectedly well-worn, probably made of ebony with an ivory ferule/sole at the bottom.

The chanter’s return to Scotland from Canada is similar to the repatriation late in 2010 of a pipe chanter purportedly once belonging to the piper Iain Dall MacKay. The chanter had been in the possession of MacKay’s family in Nova Scotia.

Dr. William Donaldson in his book, Pipers, described Angus MacKay: “Angus MacKay is a towering figure in piping history. He committed more piobaireachd to paper than almost anybody else, compiled one of the biggest early light music manuscripts, containing 500 tunes, and was one of the pioneers of the ‘competition’ march.” MacKay died in 1859 at the age of 46. After being diagnosed with mental illness in 1854, he was committed to Crighton Hospital in Dumfries, Scotland, and apparently drowned in the River Nith after he escaped. His body was never found.

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