August 31, 2010

Piping Live! Day 4: hot, hot heat and a refreshing sauna of virtuoso playing

Meaghan Proudfoot reports

Day 4 of Piping Live! kicked off with blue skies and beautiful sunshine, a rarity not only in Glasgow but definitely in Northern Ireland, where we’ve just come through the dullest July ever on record. I did a little dance as I looked out the window first thing in the morning (with the “dance” really being more of a “squint” as I tried to shield by eyes from the foreign brightness and “first thing in the morning” being more like “9 a.m.-ish”) and couldn’t wait to get my Scottish breakfast of beans ‘n toast and a wee cuppa down so that I could head out to bask in the heat and check out a few PL events.

After a leisurely stroll down Sauchiehall Street in attempt to absorb as much sunlight as possible, stopping and chatting with some Canadian pipe band friends I hadn’t seen since the summer previous and a frozen coffee drink, I made it to the Street Café at the National Piping Centre in time to catch Xeremiers de Soller on stage. It was my first experience with the traditional pipes and drums of the island of Mallorca and I loved the slightly medieval sound. Almost wondered if the musicians themselves loved it as their presentation seemed slightly sedate. Maybe the heat was getting to them.

Onward from there I set out on foot in hopes of making the “How to Judge a Pipe Band” workshop at the College of Piping. Once again this year I forgot just how far of a “wee walk” the CoP is from the NPC and 25 minutes later I was still walking briskly and already late. The journey gave me time to think about how interesting I thought it was to see a number of College of Piping events incorporated into the Piping Live! program this year. How nice, I thought, that the two organizations were now working together to mutually serve and benefit from the masses of pipers and drummers in Glasgow during World’s week. All hope was quickly quashed upon walking through the doors of the CoP, however, where I was informed that the workshop I was there for had actually happened two days earlier, the listing in the PL program was “an error,” and I was just plain out of luck.

This, I must say, irked me to no end. As a marketing and communications professional and the overseer of the production and printing of many a program guide, I know that the last party who should ever have to suffer as a result of miscommunications or errors is your audience. My afternoon schedule had to be completely re-jigged and worse, I was missing out on other PL events that I could have been attending instead. Where the breakdown in communications happened, I don’t know, but both sides should have taken steps to fill in the gap. A printed appendix to the programs, signage drawing attention to program misprints at the Piping Centre, and a repeat or substitute workshop at the CoP all would have been viable options and all certainly better than the “It’s not our fault” I got instead.

I decided to take advantage of being in the west end of town and headed down through Kelvingrove Park to catch the beginning of the Field Marshall Montgomery practice. It was the first time I’d ever caught them in action in Glasgow and was slightly surprised at the number of people who were out to watch them as well. They practice in a lovely section of the park with some of Glasgow’s nicest scenery and greens around them – well suited for such a lovely sounding band. Their location in the great outdoors made me wonder as to where they would be able to quickly scoot to should a downpour occur, as they regularly do here. I’m sure they’re willing to risk it, as whatever weather that may suddenly couldn’t be any worse than what they would have to endure outdoors in Northern Ireland.

Back to George Square from there to catch a bit of the Armagh Pipers Club, a group I loved the first time I heard them just two weeks ago in Belfast. Eclectic, an array of instruments and absolutely foot-tapping music. They are the kind of band that if ever you wanted to have a throw a good party that centred on great music and dancing, they are the group to hire.

A short while later, after a wee doze (the heat got to me) and dinner, I headed to the Todd Bar for the evening’s recital . . .


  1. Great article. A very enjoyable read; hopefully this author will be a regular contributor to the website. Thanks for the updates and allowing the readers that can’t be there to share in the experience. Mike



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