August 31, 2008

Piping Live! ? Day 5

Click here to view a video of the Piping Live! Street Cafe on Friday.

The Piping Centre was a bit sparse for activity early in the day on Friday, and likely that has a lot to do with final preparations for the Worlds on Saturday. Most of the band players there are focused on the big day, and likely also a bit tired from preparation and Festival activity.
In any event, few people showed up to the pipe band session with Drew Duthart and Bill Livingstone, and after a short discussion, the event was cancelled. A pity, but it will be informative for planners, and perhaps the Friday calls for a less structured approach?
The CLASP competitions were happening Friday morning, and National Piping Centre Principal Roddy MacLeod announced the results later in the afternoon.
With three grades of competitions, and entrants from a variety of countries, it’s clear that CLASP is having an impact in encouraging amateur players to raise their level of play.
Friday features the RSPBA’s annual march down West George Street by pipe bands, finishing in Glasgow’s George Square. A good turnout of bands was already tuning up after 9:30, and the weather stayed reasonable for the event.
Piping in the Square today featured Cape Breton band Beolach, along with Northumbrian piping legend Kathryn Tickell. At the same time “Lord of the Todd” Angus MacColl was giving the lunchtime recital at the Piping Centre, with Willie McCallum giving a free recital at the Todd Bar a little later.
One of the real challenges of Piping Live! Is that it’s just not possible to get to everything!
One of the day’s highlights for me was the Street Café performance of uilleann piper Cillian Vallely. Vallely played a wide selection of traditional and some contemporary Irish music, and his piping was very enjoyable. His bagpipe had the smooth, creamy uilleann sound that makes the instrument so attractive, and his piping was technically precise, interesting and rhythmically impeccable. This is the type of unexpected joy that makes this Festival so enjoyable.
Day 5 featured the final of the Piping Idol competition, and the final was won by Tuesday’s finalist, Cameron Drummond. Some commented that perhaps one or two of the heats featured a tighter competition for the top spot than did the final, but regardless, another great piping event through the week, all credit to the organizers for giving these young pipers such an outstanding platform for their talents.
The last two days of the Festival is a time for the bands to really get focused, and those of us not playing have the opportunity to roam about and hear some top bands go through their paces. Thursday I had the opportunity to hear the all-star Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band rehearse, and later the same day I was able to listen to Field Marshall Montgomery as they practiced near Kelvingrove Park. Both bands had a ring spectators. Today, we heard the House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead go through their paces at Strathclyde University, and later on, the Spirit of Scotland had a practice on the steps in front of the Piping Centre. Today¹s practices had large turnouts of spectators, and the Spirit of Scotland has a video crew following them every step of the way.
The International Piping Concert tonight featured Breabach, Robbie Hannan and Paddy Glackin, and Ecletnica Pagus. Not hot enough for you? Well, you could have checked out the Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ “Live and Rockin” at the Old Fruitmarket!
By the close of Friday, band members are tucked away in preparation for Saturday, and the big day at Glasgow Green. Should be interesting!




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