Published: August 31, 2007

Piping Live! Festival Day 5: Parades, piobaireachd and practices

Iain MacDonald reports

The hand-written Piping Live! Day 5 schedule at the war-room in the National Piping Centre. [Photo: I. MacDonald]Weather was raining and overcast in the morning, but turned to sunshine for the annual parade of international pipe bands organized by the RSPBA. There was some question about timing. The Piping Live! program brochure had the start time in George Square as 11 am, and a large crowd had assembled at that time, but it wasn’t until noon that the massed bands headed out from Blytheswood Square and down West George Street to George Square.

[Click here to view a short video with highlights of Piping Live! Day 5, introduced by Eilidh MacDonald.]

RSPBA officials were well represented. Ian Embelton led the parade by a few minutes, and Kevin Reilly and longtime RSPBA worker Matt Connell marched with the parade. Bands in the parade included the Patalia Pipe Band from Lahore, Pakistan, and also British Columbia’s Chilliwack & District.

Arriving at the Piping Centre after the conclusion of a history of pipe bands session with Robert Shepherd and Alastair Aitken, it was clear that Friday is a big day on the calendar. The Piping Centre was mobbed inside and out with players and enthusiasts, and the spectators included a veritable who’s who of the piping and pipe band world. Lunch in the Street Café had as background a cracking set from Chris Gibb, Lauren MacColl, and a third player on bouzouki. This was a great selection of tunes, played with energy.

Hoaching big crowd at the Street Café, Day 5. [Photo: I. MacDonald]

At 1:00, the Finlay MacDonald Band and Daimh set toes tapping in George Square, while back in the Piping Centre a group of about 20 people gathered in the Centre’s Museum to meet and greet before the official launch of the new Roddy MacLeod Piobaireachd Volume 1 CD. The official launch started in the main hall after 2 pm, and approximately 50 people heard Piping Today editor Mike Paterson, Roddy MacLeod, and then Australian recording wizard Murray Blair talk about the CD, the web site, and the concept.

Roddy MacLeod, 'Piobaireachd Vol. 1'Roddy has recorded to this point about 75 complete piobaireachd on the bagpipe, and he has also had them typeset and saved as PDF files with music notation that matches the playing. There are also Bagpipe MusicWriter files that play the tune back. The CD has the first six tunes, PDFs and BMW files, and in the future, they will all be available for individual or bulk purchase through the web site www.roddymacleodpiobaireachd.com.

The best part of the launch was Roddy treating the assembled to a piobaireachd on the pipes. He played “A Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick” on a beautiful bagpipe, and in fine form.

Roddy MacLeod, head-honcho of Piping Live! and the National Piping Centre.Coming downstairs from the launch event, it was clear that there was some excitement in the air for the final of the Pipe Idol competition. The four surviving players all played some excellent music on fine sounding pipes, and the winner was Cameron Scott, a player with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel).

About this time, a text message starting circulating to let people know that Willie McCallum was giving a free recital at the Lord Todd Bar, and there was a flurry to get there, as well as interest in hearing the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead, who were practicing there in the late afternoon.

While the Festival action continues long into the night with another great concert, and the late-night Festival Club, most band players are starting to think about the big day. To all the bands and their players: best wishes for tomorrow.

Iain MacDonald contributes frequently to pipes|drums, and lives in Regina, Saskatchewan. A well known and accomplished competitive solo piper, he is playing with the ScottishPower Pipe Band while his own band, the Grade 2 City of Regina, is on hiatus.

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