August 31, 2007

Piping Live! Festival: Reporter goes AWOL

Iain MacDonald reports

Arriving at the Piping Centre at 9 am today, I was already well behind the start of the day for most staff members. I delivered a student into the care of Major Gavin Stoddart for a first lesson on “The MacFarlanes’ Gathering,” and settled into a coffee with National Youth Pipe Band (NYPBS) Director, Paul Warren.

Like all the Piping Centre staff, Paul Warren is “in deep” this week. While keeping up with regular duties with the NYPBS, Warren also organizes the Pipe Idol competition that runs each afternoon, helps with the CLASP competition, and is on special assignment all week assisting a Grade 4 pipe band from Brazil that is in Scotland competing for the first time. On top of that, Warren is P-M of the Grade 2 Lomond & Clyde, which has a full practice schedule this week in preparation for a solid performance on Saturday.

Warren’s commitment to the Festival, and his passion for the music, is evident in everything he does. The Festival’s success has a lot to do with the passion and commitment of the many people, like Warren, behind the scenes.

The Australia Highlanders perform in George Square. [Photo: I. MacDonald]It was a beautiful day in Glasgow, and George Square was packed for the start of piping and live music in the Square. The Australia Highlanders kicked things off, and they were followed by Halifax’s 78th Highlanders, and then the St. Andrew’s College Pipe Band from New Zealand. The setup at George Square has expanded from the early years. As well as the Glenfiddich display of whisky making, there is also a retail display area featuring piping and drumming related goods and event promotion. The National Piping Centre, R.G. Hardie, and the World Solo Drumming Championship all had substantial displays at in the tent.

Selling stuff is an important aspect of Piping Live!, as evidenced by the growing presence of merchants in George Square. [Photo: I. MacDonald]The cross-promotion of various piping events is one of the many positive developments that have come out of the Piping Live! Festival. The RSPBA has jumped in with the World’s and now significant promotion of the World Solo Drumming Championship, and events such as the William Kennedy Festival of Piping do a lot of promotion at Piping Live! It all works to create positive audiences and useful opportunities for the promotion and development of traditional music in a variety of forms.

The afternoon at the Festival was a strong draw, with a recital from Alen Tully of SLOT, and great acts in the Street Café. A feature was the launch of the “Garvie Bagpipe Concerto” written by accordion great Simon Thoumire (also one of the brains behind www.footstompin.com) and performed by Simon McKerrell on the Garvie Session Pipes.

Simon Fraser University hard at work in Stirling. [Photo: I. MacDonald]

However, I opted instead to wing out to John Forty’s Court in Stirling to hear SFU practice for Saturday. A bonus was that I also got a good listen to the Windsor Police, who I had not yet heard live.

I finished the day with an hour’s blow on the pipes. What better way to celebrate the music, than to play it?

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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