Published: June 12, 2015

Cpt. John Recital-Dinner moves to August; tune to debut

It’s perhaps fitting that the date of the annual Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Trust Piobaireachd Competition Recital and Dinner is moving to August to allow more non-UK pipers visiting for the big solo events at Oban and Inverness, since the late, great piper himself was responsible for much of the success of international pipers.

[The 2013 MacLellan Trust dinner-recital.]
The 2015 edition of the event in Edinburgh will be on August 29th at the Royal Scots Club, featuring MacLellan’s piobaireachd compositions as played by some of today’s best pipers.

The silver medal presented to the winner.

Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, will perform “Salute to the Piobaireachd Society”; David Wilton, Glasgow, will have a run at “The Salute to the Succession”; Iain Speirs, Edinburgh, will play “The Edinburgh Piobaireachd”; and Faye Henderson, Kirriemuir, Scotland, will perform perhaps the first public airing of “For My Lass, Fair, Pretty, and Highland,” the last tune that MacLellan composed.

The tune that Henderson is playing has remained nameless since it was penned in 1991 as an entry for a composing competition run by pipes|drums (then the print-only Piper & Drummer) for the John A. MacDonald Society, which wanted a piobaireachd named for John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, who was born in Glasgow.

According to Captain John MacLellan’s son, Colin, who is the organizer of the dinner-recital and head of the MacLellan Trust, his father was apparently confident that he would win the composing competition, which, ironically, Colin ended up winning.

Click to access full-sized score.

The elder MacLellan’s wife, Christine “Bunty” MacLellan, had often expressed desire to have a tune named for her, but only at her discretion.

“My mother always wanted a tune for herself, and she used to say that when she heard it she would tell my father that that was the one she wanted,” Colin MacLellan said. When she heard the tune he submitted for the competition in the house when I was recording it for him on the pipes, she said she wanted it. But he said she couldn’t have it because it was going to be called ‘Salute to Sir John A. MacDonald,’ and he was going to buy a video camera with the $700 prize money.”

John MacLellan died not long after the composing competition, and the composition has been essentially unnamed and dormant for 23 years.

Colin MacLellan continued, “I named it only a few weeks ago, and I got Dr. Angus MacDonald to give me a Gaelic title for ‘For My Blonde Highland Lassie,’ which is what my father always called my mother. He gave me the Gaelic, and then the literal English translation back from the Gaelic, which I liked better than what I originally said.”

So the tune, finally, is “For My Lass, Fair, Pretty, and Highland,” and we present the manuscript here, along with a recording of Colin MacLellan playing it on his father’s pipes, for pipes|drums readers.

The event is now being underwritten by long-time solo piping supporters, Glenfiddich, on a long-term basis. MacLellan said that the plan for the event is to add an MSR to rank with the world’s greatest events, to be the most sought-after ticket in piping, so making it accessible to more pipers was important.

Tickets for the third annual Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Trust Piobaireachd Competition Recital and Dinner are £35 each and include dinner. The judge for the evening is Ronnie McShannon, and Euan Anderson will take the role of fear an tighe. Tickets are available by contacting Colin MacLellan directly by email.

Faye Henderson was the winner of the 2014 event.

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