March 28, 2020

Iain MacInnes retires from BBC Scotland after 30 years

Iain MacInnes in a BBC control room in the early 1990s.

After 30 years as either the presenter or the producer of BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly Pipeline program, Iain MacInnes has called it a career. His last broadcast was on March 28th, with his usual presenter, Gary West, at the microphone.

MacInnes throughout his radio career produced various other folk programs, including the annual radio broadcasts of the World Pipe Band Championships, the Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championships, the Northern Meeting and many more.

“It’s been a huge privilege being able to meet and record the world’s best pipers and drummers over the years,” MacInnes said. “When I started at the BBC players like Arthur Gillies, Angus John MacLellan and Donald MacPherson were still active, and were happy to record for us. There was so much to be learned from them, not just in terms of their approach to the music, but also in their deep knowledge of piping lore and history.  Hopefully we’ve been able to communicate some of that through our programs.
“Now, 30 years and hundreds of recording sessions later, it’s been just as much fun to meet the current crop of emerging players. I take my hat off to the teaching institutions − I believe that we’re in a good place at the moment with so many good young players coming through and a healthy appreciation of all aspects of Highland piping. Competitions are important, but there’s other stuff, too, and I think that today’s graduates are well equipped to enjoy their piping to the full.

He is one of the world’s foremost pipers, with a pipe band career that included stints with Grade 1 Power of Scotland and Woolmet & Danderhall, and played pipes and whistles with the Tannahill Weavers from 1985 to 1990, making three vinyl LPs along the way: Land of Light, Dancing Feet, and Cullen Bay.

In 1995 he formed Smalltalk, another Celtic folk band, which made what MacInnes says is his favourite recording, “Since it was simple and straightforward, and relatively easy to make.” In 1999 he went solo and made the highly acclaimed Tryst on the Greentrax label. He’s also recorded with the famous Scottish folk musician, Billy Jackson, and with Ross Kennedy’s group, Canterach, and has worked as a producer on several recordings, including Stuart Liddell’s Inveroran.

In June 2006, his was the first pipes|drums Interview after the publication went all-online.

Iain MacInnes: the p|d Interview – Part 1
October 31, 2006

Iain MacInnes: the pipes|drums Interview – Part 2
November 30, 2006

MacInnes has been a frequent contributor to pipes|drums for more than 30 years, and his reviews are must-read insightful critiques.

He added, “I pay tribute to Gary West. He’s a great presenter and he’s been brilliant to work with. Pipeline is definitely in safe hands going forward.”

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we congratulate Iain MacInnes on his career with the BBC, and thank him for all of his work over the last three decades. We are truly indebted to him for his knowledge, talent and commitment.



Iain MacInnes reviews “Play It Like You Sing It: The Shears Collection of Bagpipe Culture and Dance Music from Nova Scotia”
June 3, 2019


An elegance of phrasing
September 6, 2017





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