August 15, 2018

Lunch is over, and Willie McCallum plays on

But is it really lunch?

It struck us today that the “Lunchtime Recitals” are actually after what is commonly referred to as “the lunch hour.” Maybe these should be the “Afternoon Recital” or the “I missed lunch again, but I’ve had two pints recital”?

Whatever the name, great to have sponsors such as R.G. Hardie & Co. step forward to support these recitals, which are greatly appreciated by piping enthusiasts in the building, and on the livestream.

Willie McCallum doing what he does best. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
At the appointed time, McCallum stepped onstage, and started right into a lovely set of 6/8 marches including the classics “Lord Macpherson of Drumochter” and “Ballochyle,” followed with a modern tune “The Winds of Change.”

A quick turn of the drones without stopping the pipes, and McCallum went into a set of classic strathspeys and reels, demonstrating precision and finesse with technique and idiom – a masterclass in great playing for any who’d care to take it. And, there were more than 100 in the class today, with pretty much every chair in the hall filled.

He played “Arniston Castle,” the Robert Reid setting of “The Ewe wi’ the Crooked Horn,” “The Cameronian Rant,” “The Man From Glengarry,” “Fiona MacLeod,” and “Ca’ the Ewes.”

A bit of chat, and McCallum played a set of three, three-parted tunes by John McLellan of Dunoon, including the classic “Lochanside.” All three have lovely melodies that get the most out of the notes available. These were followed with a set of 2/4 marches that included “John MacFadyen of Melfort” and “Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling.” McCallum plays with great forward motion, and yet so fully expressed; it’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve and so pleasurable to hear.

Next came jigs and hornpipes, with a leaning toward classic tunes such as “Center’s Bonnet” and “The Piper’s Controversy,” and the bagpipe holding beautifully in place.

The last tune was the piobaireachd “The Menzies’ Salute,” which has been played in the competition since at least 1824, and which has several settings available.

Willie McCallum demonstrated why his piping career has lasted so long, and gone so well. He played a varied selection of excellent music on a bagpipe that needed very little attention, and delivered full value to all in the room.





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