Day 2 of the Glasgow International Piping Festival started with dark skies and rain throughout the morning, giving pipe bands scant time for effective practice. All was “go” inside, though, and “Family Fun Day” saw an enthusiastic group come to learn about pipes and piping. Interestingly, among the children participating were the grandchildren of Susan (MacLeod) Miller, daughter of the great P-M Donald MacLeod.
The Piping Centre had good responses to museum tours and the “Come and Try” sessions, with an enthusiastic crowd showing up to hear a lunchtime recital from Bruce Gandy, who has been entertaining people since the 1980s with his creative musicality and bagpipe sound. Throughout the day, pipe bands gathered at the Centre and then moved don to perform on Buchanan Street, with has become the band venue this year, due to the European Athletic Championships being held in George Square. Tuesday featured a band from each of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Oman and the USA.
The first noon-hour recital featured Bruce Gandy, one of Canada’s finest soloists. An estimated 50 people gathered in the auditorium and the recital was live-streamed for enthusiasts around the world. The majority of tunes were his own compositions with a few classics, such as “Dovecoat Park” and some Cape Breton tunes thrown in. Gandy’s bagpipe was rich and consistent for the entire recital. In true Bruce Gandy form, he presented the light music with musicality and precision, finishing all of the phrases so completely and with with such finesse. He then then played “Too Long in this Condition,” a piobaireachd he has played and loved for over 40 years, with such passion on a warm, steady and resonant bagpipe. Gandy finished with some lighter tunes, including 6/8s, about which he commented that in Canada they are sometimes played more like 2/4 marches than 6/8s. Bruce could easily have filled a second hour with his great music. It was surprising that one hour had gone by so quickly.
With the rain off and on in the street, the NPC Street Café was filled to capacity throughout the day, hearing some emerging talent and some well-established names. The auditorium of the Piping Centre was full and also very warm for the “Indigenous” book launch by FMM piper Scott Wallace, and following the first round of “Pipe Idol” punters hung around to hear the 78th Fraser Highlanders of Toronto run through their competition material in a open practice outside the NPC.
Over at the NPC Otago Street, the focus was on pipers of the First World War, and Piobaireachd of the Day with Roddy MacLeod.
Tuesday evening, you had to choose between the International Quartet Competition at the Royal Concert Hall, or “Ceol Nam Piobairean” – an evening of Gaelic-inspired music and song featuring Angus Nicolson, Kathleen MacInnes, Donald Black and the trio “The Third Half” with Allan MacDonald, Mike Katz and Iain MacLeod. Held at Drygate Brewery, this event was well attended, varied, and highly entertaining. A highlight was the expressive vocal style of Gaelic singer Kathleen McInnes, who was accompanied by a few friends for the evening.
It has become a simple fact that it’s impossible to see everything at the Festival, and even those braving the late-night Festival Club will not be able to take it all in. One thing for sure, Glasgow is alive with pipes and piping, and the week’s not half over.