August 15, 2018

Piping Live! Day 3 highlights

By Wednesday, Piping Live! has achieved pace and intensity that has to be experienced to be believed. The venues are crammed with audience, performers, and the wider pipe band community, all coming down to take in the sights and sounds. Weather was fair for most of the day, giving bands a chance to rehearse and everyone else the opportunity to move without an umbrella.

The museum tours at the National Piping Centre are conducted twice daily by Dr. Hugh Cheape MBE, known for his work building and interpreting the National Museum’s bagpipe collection. His tours of the collection at the Piping Centre are a tidy capsule of the known history of the bagpipe, focussing also on the questions left to answer. He gives fascinating detail about the artifacts and the stories they tell. About 10-12 people take this tour twice each day during the Festival. One of the upcoming challenges of the museum is to catalogue and interpret properly the material currently on display at the National Piping Centre’s Otago Street campus.

Throughout the day, you can see the numbers of people swelling in the “Come and Try” sessions, in the Street Café and in all the spaces around the Centre. The new arrangement for the Street Café and bar meant that there was a brisk bar trade to get through to hear music in the Street Café, and hearing a solo bagpipe was not always easy as the bar crowd built in the afternoon.

Willie McCallum in action. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
Willie McCallum gave an entertaining recital in the main hall, while Flemish bagpipe duo “Mandingma” entertained in the Street Café. In the midst of all this, there were pipe bands coming and going to performances and practices, and people testing and purchasing items in the shop, and lining up for hamburgers and drinks in the food and tickets section of the café.

McCallum Bagpipes of Kilmarnock sponsored a showcase of their products in the afternoon, featuring soloists Stuart Liddell, Callum Beaumont, Willie McCallum and Gordon McCready. They were all playing the McCallum products they develop and endorse, and with about 10 minutes each on stage it was a great display of varying styles. McCready played McCallum’s new plastic chanter and plastic chanter reed combination, which is slowly working it’s way through development toward full production. The Annan and Johnstone pipe bands also played a quintet and a quartet respectively, showing off the sound on the new McCallum “Ceol” band chanter. All great stuff, and with a level of background noise at the bar the made it hard to hear MC Kenny MacLeod on the PA system!

Otago Street had a full day, with Brian Lamond in concert at the “Piobaireachd of the Day” series, a “Come and Try” session for new Gaelic Speakers, and an acoustic session with the amazing Armagh Pipers Club, this year celebrating their 45th anniversary. Some in the west end were taking the opportunity to sit in on the FMM practice at Kelvingrove Park, and there are more bands using the space available there to get the band outside.

Brian Lamond in full piob mode at Otago Street. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
Attendees at Michael Grey’s book launch at the National Piping Centre auditorium were treated to tunes from several pipers, including Bruce Gandy, Nick Hudson and Duncan Nicholson.

The front of the Centre was taken over by the Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band for a rehearsal at 6 pm, and a good crowd stayed around to hear them go through their paces, some running off for a quick dinner before the sold-out St. Lawrence O’Toole concert at the Royal Concert Hall.

SFU drawa a good crowd at their Buchanan Street session. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
Day 3 saw four pipe band performance on Buchanan Street, including SFU and Canterbury Caledonian, and a sprinkling of events as diverse as gin tasting and a show celebrating the life of Habbie Simpson (1550–1620), the town piper of Kilbarchan.

Piping Live! pulled out all the stops on Day 3, and it was smiles all round with great music, good friends, and fair weather.





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