August 08, 2022

Piping Live! report: Emerging composers – 20 years young

Host Fergus Muirhead introduces the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

By Barbara MacDonald

It was an enjoyable evening of new music on Monday, August 8th, from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPBS) in the Strathclyde Suite at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

The concert began with seven young pipers from the band delivering several solid sets of tunes including AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” which was originally arranged for the pipes by the late Gordon Duncan. The more seasoned members of the NYPBS then took the stage along with several notable musicians to back them as they presented 10 new compositions to celebrate 20 years of the NYPBS program.

The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland on stage at the Strathclyde Suite.

Five of the compositions were based on stories, including a mythical hag covering Scotland in a white blanket, the reframing of a tune inspired by a sibling with autism, and Malin Lewis’s composition inspired by water bubbles rising up, depicted in part by rhythmical scales up and down from low G on the B-flat chanters blending perfectly with the strings and rhythms.

A cinematic composition by Breanna Wilson highlighted pipes with piano, and also notable was the Ben Muir composition celebrating the innovative changes of the NYPBS over the past two decades, with a nod to Steven Blake who is bringing a fresh perspective as the new director of the program.

The NYPBS debuts new music hot off the pens of some of Scotland’s young composers.

The final composition from Kim MacLennan was a beautifully orchestrated piece about a seal hunter who was captured by the selkies and was allowed to leave only after promising to create joy and healing in the community. Absolutely outstanding was the masterful sound engineering that makes an incredible full-bodied experience for performers and audience alike.

Glasgow has a true understanding and appreciation of new Celtic music with its incredible events like Celtic Connections and Piping Live!, so a definite shout-out to these talented technicians.

Barbara MacDonald is one of Canada’s greatest contributors to piping, having taught dozens of successful new players over several decades. She is the pipe-sergeant of the Grade 2 City of Regina Pipe Band and has been a member of the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University and currently plays with the Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel). She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.





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