January 19, 2021

Young Composers’ Forum – four leading lights share insights – Part 1 (video)

They are four of the younger leading lights of pipe music composing, rising to the top in the last year with new collections and recordings.

All from Scotland, these four have each made the most of the time, converting what could be an overwhelmingly negative situation into positive creativity that will have a lasting place on the piping and drumming world.

John Dew of Perth published his first collection of music last year. He is currently pursuing a career in music composition, melding traditional Celtic, Highland pipe and orchestral/classical music together. He’s an accomplished competing solo piper, winning the B-Grade Hornpipe & Jig at the 2019 Northern Meeting, for example, and he’s a member of the reigning World Champions Inveraray & District.

Ross Miller is also a member of Inveraray & District, as well as a multi-faceted player with the Foot Stompin’ Ceilidh Band. He put out his first full-length recording, The Roke, in 2020,  featuring many of his own compositions. He’s also an accomplished competing solo piper, with a bunch of prizes at significant events. From Linlithgow, at age 25, he’s already established a solid career as a professional piper.

Craig Muirhead is a full-time teacher of piping and the resident tutor at Strathallan School in Perth and lives in Stirling. He has been a piper with Grade 1 ScottishPower and last year published 30 Exactly, his second collection of original compositions. Muirhead has had significant success in solo piping competitions, and knows performance, being a former member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers collective. Several of his compositions have caught on worldwide, and he’s established a reputation for creating memorable melodic lines.

Glaswegian Kyle Warren last year published his second full collection. Eat.Sleep.Pipe.Repeat. was released to excellent acclaim in 2020. He returned to Scotland last year after five years in Australia, where he was pipe-major of Grade 2 Hawthorn and a piping teacher at Scotch College in Melbourne. A member of Field Marshal Montgomery from 2011-’14, he’s back with the band and also working on his second commercial recording.

To be sure, there are many budding composers, and the more recognized lights like Chris Armstrong, Bruce Gandy, Bill Livingstone, Allan MacDonald, Dr. Angus MacDonald, Fred Morrison and Mark Saul have all had their share of attention, and their music is played all over the world.

pipes|drums wanted to gather together these relatively newer creators to see what and who inspires them, their processes for making music, and their methods for getting the products of their musical minds out there.

Not coincidentally, all four of them are graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s music degree programs. While they know the capabilities of the nine basic notes of the Highland bagpipe inside out, they have a knowledge of music and performance that goes well beyond.

We will do this in three parts. Part 1 explores the process of and reasons behind their composing. Part 2 will look into getting one’s music played, especially during the pandemic and the challenges they face. Part 3 will delve into thoughts on creativity itself, and the desire that may or may not exist with pipers and drummers to be creative and to what extent.

Each of these composers has made their music available to hear and to play, so please be sure to help them out by purchasing their valuable work. Considering it will last your entire life, it’s a massive return on a small investment, and it helps and encourages them to make more great music.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the pipes|drums Young Composers’ Forum in the next day or so.



New collection by Dew drops following EP success
November 30, 2020

New collection from Kyle Warren out August 1st
June 24, 2020

Review: Passionate tunes to last the test of time
June 17, 2020

Muirhead & Songs: new book and gear for ensembles
October 29, 2015





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