Piper Spotlight: Glenn Brown
I’m starting a new series of posts about some people I’ve met in piping. The people in the spotlight aren’t selected for their piping ability alone, but for how they interact with the general public of the piping world.The piping world seems to be full of people with these traits, so there should be no shortage of people to be Spotlighted.
The first piper to be featured here in the spotlight is Glenn Brown, originally from Milton, Ontario. Glenn is a top-notch piper, often seen in the top competitions, and he has pipe band in his blood: his mother Gail was the first woman to play in a grade 1 band at the World Pipe Band Championships, and his brothers Graham and Blair are both world-class snare drummers and judges. For a while all three brothers were commuting from Canada to Scotland to play with the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. Later Glenn spent a while as the pipe major of the grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band in Ontario, and now lives in Scotland where he teaches at the National Piping Centre and plays with Scottish Power Pipe Band.
I’ve had the privilege of hearing Glenn play a few times, and he’s one of those people who is always a joy to listen to. His pipes have a truly magnificent sound: rich and mellow, but at the same time bold and confident. The sound says “I know I’m a good player, and I’m going to play a good tune for you today.” He has the technique and training to back it up, and the result is a high quality piping tune.
At Maxville in 2008 K and I watched the competition for former winners of the Canadian Gold Medal. There was some great playing for sure, but when Glenn arrived on the stage it was clear that he was in a different class than most of the other competitors. His pipes were definitely the best sound of the day, and he played an awesome tune (I think it was The King’s Taxes). We had placed him first; as it turned out he didn’t win the competition, but we still thought he should have.
The reason I chose to highlight Glenn was what happened the day after that competition. We came across him at the games the next day and introduced ourselves. K and I both offered our sentiments that he should have won the piobaireachd, and his response was gracious humilty. He had every right to be upset about the results, but showed no signs of it. It was his unspoken reaction that was really classy though. He expressed genuine interest in what we had to say, and while we were talking to him we had his undivided attention. Even though he’s very well known to most everyone at the games and there were plenty of good pipers and drummers to talk to, he stayed and chatted with us, lowly and unknown pipers who hadn’t even properly introduced ourselves, for a few minutes without appearing at all distracted or uninterested.
A similar incident was repeated at Winter Storm this year. I saw Glenn play in the MSR competition, and he had the same awesome pipe sound we had heard at Maxville; in fact I also overheard a fellow competitor ask Glenn to listen to his pipes before he played, so good is Glenn’s ear for pitch and tone. Glenn was one of the six finalists in the MSR and placed second in the final round. Here’s the video I took of his MSR, with a link below it to the video from the final.
We caught up with him at the Winter Steam party the following night, and we again got the same warm and genuine response he had given us at Maxville. As I recall he actually approached us and started the conversation. He happily chatted for a few minutes and was kind enough to pose for a picture with the two of us.
So Glenn Brown is the first person to be featured in the Piper Spotlight. He’s a a great piper, but also a great person who doesn’t mind taking time to chat with the less than famous pipers. Thanks Glenn, for taking time for The Rest of Us.