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Monthly Archives: February 2012

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Piobaireachd Wednesday: Desperate Battle of the Birds

Last weekend was the Metro Cup, one of the premier piping events in North America. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend, but from all reports there was some fantastic piping to be had.

Our Piobaireachd Wednesday tune for today was recorded at that event. The player is Bobby Durning, a young piper from New Jersey, who has competed at the Metro Cup several times as an amateur and this year made his debut in the professional competition. His tune was Desperate Battle of the Birds, one of my favorite tunes, and I think you’ll agree he had a pretty good run at it.

This performance earned Bobby sixth place, which is not too shabby if you consider the rest of the prize list, who you may be hearing from a bit later: Angus MacColl, Stuart Liddell, Alex Gandy, Chris Armstrong, and Bruce Gandy. Well done, Bobby, for rounding out such a distinguished prize list, and congratulations on a great performance in your first Metro Cup as a professional.

Thanks to my friend John Daggett for recording the video. He sends his apologies for the poor video quality, but the sound is what matters here on Piobaireachd Wednesday, and that came out pretty well.

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Piobaireachd Wednesday: My Dearest On Earth Give Me Your Kiss

This is the final tune from the Gold Medal competition at Winter Storm 2012, and it was the tune that won the contest. Alex Gandy is the player, and he’s a pretty well-known player in the North American piping scene. He is the son of Bruce Gandy, an excellent piper himself, and Alex has established himself as a top-flight soloist. He’s also recently taken over as the pipe major of the 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel Pipe Band, making him one of the youngest ever to hold that position in a grade 1 band.

His winning tune was My Dearest On Earth Give Me Your Kiss, which is presented without further comment.

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Missing the Metro Cup

On Presidents Day weekend each year, the place to be in the piping community is Newark, NJ. No seriously, it is.

For it is this weekend that the Metro Cup is held, a competition sponsored by the Metro Branch of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. The professional contest is comprised of a piobaireachd and a medley.

Last year was the first time I had ever been, and it may very well have been the most fun I had in any single weekend in 2011. It’s not that the rest were bad, but the Metro Cup was just that good. What could beat an entire day full of superb bagpipe music followed by a party that lasts until dawn?

I’ve been looking forward to the 2012 event for the last 11 months, especially when I saw that Angus MacColl was on the list of invited players this year. He is hands down one of my three favorite pipers, and I was pretty excited when I saw he’d be there. Other players this year include Willie McCallum, Stuart Liddell, Bruce Gandy, Alex Gandy, Glenn Brown, Chris Armstrong, and Gordon Walker; they are certainly no slouches, and you can be sure that there will be a very high standard of play.

Unfortunately it’s not to be for me this year. I’ve accepted a job recently that requires me to relocate, and that weekend is the only chance that I was able to do make the move. I was extremely bummed when I realized it meant I would miss the Metro Cup, but it’s an annual event, so I’ll be able to go next year. (Or not, depending whom you ask)

For the record, I’m working as a test engineer for a contractor of Westinghouse Nuclear in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA.

Piobaireachd Wednesday: Lament for Captain Donald MacKenzie

Continuing our trek through the prize list from the Gold Medal at Winter Storm 2012, our tune this week comes from Jori Chisholm. Jori has made quite a name for himself as a player, both as a soloist and with the world champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and also as a piping teacher. He’s the piper behind, and I believe I am correct in saying that he was the first piper to offer lessons over the internet. In 2011 he launched a series of online piping competitions that attracted entries from pipers and judges all over the world; he has also announced another one for spring 2012.

His second place tune at Winter Storm was Lament for Captain Donald MacKenzie, which was the same tune you heard in the last installment by Alastair Lee. That’s one of the drawbacks of having limited choices of tunes, but it’s a good chance to compare how it’s played.

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Bagpipe tragedy

Bagpipes frequently appear in auctions on eBay, and this is a particular one that was brought to my attention this week through the Bob Dunsire forums.

The item for sale is identified as 11 Ivory Bagpipe Mounts, and the condition is labeled as “For parts or not working.” A closer look at the photos shows why that is the case:

With every tuning pin snapped like that, it’s pretty obvious that those pipes won’t be making music again. I hate to see any set of pipes damaged (well, almost), but the real tragedy here is that in the auction the pipes are identified as 1923 Robertsons. I recently posted my thoughts on vintage pipes, so this hits me particularly hard. It’s like looking at a classic car that’s been in a serious accident, or an old painting that has major tears in the canvas.

It just makes me sad.

At least they’re still worth something, and I hope those ivory mounts find a good home on another set of pipes.

Piobaireachd Wednesday: Lament for Captain Donald MacKenzie

If you haven’t had your fill of Winter Storm piobaireachd, you’re in luck. After working through the Silver Medal prize list, I’m please to offer you the top three finishers in the Gold Medal. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see all of the performances, but a friend of mine was able to record them and has shared the recordings with me to use for Piobaireachd Wednesday.

Be prepared for a good sit, because the Gold Medal tunes are pretty substantial this year.

We start today with the third place tune, Lament for Captain Donald MacKenzie, played by Alastair Lee. Alastair is, I believe, the son of Terry Lee, pipe major of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Alastair plays with that band, and has distinguished himself as a solo competitor as well.

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.

Piobaireachd Wednesday: The Bicker

This is the first of the series of Piobaireachd Wednesdays resulting from my visit to Winter Storm on the weekend of January 13-14, 2012. I was able to watch the U.S. Silver Medal almost in its entirety; I heard and recorded 17 competitors. I won’t post all of the recordings here (as I mentioned before the tune selection was not widely varied), but I will post the prize list. The top five players ended up playing four different tunes, so I figured the repetition would be minimal there.

Our tune this week is the tune that won the Silver Medal: The Bicker. The player is Colin Clansey, who is from Kingston, Ontario. Colin has been a consistent prizewinner in the Ontario piping scene for at least several years, and according to what I was able to turn up with a few minutes on the internet is that he is the pipe major of the grade 2 Glengarry Pipe Band. This was really a great tune, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it person. I hope you enjoy it as well.

If you’d like to submit a tune to be featured on Piobaireachd Wednesday, please email me.