New Donald MacLeod book launched

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L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Finlay Johnston, John Wilson, Susan Miller, John Smith and Fiona MacLeod.
L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Finlay Johnston, John Wilson, Susan Miller, John Smith and Fiona MacLeod at the launch yesterday at The National Piping Centre Otago Street.
L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Finlay Johnston, John Wilson, Susan Miller, John Smith and Fiona MacLeod.
L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Finlay Johnston, John Wilson, Susan Miller, John Smith and Fiona MacLeod at the launch yesterday at The National Piping Centre Otago Street.

A new book featuring all of musical legend Pipe Major Donald MacLeod’s pibroch compositions was launched yesterday during Piping Live! The launch took place at Tuesday’s ‘Piobaireachd of the Day’ recital at The National Piping Centre Otago Street, the former College of Piping.

This is the first time all of MacLeod’s pibrochs have been brought together inside one cover.

The project was received funding from the Isle of Lewis’ community wind farm Point and Sandwick Trust and the Lewis and Harris Piping Society.

Point and Sandwick Trust, which supports the annual P/M Donald Macleod Memorial Piping Com-petition to the tune of £5,000 a year, gave the Lewis and Harris Piping Society £300 towards its contribution to the printing costs of the book. The Piping Society contributed £500 all in.

Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are always happy to support our friends at the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, who do a great job of preserving our piping heritage here in the Western Island and the legacy of Donald MacLeod.

Fiona MacLeod receives the cheque from John Smith.
Fiona MacLeod receives the cheque from John Smith.

“We were pleased to make a contribution to this new book and welcome its launch at Piping Live, the festival which culminates this weekend with the Worlds, which the Lewis Pipe Band will be attending and we wish them all the best for that. Supporting culture is a key aim of Point and Sandwick Trust.”

Finlay Johnston playing yesterday at the book launch.
Finlay Johnston playing yesterday at the book launch.

Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, born in Stornoway in 1916, was an outstanding player and won all the major competitions in his day, some several times over. He was also a tutor and a proud Seaforth Highlander but is best remembered for his prolific compositions, including 27 pibrochs.

The project was led by Donald’s daughters, Susan and Fiona, with input from John Wilson (a long-term former pupil of Donald’s) and The National Piping Centre. At the launch, Wilson spoke about the technical aspects of Donald’s compositions and emphasised the influence of Gaelic song on his melody lines, which gave them a distinctive ‘blàs’ or flavour. He illustrated his point with a demonstration of canntaireacdh singing.

There were performances of two tunes at the launch. Finlay Johnston, current Glenfiddich champion and this year’s 2019 winner of the P.M. Donald Macleod Memorial Competition played Lament for John MacDonald of Inverness and Roddy MacLeod MBE played Caber Feidh Gu Brath.

A review of the book will appear in a forthcoming edition of the Piping Times.

• Donald MacLeod’s Collection of Piobaireachd is available from the National Piping Centre, priced £15.