As of today, BagpipeNews is delighted to begin an occasional series of articles combed from the pages of The International Piper. We are grateful to Colin MacLellan for allowing us to delve into the pages of his parents’ short-lived monthly magazine.
The International Piper was founded in 1978 by the late Captain John A. MacLellan MBE (1921-1991) and his wife, Christine. They were the magazine’s joint editors. The magazine ran until 1981 and was popular from its first publication, containing as it did news, well written, informative and opinionated articles, humour and comment. It was never really seen as a rival publication to the Piping Times and whereas the Piping Times was always A5 in size, the International Piper was produced to a larger format, though not quite A4. The cover price was 35p with an annual subscription priced at £6.00 (UK), US$18.70 (USA), C$21.30 (Canada), AS$18.65 (Australia) and NZ$20.75 (New Zealand).
The very first issue carried a plea from MacLellan for comradeship in piping because, he wrote, “we sense that all is not well with the piping scene. Wherever one goes there is a distinct feeling that piping is in the throes of varying degrees of discontent and even frustration. This manifests itself in different ways.
“It may be that at the root of it all is professional jealousy among players, judges, administrators and competitors. There is this sense that ‘he’ should not be better than ‘me’ or that the judges are biased in favour of one particular competitor or band; that they have in some way, despite adjudicating with colleagues, managed to either fiddle the figures or influence their fellows.”
That first issue reported the news of the deaths of Willie MacRostie and Robert Nicol, and the opening of a new school of piping in Glasgow, that of Duncan Johnston’s. A snippet told of the passing of the Institute of Piping’s Senior certificate by a Peter Rankine of Queensland, Australia … Dr Kenneth MacKay, Chairman of the Examining Board, awarded Mr Rankine a Pass at 88%!
Included in the first issue were a report on Australian piping, two in-depth critiques from the 1978 Uist & Barra competition and the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band solo contest, a feature on the pipe band medley, the Set Tunes and a profile of Elaine Marnoch.
Two regular columns were John Shone’s ‘London Letter’ which detailed the activities of the Scottish Piping Society of London, and Tom Speirs’ reports on the old Eagle Pipers’ Society.
Colin MacLellan, the well known piper and judge. He said: “I can still remember mum and dad working away for hours on each issue. It was all done from our home in Dean Park Crescent. I hope readers of today will enjoy these articles.”
The International Piper ceased publication because of the poor health of the editors.
The first article we bring readers is an article that appeared in the September 1979 edition. The article is about the bagdoù of Brittany and was written by Hugh Cheape. Read the article here.