After three decades at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Gary West is leaving at the end of this month.
Gary, who is probably best known to pipers as the voice of ‘Pipeline’, BBC Radio Scotland’s popular weekly piping programme, is the Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre at the university’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.
He told Bagpipe.News: “I’m leaving to work on other projects on a freelance basis mainly. I’ve been at the university for 27 years on the staff, plus several years studying there before that, so I just feel it’s time for a change. I want more time to play music while the fingers still work! And more time to write in a non-academic way.
“I will still be doing ‘Pipeline’. Since Iain MacInnes retired last year I’ve had more input to the programme than previously so that’s one reason for the change of career path.”
Gary, who wrote – and performed in – the acclaimed First World War play, Jock’s Jocks has been working on a biography of the late Martyn Bennett and hopes to bring that to completion.
He said: “I’m also planning to develop a video and podcast channel called Voicing Scotland, running with the kind of themes I wrote about in the book of that name a few years back. It was subtitled ‘folk, culture, nation’ and so the kind of topics I’ve been teaching about at the university for years, but hopefully taking it to a wider audience. I’m hoping to launch that later this year.
“I’ve been making on-location videos about culture, history and music for the Celtic Arts Foundation in the USA over the past few months so I’m learning the ropes as I go. I’m working with my son, Charlie, as my technician, so that’s a lot of fun.”
Academically and non-academically, Gary West has himself made a huge contribution to the music and culture of Scotland. In Grade 1, he played with the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band for many years and played latterly with Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band. He is the President of the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society and a former member of the folk bands, Ceolbeg and Clan Alba. He plays in the pipe band of the Atholl Highlanders. In December 2020 Gary was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.
We wish Gary every success with his new ventures.