Pipe band optimism / Beaumont recital and NI festival / Kimberley Regiment tune book reprinted / Celebrating St. Columba

Scottish Fire and Rescue Pipe Band competing in 2016 at the British Pipe Band Championships held at Paisley.

There seems to be a sense of optimism among the pipe band community in Scotland that a competition season will return in 2022, writes the Editor.

Bagpipe.News has been contacted this week – unprompted – by quite a number of individuals who speak of much positivity at band practices and an eagerness to work on new medleys in readiness for 2022.

We understand that a resumption of in-person activity for the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland is currently being considered for October.

Clearly, though, the pandemic crisis far from over. The good news is that in Scotland, hospitalisations are now falling and this is expected to follow in England next week. The fall in Scotland came ten days after infections dropped and 22 days after the national football team exited from the Euro 2020 competition. This is indeed good news because it comes only one month after it felt that in some parts of the UK, COVID was in danger of running out of control once again. Caution seems to have been the best approach.

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Next month sees the Piping Live! festival kick off. Some shows will have a reduced audience so if you live in Scotland you should consider taking in some of the quality piping on offer including the Silver Chanter, the Alasdair Gillies Memorial, the Gordon Duncan Memorial and the Masters Solo Piping Competition. The Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society concert also looks worth taking in, as does the mini-band showcase.

Later next month, there is the Lochaber Gathering, which will take place physically in a cinema in Fort William. As we move into the autumn (fall), it is still too early to even speculate as to what form the Glenfiddich, the London Competition and the Royal National Mòd will take. We can only hope at this stage that the pandemic remains under control and that a physical audience can attend.

The pipe band world, meanwhile, can surely look forward to next spring and the resumption of competitions – in particular to the first ‘major’ at Paisley. There will no doubt be many changes to contend with but this will be welcomed. For example, to end on a humorous note, bands may not be allowed to counter march back out of the circle but this happens anyway in some grades at the Worlds where the band enters from one direction, plays then reforms and exits in the other direction. It will, though, mean an end to the cheerful expression, “See you on the counter march!”

See you on the grass next spring. Fingers crossed.

England’s Ipswich Piping Society is looking forward to a gradual return to some degree of normality in the UK by scheduling a recital by Callum Beaumont next March.

Callum Beaumont in action at last night's SPA Knockout heat.
Callum Beaumont.

Beaumont has been booked by the southeast England piping club to perform on March 11 at the town’s Holiday Inn.

Elsewhere, the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch is planning a piping festival at Antrim Castle next month.

The Antrim and Newtownabbey Piping Festival will take place in the castle’s gardens on August 6 from 12 noon till 2.00pm. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and Women’s Aid ABCLN.

As yet, we have not been notified of the bands that will participate in the festival.

• For more information.

Stephen Beattie of Stoke-on-Trent in England has recreated the tune book of the Kimberley Regiment Pipes and Drums of Northern Cape, South Africa.

The book was published in1971 by Elliott Dempster of the band who simply copied tunes from various collections (possibly against all the rules) for the band’s own use. It is believed only about 20 copies of the book were ever made.  

Stephen says: “I wanted a copy of the book to add to my collection but, despite asking around, it soon became clear that I was unlikely to succeed in this quest. 

“I then got talking to a current piper in the Kimberley band and through his help I have managed to get scanned images of the various pages that I’ve tidied up.”

It’s a lovely book and there are no special tunes in it and all can be found easily elsewhere.

The Kimberley Regiment is an operational reserve force infantry unit of the South African Defence Force. Its band wears the McKenzie tartan.

Gaelic-speaking musicians based in Scotland are invited submit proposals that will lead to one of them working alongside a musical partner in Ireland to arrange traditional music and Gaelic song to celebrate the life and legacy of St. Columba.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal, with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Colmcille Fund, is seeking proposals that will lead to a performance to be premiered online this November at the Blàs festival as part of a new project celebrating this special anniversary.

The proposed performance should last approximately 30 minutes and include traditional Scottish and Irish music and song. This will be pre-recorded remotely by participants from across the Fèis movement, as well as young musicians from Ireland and Cape Breton

Arthur Cormack of Fèisean nan Gàidheal said: “St. Columba has a special place in the heritage of the Celtic countries and we would very much like this to be celebrated through this new commission.”

More information can be found here.