Committee changes / Recognition for Allan MacDonald / An appetite for piping / New details for Hamish / Archie Kenneth Quaich / Donald Drone


Dr. Lindsay Davidson has joined the committee of the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society. Lindsay replaces Anne Duncan who served on the committee for many years.

Lindsay is a former Town Piper of Linlithgow and was chairman of the Piping and Drumming Qualification Board from 2015-2017. He has composed many pieces for the Border pipes and other instruments as well as publishing his own tune books and releasing recordings.

Lindsay, pictured, studied at the Reid School of Music in the University of Edinburgh and was the first person in the world to finish any higher education degree majoring as a piper. He later completed a PhD in composition. Lindsay has given concerts, recitals, workshops, lectures and papers all over the world and is a co-founder of the Embassy International School in Krakow, Poland.

Meanwhile, at the recent online Annual General Meeting of the Solo Piping Judges’ Association (SPJA), Colin MacLellan was re-elected as Chairman for the fifth year in a row.

Derek Fraser, Niall Matheson and Roger Huth joined the list and Robert Wallace rejoined after his departure in 2017. As we reported last month, Neill Mulvie has retired from judging and from the SPJA committee.

Derek Fraser is a native of Dumfries and pupil of Ian Clowe, Walter Cowan and Tom Speirs. At the latter’s encouraging, he began competing on the professional circuit in the late 1970s and had many successes, including winning the Silver Medal (at Oban) in 1989. Derek stopped competing shortly after in order to concentrate on his career. He managed to return briefly to competitions in the late 1980s/early 1990s, which included winning the Strachan Cup at the 1991 London Competition.

Derek, pictured, worked for many years in the oil business and has now retired to Perthshire.

Colin MacLellan said: “As Chairman of the Solo Piping Judges’ Association, I am delighted to welcome Derek Fraser and Robert Wallace, as well as Niall Matheson and Pipe Major Roger Huth, to the Judges List.

“Each of these gentlemen brings a wide breadth of experience and knowledge, and will add and indeed complement the many members already within the Association. We do face challenging and unfamiliar times in piping at the moment and the SPJA aims to be as flexible and forward-thinking as possible in order to meet the current challenges”.

The SPJA was founded in 2014 from the Joint Committee for Judging. It maintains a graded list of solo piping judges and works with others in overseeing both the interests of judges and that of the competition system. 

The 2021 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards take place this weekend in Glasgow. There are four piping-related nominations across various categories although we hear Allan MacDonald, the legendary piper and composer is to receive the Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award.

Allan was born in Moidart and lives in Edinburgh. John Purser, the composer and musicologist once called him, “The single most important living source of Gaelic musical culture.”

The awards take place this Saturday (December 4) at the Engine Works in Maryhill and will be broadcast live on BBC ALBA at 9.00pm.

As mentioned briefly in Stuart Letford’s blog yesterday, the Glasgow Highland Club met last Monday for the first time in almost two years. Hamish MacLeod, the Club Vice-President sent us a small report:

“The Glasgow Highland Club took its first cautious steps towards more normal times with a House Dinner at the Glasgow Art Club on Monday, November 22.

“It is over 18 months since we last met face to face – Zoom is just not the same. Taking our lead from the Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championships and the Glenfiddich Ceilidh, we have found a way to hold a one-day piobaireachd seminar in Helensburgh on December 4 – albeit much reduced in scope from our normal weekend at the Kilfinnan Hotel.

“Having generated an appetite and secured support for that step among the piping members – we moved on to reinstate our first House Dinner of the year at the Glasgow Art Club, within Covid restrictions. Arrangements were a wee bit last minute, but all came together on the night very satisfactorily. The delight that everyone felt to be back together again was palpable.

“After dinner, we were royally entertained. The Club Piper, John Wilson, gave us a scintillating performance of Salute to the Glasgow Highland Club, a piobaireachd composed by Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE – his predecessor as Club Piper. A mini-band from the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming led by Pipe Major Andy Reid (4SCOTS). Finally, Cameron Nixon and Rachel Campbell made the evening all the more special with some songs and tunes.

“The Club members are glad that we have started to move gently and carefully towards more normal circumstances, enabled by the vaccination programme and lateral flow tests, whilst at the same time not unduly worrying people or dividing the membership.”

Hamish Moore, the well known piper and pipemaker has been on to advise of a new email address and telephone number.

Hamish lost his previous account after problems with his old website. His new email address is: and he can also be contacted on 07483 233938.

Hamish also tells us he hopes to run his Barga School of Scottish Music next summer. The school has been held in the Tuscan village intermittently over the years, ever since he was musician-in-residence there in 2008.

Entries are open for the 2022 Archie Kenneth Quaich.

The Scots Guards Club in Edinburgh.
The Scots Guards Club in Edinburgh.

The competition, the 30th, will be held on March 12 in the Scots Guards Club in Haymarket, Edinburgh rather than its usual venue of Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society’s rooms in the city centre. This is due to better ventilation at the Scots Guards Club, a necesssary mitigation measure against reducing the risk of COVID-19.

To enter and to obtain further information, contact Dr. Peter McCalister:  

Gill Cairns won the trophy at the 2021 competition, which was held online.

The Scots Guards Club is the venue for the Scots Guards Association’s autumn-spring knockout competitions. It also holds the Eagle Pipers’ Society’s regular meetings.

It’s December 1 and the Sage of Glenbog is treating his better half to a winter break …

Our grateful thanks, as ever, to Iain Bell.