The LBPS … looking good at 40

Geordie Syme, town piper of Dalkieth in the mid-18th century, Geordie Syme, the piper of Dalkeith, was allowed, beside a small wage, a suit of clothes: this consisted of a long yellow coat lined with red, red plush breeches, white stockings and shoes with buckles. and all at The National Piping Centre would like to extend a hearty ‘congratulations’ to the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society (LBPS) on reaching 40 years.

It was on this day in 1983 that group of Lowland bellows pipers that had been meeting occasionally at the College of Piping for two years officially instituted itself as the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society. The LBPS logo features Geordie Syme, right, town piper of Dalkieth in the mid-18th century.

There were 11 people at the meeting. Jimmy Wilson, a long-time instructor at the College, was voted as president, David Hannay as treasurer, and Mike Rowan as chairman. We are not aware of any photographs taken at the time.

The LBPS would go on to successfully revive the bellows-blown instruments of Scotland and its associated music in a relatively short time.

Jimmy Wilson, the first pesident of the LBPS. (Photo courtesy of Jeannie Campbell).

Current Convenor, Stuart Letford remarked: “I don’t think those founder members could have predicted the revival would be as quick and as successful as it went on to be. There are many people we can thank for that, such as Hamish Moore, Robbie Greensit, Gordon Mooney, Colin Ross, Andy Hunter, Julian Goodacre, Iain MacDonald (Neilston), Nigel Richard, plus superb exponents such as Gary West, Iain MacInnes, Martyn Bennett, Fred Morrison, Finlay MacDonald, Brìghde Chaimbeul, Ross Ainslie, Ailis Sutherland, Alana MacInnes and many, many more.

•LBPS convenor, Stuart Letford

“These days, there’s hardly a folk band in Scotland worth its salt that doesn’t feature bellows pipes. At a university in Poland, a student can now do a Teaching Degree using Border pipes and we learned recently that bellows pipes can be taken as a lead instrument during a student’s RCS Piping Degree. This is testament to the success of the revival. We are now truly in a post-revival period.”

 So far this year, the LBPS has marked this milestone with teaching sessions, its annual competition and the launch of a 40th anniversary composing competition, the deadline for which is the end of this month.

Stuart continued: “A pibroch-teaching weekend led by Allan MacDonald is planned for next month, and THREE concerts are planned for the summer. The first two will take place at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe followed by the LBPS’ usual spot at Piping Live!, which this year will feature Fin Moore and Brìghde Chaimbeul’s new ensemble.

“In September, we return to Linlithgow for our annual conference – the Collogue – which this year will feature the Patrick MacDonald Collection heavily. The anniversary events will end on January 27 with a Burns Supper in Burns’ favourite howff, The Globe Inn in Dumfries.”

The LBPS’ focus since its inception has been to encourage the manufacture of Border/Reel pipes and Scottish smallpipes, teach, hold an annual conference, an annual competition, publish old and new music and generally promote the instruments and its music. Stuart hinted about a possible new publication next year. “ Yes, we’re contemplating supporting the publishing of pipe settings of the tunes in David Young’s ms. next year. For those who haven’t heard of him, David Young is probably the most important figure in the survival of Scottish fiddle music from the early 18th century and there are many gems in his collection. Watch this space.”

The Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society.

• Here is a clip of Fionnlagh Mac A’Phiocar’s set from last year’s Piping Live!.  Fionnlagh was supporting Harta and The Matt Seattle Band. The guitarist is Gillie O’Flaherty:

*Fionnlagh will be playing at one of the LBPS’ shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.