Forty-eight piobaireachd enthusiasts from fourteen different U.S. states and two Canadian provinces flocked to Pittsburgh On February 9-11 for the second annual Jimmy McIntosh MBE Piobaireachd Workshop held at Carnegie Mellon University.  Students came from as far away as Albuquerque, New Mexico; San Diego, California; and Calgary, Alberta. 

The action-packed weekend was organised by the Pittsburgh Piping Society, a non-profit organisation established in 2014 by Andrew Carlisle, Nick Hudson and Palmer Shonk.  Instructors for the workshop were all longtime students of the late Jimmy McIntosh MBE: Mike Cusack (Houston, Texas), Amy Garson (Ottawa, Ontario) and Andrew Carlisle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).  The students were divided into three classes by ability; the top class had twenty pipers that were all Grade One, Open level pipers or judges.

•Instructor Mike Cusack, Houston, Texas performs ‘In Praise of Morag‘.

The weekend started on Friday evening with over 100 people packed into the newly opened restaurant/bar ‘The Pitch on Butler’ to witness around 30 pipers playing in a fun and supportive environment.  Highlights included a surprise performance by Cape Breton virtuoso Matt MacIsaac. Gold Medalist and former Glenfiddich Champion, Mike Cusack closed the evening with a stunning rendition of In Praise of Morag on a wonderful instrument; the crunluath and crunlauth-a-mach were sensational!

•Bob Mitchell, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, entertains on the smallpipes.
•Matt MacIsaac, Aurora, Ontario performs a Cape Breton set.

The weekend also saw the completion of the Jimmy McIntosh MBE Piobaireachd Scholarship program where two deserving piobaireachd students were provided with tuition for eight months from the recently retired Headmaster of St. Thomas Episcopal School, Mike Cusack via video conferencing. 

On Saturday afternoon the workshop closed with this year’s scholarship winners, Anthony Rossi, 18 (Chester, New Jersey) and Ray Flanagan, 16 (Grand Rapids, Michigan) performing two piobaireachd they had each worked on during the scholarship period. This came in the form of a recital in front of the assembled group in Carnegie Mellon’s McConomy Auditorium.  Ray Flanagan performed “Battle of Auldern No. 1” and “The Daughter’s Lament” while Anthony Rossi played “Lady Anapool’s Lament” and “Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy.”

•Ray Flanagan, Michigan, performing ‘The Daughter’s Lament’ 

        

•Anthony Rossi, New Jersey, performing ‘Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy’.

After eight hours of piobaireachd study on Saturday, students weren’t quite finished with piping and attended a ceilidh at Goodlander Cocktail Bar, where Pittsburgh Piping Society board member Palmer Shonk showed off his mixology and bartending skills while the attendees took it in turns to entertain with some light music tunes.

•Amy Garson, Ottawa, the first female to compete at The Glenfiddich, teaches the intermediate class.

Sunday saw the completion of classes – another four hours of study.  Throughout the workshop, each student had the opportunity to perform at least one (and many performed two) tunes on the pipes for some live feedback from an instructor and fellow classmates.  Many students remarked that they learned just as much from other people’s feedback as they did from comments about their own performances.  In addition to the Masterclass format, the classes were also taught tunes on the practice chanter in the more familiar classroom setting.  There was a high level of playing during the weekend, as the workshop participants included many Open level pipers and multiple judges.  This was in keeping with Jimmy’s philosophy that with piobaireachd, you are never finish learning.

•Standing room only in the CMU band room. Instructor Andrew Carlisle teaches the advanced class.

We have already received applications for the 2024-2025 cycle of the Jimmy McIntosh Piobaireachd Scholarship and will be announcing our winner in March.  Applications are still open until February 29 if any North American piobaireachd enthusiasts would like to apply to study in the Balmoral tradition,  contact jimmy.mc.scholarship@gmail.com  We would sincerely like to express our deep appreciation for the donations we have received from individuals, and for the generation donation the Dunedin Chapter of the New World Celts for the upcoming cycle.  If anyone is interested in donating even a small, tax-deductible amount towards this worthwhile effort to carry on Jimmy’s teaching of piobaireachd, please visit pittsburghpipingsociety.org and click on the scholarship tab.