Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Legends of Piping

From left to right:

Pipe Major Willie Ross, G.S. McLennan, John MacDonald of Inverness.

John MacDonald of Inverness was arguably the best piobaireachd player of all time and passed is vast knowledge of the classical music to many pupils, the most famous of whom are Donald MacLeod and the Bobs of Balmoral.

G.S. McLennan may have been the most gifted piping prodigy the world has ever seen, particularly in the light music. From a very young age he wowed audiences (including the Queen) with his unequalled musicality and dexterity. His compositions make up some of the most highly regarded tunes we have in the piping library. Unfortunately, his life was cut much too short. Who knows how many wonderful tunes he took to the grave.

Pipe Major Willie Ross is said to have been the most influential piper of the 20th century. Joining the Scots Guards at age 16, he began an association with military piping that would last for 60 years, including almost 40 years as the piping instructor at the army school of piping at Edinburgh Castle. Among his many students, his most prized pupil was John D. Burgess another piping legend in his own right, winning both gold medals at the age of 16, a feat that has never been equaled.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This photo is of Donald Cameron. Donald was the premier player of his day and an authority on piobaireachd. He lived from 1810-1868. He was a student of the great Angus MacKay and is one of the direct links to the MacCrimmon line. It is said that he was a shrewd, clever man, full of Highland lore and tradition; a keen angler…. In appearance, as in disposition, he was the ‘ideal successor of such hereditary pipers as the MacCrimmons, and we shall not look upon his like again.’ Personally he was a most congenial, unassuming man and benevolent to a fault. He won the prize pipe in 1843 and in Edinburgh in 1844.

I am fascinated with the great history of our music. I wish I could go back and meet some of these great pipers and just listen to the stories they would tell. I think it would make for a great evening.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The band has had a busy summer so far. A few highlights include playing for over 10,000 people at the Mariott Center for a patriotic service and for an estimated 300,000-500,000 people leading off the annual grand parade at the Provo Freedom Festival. The band also played a concert at Colonial Days and played for the Steven Henager College graduation as well as several other parades and shows.

On a personal note, I competed solo for the first time in four years. I felt I had a particularly good run in my piobaireachd which is pictured here. Hopefully many more competitions coming up in the future!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zen Enlightenment through Piping?

...ok, maybe not, but sometimes it comes pretty close. Tonight was one of those nights. When the pipes seem to play themselves. When the deep bass and bright tenors blend warmly and seamlessly to envelope the room in a thick and penetrating wall of sound. When that wall of sound seems to gently cradle the chanter, bringing out sweetly ringing overtones and harmonics. When all you have to do is let your chanter sing effortlessly. When the music just flows like a relentless river full of life and energy. When your instrument, technique, and music melt together and become an extension of your mind, body, and soul. When you are taken to another place and time. When life, for a few moments, is just... perfect. All of this deep Zen thinking led my mind to a philosophical riddle that has perplexed mankind for centuries. "If a piper is alone in a forest and misses a doubling and no one is there to hear it, did he really miss the doubling?" Ponder that for a while and you just may experience Zen enlightenment through piping. ;)