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In this newsletter you'll find the latest news and reports about all that's happening in the world of Celtic Piping in Australia and around the world.


Scots Day Out - Bendigo

  Saturday 14 February
The Celtic Piping Club will be hosting a couple of short (30 minute) piping concerts at 'Celtic Corner' to showcase Scotland's 'other' bagpipes. If you're keen to play a few tunes, either solo or in a group, then we'd love to hear from you. Our times are 12.30pm - 1pm and 2.15pm - 2.45pm. As usual, where there are pipers, we'll organise a session too.

Scots Day Out is a free community event like no other Scottish celebration of culture and tradition in Australia and brings thousands of people to soak up the atmosphere.

If you're interested in joining in the fun of the day, please contact Geoff on 0419 567 038 or email@celticpipingclub.com.
The Rolling Wave
Thursday 19 February

The Rolling Wave is a recital of music performed by Matthew Horsley on the complex, evocative and eccentric uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), as the culmination of his JUMP mentorship with renowned Irish musician Mikie Smyth. The program will include Matthew’s interpretations of the jigs, reels, hornpipes and slow airs that comprise the traditional Irish piping repertoire in addition to world premieres by Luke Paulding, Jeanette Little and Matthew Horsley. The Rolling Wave will offer a glimpse into the rich history of the piping tradition while simultaneously exploring new possibilities for this rarely-heard instrument in the twenty-first century.

When: 7:30pm Thursday 19 February
Where: FortyFiveDownstairs - 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Cost: Full $20 / Concession $15
Tickets at the door or at 

Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson - Oz Tour

March 2015

Jarlath (uilleann pipes, whistles & vocals) and Ross (border pipes & whistles) will be touring their new CD, "Air-Fix", at most of the major festivals around Australia in the coming months, including the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Ten Days on the Island (Tasmania) and the Brunswick Music Festival. Tickets are already available for Brunswick for Thursday 12 March at the Spotted Mallard - hereThe boys will be joined by their regular guitarist, Ali Hutton, on their tour of Australia in 2015.

They'll be playing many other gigs apart from these, so there will be plenty of opportunity to catch the lads in concert and in person. We're hoping to get them for some piping workshops too. Stay tuned for further details coming soon...


National Folk Festival - Canberra


The Celtic Piping Club will be heading to Canberra this Easter for the National Folk Festival. We'll be showcasing the different Celtic pipes at workshops and hailing all players of Celtic bagpipes for pipes-centric sessions - the 'Pipers' Gathering'. Stay tuned for more details coming soon...


NPU - The Movie!


From NPU in Ireland...

A film on the foundation and history of Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU) was broadcast on the TG4 national TV channel (Ireland) a week or so ago.
The film, produced by Dearcán Media, tells the story of the 1968 gathering that brought the uilleann pipes back from the brink of extinction.
Featuring interviews and performances from leading pipers, Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Moloney, Sean Óg Potts, Peter Browne, Gay McKeon, Pat Mitchell, Maitiú Ó Casaide, Néillidh Mulligan and Brian Vallely among others, the film is also augmented by archive recordings taken at the original 1968 gathering.
You can check it out on-line at http://www.tg4.tv/

Music Under the Southern Cross

Report by Alan Parker

It was with great excitement that I leapt out of bed on the 18th of January, because after a whole year of waiting, the Southern Cross Celtic Summer School was finally upon us once again.

We managed to cram three of us (part of a contingent of six Gippslanders), along five sets of pipes, one fiddle, and camping supplies to last a week into the one car whereupon we set off on our journey!

After a (mostly) uneventful drive to our new home for the week, we arrived to the welcoming sunshine of the Campaspe Downs (just 15 minutes south of Kyneton) - it's worth noting now that the weather over the week was very agreeable and reasonable compared to the previous year of > 40ºC!

Other than getting reacquainted with the sights, sounds and people of the school, the only formalities for the first night were the traditional tutors' concert, and the assorted sessions later in the evening.

There was a full to bursting program of tutors and classes for the year, featuring (in no particular order): Chris Duncan and Emma Nixon - Scottish Fiddle; Dave O'Neill - Irish Fiddle; Catherine Strutt - Scottish Piano; Jeremy Dunlop - Celtic Guitar; Mike Watts - English Concertina (the Piping Club's own multi-talented Sarah Wade is a tutor for English Concertina, but was double booked this year); Andy Rigby - Tin Whistle; Jane Thompson and James Rigby - Traditional Singing; Dave Alleway - Folk Harp; Luke Plumb - Celtic Mandolin...

...and finally, our very own Pat Lyons on Irish Pipes!

Pat Lyons

The concert featured the usual impressive array of masterful playing, as well as some more out-there performances - particularly Andy Rigby on the aptly named "Dag-pipes" consisting of a foot pump (think inflatable swimming pool) bellows, repurposed "goon bag" as the main pipe bag, chanters made from light-weight aluminium tubing, a drone from PVC conduit, all of which was held together with duct tape and half of the Bunnings garden sprinkler range. The combination of which resulted in a truly spectacular sight (and sound) to behold.

The 2015 class lineup for the pipes featured Pat Lyons and Giles Bettison as our mentors, with newcomers Anna Graham, Ian Currie, school regular Darri Anderson, and finally Piping club regulars Andrew Teusner, along with yours truly.

Each day afforded a "formal" class for the mornings where Pat and Giles covered the great and expansive world of pipering, from technique, rhythm, and style through to music theory, the deep relationship between Irish music and language.

Whilst technique, and musical aspects are a given for any music school - one thing that is truly unique about the piping class, and thanks in no small part to Pat's tireless efforts once the lessons had ended, was learning essential knowledge and skills relating to how pipes work, keeping them working, maintenance, tuning, and reed making.

Arguably the most important things any piper (Uilleann, Smallpipe, or whatever!) really has to learn - those of us in Aus in particular where other pipers and pipe makers are not always nearby - is knowing how to fix and maintain your pipes, as well as knowing how they should sound and feel to play when they are playing well.

Time and distance between lessons can be long, so you don't need to be working twice as hard as you already need to against an instrument that won't cooperate!

...but I digress.

In our lessons, we covered an impressive amount of ground in such a short time, including all of the fundamental ingredients of piping technique, such as cuts, rolls, crans, pops, triplets, slurs, open, closed, staccato and legato playing, along solving world peace and the general meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

After classes (I won't mention the catering- it's still too painful) we spent time jamming and learning to listen - often absorbing many hours of watching videos and listening to recordings of great pipers, talking about their styles and building our appreciation for the instrument and music as a whole.

Each night there were relaxed informal sessions, the two dedicated of which were the Scottish in the big room and the Irish in the green room. After the first night, inevitably splinter groups broke off and all sorts of eclectic and wonderful sessions happened, not just limited to Celtic music or conventional instruments. Many of the students, as well as the tutors are multi-talented and multi-instrumental leading to all sorts of unique fusions of music - from oboes, to clarinets, bass concertinas and even the eccentric and oh so Swedish nyckelharpa! ...and even if you didn't make it to the sessions, there was always a late night of shooting the breeze with a glass (or 5) of whisky on offer back at Father Jack's lodge.

On the Thursday night session preceding the final day, the Irish session was shown a rare treat as the pipers turned out en-force to shake things up (typically due to transport and temperature the pipes are ditched in favour of whistles and a bottle of red). This caused quite a stir (in the good way!).

Despite the craic, the reason for rolling out the pipes for one last session was also bitter-sweet. Because after telling you all of this, this school was the last Southern Cross Celtic Summer School.

As is tradition, on the last day each class played a concert for all involved to share some of what we'd learned.

The pipers started with Giles and Andrew playing the Swallow's Tail and Curragh Races on the flat-pitch pipes, followed by myself and Darri with An Londubh is an Chéirseach (The Blackbird and the Thrush), then we finished with a number all together playing Fead an Iolair (The Eagle's Whistle) - joined by some surprise guests, including Andy on the Dag-pipes, Jess Foot on the Oboe and Lynda on the vacuum cleaner (there's another story behind that one!).

The Piping Contingent

Each class put on a fantastic show, highlights including Swedish Polskas, African whistle tunes, and a surprise "flash mob" playing Beth's Fiddle Scarf - a tune written by Dave Alleway as a tribute to Beth Sowter - the driving force behind the school without whom (along with her husband Mike) there would be no school. I'm not ashamed to admit emotions were high and there was more than one misty eye in the room.

Probably one of my favourite parts of the day, though, was the surprise prepared by the singing class. They had written a song throughout the week to sing on the last day, all about the school and the people there - what a way to finish.

Although the school is over, there are already rumblings in many camps that something (or things) new are on the way. Although this particular chapter has closed, the community that has formed around the school over the last 17+ years is strong, and there's no way, I'm sure, it could die out... not to forget, too, that a strong and lively bunch of Celtic musicians has been meeting at the Koroit Lake School, with its own strong contingent of pipers headed up by Jack Brennan and Nick Martin.

Once again I want to acknowledge and thank Beth Sowter and Mike Watts - without whom, none of this would ever have happened!

On reflection, it really is pertinent to highlight the importance of movements like these - and the Celtic Piping Club, too as instrumental (excuse the pun) in keeping people connected - both with each other, and with the music.

Whilst Campaspe is done and dusted, piping in Australia is going strong, not just Irish, but Lowland and other forms seem to be growing bigger and stronger, so we can all share in being a part of that.

The Class of '15

I'd like to close out my report by thanking and acknowledging the tireless and passionate work of Pat Lyons both at the school and in the months between. As was said by Mike on the penultimate day - Pat has run the Uilleann Piping class at the Celtic Southern Cross school for over seventeen years. The longest running class of its kind in the southern hemisphere producing many quality pipers. I'm sure my fellow students would join with me in agreeing that we were bloody lucky to be learning in a time where we had access to a such a great school, and equally great tutor to get us on our feet, when, just a few decades ago, there we'd be on our own.

Go raibh math agat!


Photo Credits: Annie Pawley, Mike Watts, Phil Green

[Ed - Thanks for a great report, Alan - befitting for such an institution as this. It's great to hear the many wonderful stories from those who have been lucky enough to attend past schools.]


Scots Day Out

When: Saturday 14 February 2015 (Valentine's Day)
Where: Rosalind Park, Bendigo, Victoria
Cost: free
Contact: http://www.scotsdayout.com

The Celtic Piping Club will showcase our various pipes to the public at short concerts. Our times are 12.30pm and 2.15pm. Keep an ear out for a piping session too!

National Folk Festival

When: Easter
Where: EPIC, Canberra
Cost: see NFF website

We'll be showcasing the different Celtic pipes at workshops and hailing all players of Celtic bagpipes for pipes-centric sessions - the 'Pipers' Gathering'. Stay tuned for more details coming soon...


Regular Piping Sessions

Adelaide - Pipers Gathering

When: 1st Monday of each month (usually)
Where: Contact Jack for details.
Contact: Jack Brennan via brennanjack@optusnet.com.au

Brisbane - Irish Piping Sessions

When: 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month
Where: Milton (Brisbane)
Contact: Malcolm McLaren on (07) 3820-2902 or email mrmclaren@bigpond.com

Brisbane - Smallpipe Sessions

When: First Tuesday of each month
Where: Milton (Brisbane)
Contact: Malcolm McLaren on (07) 3820-2902 or email mrmclaren@bigpond.com

Melbourne - Celtic Piping Session

When: 2nd Sunday of each month (usually - see below) 2pm - 6pm.
Where: Upstairs at the Lord Newry Hotel - 543 Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy.
Contact: us via email@celticpipingclub.com
Future session dates:
  • Sunday 8 February 2015
  • 2015 dates tbc

NESSIE - North East Scottish Strings including Elbow Pipes

When: 2nd Sunday of each month
Where: North East Victoria
Contact: Kristen on (03) 5766 6282
Do you run a piping session or get to any folk sessions where pipers are welcome, or would like to write about a piping-related event? Click here to send us an email...we'd love to hear from you.

That's all for this newsletter.

Until next time...

Your friends in piping,

The Celtic Piping Club crew

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