*NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS*
Final Celtic Piping Session for 2014
THIS SUNDAY 14 December - Lord Newry Hotel
Remember, the final Celtic Piping Session for 2014 is THIS SUNDAY at the Lord Newry Hotel, North Fitzroy from 2pm. Come along for a great afternoon of tunes, piping chat, socialising and fun.
'Digging the Dird' Workshop
Saturday 3 January 2015
Exploring the music of the Lowland Piper
On Saturday 3 January 2015, we will be lucky to have Pete Stewart of the Lowland & Border Piping Society visit us from Scotland to host a full day workshop on the interpretation of Lowland and Border bagpipe music.
Pete Stewart has many years experience in not only playing the fiddle and Scottish small pipe, but researching the rich and varied history of lowland piping. He has produced a number of books on the subject, including Welcome Home My Dearie, The Day it Daws - The Lowland Scots Bagpipe and its Music, and many more. Pete is the current editor of Common Stock - the journal of the Lowland & Border Pipers' Society (LBPS) and has placed in several categories in the LBPS Annual Competitions over the past few years. He has taught workshops in the UK and in the US and brings forty years of playing the traditional dance music of Europe.
The music of the Lowland Scots bagpipe remains for many an unexplored territory. In this one-day introductory workshop, Pete will lead a journey through the basic characteristics of repertoire, exploring aspects of interpretation, tempo, rhythm and the elusive quality known in lowland Scots as 'dird'. This will not be a masterclass in technical wizardry. Rather, it will be a guided exploration of the challenge of bringing this forgotten repertoire back to life.
Places are limited (10), so email or phone Geoff on 0419 567 038 if you'd like to reserve a place. The venue and time will be confirmed shortly, but it is likely to be in Melbourne and go from midday to 8 pm, concluding with a session for everyone. Workshop cost $50.
Here's a little clip from the 2013 LBPS competition with Callum Armstrong (left) & Pete Stewart (right)...pushing the boundaries of the smallpipe.
Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson - Oz Tour
Well, their short tour of Oz in November was very short. Just a couple of promotional gigs for the AWME. (Sorry, no newsletter, though details were posted on Facebook.) Although I wasn't lucky enough to get to their gig (or Jarlath's last-minute uilleann pipe workshop) in Melbourne, I did manage to catch up with Jarlath to find out what they'll be up to next year and start to make some plans for other concerts and workshops.
After a four year break, Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes, whistles & vocals) and Ross Ainslie (border pipes & whistles) re-join forces, for a tour and to release the long awaited follow up to their debut album, the critically acclaimed, “Partner’s in Crime”. They'll be touring their new CD, "Air-Fix", at most of the major festivals around Oz, include the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Ten Days on the Island (Tasmania) and the Brunswick Music Festival. Tickets are already available for Brunswick - here. The boys will be joined by their regular guitarist, Ali Hutton, on their tour of Australia in March 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 person at workshops. Stay tuned for further details in the new year...
If you've not heard of these lads, here's a little of their awesomeness to whet your appetite :)
Report from Boxwood, New Zealand
I met Sarah at the Whare Flat Folk Festival, Dunedin, N.Z., last summer, and she kindly put me on the email list for your very interesting Celtic Piping Newsletter. My wife, Alison, has a brother living in Melbourne and we hope to co-ordinate a visit to him with one of your events, although there is no specific plan as yet. I was pleased to meet Sarah again at the recent Boxwood Music Festival, Waipu, New Zealand, in the first week of October. She asked me to write a short article about my impressions of the festival.
To introduce myself, I was a late starter on the Highland pipes, was in pipe bands in the 1980s, played for highland dancing for a couple of years, but gave up the big pipes in 1989. I attempted the fiddle for another couple of years but also began corresponding with Hamish Moore in Scotland, who had given a concert in Dunedin, playing and promoting bellows-blown pipes of various kinds. My smallpipes arrived from Hamish in March 1991. They are in the key of A, with keys for C natural, high G sharp, and high B. The keys were offered as optional extras at the time, and have some uses, but I do not regard them as essential. Since then I have played once a week with friends playing fiddle and Celtic harp, for several years as the house band for the Gaelic Society but since that wound up then for nothing much. As my friends did not want to play only one octave all the time I gradually learned to play the whistle and recorder as well, which I have enjoyed too but have found my pipes being played less and less. Our harp player is in a nursing home now and I think this group is almost at an end. I am currently trying the Dunedin Fiddle Club but having the same problem.
Last year a friend, Graeme Roxburgh, told me about the Boxwood Music Festival at Waipu, in the north of New Zealand, and I decided to attend it this year. It is run by Chris Norman and David Greenberg from Nova Scotia, which has an interesting historical Scottish connection with Waipu. Between them they play all kinds of flutes, smallpipes, whistles, baroque violin, octave violin and Celtic fiddle. This year they were accompanied by Shelley Phillips from Santa Cruz, California, playing Celtic harp, oboe, cor anglais, and whistle. They are all brilliant musicians. (Look up “Boxwood Music Festivals”.)
Alison and I spent three weeks driving up the country from Dunedin, visiting friends and relatives all along the way, before arriving at Waipu. At first I felt somewhat in awe of all these people who seemed to be professional musicians, or at least of that standard. However, I managed to play a couple of tunes at the first evening session on my whistle or pipes that were received well enough. Everybody was friendly, and I gradually warmed up. Chris and David had given a concert in Dunedin about five years ago, where they had played a tune called “Hacky Honey”, which is also on their CD I bought at the time, “Let Me In This Ae Night”. (It is also on a YouTube video, played surrounded by motor-bikes.) It is also in a book I bought in Glasgow on our big retirement trip in 2004, called “The Master Piper, or Nine Notes that Shook the World”, presented by Matt Seattle.
I had done very little with it, as I had been totally occupied with my amateur boatbuilding after that trip, and the music I was doing already, such as it was. Now my second boat is almost finished. I took the book to Waipu, and found that two of the tunes Chris wanted to work on with us were in it: “Minuet – Edward the Second”, the shortest tune in the book, and “Dorrington Lads”, the longest tune in the book. The book is a 1995 publication of an original manuscript found in the library at Perth (Scotland), of tunes “prick'd down” by William Dixon, in 1733. It has an interesting story of how the original book was snatched from the flames in the nick of time by Lady Dorothea Stewart Murray. The tunes are a repertoire for the lowland and border bagpipes and the Scottish smallpipes, of a distinctly different idiom from the Highland, Irish and Northumbrian traditions. Chris surmised that they were noted down from the playing of “a virtuoso border gypsy sitting on a stump, doodling on his pipes”. Chris said you have to hear how the variations progress to appreciate some of them. Now that I have dipped into it, I would like to keep working through this book, learning as many of the tunes as I can. I also have another book which I hope to spend more time with, called “A Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes” by Gordon Mooney, many of which feature on Hamish Moore's first recording (LP), “The Cauld Wind Pipes” and his tape “Open Ended”. It has some of the same tunes as “The Master Piper”, but with fewer variations.
Chris taught Sarah and me to play “Edward the Second” with him on our three sets of pipes, with harmony parts by Sarah, and it sounded fabulous. He also taught us, as part of the flute group, a “Bransle Ecosse” or “Scottish Brawl” (a kind of medieval dance), and some French Canadian carol tunes which are on his CD “In Fields of Frost and Snow”. These included tuning our pipes to D minor by flattening the F sharp to F natural, an interesting sound indeed. I also enjoyed playing with Sarah the “Austrian Childrens' Round” and the G.S. McLennan tune “Kilworth Hills”, with its “seconds”, and hearing the baroque fiddle group practicing with David during the week, with Sarah's recorder shining through the strings.
The climax of the week was the final concert in the Waipu Community Hall on the Friday night, which was well attended by the locals. The flute and pipes group played an imaginative arrangement of “Edward the Second”, with Chris, Sarah and me on smallpipes, plus five flutes, and Shelley's oboe. That was a real buzz, in more ways than one. Chris, David and Shelley played “Dorrington Lads”, and the baroque fiddle group played their beautiful piece by Gabrielli.
Alison and I came straight home to Dunedin over the next few days, as Chris, David and Shelley were giving a workshop for the Fiddle Club the following Sunday afternoon, and a concert the same night at the New Edinburgh Folk Club. Chris played a few tunes with Graeme and me, while David taught the fiddlers how to put in bass and harmony parts. They played “Hacky Honey” again at the concert.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Boxwood experience, and feel that I have found a new direction for my music.
[Thanks for your great report, Ian - Ed.]
Dunedin, New Zealand