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The hub for Australia's Celtic piping community

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 further afield.

Goldfields Piping Weekend - Maryborough

Report by Victor Sacharov [with additions from the Editor]

The 2016 annual gathering of the Celtic Piping Club was held Friday 19th to Sunday 21st August.  Some fifteen pipers and enthusiasts from Canberra, the Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Adelaide, and places in between, came to the town of Maryborough, central Victoria, for this year's event. As usual, it was another fantastic weekend.

For the past few years our gathering has been held in Talbot. However, the premises there changed hands recently and were not available. Bristol House in Maryborough was the spot for this year – providing venue, accommodation, and facilities – ensuring that the tradition of holding the pipers' gathering in the goldfields of central Victoria was upheld.

Once particpants settled into their accommodation and blew the cobwebs off their reeds, the weekend formally started with dinner in the club rooms of the Maryborough Highland Society. Music sessions back at Bristol House ensued and we were joined for the evening, and to the small hours, by Andy Rigby, on harp, and Allan Evans, on flute. Andy had just returned from a few months in Argentina with his family, so it was good to welcome him home.

Guest harper Andy giving the Lancashire Smallpipe a blaw (photo courtesy G. Jones)

Our guest this year was uilleann piper Matt Horsley. Matt very capably conducted workshops on aspects of the music of the bellows blown pipes of Ireland, Scotland, and England. First off (at 9.00 am Saturday!) was a lesson on learning by ear. He taught slip jigs Cummilum (name derives from is cuma liom, meaning 'it's all the same to me') and the curiously titled Throw the Beetle at Her. After morning tea, Matt continued with a presentation on the use and tuning of the regulators. Regulator-tuning can be difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Matt made it look easy and straight forward with his systematic approach. He then demonstrated some basics of chordal and rhythmic accompaniment. He certainly opened a few ears by playing a G chord through the first part of The Dublin Reel (which is strongly in D) and showing how a chord comprised of G-A-B is not so dissonant, when the intonation is right. Those with small pipes hived off to Geoff Jones' workshop on tips and techniques for tuning and playing.

Matt Horsley discussing the old repertoire (photo courtesy G. Jones)

Following an in-house lunch amply catered, Matt resumed with a talk on the early music of the bellows blown pipes and its historical context. Examination of the earliest collections of the music, dating from the 18th and early 19th centuries, shows that playing was not confined to "traditional" music. Professional pipers were expected to have tunes for the fashionable social dances from the continent, gavottes and minuets; to be able to pile the variations onto popular dance tunes and song airs, such as Maggie Lawther; to provide the music composed for plays and light operas on the stages of London, Dublin, and Edinburgh; and to whip out a few of the latest pieces by Messrs. Haydn and Handel. Matt was well able to give musical examples on his pipes, a set pitched in C, made by Derrick Gleeson, of Coore, in County Clare.

There was an impromptu recital before dinner. Various show-pieces were played, demonstrating the very high standards within our little group. We met our match, though, when trying to make sense of a couple of English bagpipes, crafted by Julian Goodacre, which have been kindly donated to the Club by the Bowditch family.

Alan tackling the English Great Pipe (photo courtesy G. Jones)

David giving the Lancashire Smallpipe a squeeze (photo courtesy G. Jones)

Dinner on Saturday evening was at The Courthouse Hotel, with local culture on display. Back at Bristol House, the night was filled with music and craic. For some reason, the Irish pipers played flutes while the small pipers repaired to another room and stayed true to their instruments.

Sunday morning saw the Celtic Piping Club vote for incorporation and the formation of a committee [more on this below]. With official business completed, Pat Lyons gave a demonstration on making drone reeds from cane and elder. Then a magnificent barbecue lunch before we packed and said our farewells. With our heads full of tunes, happy and tired, we each hit the road, looking forward to next year.

The group of pipers (with stray fiddle) - happy after a weekend full of piping

Finally, huge thanks and appreciations to Sarah Wade and Geoff Jones for all the hard work and organisation they put in to making sure the weekend was a success and so enjoyable for everyone.


Learn by ear audio

For anyone wishing to learn or re-learn the tunes Matt taught by ear, here are links to MP3 audio files of Matt playing the tunes. As Matt's workshop was 'by ear learning', no 'dots' are given. However, you should find them by searching the Internet should you really wish to read them!

Cummilum (in A)
Cummilum (in D)
Throw the Beetle at Her


The Celtic Piping Club incorporates

As Victor mentioned in his report, the Goldfields Piping Weekend was exciting for more than just the piping. This year saw an important event in the history of the Celtic Piping Club. Members in attendance unanimously voted on the Club becoming an incorporated association. We are thrilled to announce that as at 26 August 2016, the "Celtic Piping Club Inc." is now a legal entity.

Of course, becoming incorporated meant that a committee was also needed. Please welcome the first committee of Celtic Piping Club Inc.

President - Geoff Jones
Vice President - Sarah Wade
Secretary - Alan Parker
Treasurer - Patrick Lyons
Ordinary Member - Colin MacDougall
Ordinary MemberMatthew Horsley
Ordinary Member - Merran Moir

Congratulations to the new committee of the new Club. I'm sure everyone is looking forward to working with you on the journey to take our wonderful little Club into the big exciting future.

The first committee of the new Celtic Piping Club Inc. 21 Aug 2016
L-R: Geoff Jones, Colin MacDougall, Sarah Wade, Alan Parker, Merran Moir, Pat Lyons
(absent - Matt Horsley)


International Uilleann Piping Day

Saturday 15 October 2016
Na Píobairí Uilleann's International Uilleann Piping Day is a worldwide celebration of the uilleann pipes with events hosted across the globe. There will be a number of events in Australia this weekend to celebrate IUPD.


IUPD Melbourne (Vic)

15 October
Facebook event
Did you know that a number of celebrated uilleann pipers used to play regularly in Melbourne pubs during the 1800s & 1900s?

Reinvigorate a piece of Melbourne's history as the uilleann pipes return to the Exford Hotel where renowned pipers of their time, Owen Cunningham and John Coughlan performed in the 1860s.

Although promoting the uilleann pipes, this day is for all bellows-blown pipes. After all, 'uilleann' simply means 'elbow'. In fact, you don't even need to own a set of pipes - everyone is welcome. Are you interested in the pipes but don't own a set, have a set of pipes under the bed and haven't touched them for ages, or have pipes but only play them sometimes? Then join us for a friendly day of piping for pleasure.

The day will include workshops for beginners through to intermediate and advanced players, a potted history lecture of piping in Melbourne, a concert and a pipers’ session.

Food & drinks will be available to purchase at the venue.
Entry is $5 at the door and bookings are advisable to uilleann@celticpipingclub.com.
Click image for a downloadable flyer


IUPD Warrnambool (Vic)

Sunday 16 October

Local band, the Likely Celts (featuring Merran Moir on pipes), will once again be performing at the Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG). This wonderful concert to celebrate IUPD will be at 2pm on Sunday 16 October.

This year they will be joined by guest piper Matthew Horsley (uilleann piper & percussionist).

Click image for a downloadable flyer


Boxwood Australia - Registrations Now Open

11 - 13 November
Boxwood is back in Australia this November!

It’s a weekend away in the beautiful seaside town of Queenscliff, immersing yourself in two days of music-making with two Canadian musicians, Chris NORMAN (wooden flutes, whistles & small pipes) and David GREENBERG (Cape Breton fiddle & Baroque violin). Chris and David both have busy international careers as performers, recording artists and teachers, and are very much at home with both trad. Scottish/Irish/Cape Breton tunes and 18C music.

Join Chris and David for a friendly and relaxed weekend offering world-class tuition, sessions, a concert, great meals and lots of opportunities for learning and playing music! On-site accommodation is available at Whitehall Guesthouse, Queenscliff.

Registration is now open and early booking is encouraged as places are limited. Click here for more info and to register now.


Northumbrian Pipers' Society Annual Concert

Saturday 8 October

The Northumbrian Pipers’ Society announces their Annual Concert, to be held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 8 October. The concert will feature:

  • Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian pipes) and Amy Thatcher (accordion)
  • Carolyn Robson (traditional voice)
  • Becky Taylor (uilleann pipes)
  • and more...

If you're unable to get to the concert, it will be streamed live online so you can watch it from anywhere around the world...though you'll have to get up nice and early to watch it from here in Oz!

Tickets from www.northumbrianpipers.org.uk

Or book your live streaming via Concert Window


And now for something completely different...

A little outside the realm of Celtic bagpipes, here's a video showcasing several different types of bagpipes played in different regions.

Actually, it does start with pipes from some of the Celtic nations!


Miniature Pipes - Made by Kintail

Made by Kintail (Scotland) circa 1970s, they are plain turned in blackwood with real ivory mounts. The drones have a beautiful strong sound (though one tenor drone reed is currently missing). The chanter sound is similar to the smallpipes (or practice chanter), as opposed to a Highland pipe sound. The leather bag requires dressing, but is otherwise in good condition. A wooden carrying case is also included.

Price: $1,150 ono
Contact: Dave Bail (Vic)
Ph: 0407 817 031
Email: davobail@gmail.com


Uilleann Pipes Half Set - Made by David Daye

The chanter is one of David's penny chanters made of brass (not wood), and covered in a layer of black Delrin. The chanter is fully keyed (4 keys) and is playing very well with some tape over a couple of holes, with a great reed. There is also a spare reed included.
The drones are made from Delrin and brass. The brass on the drones is scuffed and scratched but they're playing great. 2 of the drones have Ezee-drone reeds, while the smallest has David's original metal and plastic drone reed. The other two original metal/plastic drone reeds are included with the set. The drones are playing steadily and well.
The main stock is covered with a wood looking finish but possibly made of plastic/brass. The main stock is not suitable for regulators, it cannot be upgraded to a full set. It's a very nicely playing half set though.
The bellows are great, they have a really good range of movement and good capacity, and it's nice and airtight.
The bag has been seasoned as it's completely airtight and working really well.
Also thrown in is a popping strap from Kelleher Trad.
The set also comes with the original "instruction manual" from David, with some good maintenance tips.
A hard case is also included. The set originally cost US$1800 (~AU$2350).

Price: $1,500 + postage
Contact: Tom Stafford (SA)
Email: tomstafford@outlook.com

Uilleann Pipes Full Set - Made by Adrian Jeffries

Blackwood, box mounts and chrome metal work. Set is totally airtight and reeds play fine. Located in Sydney.

Price: $6,000 ono
Contact: Andrew Mackay (NSW)
Ph: 0433 012 069
Email: andrew.n.mckay@gmail.com

Uilleann Pipes Practice Set - Made by Ian Mackenzie

Great condition, but will need some TLC as they've not been played for 20+ years. Includes some tutorial & music books.

Price: $1,200
Contact: Kieran Sharp - Paddington, NSW
Ph: 0438 950 403

Wanted - Bellow-blown Scottish Smallpipes
Contact the Club at email@celticpipingclub.com.

Please email your personal (not commercial) classified ad to us at email@celticpipingclub.com for your free listing.

Gig Guide

14 Oct 2016 8pm
Duck Duck Goose with Andy Rigby & Polly Christie - Spring Concerts Mini Tour
House Concert - 15 Orr Street, Malmsbury, Vic.
All welcome. Ticket $15/$10 cash at the door

Sat 15 Oct 7.30pm
Duck Duck Goose 
with Andy Rigby & Polly Christie - Spring Concerts Mini Tour
Bullarto Public Hall (near Daylesford), Vic.
Tickets $15/$10 cash at the door

Sun 16 Oct 3.30pm
Duck Duck Goose 
with Andy Rigby & Polly Christie - Spring Concerts Mini Tour
Old Buninyong Brewery, 107 Yuille Street, Buninyong
Tickets $15/$10 cash at the door

Please email us to let us know about your upcoming Celtic piping gigs...listings are free.


Pop-up Piping Sessions & Other Events

15 Oct 2016
International Uilleann Piping Day
Melbourne event
(Details above)

16 Oct 2016
International Uilleann Piping Day
Warrnambool event
(Details above)

11-13 Nov 2016
Boxwood Australia
(Details above)

Regular Piping Sessions

Adelaide - Pipers Gathering

When: 1st Monday of each month (usually)
Where: Contact Jack for details.
Contact: Jack Brennan via 

Brisbane - Irish Piping Sessions

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

Brisbane - Smallpipe Sessions

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

Melbourne - Celtic Piping Sessions

When: 2nd Sunday of each most months (see below) 2pm - 5pm.
Where: Upstairs at the Exford Hotel 
- 199 Russell Street (cnr Little Bourke), Melbourne.
Contact: us via
Future session dates:
  • Sun 9 Oct *NO SESSION - IUPD on Sat 15 Oct*
  • Sun 11 Dec

NESSIE - North East Scottish Strings including Elbow Pipes

When: 2nd Sunday of each month
Where: North East Victoria
Contact: Kristen on (03) 5766 6282
That's all for this newsletter Like Celtic Piping Club Inc. newsletter #39 on Facebook

Until next time...happy piping!

Your friends in piping,

Celtic Piping Club Inc.

President - Geoff Jones
Vice President - Sarah Wade
Treasurer - Pat Lyons
Secretary - Alan Parker
Committee Member - Colin MacDougall
Committee Member - Matt Horsley
Committee Member - Merran Moir
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