Piobaireachd Club – December 8, 2006

Fri. Dec 8, 2006
The meeting convened at the home of Jack and Christine Lee where the hospitality was generous and warm. As usual, the December meeting is given over to young pipers. It is with these young folk that the future of piobaireachd rests. Judging by the quality of piping, the future seems to be secure.
Anthony Low led off the evening with Munro’s Salute and was followed by Alexander Jantzen playing the ground of Corrienessan’s Salute. Both of these tunes were composed by a MacKay. Iain Dall honoured his patron and relative with the first; his father Ruaridh paid musical tribute to a corrie south of Tongue in the NW of Scotland, in a glen that was a favorite hunting ground of the Strathnaver MacKays. It appears that Ruaridh took his theme from a poem by his friend, the bard and harpist Blind Ruaridh Morrison. As was the custom of the time, Blind Ruaridh’s poem would have been sung, thereby providing a theme for the piper.
John Lee played a strong Caber Feigh gu Bradh. Alistair Lee gave a fine rendition of Melbanke’s Salute and was followed by Erin Warkman with the evocative Massacre of Glencoe, a presentation of which Erin can be proud . Tim Byron did justice to MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute.
After an intermission to enjoy the overflowing table of delights, Kyle Banta led off with Lament for the Old Sword. The mythology of this tune reaches back to pre – Christian times on the westcoast of Scotland. Oscar, son of the bard Ossian, possessed a sword that few others could wield. Oscar was a prodigious fighter but, like most of his peers, died young. Oscar’s sword, so mythology holds, eventually passed into the possession of the Lord of the Isles and eventually to the Kings of Scotland only to be lost at the battle of Flodden Field. The composer is unknown.
Micah Babinski with Beloved Scotland and Chris Donald with Lament for the Rowan Tree closed off the presentations by the young folk in great style.
Jori Chisholm stepped up to put finis to the evening with the magnificent Lament for Donald Duaghal MacKay, 15th Chieftain and first Lord Reay, 1590-1649. Donald the Dauntless, as his clansmen called him, lived a tempestuous life in tempestuous times. He raised troops and fought for three rulers – The Elector of Hanover and King Adolphus of Sweden in the 30 Years War in Europe, and, for King Charles I during the English rebellion. All of the rulers failed to compensate him for his services. He eventually lost all of his traditional lands. He died in Denmark in the service of the King of Denmark. The name Duaghal derives from his association with Denmark – ancient Danish Vikings were known to the Strathnaver folk as Dhu Ghalls, that is, black strangers. Some think the tune was composed by Iain Dall MacKay, son of an illegitimate daughter of Donald Duaghal. Others attribute the tune to Padruig Mor MacCrimmon who would have known Donald through a daughter of Donald who married into the family of Ruaridh Mor MacLeod.
During the evening, Jack Lee spoke briefly about his experience on the way to winning the Scottish Piping Society of London’s Bratach Gorm. The glorious Glazier’s Hall, scene of Jack’s first Bratach Gorm triumph, was not available. The substitute facility was makeshift. In fact, pipers for the final warm-up used a bathroom. Never mind, the honour is substantial, particularly when the competition features some of the best piobaireachd players in the world. To top it off, Jack gets to keep the 2006 banner.