Hold

November 30, 2020 on 2:05 pm by Michael Grey | In News | No Comments

Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert

October 31, 2020 on 5:03 am by Michael Grey | In Random Thoughts, Solo Piping | No Comments

You’ll know today was the annual Glenfiddich Piping Championships. I tuned in to the pandemic version and took in the contest online. It was while Connor Sinclair was in mid-tune that the thought struck me: the piece he’s playing is not really all that old. Sure, it’s a good stretch older than the performer but as a tune written around 1837 its still shy of 200 years old. There’s even wine and beer around that have been known to be drinkable after 200 years. Lachlan MacNeill Campbell of Kintarbert’s Fancy is a much-liked favourite in the repertoires of many piobaireachd players: purely melodic, it hits the mark as a tune to be savoured – and played.
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An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

August 31, 2020 on 6:13 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on The 2021 pipe band season: possible solutions

Not too long ago Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr Teresa Tam offered up a sobering – if not depressing – update to Canadians:

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet.”

It seems that – as much as we’d hope – there may not be a swift magic way out of the fog of our pandemic-lived lives.

I’ve been thinking for a while about competition possibilities for pipe bands (and soloists, too). Pre-recorded online activity is ok, maybe, for a brief locked-down moment in time but it does nothing to slake the thirst of the competition-loving piper and drummer. To create an event – a real event, a happening of importance and one where a paying audience is interested – any competitive online presentation must be live (or, at least, a recorded “one-off-only” performance; more on this later)
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Barra & The Queen: bagpipes squealed her welcome

July 31, 2020 on 6:26 pm by Michael Grey | In News | Comments Off on Barra & The Queen: bagpipes squealed her welcome

Duncan Nicholson recently passed along a (digital) stack of seriously interesting family photographs – all going back over a century of his family’s life on the Isle of Barra. You’ll maybe know that Duncan has deep family roots on the island – thanks to both sides of his family. His dad, the well-kent piping machine, Donald Patrick, lives there today at Ardveenish – happily playing and teaching scads of young people the music of the Great Pipe. Duncan’s sister and her family, too, call the island home. I know it’s a great place to be – especially when the pipes are never too far away.

And if you’re in the orbit of the Nicholsons, well, the pipes are never too far away.
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Online Piping Competitions

June 10, 2020 on 7:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Online Piping Competitions

Hats off to New Zealand. This past Monday (June 8) marked the first day since February that there’s been no active cases of Covid-19. Among many other pleasant pre-pandemic freedoms, the country can again hold public events without limitations on numbers. Thinking of piping and pipe band competitions the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association enjoyed a pipe case full of good luck in the timing of their final contest of the year. Presented in the South Island city of Invercargill on the weekend of March 13, the organization’s national championship came in just under the quarantine wire. I thought at the time it would be the world’s final pipe band championship of 2020. And I may be right (sadly). Barring, of course, some kind of online “championship” – just the kind of post-apocalyptic thing New Zealand pipers and drummers can take off their to-do – or worry – list.
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Scott Garden’s new book of music: Duality 2

May 26, 2020 on 12:20 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Shout Outs! | Comments Off on Scott Garden’s new book of music: Duality 2

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t review anything I didn’t like. In fact, any “review” I committed to would be more of a “shout out”, words of support and one way to help get a project more attention. The piping world is a small one and negativity in reviewing a project is, as some say, juice that is just not worth the squeeze.
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Video: Behind the Scenes: Glasgow Police Pipe Band’s Ceolry Concert

May 13, 2020 on 6:26 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Video: Behind the Scenes: Glasgow Police Pipe Band’s Ceolry Concert

I’ve always wanted to play tunes in a bagad, that great combo of musical sounds found mostly in Brittany, France. Just after I had finished up my time with the Toronto Police Pipe Band (and the hugely fun “damned suites” period) I thought I’d have my chance. With the good consulting of my friend (and Breton), Yoann Le Goff, I was sure I was good-to-go. Allons-y!
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Life goes on

April 26, 2020 on 12:57 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag | Comments Off on Life goes on

I have my doubts that my dad was a big reader of the poet, Robert Frost. I do know that when it comes to life, what they learned is identical. I once asked Bill if he’d figured out the so-called “meaning” to life. With pipe in hand (he was among the last of the inveterate pipe smokers), he said: “It goes on.” Frost said these three words “sum up everything I’ve learned about life”. It’s mighty easy in a historic pandemic lockdown, as most of us are today – to think otherwise. With our common space radically reduced, our in-person social contact upended and not much to look forward to beyond supper, life goes on – barely. It grinds. Days blur. Continue reading Life goes on…

Covid-19 and forever changes

April 9, 2020 on 9:32 am by Michael Grey | In News | Comments Off on Covid-19 and forever changes

One of the more challenging jobs I’ve had in my life was trying to convince managers and employees at a big Canadian bank that work could be done anywhere. Remote work, distributed work, telework, mobile work; pick the jargon of choice but it really boiled down then, as it does now, that work could – and can – be done anywhere – not just at the company office.
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