The Lewis and Harris Piping Society has announced details of its second recital in this winter’s programme and hailed the first recital a great success.
Glenn Brown, a Canadian who won the piobaireachd competition at the prestigious Glenfiddich competition in October, will be playing in the Caladh Hotel in Stornoway on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 7.30pm, with tickets available on the door.
He will be taking workshops during the day, with a focus on helping the youngsters from Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band.
The announcement follows a successful first recital with Callum Beaumont on November 9. Acclaimed piper and piping tutor Callum also took workshops and both the recital and the workshops went down well, according to Dr John Smith, chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society.
Dr Smith said: “The day was very successful. The children thoroughly enjoyed the morning session with Callum, who of course is used to teaching youngsters, and in the afternoon about half a dozen of the pipers from the pipe band were taken through new tunes with his skilled assistance and they were very pleased with that as well.
“In the evening he gave an excellent recital. In the first half he played the Donald Macleod piobaireachd Queen Elizabeth II’s Salute and in the second half he played the ground and first variation of Cabar Feidh Gu Brath and these are two of Donald Macleod’s most popular piobaireachd compositions. He played a wide selection of marches, Strathspeys, reels, hornpipes and jigs and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s entertainment.
“There were between 40 and 50 people present and I was quite pleased with that turnout to our first recital of the current season. We raised enough money to almost pay for the expense of the day, between admission fees and a very well supported raffle.
“Glenn Brown will be the second recitalist and he is already looking forward to coming to Stornoway.”
Tickets will be £10, with £8 concessions, and under 16s get in free. There will be two workshops during the day, from 10am till 1pm and 2pm till 5pm.
Glenn Brown, a native of Ontario who now lives in Scotland, has been to the invitational Pipe Major Donald Macleod Memorial Competition twice before and qualified for the 2020 event by virtue of his win at Glenfiddich. However, he will be unable to make it as he is a groomsman at the wedding of fellow piper Callum Beaumont in Melbourne, Australia on the same day, April 3.
Dr Smith said: “Glenn Brown is in his mid 30s and has been playing since the age of nine. Piping is in his blood as he was taught by his mother, Gail Brown, who he still lists as one of his favourite pipers. One of Glenn’s biggest role models is Willie McCallum, who he has been taking lessons with since 2001. Other instructors have been Michael Grey and Bill Livingstone, both Canadians.
“Some of his prizes of note in piobaireachd are the Canadian Gold Medal, the Dunvegan Medal and the Northern Meeting Gold Medal and this year he won the piobaireachd at the Glenfiddich competition in October.
“He would qualify to be invited to the Donald Macleod competition on the strength of his win at the Glenfiddich but he is to be Callum Beaumont’s groomsman at his wedding in Melbourne so we thought we would invite him to give a recital since he won’t be coming to Stornoway in April.”
Dr Smith added: “We are inviting the current best pipers in Scotland to come and do these recitals and we are hoping to do the recitals along with workshops for aspiring pipers in the area.
“The current tutors find these to be of considerable benefit to them – not just in imparting skills to the kids but in motivating and inspiring them to be the best pipers they can be.”
A programme of recitals was a regular feature on The Lewis and Harris Piping Society’s calendar from the time it was formed in the 1970s until about a decade ago, with anything up to six recitals in each series, and the best pipers in Scotland were invited then too. Then, recitals were held in the Royal Hotel and latterly the Royal British Legion Club but it had been “a bit beyond their means” to bring in star pipers in recent times, due to resources.
However, Dr Smith said “a very generous donation from a private individual” had made it possible for the Society to organise a winter recital programme for 2019/2020 and they hoped to hold four recitals in the series.