It’s hard to believe the long summer days are coming to an end. The hot sun is still beating down upon us as we gather again for band practices and to prepare for another indoor-season.
After a slow start to summer, there are few among us who would complain about the past seven weeks in Vancouver. A season that continues to linger well into the school year and is truly bringing us a full summer of warmth after the cold, wet spring.
My band, the RCMP E. Division Pipe Band is back in the swing of things. Our first practice was held last week and we are already under pressure to prepare for an upcoming concert with the Welshman’s Choir in late October. It will be two 20 minute sets of music from the pipe band, so many of the tunes that have been gathering dust are in fact being dusted off and practiced once again.
This is also an opportunity to look at new tunes and a new repertoire. My East coast influence comes through with my tune suggestions. Many of the tunes that the Cape Breton fiddling giants of the past, and the current crop of modern fiddlers play are based on great pipe tune. Our ancestors who came over from Scotland did not bring pianos and fiddles. They walked off the immigrant ships to the sound of the pipes. And those pipers carried within them the great tunes of Scottish composers; Donald MacLean, Willie Ross, J. Scott Skinner, etc., tunes you continue to hear on the concert stages, c.d. recordings and square dances and ceilidhs around Antigonish and Cape Breton.
I recently acquired Ian Mac Dougall’s c.d. “From Foot Cape” and I was thrilled to hear his take of the great pipe march “The Balkan Hills”. It’s a tune I’ve been playing recently and would love to hear our band play also. He also does a fantastic, very up-tempo job of “The Battle of the Somme”, another fine tune that isn’t played enough these days.
With the new year comes the promise of more great music, lots of friends, band commitments and of course, the promise of another summer of warm bagpiping weather – once the current summer fades into the horizon.